Digital Amplifier Company’s 5-CHerry Amplifier: The Class D amplifier with sound to die for!
It’s a common belief that Class D amplifiers, while capable of being very efficient, powerful, compact and light, isn't in the same league at other amplifier typologies like A and A/B in musicality. Looking at the many Class D amps used in receivers and medium grade amplifiers with pre-fab modules and it's no wonder that many audiophiles look to the other classes as their preference for getting musical, pleasing sound reproduction. I’ve been using nothing but Class A/B amplifiers for the last 20 years under the assumption that no other typology could offer the same fidelity, warmth and musicality. The x-Cherry line of amplifiers however breaks the mold on what a Class D can deliver sonically. With his company garnering several awards based on the sound quality of their previous amplifiers Tommy O’Brien, owner of Digital Amplifier Company, was encouraged by his fans to make a five-channel version of his award winning Class D amps for use in home theaters. Tommy listened to his customers' suggestions, coming out with the x-CHerry in 2019.
The x-CHerry's channels, from 2 to 5 depending on how many you want to drive, are fed by a 1kW 60V power supply. So a total max. power output of 1000 watts is provided regardless of the number of channels. Since that power supply is shared by all channels, when running 2 channel music for example the active channels will have more power reserves. The inactive channels in turn consume very little power while they “sleep.” For this feature unused channels turn off or on depending on whether a signal is sensed, so you can leave the Cherry on 24/7. Most Class D amplifiers use off-the-shelf, mass produced, pre-fab modules to save on costs, without necessarily putting priority on sound quality first. Each channel's module inside the 5-CHerry use patented and proprietary circuitry designed in-house. The 5-CHerry's channels are made up of individual Maraschino Cherry Monoblock boards. Digital Amplifier Company is one of the few amp makers that still designs circuits instead of simply putting a pre-fab module in a box. In designing the 5-Cherry amplifiers Tommy starts with amazing bench specs in SNR and THD+N measurements and then tweaks for sonics after that. Most companies will publish the specifications on these metrics before tweaking for sonics instead. The amplifier is DC coupled from end-to-end with zero bass shift. The amplifier uses true balanced XLR inputs but adapters are included if you prefer RCA connections. Each unit is hand built in Allentown, Pennsylvania plus all components within the chassis are sourced locally. Tommy's over 30 years of amp building experience shines through when listening to the sonic quality of the 5-CHerry.
My ordered 5-CHerry arrived a month ago well packed, along with some Neutrik RCA adapters, a black DAC T-shirt, and some other neat things along with the amplifier. The amplifier weighs 15 lb., being without a toroidal transformer. The amplifier isn’t large either measuring at 17.0" x 10.1" x 4.5". The KING version, reviewed here, of the 5-CHerry includes Gold WBT binding posts, a very nice looking 3/8" thick anodized brushed aluminum faceplate (available in red or black) with signature Cherry silkscreen, and double rail capacitance on all 5 channels. The amplifier has quite a solid feel to it, as you'd expect from an amplifier at this price point. Set up and connection is easy. The amplifier is turned on and off by flipping the switch on the rear of the box.
Having used Class A/B amps for several years I wasn’t sure what to expect with the 5-CHerry sonically. Nothing that I’d heard up to this point that was Class D was particular groundbreaking to my ears to switch over. So I let my ears decide if the Cherry amp lived up to its reputation for great sound. Upon trying the new amplifier for the first several days I was immediately struck by greatly improved dynamics, a much lower noise floor (118dB) and amazing realism of whatever content I ran through it. Throughout the course of the past month I’ve found myself running my speakers full range more often than ever before, to hear the way the amplifier takes complete control of my speakers’ drivers. The 5-CHerry when used in full range mode takes amazing control of the 10” woofers in my JTR Noesis 210RT tower speakers, resulting in stunning authority down to mid to low 20Hz frequencies in my room as measured in room equalization wizard, or REW as it’s commonly called. In listening through the Tidal app some of my favorite tracks such as from Post Malone, Phoebe Bridgers and the Tenet movie soundtrack, take on a new life and depth that’s superbly real. The Cherry amp makes me reconsider using my JTR subwoofers for music now! Bass is quick, seamless, powerful and punchy with excellent decay with the 5-Cherry now even without using any subwoofers. The end-to-end DC Coupling and power output of 400wpc into 4Ω and 800 wpc into 2Ω contribute to delivering the most realistic bass I’ve ever had the pleasure to experience from a full range speaker. No matter what kind of load my 4Ω speakers put on the amplifier, even to below 3Ω at certain bass frequencies, it remained only slightly warm. The 5-CHerry is able to drive below 2Ω too. Never has the amplifier felt hot to the touch. It's as if the amplifer is saying, "Come on, is that all you got?" I’m unable to bench test gear so my review is subjective to a degree FYI.
