BMC Audio AMP C1

MJ04.04.2011

Integrated amplifiers

If you have a chance to start on a blank page, i.e. to build your system. Out of the blue I was transported to a complete different universe, the universe with sparkling air, pure water, clear sky and the universe lit with sunrays. I am impressed.

100% reference

Function and form

96%
Ease of use
76%
Sound
96%
Appearance

The AMP C1 is arguably the most attractive part of the BMC line-up not only thanks to visually appealing VU meters. Power output of the amp is 2x330W into 4 ohms that are supported by a massive 2kW toroidal transformer (the amp’s weight of 40kg owns a lot to the transformer) and the army of capacitors approaching 200,000µF filtering capacity. To facilitate heat dissipation the AMP C1 is cooled by a silently running fan mounted at the bottom of the amp.

The topology of the AMP C1 takes a detour from traditional amplifier architecture. There is a thing called Discrete Intelligent Gain Management. Traditional amplifiers have always maximum gain and the signal that is passing through is attenuated for speakers, sometimes as much as to 1/100 of its original value. In the AMP C1 bipolar transistors switch resistors in different combinations for matching desired amplifier gain. This way, the input current is turned into a kind of voltage that corresponds to desired speaker‘s output voltage and is adjustable in steps of 1dB. This prevents any signal attenuation as well as unnecessary amplification. Less amplification means less distortion and less noise, for sure. Moreover, the noise is not amplified and the signal to noise ratio increases to more than 130dB.

Bass management

Weight
80
Slam
81
Articulation
83

Technical enthusiasts can get inspired by many more advancements featured by the BMC – to get quite a comprehensive overview I recommend to go through BMC Audio website as it is very informative, though it does not say everything as we are in the know-how protection age. What I also understood was that the AMP C1 transcends what we call a class of an amplifier – it somehow bypasses the traditional drawbacks of Class A (low efficiency, low output power and heat losses) and provides generous power of Class AB without sacrificing the sonic attributes of the former. Auditioning seems to be the only arbiter to justify such a claim.

All the controls of the BMCs are quite intuitive and simplistic and you should not face any issue during their set up and operation. I liked the wide operational angle of the remote so you do not need to point it sharply into the bull’s eye to get a desired action.

Clarity & delicacy

Detail
84
Air
80
Transparency
86

Harp glissandos of Malgorzata Zalewska (Master and Margarita) can only be perfect on components with crystal-like transparency, transient accuracy and the ability to clearly distinguish the tonality of the acoustic instrument from synthesized low-level background. Actually, the deep synthesized rumblings are a hard nut to crack for 90% of high end gear I have heard – mostly you hear just a monotonous line without an inner resolution and on some you cannot hear even that. Then, the delicate overtones of the harp suffer and the sound is full of stress and lacks the natural flow. Like when you try to concentrate on a music on a busy street. Now, the BMC sorted that out – authority was back and sound structures became delineated in time and space. With delight I could follow the harpist’s fingers plucking strings in a very precisely laid front to back perspective. I was impressed how finely the BMC had resolved the dynamic shifts of the synthesized canvas – all the digital restlessness has gone as has the background noise. It looks like the BMC has really found a recipe to jitter suppression to the extent of its annihilation.

Tonal accuracy

Timbre
75
Dynamics
85
Temporal resolution
89

The absence of acoustical smog and jitter-free signal transmission drive you turn up volume more and more. The louder you play the higher is your level of enjoyment. The music does not suffer from a loss of detail or from a dynamic congestion even at almost realistic volume like I did with Nine Inch Nails (Further Down The Spiral). I´ve been listening to this particular CD since many years ago but I have never heard it like this before. It is difficult to describe - through the BMCs you are deep into the mix, everything is crystal clear and individual sound appear and disappear with lightning fast portrayal. Should a pin be dropped on the floor during the cataclysmic climaxes of the NIN´s songs, you would hear it clearly. I felt like sitting behind a console in a studio - should there be a window in the front wall of the listening room I would look for Trent Reznor behind it. And even when you play reeaaally loud, inner sound ratios never change. It is like living a dream in high resolution.

Spatial resolution

Holography
90
Soundstage width
88
Soundstage depth
88

There are not more details in the mix – the amount of information that you heard on your current gear is the one you would hear on the BMC – however, it is a different way of perception and feeling that makes the BMC to stand out. I would say it is a higher form of high end. The airy details are seamlessly integrated within the scene with no sign of overexposition or exaggeration. The way the BMCs handle the music reminds of the effect of Nordost’s Thor power conditioner, however, with the impact that is a magnitude of the Thor. I was not surprised by the depth and width of the BMC’s soundstage, however, I was surprised by the precision of the sonic pictures that are thrown and by the sheer enjoyment and instrumental communication that was injected into the music.

Price as reviewed:105 000,- Kč

Recommended resellers

Iryson, Kvetoslavov, SK, tel. +421 903 418 345

Associated components

  • Sources: McIntosh MVP871, Luxman D-05, BMC CD1 + DAC1
  • Amplifiers: McIntosh hybrid control center C500 and monoblocks MC501
  • Interconnects and speaker cables: Audioquest Gibraltar, WSS The Absolute, Nordost Heimdall and Rapport
  • Loudspeakers: Cabasse Karissima
  • Power conditioning: WSS N2 Power GL with Furutech FI-E11 plugs,  2xAudioquest NRG-2 on McIntosh

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