Why better?

September 8, 2021
 by Paul McGowan

In yesterday’s post about the fluidity of my stereo system, I mentioned upgrading from the amazing BHK300 monoblock amplifiers to the newer BHK600s.

More than a few people emailed me asking why. Why would I upgrade what is already an overkill amplifier to one with even more wattage?

It’s a good question. Let’s look at some of the specifics.

The Infinity IRSV in Music Room 2 is about 90dB efficient. Meaning that for 1 watt of input power we can expect to get 90dB of sound at its output.

90dB is loud.

1 watt is nothing.

300 watts is overkill.

600 watts is absurd.

And yet I am still over-the-top excited. Not because I have more power than I could possibly want but because this new amp will bring an entirely new level of performance to an already amazing system. And because the extra wattage I now have places even less of a demand upon the amp.

What we do in high-end audio isn’t always logical.

It won’t take but one listen to not care about the logic.

It’s all about the sound.

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88 comments on “Why better?”

  1. In my experience, the need for a lot of power is limited to fractions of a second – the transient speed that makes the sharp edges of music sound real. There are videos around that show that some music makes surprisingly very high demands on amplifiers, but only for very short periods. We are not talking about long sustained sound pressure levels. As Paul implies, that’s not what is relevant.

    In the 1970s the US and European markets diverged somewhat, the US market preferring big muscle amps, over here more nimble lower powered amplifiers. Think Naim Nait. In the 1980s the Quad 405-II was revolutionary, a hybrid amplifier using Class A for the signal voltage and Class B for the current. It was small, powerful and cheap. It was massively successful and still is. The latest version, Artera, is very successful.

    I was using Quad amplifiers when I switched to Devialet, because it is basically the same idea, but using Class D instead of Class B. I had 280w Quad QMP and compared to a about 180w Devialet 250 (250w into 6 ohms). The Devialet was significantly more dynamic.

    I have heard large muscle amps, D’Agostino etc. I have no doubt that through sheer brute force these massive Class A/B amplifiers can produce spectacular dynamics. They don’t suit my budget or lifestyle, but I get what they are about. I’m glad there are alternatives.

    1. But doesn’t the IRSV-system feature active subwoofers? Thus I only can imagine that the most problematic element here is the passive crossover killing the steep and huge transients. Again an aspect questioning passive crossovers.

      1. The differences in transient speed between Quad v Devialet and also Mk2 v Mk3 Devialet were quite evident through passive speakers, a pair of mid-size Harbeth.

        I disagree with Alan Shaw of Harbeth’s indifference to amplifiers and that his speakers don’t need loads of power. A 150w Quad Artera for a modest $2,000 will give you 98% of what Harbeth can do, but that last 2% of dynamics is really quite important to sound quality.

        1. I believe that Mr Shaw is enamoured with Hegel amplifiers & likes
          very much matching his company’s loudspeakers up with them;
          specifically the H390 & the H590.

          1. I believe you are correct, Hegel approached Harbeth, who ended up buying a couple of 360 and then upgraded to 390. They are very highly regarded integrated dual mono amplifiers producing 250w/8ohm. I’m not sure you can do much better for the price (CtA will disagree – ICE, RME, blah, blah, blah ….) and they will squeeze the pips of most speakers, and if you really want more there is the 590 beast. The 590 is meant to have incredible power reserves and in the UK is about 10% more expensive than the BHK250 (but the 590 is integrated with DAC). The 590 is a rather lightweight 22kg, PS Audio customers would consider that malnourished.

              1. The problem with Manchester is the weather. Been up to Old Trafford for a day’s cricket plenty of times. Even a Wold Cup match that had a rain delay and ended at 10pm. We had to go over to Leeds afterwards before back to London, got home at 3am. It will be a great match – but best to bat first. Will India finally play Ashwin?

                  1. Sometimes it takes me a second or two to determine what y’all are talking about. Futbol (is that the right spelling?). I’m not a fan of what Americans call football either. I have been paying close attention to one of your countrymen lately, a lad by the name of Jett Lawrence. I prefer my sports with wheels, almost exclusively just 2.

                    1. Agree on the two-wheel sports!
                      With the demise of The Speed Channel, I don’t get my allocation of Superbike or MotoGP these days.
                      But we do have this little local sports team called Seahawks that keeps me watching.

