This review page is supported in part by the sponsors whose ad banners are displayed below

For break-in the designer recommends 2 weeks of non-stop action. On warm-up sans sleep mode, "our amps actually get 10°C warmer over the first half hour of running". On his alternate power supply, "it will raise power into 8Ω from 140 to about 200 watts. Of course that's nowhere near Big Cherry's 420-watt mono rating for the Ultra version. But Maraschino can push huge current. With the right power supply it's actually possible to output close to 800 watts into 2Ω continuous for under a minute."

About general tech background, "the component side of the board faces the metal enclosure which is grounded. The visible side of the board is a ground plane. Thus the circuitry is surrounded by shielding in a 'ground sandwich' fashion. The lid of the enclosure is also grounded so the internal wiring (power, signal i/o) is encased in a shielded box. External wiring is kept short. Note the rather expensive gold binding posts which are soldered not crimped. We also twist power and speaker outputs independently. The speaker connection is 14AWG. Regarding our proprietary tech, understand this is our secret sauce. We modulate much faster than the module guys who strive to fit as many applications as possible. We're not worried about selling into many different OEMs so we can sacrifice some specs in favor of others. For example we're not concerned as much with idle current so we can allow the components to run faster and even self heat. This creates a bit of a warm-up time that would be unattractive to a module supplier to lock them out of some apps. We're also not trying to win sockets as module manufacturers do so we don't cut corners on component cost. We aren't trying for the least common denominator where connector locations, form factor and multi-sourced components force designs to deal with commonality rather than a totally custom topology. In module design, decisions are made for the sake of being easier to deal with for their customers such as AC coupling throughout and one-size-fits-all interfacing. Module makers need to keep from pricing themselves out of the market due to their cut of the action. Often the OEM using a module doesn't have engineers capable of understanding the base amplifier design. This is an issue when it comes to power supply interaction and similar interface issues.  

With 'the good stuff' facing the other way and considering $350/pr generic SMPS outboard power supplies, Maraschino looks very empty for its $2'000 tag ...

"If you look at our feature list, you can see how we differ from off-the-shelf amp modules. We DC couple all the way through. We use tight-tolerance parts through the signal path. We build our own modulator, a design refined through more than 20 years of experience in the audio field, not from switching power supply design. We employ techniques that don't rely on low load reactance to function predictably. Bench specs are an interesting subject. We start with a board that can do >120dB SNR and <0.001% THD+N, then tweak for sound. We've used the same approach for decades if not from such amazing numbers to start out with. I'm saying this so you realize we're all about the sound despite our outstanding specifications. We strive to create the most musical yet accurate amplifier possible. This requires speed. You might recognize right off that Maraschino is fast. Transients and HF are reproduced with ease due to usable bandwidth beyond 100kHz. This isn't just about frequency response either. Maraschino maintains control over the load even with the fastest signal because its open-loop output impedance is so low. It does so without causing that 'too much negative feedback' harshness which typically gets associated with class D amps. Our multi-layer control loop is set for a minimum of global negative feedback."

Looking through the foggy spy glass for competitive context, ICEpower ASX2 offers 120-130kHz bandwidth (-3dB), dynamic range of 112-120dB, Zout of 0.016Ω and THD+N of 0.008-0.002%. Ncore 400 shows a DC-coupled input, S/NR of 124dB and Zout of 0.007Ω. Ncore 1200 does 126dB S/NR, 0.003Ω Zout full bandwidth and 50kHz response. UcD400 does 0.01% THD+N, 0.02Ω output impedance and 50kHz bandwidth. Abletec and Pascal read similar. None of it predicts sonics. It's purely for the happy spec hunters. At left is what $5'000 buy you as Merak monos from Hong Kong's AURALiC. Those are based on modified UcD400 to reduce higher-order THD, Lundahl input iron, a custom driver stage and beefy linear power supply. I'd use a pair to take the pulse on Tommy O's babies. Though I asked, no photo of the business end of Tommy's board was forthcoming to protect his IP [resolved post publication as shown on the previous page - Ed]. But I did ask about his bandwidth claims when his own graph barely makes it to 20kHz into 4Ω.

I also asked at what actual frequency his modulator operates when present hifi transistor tech limits how fast transistors can be switched. Unless one used industrial gallium-nitride (GaN) parts that is. Those switch in the microwave freqs. Here's what he added. "The Maraschino Fsw is variable*. It can momentarily exceed 2MHz. We use transistors not made for class D. Sorry, our frequency response plot was taken through a measurement filter with a significant rolloff. Without the filter the measurement has a hard time syncing. I should probably explain that on the product sheet." Indeed. About his output Ω, "I just took a quick measurement and got about 0.02Ω at 1kHz. We think it's lower though. Theoretically without PCB traces, connectors etc. it's something like 0.008Ω. The impedance stays low up to higher frequencies than our big Cherry by the way. We think this is one reason the sound is so nice in the highs. That's also good for imaging." He finished off with "I'm surprised you haven't asked about our aesthetic and packaging choices. A lot of thought went into those elements of the design." For $4'000 with laptop-style albeit 'medical-grade' outboard SMPS and compared to the competition (Merrill Audio's Thor monos are priced identically and to my eyes look far better; ditto Gato Audio), I thought Tommy's granite bases a bit of bolt-on chrome compensation. But my job is sonics. If you love cherry red with a bit of paint ripple and tiny boxes weighed down by permanently attacked natural stone bases so wiry speaker cables can't move or airlift them about, the Maraschino twins will have you covered like nothing else.

* This suggests some spread-spectrum type 'frequency hopping'.

Tommy had a bit more. "See the new frequency response plot. This one bypasses the measurement filter. Note that the response is about 1dB down at 60kHz into 4 ohms.

"Also, Maraschino's base and Sorbothane feet provide a stable anti-vibration platform. The base weighs nearly 3kg each and also serves to hold the amplifier securely in place even with rather heavy speaker cables. I'm sure you've heard of the microphonic effect of ceramic and film capacitors. We rely heavily on surface-mount ceramic and film caps to make a powerful amplifier in a compact package. The Maraschinos we sent you have marble bases. We currently offer those as an option. I think they're prettier than the granite but that's just my opinion. There's no performance difference between granite or marble."