Classé SSP-600 AV Preamplifier Reviewed

Classé SSP-600 AV Preamplifier Reviewed

The Classé' SSP600 is now discontinued for the SSP800 but for those looking for high end audio preamplifier performance who are willing to pass the new uncompressed codecs from their Blu-ray player in analog this is a great piece. Read Jerry Del Colliano's full review here.

Currently sitting at the top of the Classé' product line, the $6,500 SSP-600 AV preamp represents one of the best-sounding audiophile-grade home theater AV preamps money can buy today. Classé' is the electronics sibling of Bowers and Wilkins (B&W speakers) and has a long tradition of making truly fine audiophile products at relatively reasonable prices. Classé' has been a step-up line for the likes of Rotel, Adcom and the old Acurus line for enthusiasts en route to the audiophile holy land. The SSP-600 is the controller for those looking to get the most they can in terms of sound and flexibility.

The Classé' SSP-600 is loaded with traditional video and audio inputs. On the video site you will see four component video ins for HD sources, as well as five S-video inputs. On the audio side, there are various digital and analog inputs, but what's most interesting is the bypass mode, which cuts down on any interference caused by outside forces or signals. It's back to the pure audiophile approach for Classé', even when dealing with the complexities of a modern home theater system.

Additional Resources
Read the Classé SSP-800 AV Preamp Review here...
Read other high end AV Preamp reviews from Classé, Anthem, Arcam, Meridian, Krell, Mark Levinson and others.

Installers and consumers fall in love with the Classé' SSP-600 for its ultra-stable platform. It rarely has any technical issues of any kind and can be left on for week or months at a time without any worry of failure. It's rock-solid, and that's not something many other AV preamps can say in today's market - especially AV preamps that also sound good.

The big issue with the SSP-600 is the lack of HDMI inputs. While HDMI is all the rage for Blu-ray, Classé' chose to sat this round out, offering clients the stability and performance of a top-of-the-line preamp without the internal switching issues or poor sound quality found on today's newest HDMI 1.3 AV preamps. Classé' users send HDMI to a switcher like a Dtrovision or a Gefen, which can be controlled by RS-232 and then have the audio run into the Classé'. The waiting game is likely over for Classé' when they come out with their next AV preamps, as it's hard to suggest that audio enthusiasts and home theater buffs will be willing to go without Dolby True HD and DTS HD Master Audio and/or the ability to switch HD video in their preamps. For now, the Classé' SSP-600 provides very good audiophile sound and stability, with the HDMI headaches being hosted outside of their preamp.

Read The High Points, The Low Points and the Conclusion on Page 2

High Points
• The fit and finish of the Classé' SSP-600 is second to none in the market at any price. No AV preamp looks better in an equipment rack. With its curved lines and well-lit LCD screen, it's a sexy preamp to own and use.
• The Classé' SSP-600 is extremely stable in terms of reliability where other audiophile-grade AV preamps are dicey at best. 
• Sonically, the SSP-600 kicks sand at the Asian mass market preamps currently loaded with all of the bells and whistles. What those guys are missing is the sound quality and, at these prices, are you willing to compromise in that area? I didn't think so.

Low Points
• Lacking HDMI inputs is an overly simplistic solution to a complex issue. I know why Classé' did it, but at the same time, they will need to solve the riddle of HDMI switching in their preamps with their next model.
• The upgrade path isn't as strong with the Classé' SSP-600 as it is with other AV preamps in the market, like Meridian's more expensive 861. It is important to note that, while the 861 has been a juggernaut for upgradeability over the years, it is not an HDMI switching preamp either.

Conclusion
If sound matters to you in your reference home theater system, the Classé' SSP-600 is worth your consideration. Its profoundly solid stability and its supermodel good looks only help to add value. The HDMI issue can be dealt with using a DVDO VP50pro video processor (highly recommended) or some form of HDMI switcher while the dust settles in the HDMI game. In the meantime, you can enjoy audiophile music playback and really detailed reproduction of movie soundtracks right now in your theater. And isn't that what it's all about?

Additional Resources
• Read the Classé SSP-800 AV Preamp Review here...
• Read other high end AV Preamp reviews from Classé, Anthem, Arcam, Meridian, Krell, Mark Levinson and others.

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