A little bit frustrating; CD Direct & Pure Direct Pointless

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“A little bit frustrating; CD Direct & Pure Direct...”

Written on: 22/08/2020 by FRUSTRTATEDAUDIOPHILE (1 review written)

OK, this amp is getting along in age now. And we are now living in an age of convenient electronics, and the quest for an ever "pure" sound is almost irrelevant these days. Having said that there are still a few of us that do like to listen to REAL MUSIC, created by REAL MUSICIANS and access to electronics that are able to reproduce music to any sort of level that can be enjoyed as it was intended is becoming more and more difficult to obtain.

Even the modern stuff, from so called "high end" manufacturers like Naim, Cambridge Audio, B & O; all of them to varying degrees; have sold their souls to the "convenience" gods, choosing to create blue-tooth speakers that pair with i-phones and computers. Its just the way it has to be, its a matter of survival as the consumer is no longer looking for that "best sound possible" they just want to be able to hear that god awful "Quack Quack Quack, Moo Moo Moo, Bahh Bahh Bahh" song by Clean Bandit, feat Demi Lovato-Solo it sounds like a hyped up nursery rhyme, awful awful. But unfortunately, my kids love it, my wife loves it, and equally they don't want to hear me playing "Buena Vista Social Club" at full whack either 24-7, so we have to compromise on music these days.

I have always been of the opinion that some music is better than no music, and if it gets you feeling good, and laughing having fun, then the sound system is doing what it should do no matter what modern rubbish or epic masterpiece is being played. So this household has everything from the most awful modern rubbish, to decent 80's & 70's music, to Latin jazz and classical, we even have hardcore & hard-style it all gets played in our house and everyone gets to enjoy the music from a decent well set up sound system.

This is where we get to the AX-492. It really is a good amp, so please don't think that my rating of 3 stars is me saying that its not a good amp (define good, its subjective) its just that it seems to lack pace, the bass response becomes slow and sticky with the most modern nursery rhyme fore mentioned.

Most modern rubbish..sorry..tunes..have a very specific set of frequency ranges, designed mostly to work on class D amplifiers where the digital information is directly decoded at the amplification stage (the 1's and 0's are actually at the output transistor level, going right to the voice coil) enabling fast-paced reaction of the speaker cones, blue-tooth speakers are all able to do this very well. The AX-492 just cannot communicate that information fast enough in order to deliver that "modern" class D sound that this type of music was designed for.

On the other hand, with more natural music, Jazz, Classical, and even some older and modern POP and hardcore tunes/music that has been well mastered it completely blows away any modern Bluetooth speaker in terms of pace, depth and sonic ability. Class D amplifiers cannot deliver the smooth range of frequencies needed to realistically reproduce the recording, analogous amplification always wins because there is a full constant range with no steps between, there is no specific preparation in the mastering stage like class D requires.

So my conclusion is that this is a frustrating amplifier by today's standards, It delivers well for older more musical soundtracks, you know created by those with actual talent and singing ability, but when it comes to enjoying the same pace and punch with modern stuff, it just finds itself becoming way out of its depth.

My last gripe is that the CD direct and Pure direct, buttons do nothing but remove any body, and weight to the music. They should rename the buttons "transistor radio mode". Pointless.

At least the rest of my family that use it have no clue, and to them it sounds great, as long as they can hear it they can dance to it..

I have run this review on Kef 104/2's that have been fully serviced and matched.

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