What Our Customers say...
Below you can read some of the recent Feedback and Testimonials that our kind Customers have bestowed on Digital Amplifier Company products.
MARASCHINOS...... What YOU say!
Joe S. - I have had the Maraschino mono block amps going on for two years now. Prior to that I have owned numerous tube amps and a couple of pretty decent solid state amps too. The Maraschino’s are hands down easily the most musical tone rich amps I have heard. There isn’t a trace hardness or coloration. Details are nuanced without emphasis or stridency. The sound is immediate, natural and perfectly balanced. They can drive difficult loads without issue and they always remain cool no matter how loud and long you listen. I still shake my head and smile every time I listen.
Jeff A. - And if you remember my post in your unboxing video, I was close to pulling the trigger. Well after a few emails and phone conversations with Tommy, I pulled the trigger. Not only on the STM but his DAC DAC HS1 as well. And boy, I am sure happy that I took that leap of faith. The music, the absolute pure music coming from this small compact system is superb! Jaw dropping actually. Everything, and I mean everything you said was spot on. I have owned mine now for a little over a month. I initially got it to pair with my new Magnepan LRS’s but tried out my ZU Audio Omen Dirty Weekends with it and I was blown away. With my ZU’s, I felt a lot like you do with your Klipsch’s, with all the systems I have had the ZU’s hooked up to, they sounded great at all volume levels but they sounded beat when turned up. The ZU’s can play loud with 0 distortion, they love to get up there in higher db’s. And man do they ever do that with the STM. But what really struck me is I was up early one weekend, everyone else in the house was asleep so I listened at low levels and couldn’t believe what I heard and how much I enjoyed the music even at low levels. All the dynamics were still there and the resolution and details I was hearing in my music, well I haven’t heard that before. Like you said, the STM, it gets out of the way and let’s all the minor details and nuances in music shine right through. It’s musical, organic and just rich. Lush and rich, the low level musical foundation in the bass region is just perfect. I myself plan to do an in depth review on bot AudioKarma and AudioCircle. I just wanted to give myself time to digest everything I am hearing. Not jump the gun. Plus I have the 48v Version, Tommy is sending me the 60v version soon. So I really want to compare and review both power supplies. But saying I’m impressed is an understatement. And because of the size and weight, people dismiss the STM as a lightweight Class D digital amp, and they can get a digital amp off of Amazon for $100. But if it were huge 50lb mono block amps, people would say $1200 and $1700 is a great value. Well I am in the camp of $1200 for the sound I am getting is a great value. I have heard two channel amps that cost twice the price of the STM that didn’t sound nearly as good. So don’t judge this amp by it’s diminutive size and weight and brush it off. Because it’s sound is surely not diminutive.
Chris Y.- (he has a 2-CHerry): "I LOVE your amp! I have never heard my speakers sounded so good. I had Wyred SX-1000s before but 2Cherry sounds more like class A/B amp and cannot believe it is class D. I have never heard my speakers sounding so good. You have great amplifiers!"
Joe S.- I have had the Maraschino mono block amps going on for two years now. Prior to that I have owned numerous tube amps and a couple of pretty decent solid state amps too. The Maraschino’s are hands down easily the most musical tone rich amps I have heard. There isn’t a trace hardness or coloration. Details are nuanced without emphasis or stridency. The sound is immediate, natural and perfectly balanced. They can drive difficult loads without issue and they always remain cool no matter how loud and long you listen. I still shake my head and smile every time I listen. Prior to the Maraschino’s I was a Class D skeptic, but a couple of friends said I need to check these out. I remember unpacking them and thinking what a joke! Chances are you will too, especially if you try the inline version which literally can hang from the back of your speaker terminals. No kidding, you have to see it to believe it! However expectations about how big and heavy an amplifier should be notwithstanding, once I had plugged them in and started playing music these small light weight devices caused my speakers to sing like they never sang before. It was an epiphany and a turning point in my 45 year long quest to attain the best possible sound quality.
Eric B.- I snagged a pair of 48v In-Line Maraschinos from Tommy for a steal a few months back. I've been waiting to comment until I had time to evaluate, but I feel comfortable now.
The short version is that the Maraschinos are spectacular amps, full stop. They're not "good for their size" or "good for the price" or "good for solid state" or any of those caveats, they're just great period. They are dead quiet, capable of huge power output and dynamic swings (and I don't even have the 60v...), produce extremely detailed and controlled bass, lovely uncolored midrange and sweet treble. Couple that with the fact that they sit in standby, come on instantly requiring no warm up, and turn themselves back off makes them incredibly easy to live with.
I've primarily listened to them with Kef LS50s and Snell Type E IIs. The Kefs are more revealing, and harder to drive. I have listened to the Kefs in the past with a Marantz reference integrated, Rega Elicit R, Nuforce digital amp, and a Parasound Halo integrated. So admittedly all integrateds vs the monoblock Maraschinos, but some solid gear and similar price levels. In my opinion, the Maraschinos better all of them. They control the speakers and the music just floats in the air. I listen mostly using a Wyred4Sound mPre as a preamp, although I also tried driving them direct with a 2v dac output.
This review will be briefer than many because I honestly haven't found anything the Maraschinos don't do extremely well. If I'm trying to find fault; some tube designs have more of that holographic richness in the midrange, but to me they don't offer the noise floor, ease of use/logistics, and tiny size of the Maraschinos. I've also heard some amps that do the "huge power and bass" thing better than the Marschinos, but they have all been massive 80 lb beasts. I suspect the 60v power supplies would get even closer in that realm too.
So my simple parting thought is to say if you're on the fence, grab a pair and give them a try. The sound quality, power and size are simply astonishing, and I think Tommy and DAC have a huge hit on their hands.
Herwet- So my impressions are quite positive and the M:s have a clear and more full and rich character than the other class D amps I compared them with (Nad M22, ICE Power). So if you have closed baffle speakers I can recommend them.
OzarkTom- These amps are a knockout. My audio buddy Rex calls them BIG BOY amps.
