To test the Sonamp 275 SE, we used a varied compliment of speakers, pre-amps and DAC’s. For this evaluation we utilized Aperion Audio’s 633-T, 632LR and 6-IW speakers, Headroom’s Micro DAC and Micro Headphone amp (as pre-amp) a Dynaco PAT-4 pre-amp, an iPod touch, a laptop computer loaded with both compressed and uncompressed versions of the same tracks and a Sony BDP-N460 Blu-Ray player as a disc player.
We started our testing with the BBE sound enhancement feature turned off. When listening to uncompressed tracks through the 275 SE without BBE, the sound was exemplary. Paired with the Aperion 633-T speakers, the 275 SE exhibited tight authority in the bass department, a very lifelike midrange and very sophisticated treble that yielded a great deal of detail without any stridency.
While the 633-T is a relatively easy speaker to drive, the 632-LR (bookshelf) requires a little more muscle. The 632 uses a single 6.5” bass driver in conjunction with a generously sized cabinet and equally large port on the rear. With lower powered amps, the 632 doesn’t reach its full potential- usually bass is a little muted and vocals lack a certain presence. With the 275 SE, however, the Aperion 632 sung loud and proud with authoritative and musical bass response and equally impressive midrange and high frequencies.
When driving the 6-IW (in wall) speakers, we noticed a considerable improvement in sound over our stock Onkyo A/V receiver, primarily in the midrange where vocals and wind instruments had improved clarity and realism.
As we changed source components and pre-amps, we noticed the sonic signature changed as well. When running directly off of our iPod touch, the sound quality suffered a great deal. This came as no surprise, since the headphone output of the iPod touch is not a reliable or quality source, but the experience served to prove that the 275 SE will simply amplify whatever it is given. This seemed like a good opportunity to engage the BBE sound enhancement processor.
We ran the same track back using the iPod touch as a source but this time with the BBE engaged at the lowest setting. We immediately noticed a change in the high frequency response. It was much more forward in the mix than it had been previously but the timbre of the highs changed as well. We noticed that the drummer’s cymbals on our test track seemed to have lost their realism and now sounded forced and artificial. We repeated this A/B comparison with a few more tracks and noted the same change to the treble response. In each case, the sound seemed to lose some of its organic, raw texture and became somewhat sterile.
We then switched over from our floor-standing speakers to the in-walls and ran the same comparisons once more. This time, the difference in the high frequencies was less stark. In fact, given the 6-IW less refined treble response, the BBE seemed to add some sparkle back into the sound. Additionally, the BBE seemed to keep a better balance among the bass, midrange and treble at lower volumes than our reference received did. At the end of our testing, we came out feeling that the BBE processing was a an asset in dealing with less than high-end speakers but unnecessary with high performance speakers.
Overall, we found the Sonamp 275 SE to be a very capable amplifier with a great deal of reserve power at the ready. During loud, explosive passages, the Sonamp performed effortlessly and provided a very dynamic, detailed sound. Incredibly, the Sonamp remained cool to the touch, even during long periods of stress- an attribute that should benefit those with tight, enclosed installations with little ventilation.
The Sonamp 275 SE from Sonance is an exceptionally well built amplifier with enough high current power to support almost any home audio application. The included BBE processor comes in handy with in-wall, in-ceiling and lesser quality speakers but seemed to color the sound when used with high performance speakers. We feel the 275 SE’s performance was at or above par with other high-end competitors and is a rock-solid choice for those that need solid power and pristine audio reproduction.
- Clean Sound
- Very High Power
- Excellent Build Quality
- Drives low sensitivity speakers with ease
- BBE Enhances flaws in low quality music files
- Audio processing can cause excessive brightness