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.
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