Greg C- Let me cut to the chase, the amps are extremely dynamic and resolving without being too analytical. My wife said they sounded "distortion free" and that I think that is a good way to describe them. Additionally I would say the sound stage depth and width increased without sounding diffuse or artificial. The instruments are placed exactly where they should be...... Tommy knocked it out of the park with these amps.
DAC DAC...... Testers Observations
SteveM- ....if the DAC DAC doesn't make your jaw drop a little bit, then there's something wrong with your system.
dognort- Tommy O was kind enough to send me a prototype of his new DAC DAC to have some fun with. My digital configuration consists of a nice CD player and a Raspberry PI running Volumio Linux and a HIFIberry Digi+. This DAC is great a revealing the differences between the various sampling rates of my FLAC files. I have several collections by the same artist in digital format. This allowed me to go back and forth at the swipe of a finger. I also utilized the DACS ability to over sample at the direction of the software at twice its native rate. Some digital recordings can become fatiguing depending on their volume. The DAC DAC did a great job not letting this happen. The lower the sampling rate the brighter things sounded the bass was noticeably more articulate and yet nicely placed within the soundstage overall. The higher sampled source was warm verses the somewhat raspy almost noise like high frequency sound common to many CD players and inexpensive phono cartridges. The image had real depth, and when the instruments were recorded in different locations within the sounds stage it was very obvious front to back and right to left. It was a fun afternoon, and I’m not looking forward to shipping it back.
Leonid Ayzenshtat- Got to play with the prototype, this will be such an awesome product. Can't wait.
Mike S, Milford, NJ - I got to hear the Cherry in many configurations over three weeks, in two different rooms. I'll try to capture some of what was learned:
The easy part is stating that the amp operated perfectly during its stay. I even did a real dumb thing and left some speaker cables attached to it and not to the speakers, and the amp clicked its protection a few times before I could shut it off. But the amp turned on no prob after that and worked flawlessly.
First hearing was at the Oct. Rave at my house using a Lucid pro-type DAC (Benchmark- sized) directly into the amp into B&W 805s in my bigger, liver room. This was one of the first times this amp had been used and I'm not going to attribute anything to break in, but the possibility is there. The sound was too bright and at loud volume sent people from the room. The B&Ws don't have very deep bass and the overall presentatioin was just way too lean. (In their defence we had them sounding fabulous later when using a sub and a PrimaLuna tube integrated). As the night went on though the setups kept changing and sounding better and better. Using the SPTech Minis was an improvement in that they have much more full-bodied sound, and less open and airy highs than the B&Ws - Both qualities that mated well with what the Cherry has to offer. At some point a Red Wine Isabella DAC/PRE was put in front of the Cherry with excellent results - way smoother than just direct from the Lucid D/A converter. Overall conclusion from these set ups was of speed, clarity and control. The conventional wisdom of "Tube pre before Class D" was borne out. There were reservations about the sweetness factor though, esp after the B&W experience. Imaging was outstanding at all times.
The Cherry then made its way into my smaller, damped main 2-channel room fed by my VAC preamp. Apparently a match made in heaven because both the Minis and my VR4JRs sounded great overall. The only amp I can make any direct comparison to is my VAC, and the [Cherry Amp] was much faster and cleaner while not equaling the VACs "tube glow" qualities.
The [Cherry Amp] excelled at bass control and pitch definition. I listened to it and a 600 watt Sunfire amp using just the bass cabinets of the VR4s and the [Cherry Amp] had much tighter control over the bass. The Sunfire bass was wooly and non-descript in comparison.
Another positive trait was its imaging ability. Much wider and more precise than my VAC, and more in front of the speakers as well. As I said, there were moments of true amazement of hearing sounds seeming to come from so far to the outsides of the speakers. Precise, precise, controlled yet very open and airy highs up top.
Over time, I don't know how much was due to break-in of my ears or the amp but the sound seemed to get better and better - more meat on the bones. To the people that were at the Rave - You did not get to hear what this amp can do, I promise you. I got used to the speed and began craving the imaging and bass. By far the best bass I've heard from my speakers (Aragon 2004, Channel Island D200s, Sunfire Signature 600 watt).
I switched my VAC amp back in yesterday, and while it certainly does things that people like tubes to do, the soundstage is narrower and at the same time more diffuse, and the bass performance is significantly worse than before.
The DAC amp is better through the bass range than the VAC by a wider margin than the VAC is better than the [Cherry Amp] is thru the treble. I think that makes sense.
I have to conclude that the [Cherry Amp] is the real deal folks. Like anything, it needs to be used appropriately. If you have Theils and silver cabling and live in a glass house, I'd think twice. I see Big Red Machine has a balanced KCI gold cable for sale that I'd guess would be a perfect match for this amp (balanced inputs only). Add a quality tube pre, speakers that can benefit from a good spankin and an appropriately treated room and this amp is capable of really amazing performance.
I really encourage anyone to try this amp out for themselves. It's that good. I'd love to hear what more of you think about it.
Robin B, Rutland, VT - I heard everything exactly as you've described it Mike. But to state that I've never really heard this amp has me wondering just how much better it could have gotten with your VS 4j's. That sound stage must have really widened up a lot as this is what I liked the best about the Cherry, along with the defined clarity of course. I very seldom sat in the middle chair but that was where you really needed to be with the VAC's in order to get the imaging. With the DAC, I was getting some imaging from them side chairs and that surprised the heck outta me. For that to have gotten even better is just more frosting on the cake imo. Imaging and sound stage depth are my achilles heel.
I'm with you Mike, I'd like to hear someone elses thoughts about the Cherry amp in their system. Cheers.
Wilson Y., San Francisco, CA - So I really love the [Cherry] Plus. I really loved the [Cherry] Jr. too, but the Plus makes my speakers sound like there's now an 8" woofer where there used to be a 6". They really only need the sub to fill in freqs < 29. This is really astounding, esp because it's not boomy. How the hell is this possible? Is it the transformer? What parts are different between the Jr and the Plus? I'm scratching my head here.
