Classe CA-5300 Five Channel Amplifier Reviewed

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Classe CA-5300 Five Channel Amplifier Reviewed

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Classe_CA-5300_multi-channel_amp_review.gifClasse is on a roll lately and their newly updated Delta Series products continue their quest for high end, hi-fi dominance. I recently reviewed Classe's CA-2300 two-channel amp and found it to be "one of the best high-end sounding amplifiers under $10,000 that I've ever heard." High praise, but what if you're a multi-channel guy? What if two channels of high-end amplification simply aren't enough? Well, thankfully, Classe offers the CA-5300 five-channel amplifier for all your multi-channel and home theater needs.

Additional Resources
• Read more multi-channel amp reviews by's staff.
• Find a pair of floorstanding speakers or bookshelf speakers for the CA-5300 to drive.
• Explore AV receiver options to pair with the CA-5300.

Retailing for $9,500, the CA-5300 is the most expensive amp in the new Delta Series lineup; however it also offers the most channels of amplification at five. Each of the CA-5300's five channels churn out an impressive 300 Watts of power into eight Ohms and 600 Watts into four. The CA-5300 features Classe's new, microprocessor controlled, ICTunnel cooling system, which keeps the amp operating at peak temperatures internally without having to rely on unsightly heat sinks. The CA-5300 has a reported frequency response of 1Hz to 100kHz with total harmonic distortion rated at less than one percent using either balanced or single ended connections. The CA-5300 is also a little eco friendly with a standby power draw of less than a single Watt - however during vigorous listening sessions Mother Nature isn't going to like the CA-5300 power draw, which can reach figures in excess of 1,000 Watts.

In terms of looks the CA-5300 is all Classe all the time. Clad in its smooth white finish with matte black accents, the new Delta Series amps are among the more beautiful audiophile and home theater products around. The CA-5300 measures in at 17 and a half inches wide by nearly 23 inches deep and almost nine inches tall. It tips the scales at a hefty, but not unruly, 105 pounds. Connection options include five sets of both balanced and unbalanced inputs along with five sets of robust five-way binding posts.

As far as the CA-5300's sound quality is concerned it sounds largely identical to its two-channel brother the CA-2300. I say "largely" because I didn't have the CA-2300 on hand to do a direct comparison so I'm commenting from memory. The CA-5300's bass performance is textural and deep with excellent control and finesse even under demanding situations such as the attack on Pearl Harbor in Michael Bay's historical action epic, Pearl Harbor, on Blu-ray (Touchstone). The CA-5300 midrange is clear, open and natural, sounding neither artificially warm nor lean. Dialog tracks via the CA-5300 sounded live versus reproduced and were always clean and intelligible when the source material allowed for it. Films such as Morning Glory (Paramount), which seem to live almost entirely in one's center channel, really showcases the CA-5300's smooth midrange demeanor. The CA-5300's high frequency response is too very smooth and non-fatiguing, though it achieves this by not trying to push the envelope too much for there are more airy and extended solid state amps out there - the CA-5300 just isn't that amp. Instead, the CA-5300 errs on the side of caution at times choosing to be "just right" for a wider variety of source material. A good example of this can be found in the often harsh high frequency sounds of the film Burlesque (Screen Gems), which other amps deliver like an axe to the head whereas the CA-5300 manages to smooth them out a bit and make the whole experience enjoyable. Dynamically the CA-5300 is solid, though not an amp that is likely to bowl you over or surprise you. Its dynamic capabilities are not less than its competition; it just doesn't enhance dynamic swings for the sake of shock and awe the way some amps do. The CA-5300's soundstage is very nice, possessing equal parts depth and width with good detail and separation throughout.

Read about the high points and low points of the CA-5300 on Page 2.

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