                    2. @ John Wilcox, for some reason the site didn’t give me a reply button on your post. weird. I hated to see the speed channel go too, I subscribe to peacock for Motocross and Supercross and for MotoGP I decided to go whole hog and get videopass. If you really want to watch MotoGP that’s definitely the way to go. You get every practice and qualifying session along with many interviews. My wife loves it too, which surprised me even though she always went to the races and even did the pit board for me when I was still young enough to participate. I suspect she’s secretly in love with Marc Marquez. lol.

                  2. I guess the site limits the number of nested replies to a post, never noticed that before. I didn’t get a reply button on the cricket post either. That shows you how much I know about most sports. For what are considered main stream sports I generally don’t even know the rules. Sure I can tell a touchdown from a home run but not much more and for sports popular in the rest of the world I know even less. When all the other kids were at football, baseball or basketball practice I was learning how to powerslide my bike around corners and skim whoops. I’d still be racing if I was physically able.

                    Edit: As for Jack Miller, he’s popular in our household too. Though we mostly root for Marquez, Mir and Rins.

            1. Hegel’s 390 price is not out of this world, “all things considered”.
              ICE is not a SOTA Class D amp.
              If you want to go ridiculous, try a Constellation Hercules Mono, that will give you the extra watt you are looking for.
              A Hypex NC1200 will give you 1,200W at 2 Ohms. That should be enough for the watt anorexics.

                1. Absinthe is bad for you. Actually, modern absinthe doesn’t have the problems of the old way of making it.
                  Not my preference. But maybe I’ll have a Grange tonight. Or a 707, even if my missus prefers Pinots over Cabs. She does like “Shiraz”.
                  Not far from where we live they make some very nice pinots. But you have to find vineyards with cool ocean breezes, otherwise it gets too hot.

                  1. Aha! Yet another Aussie among the community here.
                    Are we over-represented?

                    Unless of course you are actually Robert Parker and appreciate worlds ballsiest 99-rated kilobuck wines.

                    For what you paid for tonight’s quaff you could have got a whole loom of PSAudio power cords.

                    1. Not an Aussie.
                      My brother used to work for Lindemann and then Penfolds. He gave me a few bottles. No, I didn’t drink them tonight.
                      I do have a good friend whose father gave him a complete Grange collection, every year. He once opened a 1959 for us for a dinner. Recorked by Penfolds. Incredible wine.

  2. I’m vicariously excited for you! What’s cool about a successful amplifier upgrade is that it essentially feels (sounds) like in one step you’ve upgraded your speakers as well.

    I read somewhere that this type of over-the-top system is technically considered “whacked out” 😉

  3. I’m sure it will be a killer amp!
    Did stability for low impedances also increase with the gain of wattage? Or is this completely independent (what I assumed so far)?

  4. In my minds eye I see Paul in a white lab coat, looking a lot like Dr Frankenstein, drooling & possibly releasing a loud & extended manic laugh as he readies himself to throw that massive gate switch on the wall of his laboratory (Music Room 2) thus allowing his updated rig to come back to life;
    with a new brain 🙂

    We all know that Paul is a big fan & exponent of headroom.

    The M-1200 is also 600w into 8 ohms but in a ‘D’ class
    design & now we have the same output in an ‘A/B’ design.
    It would be interesting to have a shoot-out, although
    I suspect that the BHK-600 would be the clear winner.

    1. I forgot to mention a very important concept that you will enjoy by employing
      an amplifier of around, or over, half a kilowatt & that is, ‘effortlessness’ 🙂

      1. Yesterday you said that powered speakers were mid-fi.

        Yes, like the Beolab 90, Grimm LS1, HEDD Tower, Mesanovic RTM1, D&Ds, Kii, JBL M2 (with either Crown or Mark & Levinson options)….

        There are other German brands I am not too familiar with.

        The ones mentioned above are not for the “masses” or mid-fi level.

        Of course there are a lot of down market models from KEF, B&W, Dynaudio, etc.

    1. Thanks, Richard. The thing about power amplifiers is complicated and much has to do with things that seem not to make sense.

      For example, if I were to take the power supply of a BHK600 and apply it to the circuit of a BHK300, one would immediately hear a major benefit in sound quality. The BHK300 would not be capable of more wattage, yet it would sound significantly better.

      It’s not always about the obvious.

      1. [Paul: The thing about power amplifiers is complicated and much has to do with things that seem not to make sense.
        For example, if I were to take the power supply of a BHK600 and apply it to the circuit of a BHK300, one would immediately hear a major benefit in sound quality. The BHK300 would not be capable of more wattage, yet it would sound significantly better.
        It’s not always about the obvious.]

