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Amp/Preamp Asylum: REVIEW: Channel Islands Audio D100 Amplifier (SS) by jwor

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REVIEW: Channel Islands Audio D100 Amplifier (SS)

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Model: D100
Category: Amplifier (SS)
Suggested Retail Price: $1,599.00
Description: 100 watt class D mono blocks
Manufacturer URL: Channel Islands Audio
Manufacturer URL: Channel Islands Audio

Review by jwor ( A ) on October 23, 2005 at 20:28:59
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for the D100

This review is for the Channel Islands D100 Monoblock amplifiers. The model I have is the one with 32db gain. It is designed to be used with a passive preamp.
My system is as follows:
Denon DCD1500 II cd player used as a transport. Connected by transparent digital cable to:
MSB Gold Link DAC with P1000 power supply. Connected by Harmonic Technology Harmony Link to:
Channel Islands VPC-2 Passive preamp. Connected by Harmonic Technology Harmony Link to:
Channel Islands D100 Monoblock amplifiers. Connect by 20+ year old MIT speaker cables to:
Coincident Triumph Signature speakers (first order crossover, 90db sensitivity, stable 8ohm load).
The total cost of my system (bought used except for Channel Islands and Harmonic Tech gear) is about $3200.00.
I have tried to create a minimalist system with transparency a major goal. I have been tuning this system for about 6 years. I have used Pass Labs Aleph P preamp, Tannoy Berkeley speakers, JJ Electronics KT88 tube amp, Bedini power amps, Altec power amps, Apt-Holman preamp, etc.
I primarily listen to acoustic music, jazz, vocals and some rock music.
This review is really of the combo of the passive pre and the D100s. When I placed these in my system it was transformed. The music was much more relaxed, clearer and fuller. It has been about one month since I added the CI pre and power amps. The sound is still improving. The manufacturer says this is attributable to the power supply caps breaking in. The sound has a tube-like richness but is not rolled off at the extremes. I can clearly hear things in familiar recordings that I have not heard before. Listening at low volume is much more satisfying that it has been in the past. As the amps have broken in the emotional impact of the music has increased dramatically. I don’t get fatigued listening to this system except with poorly recorded software.
Some things to remember to get the most from these amps. Give them time to break in. They sound good but a little thin out of the box. They have steadily gotten better over the last month and are still improving. Use good associated equipment. The manufacturer can make suggestions for low cost but highly effective ways to improve your system. Listen to him. He knows what he is talking about and can save you a bundle of money.
In the future I am planning to upgrade the power cords on my amps and DAC. The manufacturer of the CI gear has said there is benefit to using shielded power cords. I am also looking forward to getting a Channel Islands VDA-2 DAC. I have heard a prototype and it sounded quite nice. It was smoother and more analogue sounding than my MSB Gold. I can’t wait to hear it in my system.
I am extremely happy with the CI gear. I haven’t tried all the amplifiers out there but I have to say these are the best I have heard. The value ($1599.00 per pair of D100s and $299.00 for the VPC2) is tremendous. The manufacturer, Dusty Vawter does not over hype the equipment and offers valuable suggestions for maximizing enjoyment of his products. The whole experience of purchasing these amps has been a pleasure. Customer service is as good as it gets. I can recommend these amps with no reservations.

Product Weakness: Takes time to break in.
Product Strengths: Rich, clear sound. Low noise floor. Great price

Associated Equipment for this Review:
Amplifier: Channel Islands D100 Monoblocks
Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): Channel Islands VPC-2 Passive
Sources (CDP/Turntable): Denon CD MSB Gold DAC
Speakers: Coincident Triumph Signature
Cables/Interconnects: Harmonic Technology
Music Used (Genre/Selections): Acoustic, Jazz, Vocals, Rock
Room Size (LxWxH): 16 ft. x 18 ft. x 8 ft.
Room Comments/Treatments: Carpets, Furniture
Time Period/Length of Audition: One month
Other (Power Conditioner etc.): Monster HT1000
Type of Audition/Review: Product Owner
Your System (if other than home audition): See above

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Topic - REVIEW: Channel Islands Audio D100 Amplifier (SS) - jwor 20:28:59 10/23/05 ( 2)