DAC 4800-A STEREO AMPLIFIER
The amplifier itself is a straightforward design using patented switching amp modules featuring CLDjam, a closed loop design. (See their web for full description). It is equipped with an on/off switch, 15A breaker, xlr input, binding posts and removable IEC plug on the rear of the unit. The AC plug is terminated directly on the PCB board. Inside everything is neat and well laid out with a 750v torroidal transformer (a 1500v is now offered as an upgrade). The amp has thermal, shorted, voltage and over current protection, which are indicated on the front of the unit with led’s for each channel. Between them a standby / operate switch.
This review was conducted in a minimalist system being fed by a Resolution Audio cd55 player with analogue volume control, thru VandenHul the second carbon fiber interconnects to the amplifier and finally to diy 8’ axon cables feeding the custom made monitors using the same Seas aluminum mid woofer as Joseph Audio RM 7’s, an excel tweeter and the crossover design by Dennis Murphy and 1.5” thick, braced walls on heavy 24”steel stands.
The DAC is rated at 350w into 8ohms and almost 700w at 4ohms.The speakers are 87db efficient and are 6ohm nominal. The DAC is a very powerful, yet efficient (97%), amplifier and will play very low notes, below 20z, with authority, detail and a vise like grip on the woofer. The treble never sounds strident, on all but the worst recordings. It’s sonic signature is a natural sounding timbre, very detailed, both micro and macro, with excellent speed, pace and rhythm. The decay is very believable, while the attack and dynamics have to be heard, to be believed! Its sound lies somewhere in between solid state and tube amplification.
Rob Wasserman’s Duets “Angel Eyes” is a great piece to test the dynamic capability of amplifier/speaker. The plucked notes are very detailed and clear, with a woody quality. Cheryl Bentyne’s voice has been captured with extreme dynamics. The DAC presents this with incredible force without giving up any of the hall reverb effects and various cues from the plucked bass, or sounding stressed.
Ani Difranco’s steely sounding guitar in “Garden of Simple” has crisp transients with great decay, while “So What” has a very deep, detailed and punchy bass line.
Ben Harpers “Fight for your mind” title song, as well as “Burn one down” portrays the drums with excellent speed and timbre. Impressive!
The Trinity Session by Cowboy Junkies has some subsonic background noise, which requires a powerful but detailed amplifier to create the proper balance of foundation for Margo Timmins solo in “Mining for gold”. When the second track fades in you can really notice the absence of background noise and the musical canvas once again becomes totally black and silent.
Patricia Barbers Modern Cool has a variety of well-recorded music. The “Company” song at 2:45 offers an incredible drum solo. The DAC makes this song very exciting with incredible speed and dynamics. But his doesn’t come at the cost of accurate timbre. Rather a believable and crystal clear window of the original event is presented.
Is the DAC 4800-A for you? While the amp does not posses that warm, liquid, syrupy sound of a single ended triode, it is similar to an ultra linear tube design in sound. It also does not sound like typical transistor output devices. Its strengths are in delicate, detailed sound with lots of punch and authority. From top to bottom, I am not aware of any tube amp that can compete with the bass authority of the DAC at double the cost. The sound stage and imaging are good, but for the ultimate, will benefit by the aid of a tube, somewhere in the chain. I am presently pursuing this with a tube preamp or tube buffer and passive volume. A little more depth and width are always welcome. If you need the power, at $1499.00us, this amp must be considered a bargain. The build is a little utilitarian. Solid to be sure. It looks like a workhorse, but the minute you listen to it, you realize it is a magnificent show horse.