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Essence Digital Audio Amplifiers For Hi Res Playback

vacuum tube ampOf all the components in an audiophile system, the amplifiers draw the most electricity and cost the most to use.  Class A amps are always running at full power, drawing 4 times their rated power to reach spec.  That means a Class A solid state or vacuum tube amp rated at 100 watts per channel will draw 800 watts continuously, dissipating 600 of those watts as heat.   Class A tube amps are the least efficient amps on the market and deserve careful thought before purchase, those 800 watts can cost about $75 per month on your electric bill.  Do they sound better than other types of amps?  Some audiophiles think so but when we compare the total harmonic distortion between a tube amp and one of the new Essence™ digital amps, the Essence distortion spec is 1000 times lower and they are much less expensive to operate.

In the 1960’s, engineers pioneered the first solid state amps for hi fi applications, known as Class AB.  These amps are 50% efficient, meaning half their output power is sae-2600_82188dissipated as heat and 50% is turned into watts to drive your speakers.  Instead of being on at full power all the time like the Class A types, the Class AB amps are switching their transistors on and off to increase efficiency and lower distortion.  If you have a Class AB amp rated at 200 watts x 2, it takes 800 watts of utility power to meet spec. When not in use, even if they’re on, they consume no power at all, lowering the power bill per month for just the amp to between $25 and $50, depending on how much its used.

Class AB amps are materials intensive, they require a large chassis with plenty of heat sink and fan cooling, one reason for their high cost is the packaging to make them work.  All that weight adds to the freight costs that increase the carbon costs too.

Essence DPA-440 v2 silverNow we have the next generation of amps, called Class D, which some people think stands for “digital”. Its a convenient way to think about how Class D amps work, they certainly are not analog, they use Pulse Width Modulation method to amplify analog signals, faster than any other type of amplifier now on the market. These are the first amplifiers that increase efficiency to 90%, meaning only 10% is wasted.  These are the least expensive to operate ($10 per month) and you get a lot more power for your money at a much lower level of distortion. Because they are efficient, they run cool and dont need huge heat sinks or fans, their chassis can be much smaller and lighter, lowering the production cost.  

They also have the lowest distortion (typically .002%) in audio history and are completely silent, two features audiophiles hold dear.  As an analogy, Class AB amps are like the incandescent light bulb, Class D amps are like LED lights.  Due to climate change and global warming, everybody, including audiophiles, needs to reconsider the use of in-efficient, high carbon cost power amps. Modern thinking people wont hesitate to upgrade to digital amplification; its cheaper, cleaner, and eco-friendly.essence dpa-440 rear panel

Essence™ has a digital amp in production now, shipping in September.  Preliminary specs are 125 watts x 2 into 8 ohms, 250 x 2 into 4 ohms, and 500 watts bridged for mono into a 8 ohm load.  THD is rated at not more than .02% from 20 Hz to 20 KHz and is down to .003% across most of the audible band.  Separate gain controls are provided for each channel along with balanced XLR inputs and single-ended RCAs. Deluxe 5-way binding posts connect the amp to your speakers.  

Essence™ is committed to an all digital system architecture for hi res playback.  The amps join the our 24/192K HDACC Preamp and Essence Electrostatic speakers to form a digital playback system that according to Wikipedia will reproduce hi res content that’s 200-300% cleaner than conventional speakers, with superior stereo imaging, clarity, and resolution.  Live your life in Hi Res with Essence™, nothing makes more sense now.  

As Robert Harley concluded in his Absolute Sound report on Class D amps “certain sonic qualities — dynamics, bottom-end weight and control, transparency — seem to come much more easily to Class D than to linear designs. This is somewhat true in an absolute sense, but startlingly so when Class D amplifiers are compared to similarly priced linear models. At a given price level, Class D outperforms conventional designs in some performance parameters.






Bob Rapoport

Award-winning sales and marketing exec, consultant and product launch specialist to manufacturers of high performance audio / video products for consumer and professional applications. Holder of 2 patents for analog matrix surround decoding, winner of 12 CES Innovations Design & Engineering awards, recognized in the Who's Who of American Inventors, and the leading advocate for adoption of the Blu-ray audio standard for music and movies; currently the CEO of Essence For Hi Res Audio manufacturing the HDACC Upsampling 24/192K DAC Preamp, DPA-440 Class D Power Amp, and online marketer in the USA for Acoustic Energy, Ceratec, Core Power Technologies, REVO, Verisonix Headphones, and ARCHT One.

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  1. By: Bob Rapoport

    on: September 11, 2014 .

    The gain controls should be set for full on, that will give you optimal dynamic headroom when required by the music. Since the Mythos are rated for up to 350 watts, there is no reason to dial back the amplifier gain. You would only do that if the speakers you planned to operate had a power handling capacity below the amp’s full rated power output.

  2. By: Fernando

    on: September 11, 2014 .

    Once my laptop is connected to an HDACC 24/192K DAC an this to a soon-to-come DPA-500 which would be chained to a pair of Mythos ST (impedance reaches a minimum of 5.21 ohms at 356 Hz), how are those gain controls to be adjusted ?

    Thank you, Bob.

  3. By: Bob Rapoport

    on: August 27, 2014 .

    Indeed Graham, tube amps do double duty as space heaters and look like they belong on the Tardis. Our amps are sleek, compact, and run cool. Like you, we love Meridian gear too, they’ve been true leaders in the category. Thanks for your interest in Essence!

  4. By: Bob Rapoport

    on: August 27, 2014 .

    Hi Graham, Thanks for your interest in Essence. Yes, all our products are rated for up to 280v input, 240K is fine. The new amp price is not set yet but should be by next week now that I am promoting it. My target is $995 MSRP, I am hoping the final bill of materials allows us to hit that price, looks good so far. I am happy to know you are salivating at the thought, that was my goal. 🙂 I will confirm price with you asap.


  5. By: Graham Adams

    on: August 27, 2014 .

    Iam impressed with the amps as when I was lent a valve amp I did not need any heating in the room which as I had underflor heating at the time Quickly lost interest ; it was extremely ugly. This amp is attractive to look at whilst listening. This is equally true of the Meridian equipment.

  6. By: Graham Smith

    on: August 26, 2014 .

    Hello Bob,
    Will this amp and the Ultra Gloss 1000 watt amp run on 240 v Australian power? What will the digital amp cost?
    This new equipment makes my mouth water.


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