PLINIUS SA-Reference

MJ21.06.2010

Power amplifiers

The SA-Reference very finely handles sensitive musical information and brings the performances on silver discs to life, like choirs in Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana. You can easily hear the individual voices from the right and a second later the same voices traveling back being reflected by the walls of a cathedral. I tried to increase loudness step by step to find the point the resolution is suppressed in favor of illegible cacophony but I did not succeed. Even when the DP-78 delivered its full output into the SA-Reference the sound had no sense of congestion or strain.

100% reference

Funkce a forma

90%
Ergonomie
81%
Zvuk
93%
Zpracování

The SA-Reference represents the flagship model in the Plinius’s catalogue. The highest rank is evidenced also through its dimensions (51w x 27,5h x 53d) and weight: nearly 130 pounds. It is two oversized toroid transformers and large heatsinks that are responsible for the SA-Reference’s mass. Peter Thomson is convinced about the necessity of having a separate power supply for each channel. It is interesting, however, that there are four huge transformers, along with pre-regulation components, to be found inside the SA-Reference to ensure the completely stabilized power supply.

What is special about the SA-Reference is that it provides a choice of listening either in the class A or AB. The switching is easily accomplished on-the-fly by a switch on the SA-Reference’s frontplate. Different pros and cons come along with both operation modes which is going to be discussed in a minute.

The other special feature is that the Plinius actually encourages users to get under the amp’s hood. With a screwdriver in your hand it is possible to make two fine adjustments: to dim two blue LED indicators on the SA-Reference’s frontplate and set how green (in terms of power consumption) the Plinius should be. Through the ‘ecologic jumper’ one can decide if the amp shall switch from A to AB within 15, 30 or 60 minutes while at idle. Not an unimportant feature if you consider hundreds watts you have to pay for due to high currents the SA-Reference draws in case of the class A operation.

The aesthetics of the Plinius are simple yet effective: there are only two small push-buttons on its frontplate (one is the aforementioned A/AB switch, the other mutes the output) plus a clear-cut logo and a serial number. The reviewed unit was proudly presented as no.200 which immediately raised my curiosity for who were the owners of no.199 and no.201. It is pity not to have the list of owners as a part of the amp’s documentation for I’m sure at least one of those numbers belongs to a beautiful audiophile girl.

The sides of the amp are occupied by large fractal-like cooler fins, the backplate carries one pair of balanced XLR and one pair of unbalanced RCA inputs, IEC inlet with the mains switch and quality speaker posts. A data bus connector (for system remote control) and a ground lift switch (to suppress possible humming in the symmetrical mode by disconnecting the signal ground from the amp´s chassis) are less usual.

The SA-Reference provides 450W into 4 ohms, 300W into 8 ohms respectively. Should you need more it is possible to switch the amp to MONO or bridge it to increase its output to 1 kilowatt – that is sufficient to move any speaker’s membrane. For sure I would not object to having two SA-References with 2x1000W of their output power available in my listening room.
All the above holds true about the class-AB operation. Transforming the amp into the pure class A drops the power to 100 watts per channel. Excess power requirements are not clipped, however, but the SA-References smoothly switches back to the AB above 100W to utilize its full potential.

Nízké frekvence

Váha
92
Výbušnost
91
Artikulace
91

The Plinius SA-Reference has astonishing bottom-end. This is an audiophile dream, isn’t it? To exploit it in full you will need either a really full-range pair of speakers or a good subwoofer, however. The Consequence ED were at home with the bass and therefore I experienced the aforementioned thung! effect. Not convinced yet? Then please listen to synthesized pulses of Kraftwerk (Tour de France Soudtracks) through the SA-Reference. When I reviewed my notes from this listening session I found just an exclamation ENERGY!!! written next to the Kraftwerk’s CD details. I have never heard the Tour de France tracks like this before.

Čistota rozlišení

Detail
90
Vzduch
89
Transparentnost
90

Have you ever had a chance to listen to a plucked double-bass from the distance, let’s say, of 1 meter? If your answer is yes then you would probably agree that it is not just the deep strumming sound we all know from our home audio systems but that it is very palpable. One can see the effort a player has to put into the plucking a string a when he does than the mighty THUNG! shudders a room. Well, such a THUNG! I could hear through the Plinius. Stardust/Yerba Buena Bounce of The Hot Club of San Francisco can be found on This is K2HD Sound sampler. The guitar that joins the track at around 2´50 is precisely outlined and introduces delicate details like microresonances of strings, resonating bodies of instruments or a soft hiss of an analogue master tape. We travel against the flow of time to the age when digital silence did not exist and one could listen to the breaks between songs. Thanks to the Dynaudio Consequence Ultimate Edition I could enjoy very natural soundstage with precisely drawn images of players including very concrete bass notes. I wish you could enjoy the same track played back from Reference Recording’s original CD (RR-109) – yes, it was much better than from K2’s CD but I will cover this subject in a separate article.

Tonální věrnost

Témbr
86
Dynamika
91
Časování
91

The trinity of the Plinius-Dynaudio-Accuphase was sufficiently transparent to demonstrate drawbacks of CD format against DSD processing. The SACD layer of Ballad of The Gnomes (Respighi, Geoffrey Simon/Philharmonia Orchestra) hybrid disc is so smooth irrespective of we listen to soft pianissimos or brutal fortissimos. After a lengthy 8-minute introduction the orchestra wakes up and the hell breaks loose. I have never heard a symphony orchestra with such a level of inner separation and communication at the same time. If you need so you just pick out a single instrument and follow its line throughout the score. Alternatively, one can enjoy the organic wholeness of the orchestra leading to a standing ovation.

Prostorovost

Trojrozměrnost
90
Šířka scény
90
Hloubka scény
90

Once the SA-Reference heats up it is can easily replace your home heating system. The class A is well-known for its thermal losses and the Plinius demonstrates that well. I would really urge you not to plan to put the SA-Reference into a rack or in a shelf – you will have to find a well ventilated spot for it not to overheat it. In wintertime the extra heating is going to be more than welcome, in summertime you will have to switch to AB.

The hotter the better. Just listen to a silky violin in Django Reinhardt’s Rhythme Futur. With a bit of imagination it is easy to visualize the recording venue including the color of a carpet on a floor. Well, I’m exaggerating a bit but I loved hearing the micro-events that happen once the song is over like airflow passing a microphone or barely audible movements of players.

Cena v době recenze:390 000,- Kč

Doporučení prodejci

Audiostudio s.r.o., Olomouc, tel. +420 608 752 475

Připojené komponenty

  • Sources: Accuphase DP-78 connected to the amplifier via variable output
  • Amplifiers: Bryston 28B-SST2
  • Interconnects and speaker cables: Furutech Lineflux and Speakerflux
  • Amplifiers: Dynaudio Consequence Ultimate Edition
  • Power conditioning: Furutech Daytona 303E, Furutech Powerflux

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