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Two Channel


For audiophiles who refuse to compromise the quality of their dedicated two-channel separates, integrating multichannel home theater with a traditional hi-fi setup has long been a logistical challenge. Sharing the front left and right speakers between a two-channel preamp and a surround processor is a particularly difficult problem, since most amplifiers do not accept more than one input per channel-and introducing a sonically degrading switch in the signal path would defeat the purist ideal.

An increasingly common solution adopted by today's high-end two-channel preamp manufacturers such as conrad-johnson is the inclusion of a dedicated "unity gain" input for the front channels from a surround processor-the signal path for that input bypasses the preamps volume (gain) control, insuring that the surround processor retains properly calibrated output levels among all channels. Taking the integration goal a step further, the latest preamplifier designs from conrad-johnson improve on the unity gain concept, augmenting it with a secondary "Theater Output" that also allows two-channel sources to be fed to the surround processor.

With this connection method, the purist front channel signals can be enhanced with surround processing in the center and surround speakers, using the Hafler-type surround modes found in many surround processors and preamps (including conrad-johnson's recently acquired subsidiary, McCormack Audio (see page 3). The secondary Theater Output path is protected against potentially speaker-damaging feedback loops that can occur if the units are inadvertently set to use each other as their input source. One of the newest c-j products to implement this capability is the $2,000 PV-14L tubed linestage preamplifier, which replaces the PV-12L in the company's lineup.

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The acclaimed design introduced in the $16,000 conrad-johnson Anniversary Reference Triode (ART) preamplifier (shown in last year's SMR CES Report) continues to find its way into the company's lower-priced Premier Line offerings (which also include the full surround pre/pro integration capabilities described above). At $4,495, the Premier 17LS shown here is c-j's most affordable ART-based offering. The line also includes the ART-based Premier 16 ($8,295), and the entry level Premier 18 which implements an alternative solid-state design.

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After Bill Conrad and Lew Johnson marked their partnership's 20-year anniversary with the ART preamplifier, they turned their attention to developing a matching statement power amplifier. The Grand Anniversary Triode (GAT) monoblock amplifier, first glimpsed on the drawing board at last year's CES, is now on display in prototype form. A 300B triode-based design, the GAT implements a new topology designed to overcome the traditional limitations of single-ended triode (SET) amplifiers such as low power output and uneven frequency response. The GAT marries the SET amplifier to a high-current buffer stage, to achieve a flat response and projected output rating of at least 800 watts. Due out this Fall, the GAT will command an anticipated price of $36,000/pair. As with the ART, production will be limited to 250 pairs. Click for a Larger Image

WAVAC Audio Lab

The GAT is by no means the priciest product in its class, however. In the world of high-end audio, there is no such thing as a price ceiling. Case in point: the Model HE-833 Directly Headed Triode Single Ended Power Amplifier from Japan's WAVAC Audio Lab, at $47,500 apiece. Delivering 100 watts per channel, a pair of these beauties sounded wonderful driving the new high-efficiency dB-99 loudspeakers in the Von Schweikert Audio suite. []

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Latest additons 1st February 2002:

Sherbourn Technologies P7/1000
Sherbourn Technologies 5/1500A
DTS In-Car Audio Demonstration
DTS Multimedia Demonstration
Philips Pronto Remote Controls
Philips DVD+RW Recorders
Simaudio Titan & W-5 Amplifiers
WAVAC Audio Lab Model HE-833
conrad-johnson PV-12L & 17LS
conrad-johnson GAT
Quad ESL-989 & Verity Audio Tamino
Avantgarde Acoustic Duo & Uno
NHT Evolution Loudspeakers
NHT Evolution Theory & Design
Joseph Audio Loudspeakers
PS Audio Ultimate Lab Power Cable
PS Audio Power Director & Juice Bar
PS Audio Classic 250 & HCA-1 Amps
Morel Applause & Octave
Anthony Gallo Acoustics Due
Miller & Kreisel Multi-Platform
Miller & Kreisel Column Surrounds
Lamm Industries L2 Reference
Vacuum Tube Logic TL 2.5.1
McCormack Audio MAP-1 Processor
Cary Audio CAD-88 Amplifier
Toshiba Blue Laser Prototype
Draper Revelation & Hi-Def Gray
NHT Evolution Subwoofers
Von Schweikert Audio dB-99

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Show report last updated: 1st February 2002 ~ 368 original images on-line.


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