        Interesting design prospect Paul!

        Will this “sonic improved” power supply technology (and other latest amp designs by PSA) trickle down into other PSA lower powered amp (150 to 200W) future offerings???

      2. I agree about power supplies the part of an amp usually not thought about. After all the power supply is the amp. What we think of as the amp is a circuit to open and close the power supply so the flow is an analog of the input. Therefore the amp needs to be accurate. But the power supply has to be as close to a large, fast DC source that is unaffected in any way by the variable opening. So far there is no such thing as an ideal power supply. And unfortunately it’s one of the most costly parts of an amp. A part where you can save a lot of money and make it pretty good, good enough so the classic measurements look wonderful. It’s only the sound that’s affected.

      3. So true Paul, appreciate you responding.

        I am just being blown away by Freya Riding : Wishbone – sublime.

        Look forward to more news…..

        All the best.

  5. Just hope you don’t have a Marty McFly moment and send yourself clear across the room from the amount of sound pressure coming out of those monoliths. 😉

    With all seriousness. I think it will make a difference, especially since your speakers have subs in them.
    For the most part in the audio world when components don’t have to work as hard they sound better. I actually have an A/B scenario with that. I have the Cyrus Audio CD i complete with its own unique power supply (PSXR-2). If I take out the PSXR 2 it doesn’t sound as good. Not only that all the internals of my CD i including the DAC of course have to work harder.
    So of course power supplies and power flexibility are very relevant.

    300 to 600? Please let us know your findings. 🙂

  6. I remember years ago reading reviews of Pass Lab Class A amps of different wattages in the xa series ranging from low to high, and there was a middle ground wattage that was considered the sweet spot of best sound. The biggest wattages did not always get the highest marks sonically, even though they might have excelled in certain attributes such as dynamics and slam.

  7. I have a different opinion. For me, it’s all about the music. My 10 wpc tube amplifier makes better music than my 150 wpc solid state amplifier. As they say, whatever turns you on.

  8. Very powerful amplifiers is not the sole domain of the USA.
    In Europe (not Great Britain) manufacturers like Goldmund, Analogue Domain, FM Acoustics,
    CH Precision, Gryphon and Nagra (to name only a few) make very, very powerful (and expensive !) poweramps.
    Now, if you do have power hungry speakers I think it could be wise to wait for the BHK1200 monoblocs (next year ?).
    Or, if your speakers really need a lot of watts to sing, keep saving a little longer and buy the
    $2,200,000 Pivetta Opera amp and feed your speakers with 60,000 honest Watts.
    You’d better buy a forklift at the same time in case you wanna experiment with the right position in the room.

    1. In the UK, Chord make their new Ultima Reference mono blocks, which at 780w will knock the BHK 600 out of the water!! Only £30,000 each. Bryston are popular, I briefly owned one, distributed in Europe by PMC in the UK.

      Nagra, CH Precision etc. are in Switzerland, which is not in the EU!

      Another brand sold by my main dealer is Soulution, also from Switzerland, their 701 monoblocks are quoted as 12,000w transient power.

      Perhaps Paul could specify the transient power of the BHK600.

      1. In the US you’ll find McIntosh amps. And that’s only one sampling point…
        Hybrid 900w total. (600 solid state watts 300w tube)
        2KW mono block
        1.25KW mono block
        600W mono block

        You want it, someone somewhere makes it. If you want Watts alone there are lots of choices.

        We’ve all been through the transient power, peak power, music power BS before. That was abused by almost every manufacturer and had no bearing on how well it drives a load.

        So you don’t want a behemoth amp, then don’t get one. If You do want a beast, then consider the 600 and whatever other amp(s) you feel competes with it.

        PSA (along with others) offer smaller, lighter, and more powerful. Some will Consider them…. Do they measure up to the heavy big boys for ‘best quality’ when played side by side? Lots of room for debate there.

        You made your choice, don’t expect everyone to follow your logic…. It’s loud and clear that you don’t want one….. and have no use for one.

        1. I’ve used very powerful solid state amplifiers and identified the amplifier topology and point of diminishing returns with the speakers I use. I have no doubt the BHK600 will appeal to many people and additional transient power may well be evident.

