Audio Research Corporation has a long and storied history of making high-quality amplifiers, and beginning in 1997, with the introduction of the CA50, also has made some pretty good integrated amps. Now ARC has created its new Definition series, which will run parallel to the Reference line but will concentrate on emerging green technologies that can meet the excellent sonic standard that has been a hallmark of ARC products through the years. The class-D DSi200 is the first component in the new line -- as well as being ARC's first all-solid-state integrated amplifier.
Audio Research calls the DSi200 a fully balanced "hybrid solid-state" design. By "hybrid," ARC means what they describe as a "massive, highly regulated, linear analog power supply" combined with a "truly green discrete analog switching-MOSFET output stage for highly efficient power conversion and low power consumption." This configuration helps the DSi200 consume few enough watts to earn it an Energy Star rating -- it's claimed to burn only 38W at idle, so leaving it on 24/7 shouldn't be a problem. While ARC claims that doing so will make the DSi200 ready to sonically respond immediately, it requires about 30 minutes to come up to speed from a cold start, and its sound will slightly improve over the next hour or so. I found that the DSi200 sounded good whether I had the power on 24/7 or not. The design of all power-supply components and MOSFETs are by ARC; they don?t come prepackaged from some other, OEM firm. And while ARC tends to shy away from calling the DSi200 a class-D amp, preferring instead the phrase switching amplifier, they admit that it is class-D . . . but with their own unique take on the technology.
The DSi200's preamplifier stage is purely passive; there are no outputs for connecting a separate power amp (or outboard headphone amp). The DSi200 is rated to offer 200Wpc into 8 ohms or 300W into 4 ohms, with dynamic outputs of 400Wpc into 8 ohms or a whopping 800W into 4 ohms. These power specifications are no doubt aided by the 160,000u F of capacitance in the amply specified power supply. Output power is of little concern; the DSi200 can drive even the most power-hungry speakers.
As noted, the DSi200 is fully balanced. It has two balanced and three single-ended inputs (one of which can be configured as a home-theater pass-through), heavy-duty five-way binding posts, and an IEC socket for the supplied power cord (or one of your choice) and the fuse holder. That's all there is in back. A word of caution: When you hook up your components and speakers, pay close attention to the jacks and speaker binding posts. Likely because of the DSi200's dual-mono design, these connections are mirror-imaged.
POWER OUTPUT: 200 watts per channel into 8 ohms,
1% THD; 300 watts per channel into 4 ohms, both channels driven.
FREQUENCY RESPONSE: (-3dB points at 1 watt) 5Hz to 55 kHz.
INPUT SENSITIVITY: 0.93V RMS for rated output (32.7dB Gain) single-ended or balanced.
INPUT IMPEDANCE: 60K ohms single-ended, 120K ohms balanced differential.
INPUTS: (5): BAL1, BAL 2, CD(SE), Tuner (SE), Aux (SE).
MAXIMUM INPUT: 20V RMS BALANCED, 10V RMS SE.
OUPUT POLARITY: Non-inverting from single-ended inputs. Balanced pin 2+ (IEC-268).
OUTPUT REGULATION: 0.06dB 8 ohm load to open circuit (Damping factor 167).
OUTPUT CURRENT: 15 amps peak at protective shutdown.
SLEW RATE: 5 volts/microsecond. (20% maximum duty cycle).
RISE TIME: 5.0 microseconds.
HUM & NOISE: 800 microvolts RMS (94dB below rated output IHF A-weighted).
CONTROLS: Volume (104 steps), Select Input. Push Buttons: Power, Invert, Mono, Mute.
POWER SUPPLY CAPACITANCE: 160,000 uF total.
POWER REQUIREMENTS: 100-125VAC 60Hz (200-250VAC 50Hz) 445 watts at rated output (200WPC 8 ohms), 735 watts at 300WPC 4 ohms, 38 watts idle, Standby 1 watt.
DIMENSIONS: 19" (48 cm) W (standard rack panel) x 51/4" (13.3 cm) H x 141/4" (36.2 cm) D (front panel back).
Optional handles extend 11/2" (3.8 cm) forward of the 1/4" thick front panel. Output connectors extend 0.9" behind rear panel.
WEIGHT: 37.2 lbs. (16.9 kg) Net; 43.3 lbs. (19.7 kg) Shipping.
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