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Classe Audio CA-5200 Reviewed

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sp-CA-5200L.gifReceivers are for bedrooms. In a true high-performance, audiophile-grade theater, you need real power to move some air with your speakers, meaning that even if you have a pair of your favorite monoblock amps perched on a slab of granite, you still have five more channels of audio to power. That brings me to the $8,000 Classe' CA-5200, one of the most refined, powerful and graceful multi-channel amps to ever grace my equipment rack.

Additional Resources
• Read multi-channel amps from the likes of Parasound, Sunfire, Lexicon, Classe, Mark Levinson, Krell, Outlaw Audio, Emotiva and many others.


Listed conservatively at 200 watts per channel times five channels, the Classe Audio CA-5200 is what we could call a beast of an amplifier. It mainly operates as a traditional class AB amp but, at lower outputs, the Classe' engineers have figured out a way to make the amps run as a class-A amp (no pun intended), which reportedly reduces some of the noise associated with class AB switching, not that you can hear any audible noise when auditioning the Classe' CA-5200, as this power amp runs very, very quietly. The Toroidal transformer (the heart and soul of any good class AB amp) is custom-made and extra-beefy, yet the Classe' CA-5200 runs cool as a cucumber.

The build quality and industrial design for the entire Classe' line, especially the CA-5200, is as good as it gets at any price in the world of specialty audio. For music, expect to hear an amplifier that doesn't really impose its sound on your recordings. What the Classe' CA-5200 does is provide a reserve of power that is always sitting there waiting to produce. You don't always need all 200 watts across five channels, but when you are playing a demanding SACD in surround, there are times you are glad you have the sonic reinforcement that the CA-5200 delivers. For movies, the need for discrete power is arguably even more important, as a CA-5200 likely would power your front three speakers, as well as your surrounds. With HD audio coming from today's best Blu-ray sources, never before has having a high-resolution surround sound system been more relevant. The resolution of the effects you can hear in your side and rear channels are better than ever, necessitating a more significant amplifier like the Classe' CA-5200.

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