ACCUPHASE C-3800

TR15.09.2013

Preamplifiers

Nature works with infinite number of colors – hifi & high end components have very limited palettes, however. Fortunately we have already passed the black & white point yet a real orchestra sounds different from what one usually hears from a high end line up. The Accuphase C-3800 takes a quantum leap towards real sound and makes even the simple happenings, like a resonating triangle for instance, a big delightful event. The transient edge, the fundamental note, the decay, the after-decay, the after-after-decay... The ultrafine color mannerism of the C-3800 makes any acoustic instrument so scary real to the extent of re-engineering of the instrument – it scrutinizes its wooden or brass body, it examines the glue or felt that was used, it describes the tension of the strings... Yes, I am overstating, but this is the only way to give a hint of what to expect.

100% reference

Funkce a forma

98%
Ergonomie
92%
Zvuk
100%
Zpracování

The C-3800 builds upon the reputable Accuphase C-2800 preamplifier that had stayed almost a decade in making. The progression in volume control techniques, namely the AAVA system (the abbreviation stands for Accuphase Analog Vari-gain Amplifier) that was introduced by Accuphase in 2002 and has been refined meanwhile – called for a new reference that would take fidelity into the higher level.

We have thoroughly described the AAVA principle in our previous Accuphase reviews so I will only ‘reprint’ the essentials: the AAVA adjusts the listening volume by means of 16 weighted voltage-current converter amplifiers which are controlled by current switches. The number of possible volume steps set by the combination of these converter amplifiers is 65,536 in 0 to -20dB range (read: attenuation by 20dB). Unlike with conventional volume controls, AAVA does not introduce a change in impedance at any volume setting. Consequently, there is no deterioration of S/N ratio, and frequency response remains totally uniform across the whole frequency spectrum. The volume can be thus adjusted with the 0,0003dB steps in purely analog domain.

The new thing with the C-3800 is that the AAVA to be found here is in a balanced version, which means that the preamplifier employs two AAVA modules to keep totally balanced operation from input to output connectors. Because Balanced AAVA adopts a completely balanced current source configuration, 16 amplifiers each are used for the + input and - input, with the V-I amplifiers for the upper two bits being paralleled, resulting in a total of 36 amplifiers. This ultra-low noise current source contributes to further improved S/N ratio. Also, due to the thorough channel separation, there is no left-right tracking error even at very low volume settings and the system eliminates the word crosstalk from its vocabulary.

Nízké frekvence

Váha
92
Výbušnost
88
Artikulace
90

The C-3800 embraced me with harmonically rich and sound with realistic timbre and very fine color tints of whatever music I played. Carlos Santana’s soaring guitar had a fluid quality of vinyl records which made listening for the whole album possible without ear fatigue that normally arrives due to the dynamic flatness. The C-3800’s way of playback is a bit different that the one of its siblings; from the three the C-2410 was the most analytic device with a tad lighter tonality that caused it to sound ‘faster’ than the C-2820. Both the C-2820 and the C-3800 were more sonorous, both were set fundamentally lower and used seemingly darker color spectrum. This is due to a higher amount of information that listener receives especially from the lower half of the frequency response and also due to the C-3800’s increased dynamic resolution. The average loudness level seemingly drops to increase the number of ‘dynamic sound pixels’ and the sound appears darker consequently. The level of the contrast and the number of color shades grows as I moved from the C-2410 through the C2820 to the C-3800. Yet, the described and the rock music related differences got squared when I used well recorded acoustic music.

Čistota rozlišení

Detail
92
Vzduch
92
Transparentnost
90

No matter if I played the excellent Oscar Peterson Trio We Got Requests SACD disc or the fantastic rendering of orchestral colors from Reference Recordings (Exotic Dances from Operas, Reference Recordings) I was instanteously transported to heaven. Surprisingly the music through the Accuphase acquires very liquid and analogue quality yet it does not lack the detail. Quite opposite, the inner resolution and textural delicacy can only be compared to a live event experience or, at least, to a superb vinyl playback. As such the C-3800 removes the solid state hardness and relentlessness; rather it weaves the sound skillfully to arrive to extremely fine layered sonic pictures. It is like the C-3800 upsamples the signal with megahertz resolution comparing it to the lesser Accuphase’s models. I did not necessarily hear more – what mattered was the way the Accuphase rendered the sound.

Tonální věrnost

Témbr
94
Dynamika
92
Časování
92

The Accuphase C-3800 (accompanied by the harmonizing Accuphase components) certainly sets new industry standards. It may not be the best preamplifier in the universe (is any?) yet it definitely is state-of-the-art of of modern solid state design. A simple rainbow can be painted with as few as five crayons. To capture the rainbow’s beauty one needs to work with much wider color palette. There are many excellent preamplifiers that can handle hundreds or thousands color hues and we call them true highend. For those who live in concert halls it is not enough- they crave for zillions hues, and the Accuphase C-3800 may be a good alternative to achieve this.

Prostorovost

Trojrozměrnost
94
Šířka scény
94
Hloubka scény
94

There are further refinements under the hood of the C-3800 preamplifier like the printed boards made of glass-carbon resin or 10 separate amps for each channel that handle the signal. Unlike the lower-in-range models the C-3800 does not provide tone controls apart from LOUDNESS compensator that is switchable in three increments giving a boost to the bass of +2 or +4 or +6.5dB at 100Hz. It is synonymous with Accuphase that compensations respect human hearing physiology and therefore the lift results into real listening pleasure improvement at low listening level rather than just boosting bass frequencies to boominess.

Other than that the aesthetics of the Accuphase C-3800 fully comply with the brand’s philosophy which makes any of their unit visually combinable with any other Accuphase gear produced in last 15 years. The extra feature is an alphanumeric volume level indicator that appeared right to the main display. The build quality is top notch – even by touching the silky faceplate or turning its knobs at a dark room the preamp is recognizable among others, not only that it weighs 25 kg.

As an extra the Accuphase provides an excellent in-built headphone preamplifier suitable for headphones with impedance of 8 ohms or above. This a bit ameliorates the C-3800’s high price tag as it is not necessary to invest into another standalone device should you like to switch to headphones occasionally.

Cena v době recenze:780 000,- Kč

Doporučení prodejci

Nisel SK, Bratislava, tel. +421 905 203 078

Připojené komponenty

  • Sources: Accuphase SACD transport  DC-901 and digital processor DP-900
  • Amplifiers: Accuphase C-2410 and C-2820, Accuphase A-65
  • Interconnects and speaker cables: Kubala-Sosna Emotion, Siltech Explorer
  • Loudspeakers: Avantgarde Acoustics Duo, Dynaudio Confidence C4 II
  • Power conditioning: Accuphase PS-1220

Galerie

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