VAN MEDEVOORT PSQ/CAQ

MJ10.11.2014

Preamplifiers

The trinity of Van Medevoort's audio devices, the PSQ-PAQs-CAQ combination, will appeal to those that love natural colours and subtle details of Class A, plus - at the same time - to those that need watts to feed hungry speakers. Consider these Van Medevoorts to be among the finest sounding amps irrespective of modest looks.

Function and form

87%
Ease of use
80%
Sound
81%
Appearance

The housings of all three devices are very essential in their simplicity - black paint sprayed steel chassis with rectangular aluminum front panels are actually free from any design, they just are what they are and remind me of DIY modules. The other possibility is to consider them to be puristic in almost Zen manner.

The CAQ preamplifier employes relays for volume control with approximately 1-2dB steps which is quite rough. There are 2 PRE-OUT outputs plus usual input and output RCA and XLR connector array.  Van Medevoort provides a standalone power supply, the PSQ, with the preamplifier. The PSQ connects to the CAQ via a 5-pin XLR.

Thumbs up for unobtrusive red LED diodes - there is way too many eyes burning blue lights in high end audio. Thumbs down for the remote set - it worked reliably but it is a cheap plastic wand that came with TV sets 10 years ago. At its price range the CAQ should be presented with more dignity.

Bass management

Weight
89
Slam
91
Articulation
90

The Van Medevoort combo's sound is on the lighter side of neutrality. The decent bass was very good in Richard Marx's Hazard but it was just like that, decent. The roll of drums was also less weighty than I was used to; the drums were not the backbone of the track, rather they were secondary to the synth line that took rhythmic leadership. This also indicated slightly elevated presence region, which was confirmed by voices that had less sonourous character with sounds generated by mouths rather than chests. Highlighted details were the positive side of this type of voicing - guitar strings were nicely outlined as well as a flute was put in spotlight. Thus the music shone with immediacy and had a spark.

Clarity & delicacy

Detail
92
Air
89
Transparency
90

The sound of the Van Medevoort combo had two very attractive features that reminded me of Mark Levinsons: the sound was very clean and very controlled. The music of Terry Oldfield (Icon) is a rich tapestry of colours and textures of flutes and pipes and similar instruments and it sounded amazng through the Van Medevoorts. The amps did not hesitate to show the difference between natural reverberation of the acoustic instruments and artificial echoes of synthesized sounds like the choir that was added in studio. This is the level of transparency that lends music more authenticity and of course higher fidelity.

Tonal accuracy

Timbre
86
Dynamics
92
Temporal resolution
93

The control demonstrated its prowess in Queen's We Will Rock You. This iconic song is as good as an audio equipment can play it - if you have the dynamics, tranzient speed and lots of watts of the Van Medevoorts then you can really turn the volume up and that's when this song really rocks. My listening chair was moving up and down along the stomping rhythm and the wailing guitar was very tangible in the room. Or another track from 70's, Kiss's Strutter, was as if I was sitting behind the glass in a studio during the recording session. Actually any track from my vintage rock music collection sounded as if it was recorded yesterday. The bands like Rainbow, Genesis, Yes, Led Zeppelin or Jethro Tull came alive in my listening room and it was very difficult to turn the amps off long after midnight.

Spatial resolution

Holography
90
Soundstage width
90
Soundstage depth
90

Not only the rock music kept me nailed to the listening chair. The classic guitar of John Williams in Recuerdos De La Alhambra (SACD layer) conjured up the images of fingers tapping the strings and sliding on a fretboard, the body of the guitar that resonated with wood, and the crisp energy of strings with metallic overtones..

Like my Audiodrom mate Tomek says, the best voice is a human voice. Not only was the human voice tonally correct through the Van Medevoorts, but they were wonderfully positioned in the wide and deep stereo soundstage that the amps created in my room. Thus I could savour details like a performer walking towards a microphone from the depth of a stage. This Van Medevoort's combo is pure high end.

Price as reviewed:550 000,- Kč

Recommended resellers

AudioRanny, Praha, tel. +420 777 003 134

Associated components

  • Sources: Accuphase DP-78, Van Medevoort CT460 CD transport + DA468 DAC
  • Amplifiers: Van Medevoort PSQ a CAQ, Van Medevoort PAQs, Accuphase A-60
  • Interconnects and speaker cables: Krautwire Fractal, Cardas Clear, Actinote Sonata
  • Loudspeakers: Bowers & Wilkins 802 Diamond
  • Power conditioning: Nordost Thor (modified), Nordost Valhalla, Block Audio Snakeblock, Actinote Aria

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