          Speakers are the primary issue. My favourite speaker, the Wilson Sasha DAW, was demo’d with Trilogy 995R operating 40w Class A valves. They sounded glorious. The 995R can also be operated 200w solid state, but that was not necessary.

            1. An accurate answer will not come from mrasuring recordings of any kind, but from attending live performances of all musical genres.

              Then again, movie soundtracks and recording engineers can produce enormous peaks of extended duration.

              1. Paul,

                What i was referring to is an amplifier spec that says stable to 2ohms for musical transients. Exactly what is a musical transient and if the load drops to 2 ohms – how long can it stay there before distortion or amp shutdown.

                1. Depends on the amp design. Generally, some smaller amps will permit 2Ω loads and the extra power required for brief periods of time, maybe half a second, to cover transients. If the load continues for longer the amp’s protection circuit will shut down the amp.

                  Other, more powerful amps will simply output wads of power at low impedances all day long.

                  If you look at a speaker’s impedance curve you’ll note that it’s all over the map. From high impedance at box resonance to super low impedance dips where the crossover demands it. What you want is an amplifier that can sail through the dips and bumps in impedance without ever changing its sonic qualities.

      2. “Nagra, CH Precision etc. are in Switzerland, which is not in the EU!”
        “Bryston are popular”
        I mentioned “Europe”, neither “EU” nor “Canada” were mentioned by me.

        I also owned a Bryston. Indeed excellent amps, with a 20 year warranty.

  9. The new BHK sounds like it’ll be be a beast with some step up in sound quality over the 300’s.

    If I’m looking at something like that, then the 1st thing I look for is will it double wattage as the load decreases by 1/2. Preferably down to the 1 ohm level. (An indication of how robust the power supply is in delivering current) If the internal layout, topology and design are what is ‘kick’n things up a notch’ in the sound department, then having to step up to 600W may be what it takes.

    600W is impressive. The latest incarnation of the music room 2 IRSV’s are impressive. The new Ted DAC will be impressive. When is the BHK pre going to step up the impressive ladder? (When It does, please make it a little bigger so that it doesn’t look diminutive compared to the 600 and add another XLR mains out)

    It almost seems like the rated power numbers are the major factor in amplifier marketing and pricing. Should it be that way?

  10. Welcome to Round 2!
    Having had an overnight to think about it, I would sum it up this way:

    The amp defies logic,
    but defying logic is how discoveries are made.

    Paul says it all starts with the speakers
    and his speakers may benefit from the extra power and headroom;
    or not.

    Won’t know unless you try it,
    though I would be surprised if
    some positive benefits do not accrue.

    I have highly efficient speakers.
    2.3 high quality watts per channel is all they need to make magic, so I don’t have skin in the adventure and it won’t be on my dime.

    I’ll be a curious bystander, eagerly waiting to hear about improvements to sound quality.

    For me, it will be very good entertainment.
    For who knows how many others, it could be Nirvana one step closer.

    Long live our differences! They make our world go around.

    1. Thanks for the understanding. That’s exactly the way to handle this. If you have extremely sensitive speakers and were to ask my advice on amps I wouldn’t steer you to the 600s. So you’re all good.

      Our new FR30s are about 87dB sensitive. Not bad. A little lower than perhaps the ideal of 90dB, but still easily powered with a reasonable amp.

      But we didn’t make the 600 because people need the power in the same way no one needs a 500 horsepower engine in their passenger car.

      We sometimes have other needs that don’t fit into neat boxes.

      1. That was the best answer that you could give to justify this new Amp. I didn’t think your company puts out new components like this for shits and giggles.

        What I’d like to know is does the designation be BHK Indicate that Bascom was involved in any way with the design or is this more like a tribute? I’m a little late to the party.

  11. About three years ago I got a pair of Elac Adante’s, they took a while to break in and some trial and error to get positioned correctly but once that was done they were very good as far as I was concerned. I was using a Hafler dh220 with new Musical Fidelity driver boards and new main filter caps. That amp with the right driver boards sounds very good but I wondered if a bit more power might help for the peaks.

    I wanted the BHK amp but couldn’t quite swing it but I came a cross a pair of used M700 mono blocks for a good price so I snatched those up. I never would have thought a class D amp could be this good and any thoughts about performance at the peaks is gone. The front end of the system has a Rogue RP5 preamp and a PS Audio DirectStream DAC (fed by Mac mini and Onkyo sacd player) and a MMF-7 turntable.

