Consonance Cyber M100 15th Anniversary Integrated Amp (Part 2)

9/11/2014 11:34:22 AM
As ever with valves acoustic instruments make the best impression, so Gregorio Paniagua’s ‘La Folia’ sounded beautiful – the original instruments revealing their rich, sonorous tone and the space in the recording opening up to let those instruments express themselves. I also enjoyed Melanie de Biasio’s band on her No Deal album [Play It Again Sam]. Here, the off-beat drum work was what caught my ear. The Consonance has little or no apparent overhang. Each note stops as quickly as it starts, so rhythmic variations are easy to appreciate. Out of interest, I compared the two impedance tappings on the amp to see if the four Ohm one initially chosen was the best, the eight Ohm option opened things up quite nicely but took some of the weight from the bottom end. In the end I preferred the focus of the four Ohm option, it’s a little darker which suited Melanie’s work to a T.

Description: Cyber-100 rear view

Cyber-100 rear view

An older sound is to be found on Henry Threadgill’s ‘Bermuda Blues’ [You Know the Number, RCA Novus]. The rhythm section on this delivered its groove with a real snap and some surprising low end from the kick drum; a lot was coming through. I took the opportunity to contrast the CD and 24/96 HD Tracks versions of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Oh Daddy’ on Rumours. On this set up, the CD version has more obvious bass and greater stage width, while the hi-res file sounded more natural and nuanced. In both cases, the signal was being supplied by the CAD CAT transport and 1543 DAC, rather an effective pairing as you’ll discover next month.

Moving the Vivids out of the room and replacing them with my reference PMC fact.8s (another 87dB sensitivity design) meant a drop in resolution but paradoxically, this created a sense of increased openness. Margo Timmin’s voice came across in powerful style, but I did miss the attack of transistors with other pieces of music. By contrast the agility that the Consonance has across the band means that you hear an awful lot of what counts in the music without any sense of grain. Users of most solid state amps become inured to this quality over time, but when it goes away for a while and you switch back it’s very obvious. It’s what makes valves so enduring and the reason why so many seek the best compromise of qualities from the two technologies.

Description: Cyber-100 connectivity

Cyber-100 connectivity

The only area that this pairing of PMC and Consonance falls down in is imaging. This could be wider, higher, and deeper, and the sound does not escape the speakers as well as it can – you can point to them with your eyes closed. The Triangle Alpha Signatures were more appropriate speakers; they are magnificent, full-height beasts with a reputation for being valve friendly. Schubert’s Impromptus (Krystian Zimerman, DG) were absolutely delightful; the speed and clarity of the amplifier really came into their own, and produced a result that was pretty engaging even for a classical philistine.

I even got around to rolling some tubes for the first time – a process encumbered by the need to warm the things up before a comparison could be made, but one that revealed the greater refinement and richness of the Shuguang Treasures. The Electro Harmonix deliver a starker and relatively simplified version of events that makes the extra charged for the ‘black’ valves seem like a pretty good deal. All in all, this amplifier looks like a pretty good deal, too. It’s well finished, has sufficient power for real world speakers, and if you enjoy acoustic music, will be hard to beat with solidstate alternatives. What’s best about it, however, is its ability to engage the listener, to make you close your eyes and enjoy the music, and that, after all, is what living is all about.

Description: Cyber-100 overhead view

Cyber-100 overhead view

Technical Specifications

·         Circuit Type: Class A, push-pull amplifier

·         Power Output: 35 watt, RMS 1kHz

·         Input Sensitivity: 220mV

·         Noise and Hum: -90 dB below full output

·         Frequency Response: (-3dB points at 10 watt) 6Hz-50kHz

·         Tubes: 1 ea - ECC83 Input; 2 ea - 12BH7 Driver; 2 ea - 5AR4 Rectifier; 4 ea - KT88/ 6550 Output

·         Resistors: 1% Metal Film

·         Input Impedance: 100k ohms

·         Output Impedance: 4 , 8 ohms. User selectable

·         Consumption: 290watt

·         Output Interfaces: 1 groups (RCA)

·         Input Interfaces: 5 groups (RCA) 1,2,3,4,5

·         Overall Negative: Feedback Little (-6dB)

·         Warm-Up Time: 3 Minutes

·         Dimensions: 430 (L) x 380 (W) x 190(H) mm

·         Weight: 25kg (packed)

·         Price: standard KT88 $3,800, Shuguang Treasure Series KT88 $4,140


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