FYI, I went through a period of listening to tube amps, and can tell you the [Cherry] Plus was the reference. I most recently compared the Plus to NelsonPass designs, in particular, the First Watt J2 and the X150.5. The Plus fell in between the two in image density, but was more akin to the J2's smoothness, except with balls - this is a very good thing. Why am I telling you this? Because I think both Pass amps are very refined, world class designs that the [Cherry] Plus and [Cherry] Jr. are in the same league with.
William B., San Diego, CA - Digital Amp Company makes the best sounding amps I’ve heard, regardless of price.
Greg S, Round Rock, TX - Feedback on the Cherry Plus coupled with Maggies - I have about a week in on them, so I figured you should get some feedback before I forget about it altogether.
The system is your Cherry (essentially a) Plus; Krell S-300i functioning as a preamp; Arcam D2A; Magnepan 1.6QR's and JL Fathom 113 sub. Marchand Crossover high-pass @ 80hz to 1.6's and JL set to 80 as well - both with 24db slope. Input was primarily from CD but some from ipod as well - still have not hooked up the tt. Interconnects are Cardas & Blue Jeans; Power for JL, Krell & Cherry is via Pangea AC-9's; speakerwire is Blue Jeans 10ga.
Originally I ran the set up with the Krell S-300i and, though rated at 300wpc into 4ohms, it would run out of steam well before the Maggies would really begin to perform, which is why I went with your amp. Following delivery of the amp but before hooking in the JL and crossover, the Maggie's readily soaked up almost everything the Cherry would put out - but as things got loud, the highs and mids remained crystal clear and the bass solid and very tightly controlled. Adding in the JL & the crossover, it seemed like I picked up at least 3db and the Maggies really sing with the kind of power channeled from the Cherry. The bottom is more than adeqately covered with the single 113 to suit my taste and seems to merge seemlessly with the Maggies, providing a large sweet-spot to while away the hours.
The Marriage of Figaro sound stage was phenomenal - I know much of this is due to the nature of the Maggies but the power to make them really sing did not appear until the Cherry was hooked in. Old progressive jazz from Shorty Rogers (Martian's Go Home) and Brubeck's Jazz Impressions of Eurasia sounded as good as anything recorded today, though both were done over 50 years ago. Bass clarinet and 'walking' upright bass stole the show, with Desmond's alto clearer than I had heard. Icing on the cake was the Brothers In Arms cd, which came through with a 'cleanliness?' that was remarkable - this required several passes through some of the cuts to confirm that I was not just having a flashback. The control and purity of sound is beyond what I have experienced in the past and when there is a lull in the music - the Cherry is dead silent.
No, no tweaks yet and I am not sure I will be ready for any in the near future. Best of all possible worlds. No disappointments. Thanks.
Dwight W, St. Joseph, MI - I have a Cherry Jr and I am having a set of balanced cables made..... Thanks Again I luv my red amp
Neal S, Franklin, TN - I can tell you that I will only use your amps from now on and will only buy another amp when you state that you are making a better one.
Mitch S, Charlottesville, VA - That's a lot of why I love your amp, the bass is the best I've ever heard. And the mids and highs are clear and perfect. The signal that goes in my mic or preamp is very close to the sound that comes out the speakers. That's why I have the same front end as some of the top recording engineers; Mac Mini, firewire to Metric Halo ULN-8, balanced lines out to your [amp].
Isiah E, Mabelvale, AR - I made a mistake and bought some Jeff Rowland model 7 mono blocks. They were 11,000 when they were new. The sound of your [Cherry] blew them out the water. So I can just imagine what you other amps sound like. I am trying to get them sold so i can purchase yours. I have not heard anything that can match the separation of instruments that the [Cherry] did.
Scott A, San Francisco, CA - I love the amp and the way it sounds with my SP Tech speakers. Cheers!
Darryl B, BC, Canada - Just bought a Cherry PLUS and am very happy with the results. All as advertised. Very nice work !
My wyred4sound dac2 outputs 12v dc trigger through a standard 2.5mm headphone jack. Thank you for the great engineering !
Rick G, Eagle, ID - The [Cherry] amp is very impressive. Would it have any problem driving a very low impedance load of roughly 1.8 Ohms (Martin Logan CLS IIa)? Thanks.
Gerry M, Springfield, VT - Distortion in music reproduction bothers me. It takes away from my enjoyment. A clean precise reproduction of a note or word from whence it came excites me. The "Cherry Amp" from Digital Amplifier Company excites me. This is a piece of equipment that when added to my system it made me want to listen to my entire music collection all over again. It is like switching from a cone to an electrostat or a first generation cd player to a high end Sacd player.Power in my system had been coming from a pair of Cary slam 100 monoblocks and a DAC 4800a ($3600 from digital amp). After listening to a pair of Apogee Caliper Signatures I felt I needed more to open them up. In comes the "Cherry" amp. While waiting I listened to my tube amps exclusively to give myself a solid reference point.Right out of the box it is impressive. The front panel is Cherry red and minimalist in its design. It is heavy for its size, very solid, no wasted air inside this chassis. Set up is easy.I love a female voice. First up "Spanish Harlem" sung by Rebecca Pigeon. The disc is "The worlds Greatest Audiophile Vocal Recordings" produced by Chesky records. A solo bass starts out, each note is defined and clear. Rebeccas voice chimes in, she is there full bodied with plenty of depth. Percussion followed by strings and then piano. Every note is distinct with good placement on the stage. A wonderful recording and this amp laid it out beautifully.Piano is very difficult to reproduce. The keys, the way they are touched and the after sound can be captured. This is where some ss amps have accuracy but lose the felling. Each note feels hollow. I start with Red Rose recordings of "In a sentimental mood" and " Misty". Then on to George Winstons "Autumn" and finally The Grande Piano Concert by Rick Wakeman. Each artist uses a different piano. The clarity and warmth of each can be distinguished. When a finger slowly touches and releases a key it is there. This I have missed in my tube amps. Even though they sound warm and full they sometimes do not bring out a soft hidden sound. The Cherry did. Tract 4 on Red Rose "Recitative in Scherzo for solo Violin" sounds so different. The violin has fullness and not a hint of screech.So far the recordings are not complicated. They point to the accuracy of reproduction that an amp needs to perform. I have been playing the volume at low to moderate. Now on to some more complicated passages.Tract 2 from Ottmar Liebert + Luna Negra's disc "Viva" is entitled Buddhas Flower. It has a very deep soundstage. In the background are "peepers". My