Classé, as the name suggests, is in the business of designing and building a refined stable of audio and audio-video models. Classé is the electronics arm of sound specialists Bowers & Wilkins therefore comes with impeccable references.
The range has always been so beautifully presented and it continues to elicit pride of ownership for those who wouldn’t hanker for anything less.
Classé models have also had another ingredient keeping the brand on music and movie lovers’ wish lists: great sound.
So it isn’t a surprise to audition a trio of Classé’s newest models, a 7.1 channel Stereo Preamp/ Surround Sound Processor called the Sigma SSP and two dedicated amplifiers, the AMP2 and AMP5, and find the brand’s hallmark which is great styling, bank-vault build and super sound.
The Sigma SSP gave us everything we wished for in a Preamp/Processor. Truly it’s loaded with intelligent, desirable and vital features.
Sonically it’s clearly a superb sounding music preamplifier in its own right with a level of transparency and detail retrieval that is astonishing on audition. But it’s also an upmarket video switching, multichannel processing and bass management device.
We never ran out of connections, making ample use of its USB, Ethernet Streaming, HDMI, coax and optical digital connection options for playing back every imaginable analogue or digital source. But here’s the thing: the Sigma SSP offers a choice of balanced (XLR) or single ended analog input connections.
Our experience shows single ended connectivity may be more forgiving but balanced is always more accurate and generates a lower noise floor.
Classé has clearly switched on to the boom in turntable sales and has thoughtfully included the option for buyers to add an optional phono stage straight out of its flagship Delta series.
Classé’s new amplifiers share the Sigma SSP’s careful approach to good sound. Both ascend from Classé’s ground breaking Delta Series CA-D200 with its Class D circuitry that solves the problem called ‘’dead-band time when both halves of the amplifier are off, an issue which until now has held Class D amplifiers back. The new amps have an astoundingly low dead-band times barely measuring three nanoseconds that provides lower levels of distortion and thus a class leading sound quality. They are also incredibly efficient, delivering high output and low power consumption from their sleek enclosures.
Geoff Matthews, CEO of Convoy is excited about the Classé Sigma models.
Sigma is an important strategic release for Classé. The series continue and expand the brand’s trademark credentials of superlative sound, a state of the art touchscreen operating interface and exceptional level of connectivity,’’ he says.
‘’The icing on the cake is a fresh and distinctive industrial design which is already attracting favourable comments.’’
The price of the Sigma SSP is $8500. The AMP5 will retail for $8500 and the AMP2 has an RRP of $6000.