Mid and high frequencies with the 5-CHerry is a revelation as well. Regardless of whether I’m running 2,3 or 5 channels of amplification the sound of the 5-Cherry is consistently non-harsh and smooth encouraging a greater turn of the volume knob without a hint of distortion. With a THD+N of .002%, listening to a movie at reference levels shows an amplifier with utterly breathtaking dynamics! Putting in a movie I’ve seen many times before, the racing scene from Ready Player One, the Cherry revealed sound that often made me gasp in amazement as I was transported from my seat and into the movie like never before. This is highly also owed to my main speakers which are JTR Noesis 210RT’s. They have incredibly low distortion (0.30% at 100db THD) and are 95dB efficient into 4Ω. The 5-CHerry amplifiers, including the flagship Cherrys the higher current Cherry Megaschino amplifiers, are often mated to JTR speakers in some high-end systems both for movies and strictly music. After a few weeks of listening to mine I can see why these amplifiers break new ground in not only the Class D typology but in how good any amplifier can sound for a very reasonable cost. In going back to playing songs I’ve heard many times before the Cherry amplifier also revealed details in music that simply sounded veiled when I had my 20 year old Rotel RB-985 mk2 amplifier hooked up to the JTR speakers. Granted the Rotel is much older and has several hundred watts per channel less. The 5-CHerry amplifier presents sound in a way that isn’t analytical at all but is sweet yet very detailed and listenable.
Regardless of the content being ran through the 5-CHerry the improvement in sound quality is not unlike wearing contacts with music, with everything coming into focus on sound, giving the listener a journey into the rhythm and emotion of the content being played. Comparing the 5-CHerry to my previous Anthem MCA325 and ATI AT4003 amplifiers the Cherry is the most natural sounding I’ve had the pleasure to run in my system. I found myself often listening for up to 4 hours at a time, just enjoying the lifelike quality the amplifier brings to movies and music alike. Eventually I’d like separate systems for 2-channel and for movies but currently am very pleased with the fidelity the Cherry amplifier brings to both. If you’re looking for an amplifier that’s equally at home in a high-end music setup as a home cinema the 5-CHerry is for you. It offers a level of no holds barred sonic performance that can easily make it an “end game” amplifier for any serious enthusiast.
Impressive quiet background, powerful dynamics, micro-dynamics, power output and non-colored sound
Not the cheapest, amplifier’s aesthetics is a hit or miss to some
Speakers: JTR Noesis 210RT and 210RM, JBL 306p mk2, KEF Ci160QR
Amplification: 5-CHerry by Digital Amplifier Company, Rotel RB985 mk2
Source: Anthem DTS Play-Fi, Samsung UDB K-8500, Apple TV 4K
Cables: Blue Jeans Cable and DH Labs interconnects and speaker cable
Surround Processor: Anthem AVM60
Subs: JTR Captivator S1 (x2), RS1 (x1)
Room: 17' 4" x 15' 8" x 9' 0" (WxDxH)
* Power Output: 200Wpc into 8Ω, 400Wpc into 4Ω, 800wpc into 2Ω, 1000W max. total
* SNR: 118dB, A-weighted
* Gain: 22dB
* THD+N: 0.002%
* Bandwidth: 0 Hz - 100 kHz
* Input impedance: 20kΩ, true balanced
* DC Coupled end-to-end (no bass phase shift)
* Output Impedance: < 0.02Ω
* Channel separation: >100dB
* High wideband damping factor: >500 at 1kHz
* Channel independent auto sleep
* Power efficiency: 96%
* Weight 12 lbs standard, 15 lbs KING version.
* Size: 14.2" x 10.3" x 4.6" standard
17.0" x 10.1" x 4.5" KING version
* Sensitivity: 3.1V in for 400 Watts into 4 Ohm
* Protection: Thermal, current, voltage, and features Auto-Recovery.
For more information about the Cherry amps by Digital Amplifier Company go to: www.CherryAmp.com
Link to post on Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/groups/929821834087976/permalink/1027070237696468/