The Classe CP-800 Stereo Preamplifier/Processor is said to be the first of a new generation of stereo preamplifiers designed to take full advantage of today’s high resolution digital sources. The CP-800 offers new digital processing features including optimal asynchronous USB and full support of Apple’s iPod®, iPhone® and iPad® range of products.
In addition to accommodating legacy analog and digital sources, Classe announced that the CP-800 can also optimize playback from computer audio files and portable devices like iPods via USB using asynchronous techniques and proprietary clocking circuits. A storage device like an iPod or computer can contain all the data of the original recording, so it has the potential to be an audiophile source. The challenge is to clock that data into the D-to-A converters at precisely the right time, which the CP-800 achieves through newly-developed recovery and clocking technology.
A new power supply design optimizes the electrical environment for the audio circuitry inside the CP-800 and benefits associated equipment sharing the same AC power. PFC (Power Factor Correction) technology ensures the most efficient operation of the power supply while maintaining a constant load on the AC Mains. The benefit, according to Classe, is that the preamp/processor does not modulate the AC mains as would a conventional linear power supply without PFC. Other system components won’t even know it’s there.
In addition to superb performance as a digital-to-analog converter and stereo preamplifier, Classe says the CP-800 boasts features like bass management and parametric EQ that heretofore have been lacking in stereo preamps. There is a subwoofer output and two configurable auxiliary channels that can be used to drive additional subs, bi-amp the L&R channels or feed into another room.
Classe points out that a properly implemented subwoofer (or two) is at least as beneficial to stereo playback systems as it is to home theaters. Placing the Left and Right speakers for best stereo imaging rarely delivers ultimate bass response at the listening position, no matter how well those speakers can reproduce low frequencies. One or more subwoofers avoid this compromise. Parametric EQ enables further tweaking of the low frequency modes to achieve the best overall system performance. As with Classe SSPs, the subwoofer(s) may be configured for use with some inputs and not others or engaged with different crossover frequencies/slopes as desired.
An updated 16×9 touchscreen and graphical user interface give the CP-800 a fresh new look to match its advanced feature set. With both USB host and slave connections and a useful range of output configuration options, the CP-800 looks and works like the preamp of the future.
Price and Availability
The CP-800 is expected to be available in December and will retail for under $6,000 US.
« Using proprietary technology, the CP-800 achieves more with less circuitry than any conventional preamp could. The connection to the recording is now so direct and immediate, it’s like plugging into the mixing board and listening right there in the studio. Using full resolution files and one of its USB inputs, the CP-800 can surpass the performance of conventional disc playback systems. »
— Dave Nauber, Executive VP, Brand Development for Classe