So it's summer in hawaii where I live and my big odyssey kismet monoblocks were turning my bedroom into a sauna. I mostly listen to music while reading/doing stuff on my bedroom pc.
The solution: Inline Maraschino class d monoblocks! Not only are they small enough to put behind my monitor between my speakers, saving me a TON of space, but they don't get hot at all so my room stays nice and cool.
Gear used for review: laptop as source - jriver wasapi, Singxer SU1 KTE modded usb to aes converter, Vinshine Audio dac-r2r-ref with soekris dac inside, Hattor active preamplifier with burson ss v5 opamps in gain stage. New Philharmonitor speakers on isoacoustics aperta stands.
The first thing I did after plugging them in was listen for the stereotypical class d weaknesses audio reviewers like to talk about.. harsh glare in the treble causing fatigue, thin or weak mids or even a headache via some kind of unexplained by science switching noise radiated through the air. This amp has no issues like that at all. It sounds just like my previous high end class AB monoblocks, with slight differences like any two different amps.
I'm not much of a wordsmith so I won't try to describe the sound in great detail and just say it has airy brilliant treble, super high resolution in the 4-6KHz presence range, lightning fast transients and sub-bass so deep it revealed the limits of my bookshelf speakers 5.5" woofers in ways my previous amps didn't. They handle any music genre from jazz to classic rock to modern electronic.
Practical matters and setup: These are small 4 x 5 inch amps with external switching mode power supplies in the familiar laptop brick format. I was able to fit them behind my monitor on my computer desk, that's how tiny they are! This let me change from 8' speaker cables to short 2' speaker cables and 2' power cords. They automatically turn on or go into standby mode and have a red LED on top. I tried using them direct to my soekris DAC that has a digital attenuation volume knob, but I found there was a pop when I turned the dac on or off which I didn't like so I'm using an active Hattor preamplifier.
The Maraschinos are extremely solidly built, pressing down on them with all my might there is zero creaking or movement of the chassis. There are no visible screws on any side except the bottom of the amp. From a lifestyle perspective these amps are incredibly convenient and restored a ton of shelf space in my room. Pics below.
Customer service: Tommy who is Digital Amplifier Company was extremely patient as I changed my mind between his stereo amp and his inline monoblocks more than once. He kept his kickstarter backers up to date with progress of their rewards and even shipped my amps early(pretty rare for kickstarter).
Comparison to my personal reference odyssey kismet monoblocks: The treble and mids are of similar extreme high quality. I noticed the maraschinos seem to go incredibly low, lower than the kismets in subbass. However, the kismets bass levels do seem a bit stronger with more control over the woofer, possibly because they are rated for 200W vs the Maraschino 48V's 140W rating. The kismets also have huge 180,000 uf capacitance banks which may have an influence. The Maraschino's easily replace the kismets for me and some day I may upgrade their external power supply to one of the two options offered by Tommy and that could eliminate the kismets bass advantage.
Comparison to Firstwatt F7 DIY: I got impatient waiting for Digital Amplifier Company's kickstarter to begin and ordered one of these to try another flavor of amp. It's a super low part count, all through hole 20 Watt pure class A amp. In some ways the opposite of a Maraschino amp in design philosophy. This was a horrible mistake as they are not well paired with my 85db sensitive speakers(Philharmonic Audio New Philharmonitors). Although able to reach the normal SPL I listen to, you could hear it running out of steam because the dynamic peaks in music just weren't very impactful, also the bass seemed a bit weak and non authoritative with modern music. The treble and mids seemed to be very good but coloured almost like warm maple syrup was poured over the notes. I can definitely see why people who listen to acoustic music and have high sensitivity speakers would like this sound but it just wasn't a good pairing for my speakers. The 6moons review mentioned it did pair well with some 85/86db speakers but in my case it seems it just wasn't true. The worst thing about this amp is it was blazing hot to the touch and turned my room into a sauna, some sorbothane feet I had under components near it MELTED. Unusable in my situation.
My happy place, yes i know the speakers are not set up optimally but this room is tiny
The entire bottom level of this desk used to be taken up by my two class ab monoblock amplifiers.
It's easy to make your own short speaker cables, I harvested these 2 foot lengths from my home theatre center channel speaker cable which was longer than needed. Silver plated banana plugs were only $16 for 8 from vintage audio lab on ebay(taiwan)
I use balanced cables only. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8lUJNHxRl8