solid states and tubes have all faired well with this passage. But with the Cherry the peepers are very clear. They do not overwhelm any part of the music but they are distinct in each peep and stand out more. Very nice. Stravinsky's "Firebird Suite", Tchaikovsky's "1812 overture" and "Fanfare for the Common Man" are demanding pieces. The first two have passages that requirre an amp to put out power immediately and go back to quiet then more power. Different instruments jump in and out. Quite a workout for the Conductor as well. Fanfare has some very low rolling percussions that if not delivered with clean power will buckle a speaker. I had experienced this with both sets of speakers. But not when they were being powered by the Cherry. Even Dagda "Druids in the Glen" is phenomenal.Throughout the listening I have been using the Apogee Caliper Signatures. The room is 22 x 24. They are 3 ft from the back wall and 2 ft from the side wall. At high volumes I detected no stain on the amp or deterioration in the sound. This cannot be said for the other amps. They either heated up and could not power the Calipers for long periods or they introduced distortion and did not open up the speakers.Next I switched the speakers to my Quad 22L2's. These are a two and a half box speaker. They have a rear port and are therefore placed 18 inches away from the back wall. The one problem I have had is in the low end. It has been boomy. Low notes are muddled. I attributed it to the room acoustics. I just have not been able to get their placement right. I ran the previous selections through and was amazed at what I heard. The Cherry amp opened up the quads. Obviously the amp has more power than they can handle but the speakers blossomed. The low end was deep and clear. I even threw in some Pink Floyd "Dark Side of the Moon". The high was not tinny but crisp. Prior to the Cherry I thought of these Quads as a good box speaker but still a box. Now they have an airy quality up high and firmness down low. There sound stage is wider. I enjoy listening to them. Something I could not say when they were hooked up to my other amps.This is my first amp costing over $5000. It is worth it. I am delighted with the improvement in my system. My Apogees and Quads have been opened up. The clarity of the Apogees at high volumes is impressive with the Cherry amp. At low volumes depth and fullness is present. The sound stage is wide and deep and each instrument has its place. The Cherry Amp from Digital Amp Company has increased my enjoyment of music and my other equipment. I highly recommend this amp.
Earlier comments from the same customer:I have compared the DAC 4800A to some high end tube equipment and some solid state on various speakers and the clarity and detail that I hear with your amp is better than I have heard with any other. On complicated Orchestra passages it delivers the punch that is needed and the instruments stand out. It also does not leave me with that hollow feeling. Somehow you have overcome the shortcomings that plague most solid state amps.
...I was delivering a pair of Quad ESL 57s when I was introduced to DAC. By the equipment list you can tell, I am a tube guy. I love female vocals and an acoustic guitar, Mid range and warmth. I like my lows firm but not overbearing and my highs clear and crisp. Digital and SS have always left me feeling hollow. I played the DAC4800A along side my Cary Slam100's. I started with Red Rose Music vol 1 track 6 - twenty-third psalm. The Japanese and Korean temple bells were vibrant. They hold a long single vibrating sound. The DAC produced it clear from beginning to end. I could feel Shane Cattralls lips as she spoke each syllable. Granted it is an excellent recording and you should be able to hear these sounds. But the DAC did not sound shallow or hollow or tinny. Next The Belfast Harp Orchestra playing Earth Water Wind and Fire. The clarity and separation of each note was clear. The strumming of the harps was full. Tack 5 of the McIntosh Test Disc is "Voices of Angels". I was able to separate voices in the choir and hear the finishing of words with the "tse" sound. On the David Manley recordings #8 Cantos de los Gitanos the Depth of percussion the clarity of the piano and the smoothness of the violin were evident. A violin will often sound screechy with a poor SS unit. It grates on me . Not on the DAC or the Cary's for that matter. I went on to play Diana Krall, more jazz, piano by Tsuyoshi Yamamoto, and complicated tracts by the Boston Pops and Cincinnati Orchestra and of course some Pink Floyd at loud volumes. The DAC delivered clarity to each instrument and when a punch was needed it delivered it. Side by side to my Slams I found the DAC very similar. It was clearer and slightly less warm. But it had a fullness to it that is missing from most non tube amps. The one area that the SLAMS clearly outperformed was in listening to Eva Cassidy. Eva does jazz and solo acoustic guitar incredibly well. I found on "you take my breath away" that the DAC was not as warm or engaging. Dare I say a little harsh in the vocals. But that is only because of the beautiful reproduction by the Cary's. Hard may be a better word than harsh because I still found the sound pleasing. And the difference could be that of the recording, a burned cd from my computer.
After 2 weeks of side by side listening I have to say I am impressed and enjoy listening to the DAC4800A. So impressed that it is now part of my system. I will be listening to it as much as my Cary's. DAC has done a great job. If you get a chance to listen to one take it.
Associated gear:Shanling T200A SACD PlayerOhm5 mkii speakersAdvent lg speakersBose sub/sat system
Similar products:Conrad Johnson CAV 50 int tube ampManley Stingray int tube ampCary Slam100 mono blocks
Bill O, San Marcos, CA - Cherry amp impressions..
I received my Cherry amp a few days ago and wanted to post a few early reactions. I will try to follow up with more in depth comments in a few weeks after I have lived with it for a good period of time.
First, the amp is dead quiet. It is also much better looking than I thought it would be. The pictures really don't do it justice - the deep cherry color of the faceplate is very pleasing.
My early impressions of the sound:No problems at all. A tremendous sense of power, particularly in the bass. One of the first things I noticed was a somewhat cleaner and more extended treble than I'm used to. This is a good thing in my system (ACI Sapphires, passive preamp, small deadish room). Perhaps related to this is a surprising improvement in PRAT over any of my previous amps. Toe tapping and head bobbing started very quickly. The Cherry also has an amazing sound stage and imaging. This is true even when listening well off axis and it is not subtle. I am also hearing an across the board improvement in detail. This is not a "fingers squeaking on the strings" sort of thing so much as an enhanced ability to pick out and follow each member of a well recorded jazz combo. The old analogy of someone cleaning the window is apt. I would say this amplifier is well worth hearing and should be compared with the best you can come up with.
