Loosely named after a powerful battleship, this powerhouse seven-channel 225-watts-per-channel modular amp is a surprisingly good multi-channel amplifier for both music and movies. Theta is known and respected for their source components and electronics, such as their modular Casablanca III AV preamp, more than for making audiophile amplifiers. Recently, when Theta was sold, the suitor was in fact the OEM company ATI, which makes Theta's amps for them. Insiders know that Morris Kessler at ATI makes one hell of a solid amp and the Theta Dreadnaught II is no exception.
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The Theta Dreadnaught II is a modular amplifier that can have either mono or stereo modules added to provide between two and 10 channels, as your audio system demands. The basic chassis, which is gorgeous, by the way, with its curved silver face and sexy industrial design, is $2,250. Each 225-watt channel module is $850 per board, with the 100-watts-per-channel stereo module costing $1,000 each. A stylish aluminum top is an additional $250. A loaded Dreadnaught II weights 98 pounds and is 17.5 inches wide by 8.5 inches tall and 23.5 inches deep.
The sound of the Theta Dreadnaught II is reminiscent of ATI amps, but with a little more refinement. This is no all-sizzle digital amp that delivers only on the spec sheet. The Theta Dreadnaught II is a manly amp, with class AB operation, giving your surround sound system low-end weight, along with openness on the high end that is voiced to match Theta Digital's very resolute front-end electronics.
Read The High Points, The Low Points and the Conclusion on Page 2
The Theta Dreadnaught II isn't always on the top of consumer's high-end multi-channel amplifier lists, but it should be. The company that builds it for Theta and now in fact owns Theta makes one of the best multi-channel amps money can buy. In the looks department, the Theta Dreadnaught II gets high marks. Its industrial design is gorgeous. The amplifier looks the part of a fine audio component, which it unquestionably is.
The modular design of the Theta Dreadnaught II allows for the enthusiast who aspires to a truly high-end, audiophile-grade 7.1 system to start with a basic amplifier and grow his or her system as funds allow.
For a lot less money and without any of the Theta Dreadnaught II's good looks, you can get most of a Dreadnaught II from Theta's parent company via ATI's 3000 series amps for significantly less money. A fully loaded ATI 3007 is priced at about $3,995, but has a little less power overall, as well as an industrial design that looks like it hasn't been updated since 1987.
The Theta Dreadnaught II should be on any audiophile's short list for high-end home theater or multi-channel amps. Its modular design, open high end and very strong bass control are worthy of consideration, even with a heavy price tag. The modular design allows for people to buy more and more channels of amplification over the years, meaning less buying and selling of parts and/or other amps on Ebay or Audiogon in order to reach the audio holy land. The Theta Dreadnaught might be a sleeper in the category, but it is worth your attention. It is one hell of a good-sounding amplifier, as well as a good-looking one.