Classé Omega Pre-Amplifier MKIII Reviewed

Classé Omega Pre-Amplifier MKIII Reviewed

Managing Editor Andrew Robinson appreciates the simplicity and quality of the Classé Omega Pre-Amplifier MKIII preamp. It may not have all the bells and whistles of the latest preamplifiers, but what is does have is something far more important.

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While the whole world might be clamoring for the latest in streaming, Bluetooth or what ever the next craze in music might be there is still a place for a true, audiophile preamplifier like the Omega Pre-Amplifier MKIII from Classe. Now, I’m not suggesting that Classé is a company with its back turned to the future, not at all, for they have arguably the most advanced two-channel preamp ever in the CP-800 that is set to hit dealer showrooms any day now. However, while the Omega Pre-Amplifier may be dinosaur by CP-800 standards it’s far from being irrelevant for it’s one of the finer sounding solid state preamps ever built.

Additional Resources
• Read more stereo preamplifier reviews by HomeTheaterReview.com’s staff.
• Search for a pair of amps in our Amplifier Review Section.
• Explore speaker pairing options in our Floorstanding Speaker Review section.

Retailing for $17,500 the Omega Pre-Amplifier MKIII isn’t exactly cheap but then again what truly high-end products are. The Omega Pre-Amplifier MKIII employs dual mono construction where by the power supply is isolated in a separate enclosure while the left and right audio channels are housed separately as well but encased in the MKIII’s top chassis. The Omega Pre-Amplifier MKIII features both balanced and unbalanced connection options for all of its inputs as well as outputs. Speaking of inputs the Omega Pre-Amplifier MKIII has three as well as a Tape input and output bringing the total to four. The Omega Pre-Amplifier MKIII has two outputs as well.

The Omega Pre-Amplifier MKIII’s design is modern with very little in the way of manual controls cluttering up its fascia. Volume control is handled via a hock puck like disc that protrudes from the MKIII’s recessed black design accent and shuttles in a left to right motion versus a clockwise or counter clockwise rotation like most volume pots. Outside of the large volume control there is a small button, which you can press to cycle through the various inputs options and a button for placing the MKIII into standby mode.

The build quality of the Omega Pre-Amplifier MKIII is solid both inside and out, even input and volume changes are accompanied with a mighty “thunk” or “click.” The Omega Pre-Amplifier MKIII’s remote could be classified as a deadly weapon the thing is so solid-milled out of aluminum the remote features hard controls for each of the MKIII’s input options as well as balance, mute and volume up and down.

Sonically the Omega Pre-Amplifier MKIII is extremely neutral meaning if you’re hearing warmth or bloat or anything that may be objectionable you can rest assured it isn’t because of the MKIII being in the chain. The Omega Pre-Amplifier MKIII really doesn’t impart much if anything to your system’s sound, at least in my tests; this also means it doesn’t take anything away either, which is what all good, reference grade preamplifiers should do.

Read about the high and low points of the Omega Pre-Amplifier MKII on Page 2.
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High Points
• The Omega Pre-Amplifier MKIII’s build quality is second to none and
while it may be a touch on the large side (19 inches wide) you know by
looking at it and interacting with it that it’s built for the long
haul.
• The Omega Pre-Amplifier MKIII is about as transparent a preamp
as I’ve come across, besting my reference Mark Levinson No 326S in
virtually everyway, though it should considering it costs nearly twice
as much.
• The Omega Pre-Amplifier MKIII does what a good, reference preamplifier
should and that is to serve as the control center to your music
collection and to not editorialize, good or bad, allowing the music to
flow for hours on end. This is what the Omega Pre-Amplifier MKIII was
made for and this is where it truly succeeds.

Low Points
• I don’t like the Omega Pre-Amplifier MKIII’s trick volume control nor the “steps” Classe
has chosen to use as you volume up or down. Most preamps move in
increments of one or .5 dB, which is somewhat standard yet the Omega
Pre-Amplifier MKIII will move in increments of .8 sometimes and others
.5 etc. until you reach about the 30 mark then it settles down into a
.5 dB increase each and every time.
• While some guests to my home thought the Omega Pre-Amplifier MKIII’s
audible ‘thunks’ were kind of manly, I personally found them to be
annoying especially when making rapid changes in volume which produced
a sound similar to someone putting playing cards in the spokes of their
bicycle.
• With the release of Classé’s CP-800 right around the corner the Omega
Pre-Amplifier MKIII may soon be let out to pasture, which is sad,
though what it lacks in connectivity and modern features it more than
makes up for in performance.

Conclusion
At $17,500 the Omega Pre-Amplifier MKIII from Classé isn’t going to be
for everyone, hell, minus the review unit that was sent to me I’d never
seen one in person before, which is kind of a shame for it’s a damn
fine performer. While it may lack some of the modern features of other,
newer preamps the Omega Pre-Amplifier MKIII can still hold its own
where it counts-musical enjoyment and audiophile performance. Consider
this component timeless and worthy of attention from collectors and
audio enthusiasts alike.

Additional Resources
• Read more stereo preamplifier reviews by HomeTheaterReview.com’s staff.
• Search for a pair of amps in our Amplifier Review Section.
• Explore speaker pairing options in our Floorstanding Speaker Review section.

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Joseph Lui

I was and am fortunate enough to bought this preamp and its matching Classe Omega mono blocks power amps from the Bowers & Wilkins, a superb UK speakers company while these Classe products were still made by its Canadian factory under the ownership of B&W.

These are the most musical instruments ( together the pair of B&W 800 Diamond speakers) I have ever used(and still using) in the course of my music hobby for the past 40 years. These Omega series were made like the Mercedes Benz and Porsche cars in the 70s and the early 80s where the German engineers were the CEO + CFO of the car companies. Their philosophy were simply to design and make the best products with the best materials and engineering knowhow and then the products were priced to sell accordingly only at the end of the process. That was how timeless beauties and products with no compromises were made. Unfortunately this expensive and no compromise production philosophy is not quite economically viable today.

These Classe Omega series are timeless masterpieces and they still remain as one of the very few most musical instruments in the world as acclaimed by the professional HIFI reviewers worldwide. Very few people can own and afford Monet paintings and Ferberger Eggs but one can read and appreciate how these timeless pieces were made.

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