UPDATE...After two weeks of listening it is hard to add anything to the above. I'm just tempted to go back and underline everything already said. Here is a musical example: Kenny Barron and Regina Carter have a great duo album (Freefall). Carter's violin sound is resiny and forward. This can translate into "steely" through some amps. With the Cherry you can hear and feel the instrument. It is right there, with no edginess. Very much like hearing her perform live. When Barron solos on "Softly.." she carries the melody in the background (there are no other sidemen). On some systems her background playing can sound almost like an annoying bee. With the Cherry in the system you can ignore the piano if you want and just listen to her amazing tone and control. No droning at all. As for Barron, he reminds me that in the hands of some great jazz players the piano is a percussion instrument. With the Cherry in place you not only hear the chords, you feel them. (And, no offense, but listen to this album to understand the difference between "smooth" jazz and the real thing). Enough said. If this kind of presentation appeals to you, try a Cherry. It could be too much of a good thing in some systems so take that as a caution. This is not the amp of choice for gentle background music. It won't let you ignore the music. I haven't yet had the chance to hear it with a tube preamp which could be the magic combo as suggested by Mike.
Lance H, Conroe, TX - Want to share some impressions on the Cherry Jr. My system is as follows: HP TouchSmart laptop – Musiland Monitor 01 USD (USB converter) – EMM Labs DAC 6e – Placette RVC (balanced) – Cherry Jr – SP Tech Timepiece 3.0. My system is fully balanced. You can find many reviews on the EMM Labs, Placette and SP Tech. No doubts that they are completely transparent and extremely accurate. So most of what I write below relates to the ability of Cherry Jr to handle the signal it is fed and how it controls the SP Tech. Note that I also owned the Offramp Turbo 2 USB converter (w/ S4) before and had in my systems for months.
I bought the Jr directly from DAC and had the amp for a while but not seriously listened to the amp until last 2 weeks. I have like 40-50 hours on the amp. Reason for delayed listening was that I used EMM Labs DAC directly connected to the Cherry Jr. and used the digital volume control of my laptop. Well that set up did not work. Everyone knows that if a computer volume setting is not set at 100%, the output signal looses bits (or data) and therefore “corrupted”. The result was hollow and grainy (distorted) sound. Inserting the Placette and setting the computer volume at 100% corrected all issues w/ the sound.
So how does the Cherry Jr sound in my system? I can summarize my impressions of Cherry Jr as follows: (1) flat freq response and very accurate, (2) low distortion and hence outstanding details and micro dynamics(!), (3) excellent macro dynamics, and (4) fast and exerted excellent control of SP Tech. The end result is simply musical… Some listening tests:I listened to Beethoven Symphony 9 (Symphonie No.9 - Herbert von Karajan - Berliner Philharmoniker [2003 Hybrid SACD ]) extensively w/ the Cherry Jr. I never heard this symphony this good! Actually I barely listened to the # 9 because my older systems (e.g. Krell SACD, ARC pre and amp, Martin Logan Vantage) could not resolve the complexity and keep up with the dynamics of this piece. Now, I can hear the credible intensity and emotions of #9. I ripped the files from the CD layer of my SACD. This CD is recorded originally in 1963 and brought out in SACD in 2003. Given this early recorded time, the recording is not the best compared to modern standards. However, I can clearly hear the distinct instrument voices. The layering of the soundstage from front to back is phenomenal (i.e. resolution and micro dynamics!). The music flows easily and never sounds compressed. The recording is not the best from the perspective that – even though I can hear the instrument voices distinctively and clearly – there is not much harmonic information/ data about individual voices. The overall effect is like I am sitting in the middle or far end of the concert hall instead of in the front first few rows. For sure, I have not heard the hall in this recording so good before…
Fast forward to a more modern recording: Melody Gardot - Worrisome Heart (2007 I think on top of my head). On this recording she sings very close to the mic. I felt like she had something covered up her mouth (I exaggerated a bit here but you get the idea) while she sang when I listened through my older setups. Not so with my current setup. True that her voice is intimate due to close mic set up but for sure, she does not sound like her voice is covered up. I hear tons of harmonic data about each note she sings and the instrument voices. Listening to this recording, I get a feeling that the singer is singing to me and to me alone instead of singing to an audience. Definitely a romantic recording and purposely so.
When I listened to the above pieces of music or other through the Cherry Jr, I could easily hear the hall or space in the recordings. Of course, more so in some than other. I like musical truth and accuracy: listening to music the way the recording artists envisioned for their listeners. The emotional interpretation of that music is of course up to each listener but at least, musical content is not (or minimally) lost from artist to listener in “accurate” systems. This amp delivers on all aspects Tommy claims: ultra linear, extremely low distortion and powerful.
Jacques T,Winnipeg MB Canada - I received the amp and it is great! I had the privilege of taking it to a local high-end store and the salesman had not yet heard these amps but he was immediately impressed by the detail. In-store we used the PS Audio perfect wave dac and transport directly connected to the power amp. The speakers were Audio Physic (model unknown). The sounds were very defined. I eventually got it home and this is my initial review. Feel free to put it on your website.