    I also have a pair of Sumiko subs (driven from the speaker outputs of those M700’s) so the system can crank along just fine. BTW PS Audio really should add a ground connection on the back of the amp to make it easier to feed outboard subs. Since the output of a class D is floating you need to go from ground to the + output of each M700 to feed the sub input.

    I’m retired and can’t tell you how much I appreciate this system. I can sit and select from about 8,000 tracks on the mac mini or listen to Cd’s, Sacd’s or vinyl, as I get older I appreciate not having to get up and change CD’s or flip albums over if I don’t feel like it.

  12. Large rooms are needed to handle big wattage amps. Otherwise I see it as a waste of money. 200 watt/8-ohm amp with 64 peak amp capability is already overkill for my 12’X18′ room.

  13. I don’t have experience with the BHK 300’s but I did go from the M700 to the M1200’s. I didn’t need 600 or 1200 watts in my system but the first thing I immediately noticed was how much better significantly better the 1200 sounded at lower volumes. Effortless! So I’m assuming the BHK would give a similar experience just at much higher performance level. So that would be one reason to upgrade to a pair of BHK 600’s! Second reason would be so I can upgrade to a well cared for pair of BHK 300’s!

  14. I subscribe to the following. If you want realistic bass you need 10″ or 12″ woofers and at least two bass drivers per channel mounted in a sealed enclosure ( no ports ). Often the speaker sensitivity for 1 watt at 1 meter is done with an A weighted SPL measurement which focuses on 500 Hz and above which does not really include the woofer. When ATC builds active speakers they use 200 watt amps for the woofer. The biggest thing that powerful amps buy you is better bass.

    Paul, I am assuming that the BHK 600’s produce 600 watts in 8 ohms will produce 1200 watts into 4 ohms? Based on my experiencing with a 750 watts per channel ( into 4 ohms ) stereo power amp I am assuming that if the users speakers are 4 ohm impedance that that there will have to be a dedicated 15 amp line for each channel ( or maybe even a 20 amp line for each channel ) unless the power into 4 ohms is going to be limited to what can be supplied by the wall socket without tripping the circuit breaker.

    1. My Von Schweikert speakers were custom designed in 2012 by the late Albert himself. With only two 9″ woofers per speaker, they are tuned with a bottom end of 16Hz (!!!!) and in the words of Albert are “extremely fast and tight.” They do have two small ports in the rear that can be plugged to make the bass even tighter at the expense of bottom end. I leave them unplugged as Albert intended. The speakers are totally passive, but according to Albert “sound like we are playing 15″ subwoofers along with the main speakers.” What gives these speakers their excellent bass performance is the skill of the designer, the quality of the driver selected (not just the diameter) and the cabinet construction and interior volume. The size of the cabinet is critical to getting deep bass. These speakers can play from soft to very loud without losing their composure, more than adequate for my large high-ceilinged, expansive living room. I drive them with Pass Labs xa100.5 Class A amps that never sound starved or strained. Sure there are better, more expensive amps and speakers, but these are as high in the food chain as I have ventured and am very satisfied.

      Based on my experience with these speakers, I know the new PS FR30s will sound superb. The FR30s will have double the number of bass drivers as mine along with the side radiators, and a similarly deep cabinet providing the internal volume necessary for passive loudspeakers to deliver the bass.

      Some old school speaker design principals remain in force. Cabinet volume is one of them.

  15. Big amps aren’t there to play loud. An 85 dB speaker only needs a few watts to play at 85 db(very loud). The problem is peaks that last miliseconds. They can overload an amp. A piano can do 30 dB peaks which calls for hundreds of watts. And even after the short peak some overloaded amps recover quicker than others, mainly due to the power supply of the amp, the part of the circuitry that costs the most and doesn’t show up much in the standard measurements listed for an amp.

      1. You’re sort of right. 85 dB is listening loud and still long term dangerous. 90 dB average is too loud for real safety and 103 dB is ouch. But then again it exists at rock concerts.

  16. Is there any concern over the environmental impact of energy-hog big amps? Or are we talking about an impact equivalent to just a few light bulbs? Also, air-conditioners have to run longer to compensate for the heat generated by the big amps. If everyone had big amps (which they never will) the power grid might go brown. There might be advisories that tell people when they should and should not fire up their systems, just as in some parts of the country during peak energy use times people are requested to refrain from using their washing machines and dryers.

