I wanted it to be very good sound-wise, but also quite powerful since my speakers like a lot of power. It would also have to be a 3 channel amp, driving my center channel as well as my main speakers. Hypex recommends that the LMs used as buffers be powered by off-board high quality power supplies, so I decided to go that way. But it is top-notch, technology-wise. With all that in mind, I purchased a 2U aluminum chassis from modushop.
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They are available also in a more basic version. As said, they have a balanced input, but they perfectly work in an unbalanced system, with basic connector adapter cables, or directly with RCA input pins. UcD amplifier module left and HG power supply module right The HG power supply units are very high power and quality elements, each able to drive a couple of UcD or UcD; on the unit under test there is one of these for each channel. Also the transformers are very large and massive.
In facts these power supplies are traditional units, and not switching, as in many newer systems for example: NuForce. This contributes largely to the high weight of the amplifier.
Note that this weight seems also an important marketing aspect: apparently, a traditional, huge and heavy amp seems in many case to be preferred by the average buyer to a small, low weight, switching PSU unit, regardless of the power and sound quality of this one.
Just a further example of how many factors - all different from sound quality alone - affect the choice of a component whose main if not only purpose is to play music. However, all connectors are plugs, and the matching cables can be supplied, or fast-on type, so everything should be quite simple.
Also, instructions are supplied for correct input wiring. Note also that the heat produced by these little monsters is extremely reduced. The heat-sink the blue part has just to be connected to any box panel, even the bottom is acceptable by the way, whoever knows about heatsinks can understand they are not heat-stressed by just looking at their colour However, you can possibly assemble a complete UcD unit for half that amount, provided you use using lower cost and lower quality components.
Only one caveat: the unit input is DC coupled, which means it is mandatory to avoid any DC on the input; note that some pre-amps have a very high and slow DC transitory at the startup, so it is especially suggested to power up first the pre-amp and then the amps.
The sound As a matter of fact the presentation of sound is quite similar to a good class A amplifier or a single ended triode unit. The sound is clear, rather transparent, precise, detailed, with that specific "lucid" presentation typical of triode units.
Low frequencies are well present and controlled, even though perhaps not as much as you would expect from an amplifer with a damping factor of The entire bass range is definitely round and full, pleasant and effective, exactly as it happens with many tubed amp systems.
Mid range is clean and smooth, not especially in evidence, but enough to give voices the correct body and appearance. High frequencies are open, clear, lucid, really tubey. Given these qualities, the unit does not forgive sources with a "digital" flavour in the sound! In such a case the sound becomes rather "viscid", unnatural and as such unpleasant. Otherwise, it is limpid and smooth. The soundstage is very wide and precise. No artificial depth seems to have been added, but all the natural depth of the recording is correctly presented.
Despite the precision in the instruments portraits and in their positioning, the music, again as in tube units, tends to appear more as a whole than decomposed and dissected in its components as with T-Amp, for example.
So the soundstage is very natural, very realistic, and very involving. The black areas among instruments and players are therefore vibrating with music, instead of being empty like it sometimes happens with the T-Amp.
However, a lot of details and ambience informations are transferred to the listener while that strange T-Ampesque feeling of shortened sound queues is completely missing.
The sound is always smooth and sweet, even though powerful. Only at exceptionally high levels really far, far higher than any normal listening level I can imagine of , and in presence of very complicated musical patterns and difficult loads, I have perceived something like an hint of grain.
Actually it could have been - perhaps - a trouble in very high frequencies cymbals, for example reproduction in the most complex situation, or even early saturation: the listening level was so high that even a watts unit might have been running out of steam Conclusions If you still needed a further proof that amps based on new technologies Class-D, or Class-T, or also Class-N, everyone seems to have his own private solution, or perhaps just name The UcD proved to be a sound, solid device, absolutely stable no kind of issue throughout all listening sessions , easy to use, able to work under all conditions I tested without any problem.
Complete kits are available at least through the Italian distributor , but even in case the desired configurations were not available, this should not prevent anyone from building it: most components are available from Hypex or their distributors, and the remaining are not critical at all and are very easy to find.
Actually, the most demanding area is for sure the cabinet preparation So wrapping up, we have a W amp, with that delicate touch of a triode butterfly and the power of a solid state bull, easy to build, very stable, accepting with equal ease both balanced and unbalanced inputs, at a cost that is far away from anything comparable. True, the low price is partially balanced by the assembling: however if you really do not want to face the trouble of assembling your own unit, please note that you can also find a few UcD based amplifiers on the market for example, the Channel Island Audio D , even though as usual this comes at a not irrelevant cost In any case, the bottom line is clear: it is really time to get acquainted with Class D.
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