Classe' CT-M600 Monoblock Amplifier Reviewed

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I started off my listening session with AC/DC's High Voltage (Atlantic/WEA) from the opening track "It's a Long way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'N' Roll). The Classe's gave me all the energy I could ever need to even the most extreme volumes. The guitars jumped from my speakers as I was playing them pretty loud but the power of the bass drum kept up and went to depths not often heard. The horns stayed in your face with plenty of air. "Rock 'n' Roll Singer" kept my room rockin' with the powerful guitars and vocals while again the bottom end punched me in the chest like only hugely powerful amplifiers can do - yet the Classe's never got edgy or annoying and no matter how high I pushed the volume the bottom end stayed controlled. "The Jack" only further demonstrated how well the power of these amps handled bass.

I spun up Al DiMeola's The Infinite Desire (Telarc) as it is great music and recorded extremely well. From the washing machine sounds at the start of the title track, the sound was open and true to life and the knocking on the sides of the tub was powerful, but when the bass really kicked in the power and depth were simply amazing. Even more amazing was how well the delicacy of the guitar was kept totally separate from the deep bass lines. "Valentina" was excellent and the music seemed to simply flow from the system. Never did I feel I pushed these amps to work up a sweat much less run out of power. The opening of "Invention of the Monsters" is fast and complicated and the Classe's handled the song with ease and control, with a musicality that was wonderful. "Race With Devil on Turkish Highway" is an unusual tune and covers the gamut from fast guitar to deep bass groves and the Classe's didn't miss a beat.

The Alan Parson's Project I Robot (Arista) is a classic album well known to all rock music fans and from the start of the title track the space and dynamics reproduced by these amps were incredible. The music simply filled the room and had exceptional separation at all listening levels. I am always amazed at how much more depth bass has from powerful amplifiers even at low listening levels and the Classe's reinforced that to me in spades. On "Some Other Time" the subtler qualities of these amps were allowed to shine. Space was huge and every note was discretely and accurately portrayed with authority and a musicality that just flowed from the speakers.

No mater what I played, even the Dead Kennedys, I never ran out of power and the bass lines stayed controlled even to extreme volumes. Jello's voice on "Holiday in Cambodia" had all the edge and anger I remember, while the rash guitar lines kept pace. While I am in no way expecting you to use the Dead Kennedys for reference material, I loved how the limitless power of these amps brought power and life to this music. I listened through to "We've Got a Bigger Problem Now," Jello Biafa's rebuke to Ronald Reagan taking office. Listening to this track made me wonder what he'd think of our current political situation as I got lost in the angst and emotion of this old classic punk tune.

I moved to some old time blues with Junior Wells' Come On In This House (Telarc) and the richness of Junior's vocals and smoothness of guitar were amazing on "She Wants to Sell My Monkey" while the bass lines had the incredible depth I had come to expect from these amplifiers. The guitars notes jumped from the strings, I mean speakers, during the livelier passages and the dueling guitars were clearly distinct from each other. The train sound of the guitars on "Mystery Train" had clarity and power. On "King Fish Blues" the harmonica was lively while the slower nature of the tune came across with an ease that was wonderful. Junior Well's voice was as good as I remember live acoustic.

No matter what I played through the Classe's, from music to TV to Blu-Ray, they never let me down. I even went so far as to watch several scenes from James Cameron's "Avatar" (20th Century Fox) in stereo fed by my Oppo NuForce edition Blu-Ray player and the spacious nature of the soundtrack was done incredibly well in two channel. I was impressed by how well the constant bass track of the film was handled by my main speakers using these amps, producing subwoofer-like levels and deep bass from my albeit large monitors.

The Downside
The Classe' CT-M600 monoblock amplifiers are damn near perfect and are one of the best amplifiers currently made, but for those who need massive weight to impress themselves or their friends, these amps won't suffice. Aesthetics are always subjective, and while I think they look cool, your tastes may vary. I would be perfectly happy to have them sitting on my floor or on an amp stand let alone in a rack.

The power protection circuitry may require you to depress the front power button from time to time, depending on your power. Mine in Florida is terrible, especially in the summer when I had these amplifiers, and during the few months with these amplifiers, on three occasions I did have them enter protection mode and had to re-start them. This wasn't an issue for me as they were on the floor in my listening room. Were they in a remote site, it would require more effort.

Conclusion
Classe' has done the seemingly impossible with the CT-M600's. They have made an amplifier that is capable of satisfying the most discerning audiophile yet allows for placement into a conventional rack with ease and minimal thermal management issues. Forget the ability to place them into your closet without worrying about heat, these amps sound simply amazing and are among the finest amplifiers I have heard. They offer bass control that can only come from the almost limitless power they offer yet they have an ability to handle subtle details equally as well, even to extreme volumes, and reproduce music with smoothness and ease.

Classe's technology of active thermal management assures that however you install these amplifiers you will be rewarded with top performance, as it allows the amplifiers to get to optimum operating temperature quickly (in under 12 minutes) and keeps them there no matter how hard you drive them. Many other amps I've owned of lesser power run far hotter, and would simply not tolerate being in the closed in environment of a typical rack-based system. Classe' tells me that in their own torture testing in clipping levels for hours, the fans never went above 30 percent use and after spending several months with these massive beasts I can see why. Even in my test, after hours on end at extreme volumes they never got more than warm and the fans were nearly silent and certainly never interfered with the sound.

The new Classe' CT-M600 creates an entirely new category of amplifiers by successfully satisfying both the installers and audiophiles alike. If you are in the market for top tier performing amplifiers, these are the ones to audition, and while I know the $13,000 per pair price isn't cheap, they can hang with amps costing much more. If you plan to build a home theater where your gear is stashed away in a closet or media room and want the best sound, these amplifiers are the only choice for true audiophile performance in such an environment and will reward you with some of the finest and most abundant power available.

Additional Resources
• Read more about Classe and its products.
• Find more amplifier reviews from HomeTheaterReview.com's staff.

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HTR Product Rating for Classe' CT-M600 Monoblock Amplifier

Criteria Rating

Performance

5

Value

4.5

Overall

5

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