Published On: October 13, 2008

Halcro dm38 Stereo Power Amplifier Reviewed

Published On: October 13, 2008

Halcro dm38 Stereo Power Amplifier Reviewed

Living on their "best amp ever" review, Halcro is now gone from the US Market but not forgotten. This massive stereo amp might be one of the best looking and best sounding amps ever made and costs less than the mono amps that got all the ink. Brian Kahn looks into where this amp fits into the audiophile pantheon.

halcro_dm38.jpgHalcro, a relatively new name to American audiophiles, first became known through their reference series of amplifiers. The dm38 at $20,000 is the lowest price amplifier in the series. The series begins with the dm38 180 Watt per channel, stereo amplifier and works its way up to the 270 Watt per channel monoblock dm88. The Halcro reference series amplifiers are comparable to the best solid state amplifiers in the world such as those from Krell, Mark Levinson and Pass Labs. Besides their uniquely shaped chassis, the amplifiers share a well deserved reputation of being extremely detailed and quiet. Their performance, build quality and industrial design are top notch.

Additional Resources:

• Read more amplifier reviews from the staff at Home Theater Review.

The dm38 is housed in an "H" shaped chassis, however there are two horizontal cross bars. The shape of the 120 pound, 31 inch tall, 16 inch deep and wide, chassis itself was designed to maximize sound quality. The bottom cross bar contains the power supply, the top has the amplification circuits and the vertical legs have the heatsinks. The anodized aluminum body is incredibly well made with all fasteners hidden from sight. There are three sets of inputs, unbalanced current and voltage as well as balanced. The single set of speaker terminals are solid posts covered by large rubber knobs. Halcro gives much credit for its sound quality to its universal Power Factor Corrected power supply. The power supply is described in detail in the white paper available on the Halcro website. In brief, power factor corrected has the voltage from wall in phase with the current is drawn. With most amplifiers the voltage and current are out of phase. This results in a very clean and efficient power supply. Other design factors include limited negative feedback, active correction circuits and multi layer PCB boards coupled with high quality parts and careful layout.

The dm38 is a quick and neutral amplifier capable of resolving the finest details. The noise floor is extremely low which allows the amplifier's resolution to be heard. Listening to music through the dm38 is a revealing experience as it is capable of revealing all of the slightest details in the source recording. The amplifier is powerful enough to reproduce dramatic and detailed bass notes with ease yet detailed and clean enough to reproduce the most complex and delicate notes with great accuracy and no unwanted harshness.


halcro_dm38.jpgHigh Points
• The build quality and design is excellent and more reminiscent of a piece of artwork than a stereo component. Seriously, if Halcro put their music playback system at an FBO (private jet airport) people who have never bought an audiophile system in their lives would buy Halcro. Its just that nicely finished and sounds just that compelling.
• The dm38 can hang with the likes of Mark Levinson, Krell and anybody else you want to throw at them. If they aren't on your short list for the best high end electronics out there - they should be despite not having the longest legacy. Legacy doesn't make for a better sounding amp.
• The sonic character of the dm38 is very neutral, its speed coupled with an extremely low noise floor make it an extremely revealing amplifier. Be sure to pair it with quality source components as you would only fuel your super car with the highest octane fuel.

Low Points
• The single pair of speaker posts makes the Halcro db38 difficult to bi-wire which is something I like for my speaker system.
• Weight and heat to a lesser degree an issue for some that are using a rack. While most high end custom installations go into a Middle Atlantic-type rack - you need to be very careful with where you place the db38 as it is a beast. If you plunk it on the floor between your speakers (audiophile style) then you have little to worry about other than going to the stone yard and picking out a smooth and gorgeous looking slab than can be polished into an ultimate amp stand.

Conclusion
The Halcro dm38 is among the best amplifiers in the world at any price. Its sound quality easily competes with the amplifiers from Krell, Mark Levinson, Pass Labs, Bel Canto, Spectral, Ayre, Boulder or any of the other players in the ultra-high-end market. At this level of performance, the sonic characteristics of the amplifiers become harder and harder to describe as they become closer to the proverbial "closer to the music" phenomenon. However, if forced to describe the Halcro's sound quality I find the Halcro sound to be similar to that of the Krell FPB series except a bit quicker and with less weight in the bass. For those in the market for a reference grade amplifier with the ability to resolve the slightest nuances, I strongly recommend a close look at the Halcro dm series.

Additional Resources:

• Read more amplifier reviews from the staff at Home Theater Review.

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