SeXy or brutish? That tends to be part of any serious power pow-wow. It's got car parallels. To be safe, a beastly high-torque V8 requires a big heavy chassis. If you're alone and do most your driving in inner-city rush hour, a smaller lighter car may be far better, never mind cheaper to refuel. You're neither trailer towing, worried about rapid takeovers starting at 120km/hr nor interested in flashing-lights Autobahn antics. Similar thinking applies to muscle amps. Should our needs be inner-city rush hour, won't a V8 be too brutish and unresponsive? Anecdotal evidence often agrees but not always. The additional gain stages, higher negative feedback and mass-paralleled output devices involved in scaling up power can have a sonically detrimental effect if we don't need the power. This leads to an obvious question. Say you had $3'600 to spend. You already knew that your speakers tango with a $3'000 25/50wpc into 8/4Ω amp à la FirstWatt F7 because you've got one. You're happy like a clam in butter.

Just so... might an SX-1000R pair be better yet? Across the board? Only in certain aspects and on special music? With concomitant losses elsewhere? It's the basic conflict between two beliefs: bigger is better vs. small but refined. For a price, amps like Gryphon Audio's Diablo 300 merge these two polarities to perfection. Could Wyred4Sound's value recipe make their muscle-bound monos punch like champions and pirouette like ballerinas? After the Maximus testosterone fest, that's what I hoped to learn. Here's a relevant quote from senior contributors Marja & Henk who own the exotic 100dB Arcadian Audio Pnoe. Those are back-loaded AER-fitted widebanders. That makes them the single drivers with big horns of kiddie walk-in mouths at right.

"Going through one of your prior reviews, we noted this sentence: 'Some widebanders mostly not of the 100dB kind appreciate more power than their efficiency predicts.' Here we fully agree. Our Pnoe get happier the more power is available, be it 1200w/4Ω nCore class D or 150wpc KT120 power tubes." In hifi, not all is at it seems. It doesn't merely confuse buyers. Reviewers too get shoved around. The best we can do is add to the anecdotal evidence of our hobby's data bank. That's the totality of all reviews and user feedback everywhere. From that, certain patterns emerge as do exceptions. The map isn't fail safe and fool proof. Still, it's better than groping completely in the dark.

Due is a final comment on ICEpower. With a 2004 head start, the Danes are now multiple generations deep into their technology. It remains a favourite with April Music's Simon Lee, has factored prominently in Peachtree 1 and continues unabated with Peachtree 2. Wadia have embraced PowerSoft, today's Bel Canto moved to nCore. Gato Audio picked Pascal, S.P.E.C. prefer Texas Instruments. Whilst alliances shift, class D is a shark. It never stands still. With ever smaller more powerful smart phones, tablets, lap tops, IT relies on it. So does stock car audio. At any given time, any one OEM supplier might—seem to—hold the edge. Still, progress in this profitable sector doesn't freeze despite its cool operating temps. B&O's oldie status for ICEpower, without a slick name change like Hypex to nCore, might suggest they're passé. Such notions overlook the genre's constant flux. Plus, B&O's ASP range doesn't lock OEM clients into their own on-chip driver. A gifted designer may influence the final sound by how cleverly he voices his own input and driver stage. That's a core aspect of EJ Sarmento's reputation. It's a competency which led directly to his pending costlier Statement tech. It's the very thing the R improves over the original. Time to play.
Relative to similarities/differences with the WBT/Kimber-upgraded mAMP monos, "the new SX-1000R differs mainly on power by rating at over twice the mAMP's spec. Soundwise that equates to being able to produce more vivid dynamics and a bit more headroom. However, the two will sound quite similar as the new R's input stage is derived from the same input stage as the mAMP." For why Aussie contributor John Darko bestowed his Knock-Out Award on the mAMP siblings plus their mPRE mate, click here. The SX1000R's design has hard-hitting value encoded in its DNA