    I once calculated the impact of my using both my audio systems at the same time. The power draw was equivalent to my entire rooftop solar system output that twenty years ago provided all the electricity needed for my entire house.

    Maybe we need Energy-Star ratings for amplifiers.

    1. JLG, I sounds like you have never had a big one. 😀 😉

      Seriously, when it comes to power amps and heat it all depends on whether you have tubes or SS. In my older system I had two c-j Premier 12 monoblocks. Each put out a meager 140 W, but the damn things drew 400 W total at ideal! They where not Class A, however, each side had 4 output tubes with cathode heaters that had to get the cathode hot enough to emit electrons. Each tube was basically a 50 W light bulb.

      Today I have an all FET SS amp that can produce 750 W per channel, yet it doesn’t even get warm when I have played it hard for two hours.

      My SWAG on this is there are so few “audiophiles” with big ass amps that even if we all ran them 8 hours a day the impact on world wide energy consumption would be so much less than 1% that no one would ever notice it.

      1. The total wattage of my two systems is 3,200 including the digital organ. When I used subwoofers it was almost 4,800 W. At one time I had all these systems tied together and played them all at the same time! My power bill reflected it.

        Do the math. Figure the total wattage of all your system components, then add up the hours played during a month and multiply to get WH. Divide by 1,000 to get KWH. Add an estimated % for the extra air-conditioning cooling load. Compare to the total KWH on your monthly (or bi-monthly) power bill. For some systems that are played for long hours the number is not insignificant.

        I’m not saying we need environmental impact statements for audio systems. My comment was meant to be humorous, and to, like comedian George Carlin, point out a certain hypocrisy of those who want to save the environment, and then have the biggest house, biggest audio system, and biggest of everything on the block. Not that any of us would ever fall into that category 🙂

  17. Paul, I agree 100%. Back in the 70’s my dad’s mantra was ”you can never have too much power, but you can miss not having enough” I’m from the same school of thought. I know, I know, I can hear from here the high efficiency speaker crowd with their 25 watt triode amps saying ”does it sound good?”. I say whatever floats your boat. I’ll always remember at the Montreal FSI about 12 years ago where the Canadian distributor for Egglestonworks was demoing a pair of Andra IIs, driving them with a 200W/ch amp. I told him that he never actually heard what the Andras can do. At the time I had the same pair at home and when I bought them I had a Krell FPB 300 (300w/ch). When I got the Andras I knew I was going to be short on power. YES, and I was right. I then got a FPB700cx. WOW is all I have to say. Point proven. By now you’ve guessed I like power and bass, and slam, but without sacrificing sound quality. That monster amp sounded really good for a powerhouse. Even my tube audiophile friends had to admit that it didn’t sound harsh at all. The Andra-Krell combo could rock the place like you were there, especially with a good live recording. Cheers!

  18. Having played bass for 50+ years (and having Saint Saens Symphony #3 among my all-time favorite pieces of music), no one needs to convince me of the wonderfulness of increased headroom.
    I look forward to a review, Paul – even though they are beyond my budget!
    (Hopefully an audio show demo in the not too distant future)

    1. I love the Saint-Saens 3rd Symphony, as well as Berlioz’s Symphony Fantastique. I honestly don’t know much about headroom. All I know is that they both sound impressively dynamic in my rig, even at concert levels, with less than 3 quality watts per channel from my Decware Zen amp.

      I feel like I’m sitting on top of the orchestra, like I did for years from my 2nd row center, first balcony seat at Orchestra Hall in Chicago. The key is 99db sensitive horn speakers. Once you hear the Klipsch Forte IV/Decware amp combo you come to realize, as perhaps only a few have, that there’s a far cheaper way to reproduce the dynamics of a concert hall, or a jazz club for that matter.

      It’s of course not the only good way, but it does the job just as well as the big iron.

      The wonderful thing is that there are many ways to achieve audio bliss. How we choose to do it is what makes us the individual audiophiles we love to be.

    2. A few years ago we saw/heard Cameron Carpenter play a few pieces plus the Saint Saens Third in Disney Hall.

      First time we heard bass exciting that hall. Amazing concert!

      1. Good for you, CtA. A shared musical experience, even if not in the same time/place dimension, is worth its weight in gold. I have friends that don’t even like Classical music that much. They are truly emotionally moved when they listen to Saint Saens’s 3rd Symphony.