Cherry Plus Review: In a world where there are literally hundreds of high-end manufacturers one often takes a big chance by buying a product that is relatively unknown and one that you have not heard before. Yes there are reviews to read, opinions, blogs etc, but ultimately you can only judge it when you've heard it in your own room with your own associated equipment.So I took a chance. Kind of. I've been very happy with the power and control from my two Bel Canto Ref1000 monoblocks. However I felt that it fell short of the flowing musicality of my Simaudio W5LE. To most this will probably not be a surprise. Still I was converted to Class D amps. This happened mainly because of the following; first is the the efficiency and secondly but most importantly is the fact that you are reaching the theoretical limits in terms of direct current and control of the speakers. I'm still an audiophile but I definitely appreciate technology and more importantly the proper application thereof.Enter the Cherry Plus.I happened to stumble onto a HiFi news blog from a popular magazine that mentioned that the Cherry Plus was recently released by the Digital Amplifier Co. Never heard of them but then again I never heard of a bunch of other manufacturers either. Anyway I browsed over to their site. I liked what I read. These guys are not simply plopping in B&O modules with a power supply and selling it for a overinflated profit. No these guys are doing things their way. And it shows...or it least plays.I emailed them and Tommy got back to me real quick. I had a bunch of questions and they were answered with detail in a timely fashion. There was no "voodoo" involved, so often seen in many other manufacturers' online literature.I decided to take the plunge and buy their top-of-the-line Cherry Plus amp. I received it a few days later, undamaged via UPS ground. Packaging was obviously sufficient to withstand the trip to Canada (and the customs officials).The amp was surprisingly heavy and well constructed. Most of the weight as expected is from the 1500W transformer. Also this unit, which off course is a stereo amp, weighed considerably more than the two Bel Canto mono's combined. And it's not from the amplifier box/housing. All the goodies are on the inside. The faceplate is done in a appropriately beautiful cherry red hue with angular gaps on the side that makes it easy to lift the amp.The unit was installed with my Simaudio P5LE as a pre and a Benchmark DAC1 as a dac feeding from my PS3 (used as a transport). All the analog connections were made with balanced cables. The Cherry Plus by the way only accepts XLR Balanced inputs but it does however come with RCA to XLR adapters.The amp powered up without a fuss and there are three LED's on the inside of the chassis. They are faintly visible as a dim hue through the air vent holes on the top surface of the amp. After about 5 seconds the red LED turned off and the blue and green LED were still on.As the amp was still cold I was a little hesitant of making any assessments of the music it was producing. But right from the get go the sound was just defined. You could absolutely hear the music in a very detailed, precise and dynamic fashion. This to me is musical nirvana - ample power to drive my Gershman Avant Garde's. Solid but tight bass, fantastically defined mid-range sounds and crystal clear high's that were neither harsh nor rolled-off. As the amp warmed up it was evident that this purchase was indeed justified sight unseen or unheard. I scrambled to get through all my favourite tracks. I don't have any reference recordings per se just music that I like to listen to. And this is what this amp does - it just plays the music. You don't get tired of it. You can happily sit back and read a book with the music in the background and even at low levels the sound remains detailed and refined. I'm sure that his is probably due to the fact that these amps are all termed "ultra linear power amps", meaning that you don't have to get the volume at some optimal level to enjoy the best from you system. No any volume level seems to maintain the ultra defined but still musical sounds flowing from my speakers.This in retrospect was not a gamble. It is simply a great amp. Some may find it a tad expensive - currently listed at $4999 US. But try and find that kind of power and finesse anywhere else and you will pay more, probably a lot more. They also offer 3 other models that will likely fit the budgets of most budding audiophiles. And the service is personal, the warranty good. Give it a try you will not be disappointed.This was only day 1 with my new "Cherry" and if this is the first date then I'm in line for passionate relationship for a very long time!
Joshua Z, Pittsburgh, PA - Skip Down Five Paragraphs to Jump Right to My Experience with the Cherry Plus
I am a new contributor, but not a new audiophile. I’ve been at it since the mid-70s. I don’t change equipment frequently, at least not by comparison to what I see others doing. In the mid-80s, I discovered Merlin speakers, starting with IIIBs. I then moved onto the VSM track - VSM, VSM-SE, now VSM-ME, so not the latest. Somewhere along the way, Merlin’s BAM got added. On amps, I’ve had Moscode 150 (the original Harvey Rosenberg version), then Music Reference RM9 MKII. I also have a set of Wolcott’s The Presence monoblocks from an impulse buy. I occasionally would swap out the RM9 MKII for the Wolcotts and have used the Wolcotts for a more extended period when the RM9 MKII was in the shop, but the RM9 MKII is the main amp. The pre-amp since the mid-90s has been a Joule Electra LA-100 MK III.
Two and a half years ago I bought a HDTV, which put me on the slippery slope of home theater. I added a Fathom f113 subwoofer, Merlins TSMs as surround and center speakers, and an Integra 9.8 surround sound processor. The RM9 MKII was used on the L/R, the Wolcotts on the surrounds, and I got a Bryston PowerPac 300 for the center.
My big challenge was dealing with both 2.0 and 5.1 channels. There was no way I was going to have a separate 2-channel system in the same or different room, and given my existing equipment, it was not easy to have a parallel 2.0, 5.1 channel setup. It was overwhelming for my wife to have to configure, and a pain for me to always make sure I was leaving the system in a state where she didn’t have to think about it when she wanted to watch TV. I also liked the Integra’s Audyssey room correction software, which gets bypassed when the Integra is in direct mode.
I’ve gotten an OPPO-83 as a universal video-audio player. I feed it via HDMI to the Integra, which does the digital-to-analog conversion. I am very happy with the sound of this chain. There probably are surround sound processors with better digital-to-analog conversion than the Integra, e.g., Anthem D2 maybe, but again, I think the Integra is very good.
So, why all of this in a Digital Amplifier Company circle thread? Because it’s my first post and people should know where I am coming from, and more importantly because I have decided to replace my Music Reference RM9 MKII, and likely the Bryston and Wolcotts with Digital Amplifier Company amps in a system that I think is already quite good.
My motivations for looking for new amps are: not wanting to deal with tubes anymore from a reliability, maintenance, power consumption and heat generation point of view; standardize on one brand; improve ease of use with an amp that has remote turn on. I was mostly considering pure Class A amps, but didn’t like the cost, heat, power consumption downsides. Then I learned of the advances in Class D designs and stumbled on the Digital Amplifier Company circle and decided to give a Cherry Plus a try. I thought it had the aural attributes I was looking for and had a remote turn on, operated coolly, and was energy efficient.
