Classé Audio CAP-2100 Questions

To Doug Schneider,

I’m writing to you regarding your review of the Classé Audio CAP-2100 [integrated amplifier] (November, 2009). Yeah, I know, it’s been a while.

I’ve never listened to the CAP-2100, but, last year, a friend purchased a secondhand CA-2100 [stereo power amplifier]. [We] were blown away by its sound: fast, articulate, layered, detailed, while remaining very musically coherent. Music/vocals had “body,” “dimensionality,” and a full color palette of instrument tones and textures. I couldn’t believe it. It sounded great. At that time, the amp was in his second system, connected with a generic tube preamp and some decent power cords, speaker wires, and interconnects.

To my question: I’m considering purchasing the CAP-2100 integrated amplifier (secondhand), assuming it will sound as the CA-2100 did. Your review stated that the CAP-2100 had a tube-like smoothness, but seemed to lack some “speed” and “attack.” Trust me, I know what you mean by that. That raises red flags for me -- I do not want that type of, well, coloration.

I can only assume the pre section was the culprit, or perhaps your own equipment/cabling? If other reviews (on the CAP-2100) had the same impressions, “lacking speed/attack,” I’d simply keep looking. But, other reviews comment on the CAP-2100 sounding “fast and alive,” open, detailed etc. Precisely what I heard with the CA-2100 amplifier.

Anyway, if you recall, and have some time, please let me know if you have any further comments or opinions on that integrated amplifier.

Thanks Doug,
Peter Jasz

You’re right, it has been a long time -- so long that I had to reread my review to refresh my memory of the CAP-2100. Once I did, it all came back.

I recall that I really liked the overall sound of the CAP-2100, which had a lot to do with how smooth, clean, and refined it sounded. However, I also found it lacked what I called “attack” -- it wasn’t super punchy, incisive, or visceral sounding. That’s not to say it was dead or lethargic sounding, just that it wasn’t as forceful sounding as some amps I’ve heard.

I don’t believe the lack of attack had anything to do with the cables I was using. Throughout the review of the CAP-2100, I mostly used Nirvana Audio S-L interconnects and speaker cables, which I had used time and again before and after and had never had any adverse reactions with any amps. I can’t imagine why they’d cause any issues with the CAP-2100. Insofar as speakers go, I used a few with it and found the lack of attack to be consistent.

The only thing I can think of is that the CAP-2100 is only rated to output 100Wpc into 8 ohms, which is sufficient power for most applications, but not all. Furthermore, the other amplifiers I was using at that time could output more power, so maybe I was expecting or asking too much of it.

Regardless, don’t let my experiences with the CAP-2100 scare you off too much, particularly since I thought it was a great-sounding integrated amp overall. If you can, listen to one in your own system and let me know what you hear. It’s possible that the lack of attack that I heard won’t be an issue at all for you -- and if not, there’s little else to fault with it sound. . . . Doug Schneider