        One of the things the younger members of our audio club learn in our listening sessions is how much our popular music owes to the masters of the past, going all the way back to Bach, whose works the Beatles often recognized as a significant influence in their music.

        1. Mahler eighth was the most dramatic at Disney with Dudamel.
          But Piazzolla’s Four Seasons Porteñas last week made me tear. Private reasons. And at the Bowl.

      2. There is a 2-disc CD called “Bombasia,” a recording of Josh Pershbacher on the Walt Disney Concert Hall organ. It has bass ad nauseum but has some passages that capture the beauty of the voicing of that organ in that hall acoustic. The Disney hall is not very reverberant and so the organ sounds more articulate and textured than you typically hear in a larger acoustic.

        My go-to recording of Saint-Saens Symphony No. 3 is TELARC Royal Philharmonic. There are deep pedal bass lines that run shivers through me. I use that disc to test the bass strength and purity of any new audio component including cables. Another of my favorite deep bass demo CDs is TELARC Ruffati Organ Davies Symphony Hall performance by Michael Murray. Years ago, HSU Reseach used to send that CD out with their subwoofers.

        1. Disney Hall has no bass from the orchestra. As I said, only the organ can “stimulate it”. It is a very hard and cold hall. I was used to Carnegie Hall as I lived in NJ for decades where the sound is warmer. Disney reminds me of Barbizan in London.
          A few years ago we heard Beethoven’s nine symphonies by the Dude in order in consecutive nights/days. The ninth was anemic, the poor double basses tried desperately to provide the growl to no avail.
          Interestingly, there is an old hall in Santa Barbara that has a much “warmer” sound for orchestras even if it is small and sometimes the players get all crunched up together.
          Have you ever heard Cameron Carpenter live? He is just amazing, even if his organ is not “natural”, it is electronic. The concert we saw, he played his for the first part and the hall’s for the Saint Saens.

          1. I have not heard Carpenter live. I have seen clips of some of his performances and interviews on YouTube. I am impressed with his dexterity and creative playing skills, but I don’t like his personality. I attended a Disney Hall organ recital by Ken Cowan, whose demeanor, music selections and playing style are more to my liking. Cowan masterfully exhibited all the beautiful voices and dynamic range of the “Hurricane Mama.” Going far back in time to the 70s, I remember attending a Revelation Lights “Heavy Organ” concert featuring crazy Virgil Fox and the Roger’s Touring Organ with its multitude of loudspeakers. Carpenter’s flamboyant road show sort of reminds me of that.

        2. My favorite recording of the 3rd is an original vinyl pressing with organist Marcel Dupre and Paul Paray conducting the Detroit Symphony. It is on Mercury Living Presence and the sonics are amazing. The CD and AMHD stream are pretty stunning too. It was produced by the Wilma Cozart Fine team mid last century.

          It is a great performance, but the sonics take it into surreal territory. Anyone who has not heard this and other recordings in the Mercury Living Presence series (not all excel) is, in my not so humble opinion, missing out on production masterpieces that have yet to be surpassed by DSD and other high res technologies.

          The 24/96 AMHD stream sounds quite excellent with the Directstream DAC/BHK 300 amp combo. However, swap in the Denafrips Pontus II DAC and the Decware Zen amp, using the same Klipsch IV speakers, and the dynamics and soundstage of the piece have to be heard to be believed. It is rousing.

          Here is a link to the Fine team’s narrative if you don’t know the history:


  19. Onward and upward.

    “Captain, me engines cannae take much more o’ this!” [dual monoblock warp nacelles with matter/antimatter/crystalline di-lithium power supply]

    “Power, Scotty! I need more power!”

    Out of general curiosity (okay, blatant nosiness) What is the currently predicted price of the BHK600s versus the BHK300s. An approximation will be fine for now.

  20. If the 600 sounds better than the 300 then it will be worth it. Otherwise it will be an overkill for an average listener. The only setup which would require such wattage will be either where the speakers are extremely inefficient or the room is the size of an huge music hall or else if it is to be used at a live performance where audiophile caliber amps are not required anyway. So it all boils down to superior sound. This time will tell. One more thing there are people who like to showoff i.e mine is more powerful than yours mentality. Regards.

  21. Important point: That 90dB is at 1 meter. At a more typical listening distance (even as close as 3 meters) that drops to a much more moderate sound pressure of 80dB. Also agree with the need for loads of transient headroom for those musical peaks.

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Boulder, CO 80301

Join the hi-fi family

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