I’ve been using the Cherry Plus in place of the RM9 MKII for a few weeks and really like the difference. I am actually surprised since the RM9 MKII is so well regarded. I really did not expect much of a difference.
Merlins have an excellent reputation for their dynamic, clean, open, transparent sound. I think the speakers are the most important part of the chain and dictate the sonic flavor. I want the rest of the chain to reveal all the Merlins are capable of. In my opinion, the Cherry Plus does this better than the RM9 MKII. The sound is cleaner, more effortless, and noise free.
I am lucky to have been a subscriber to the Pittsburgh Symphony while Mariss Jansons was conductor. One of my favorite Jansons strengths was his ability to get the players to draw the music out of silence. He didn’t start soft, or very soft, but very, very, very soft when needed. It could be ethereal. Then boom, when loud was needed, it was instantly there. All the time with great detail. Again, lucky for me, the Merlins can reproduce this, and they do it better when driven by the Cherry Plus compared to the RM9 MKII. The pureness of the sound on good recordings is thrilling.
The Merlins are often paired with tube amps, including RM9 MKIIs. I was concerned that the Cherry Plus might be too controlling and maybe too bright. That was unfounded. In reality, the Cherry Plus’s strengths play to the Merlins’ strengths. I would recommend an audition of the Cherry Plus to anyone looking for a new amp who prizes effortless, clean, noise-free, open, and transparent sound.
Robert S., Charlottesville, VA - I heard the 4800A on Quads 988. Very Awesome Amp!that is compared to a few tube amps......... the dac amp was quieter, much much stronger, and smaller, no heat
also, I heard it compared to Adcom highest power units on some m a s s i v e home-brew speakers a buddy of mine has. these speakers had 4 subs Per Side and 8 mid-woofs [seas?] plus ribbon tweeters!!!! unreal!!! the dac amp totally pounded. sweet. he moved away and I was so stupid not to buy his system. he did not want to move it! just low on cash then......
too much to ask how or why this is so good?? maybe in general the priceis up there with the high end brands but nobody heard of d.a.c. that's a shame.
Jim BMount Pocono, PA
To answer your question - the [Cherry Amp] is ROCKING MY WORLD! (sorry for shouting) Seriously, it is one incredibly sweet amp. Somebody a while back said something about "out of body euphoric". Well, I'll second that. A couple examples from two of my favorite recordings; Dave Holland's Prime Directive - so incredibly present, huge soundstage, everybody in their place with correct height, depth, you name it. The other is Chick Corea To The Stars which sounded great before but a little - maybe, harsh, that's not the right word exactly, but kind of edgy. Well, now it is sweet and majorly 3D - holographic even. I keep turning around because there are people playing behind me. There is a section in the first tune where everybody is trading fours - it is just plain wicked now. Everybody is lined up right in front of me blowing like crazy. I listened to it three times in a row just to make sure it was real. And the bass - holy smokes. You guys who heard the 4800A with the SP Tech speakers know what I am talking about. I have the Continuum's and I just received a set of Mini's from another AC member. If you think the 4800A sounds great with the Minis you should hear it with the Continuums, and I can only imagine what two of these in Mono would sound like through a pair of Revelations :o
Gerry M, Springfield, VT - I own a DAC CHERRY amp. It powers my Apogee Cal Sig's. Operation is flawless. The sound repro is the clearest I have ever operated. Over the years I have used mostly tubes, Cary, Conrad Johnson and Manley. Currently I have a few of these amps to compare. Without exception the DAC Cherry reproduces music clearer and with a wider spectrum. As far as [DAC’s] business model is concerned that is up to him. An entrepreneur takes risks. If he has to sell at or below cost to get his product noticed, so be it. I am the lucky beneficiary. You can be too. He is a trustworthy intelligent individual. Highly recommended product.
Ooheadsoo (from Audio Circle), Los Angeles CA - I just acquired a 4800a from Lapsan (orientalexpress.)
I love this amp already. Did someone say 600lb. gorilla? Maybe the 600hp Corvette is the more apt image, because the finesse and clarity is there, too. Maybe M3? M6? Bass? I turned off my subwoofers when I fired up this amp to hear what it can do unadultered. I haven't turned my subs on since. I don't want do deal with their mud. This bass is clean and tight. I feel like I should hook my previous amp back up to give it something more of a head to head comparison - but I can't be bothered. The 4800a is some serious stuff. I think I'm ready for the SPTech TP3.0s whenever they arrive. I am experiencing some fatigue when listening at moderately high levels for extended periods, but this is not unusual in and of itself. I have sensitive ears that are easily fatigued - what is unusual is the desire to keep turning it up!
Speakers: SPTech AV-2Preamp: Nuforce P8Source: Emu1212m
Important - the supplied adapters created an awful hum. Some XLR mic cables from the Nuforce P8 to the 4800a fixed the problem. Lapsan told me that RCA to XLR cables also work well, for those who do not have balanced output from their preamp.
Monty Alexander - My America, Telarc, has some explosive microdynamics. The AV-2 are sealed and I never thought they had much bass heft, but they're strutting their stuff on this CD/amplifier combo. Take this with a grain of salt, I just bought this CD and have not listened to it with any other system.
But I don't think it's just this CD. This amplifier has some serious control and it's energy efficient, too? Get outta here! :o
Various random flattery - A thread from Audio Circle about tube amps:Hey Mike, I'm glad to hear from you. Quick question, do you miss that "Tube Magic"? I had owned the Spectron Musician III in the past and ended up going back to tubes? I did like the 500wpc!! But the amp didn't "involve" me in the music like my tube monos do. But after reading some info from Bill @ Response Audio (a big time tube guy himself) and I respect his opinion, that made me look at the Cherry amps. Plus my monos throw off a lot of heat and I have to set the AC pretty low to keep my listening position comfy!! The 30 day trial period will help a bunch.BTW, my 33's are really singing now!! I also bought a pair of Audio Prism's Ground Control Reference. All I can say is WOW!! They are an amazing tweak!! I also have a pair of the regular GC's on my amps.
Take Care my friend,Gary
The response from Mike:There are some things the tubes I had do a bit better - Maybe capturing the resonant body of acoustic string instruments, maybe slightly more ultimate detail of cymbals (but man it's close). But the heat was a turn-off. I knew I'd be getting a Touch and would therefore want to play tunes all day if desired - I just didn't like the idea of consuming 300-400 watts continuous etc. And I lost a tube once and it took an expensive fuse with it and this ~ $100 "inconvenience" kinda stuck with me.
But there are many things the Cherry does better - One is imaging, in the sense of precision of image placement, the delineation of instrumental outlines and the overall sense of the size of the acoustic space (larger).
A story from one Rave at my place- Robin (Satfrat) was sitting in the left theater seat in my 2-channel room (This room is short front to back, so the outside seats are actually pretty close to the L and R speakers) when we swapped a Cherry in for my tubes. He instantly said "Wow, I can clearly hear the right speaker now" while w/ the tubes he could not.
Another is mid-bass definition - I hear a whole world of detail in this region that was glossed over before. And of course the lowest bass cannot be compared - The Cherry is fab at that, especially w/ the mondo Pangea on it.
One more thing - Tommy was over one night and we swapped between his digital front-end (Wadia Ipod dock into a small pro-type DAC) vs. my Rotel RCD-1072 CDP, and also between my VAC PA100/100 amp vs. a Cherry (sorry don't recall which one). There was FAR more difference in the sound of the sources than between the sounds of the amps, which suprised me. So, for whatever that was worth...
Another factor could be that I'm able to use the balanced outs from my VAC preamp into the true-balanced inputs of the Cherry (vs. RCA to RCA for the tube amp) so maybe there is some synergy there that I wasn't fully getting w/ the RCAs?
Of course this is all in my well-damped room w/ my ears etc. Who can say if it'll work to your liking except you.
All the best...
Another response about tube amps:Well, I’m not missing my tube amp. No heat, less electricity, no biasing, no balancing, and I’m sure I will never miss inopportune blown fuses, tube failures, or the hassle from buying mismatched matched sets, etc.
As for sound, I think it’s a matter of taste and priorities. I think the difference between my tube amps (Music Reference RM9 MKII, Moscode 150 (a hybrid), and Wolcott The Presence) and DAC’s Cherry Plus is like the difference between a sharp camera lens and the same lens with a diffusing filter on it. A diffusing filter may be nice to hide wrinkles on a middle aged face, but not so nice when your subject deserves crystal clarity.
In the switch from tubes to a Cherry Plus does my system capture the resonant body of acoustic string instruments? For sure. More than is real? No. Less than is real? Probably not. What about the ultimate detail of cymbals or triangles? More than is real? No. Less than is real? Absolutely not.
Last weekend I went to the opera. Because of the solo, unamplified singing, it is a very good way to hear the real thing. While I was there, I kept thinking, your system has never sounded as close to real as it does now. The next day, I played a CD of the same opera and confirmed that impression.
As I’ve posted before, in my opinion, if your priorities are to clean, pure, transparent, effortless sound, you should check out a Cherry Plus, even if you have a predisposition to tube amps.
Are the DAC amps the best in the world? I wouldn’t have a clue and would never say such, as I’ve not auditioned many amps, and especially not Class A designs, which may perform as well, but which I dismissed for cost, power consumption and heat reasons. What I can say is that in my system, the Cherry Plus is a clear improvement from my Music Reference RM9 MKII tube amp.
…and another response about tube amps: I've been modifying and building tube electronics since the late '70s and I'm a DIE HARD tube head. Originally I liked the "classic tube" sound but in later years I found that what I was doing/liking was COVERING UP the flaws in the rest of my system.
My later tube amp modifications/designs had MUCH more sophisticated power supplies and sounded more NEUTRAL with the best virtues of both tube and SS amps.
The only SS amps that could turn my head were class A (up until recently). Some of the better digital amps I've heard are part of some of the best systems I've heard...EVER.Over the past couple of years I've been hearing digital amps (class D, class T, and Ice Power) in several systems. Some of these systems have impressed me enough to consider a digital amp to replace my highly modified Conrad-Johnson tube amp.
Often these digital amps were paired up with better tube preamps or tube DACs in these best-of-the-best systems.
Tube amp vs. good digital amp?
I really liked the comment about "soft focus"...right on description.
Another interesting thing to listen for is TIME and TUNE. The better digital amps are VERY precise and articulate and don't suffer from the "power supply sag" that most tube amps and many SS amps suffer from.
They are not only CRYSTAL CLEAR, but they don't lose time and tune with intense dynamics and complex music.
Don't get me wrong...they are not perfect and they are not all created equal.
To start with, as a general rule, digital amps are BRUTALLY accurate and will show you the flaws in the rest of your system (especially the front end).
Also, they are not all created equal. I recently met Tommy of Cherry fame at an audiophile RAVE in the NY/NJ area. There were two other digital amps at this event as well as SEVERAL highly modified tube and tube hybrid amps.
The other digital amps were VERY clear and dynamic but QUITE hard to listen to. It was no wonder many audiophiles would rather "soften" their system with tubes after hearing these amps.
Tommy put his Cherry amp in the EXACT same system as the "ear bleeder" competitor's digital amp was just removed. It was simply MAGIC.
The Cherry amp had all the detail and dynamics of the other digital amps but was SOPHISTICATED and REFINED. There was NO EDGE or electronic sound. I have to say that it was the best sounding amp I heard the entire day (against some pretty stiff competition).
I'm a small OEM of audiophile products. My power cords have the reputation of consistently beating ones that cost 5X to 10X the price with Stereophile class A ratings. My newly released NOS D/A converter, ICs, and digital cables are getting the same "high value" reputation.
Talk to the Designer!
Please take the time to fill in the form to the right. I read all your responses. Some we post right here, and some make it through to influence future products.
Feel free to tell me your observations and the experiences you've had listening to Digital Amplifier Company products.
Go Ahead! Add a picture of your system, and let us know what other components you enjoy.
Suggestions or comments are Welcome! If you have an idea I like, it may just turn into a product one day!
Thanks! Tommy O