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Orchard Audio Starkrimson Integrated Amplifier


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I've had this Orchard Audio unit for a while now and I haven't said much about it.  It's time for that to change.

 

Orchard Audio is a one man operation based in the US.  Leo designs DACs, streamers, little mono-block power amps and just recently, an integrated version.  Obviously this last one piqued my interest.

The Starkrimson Integrated is basically two of his mono-block amps and a Pecan Pi DAC built into the same chassis.  Just 2 inputs, one coax and one usb, but since the DAC and power amps are joined via a pair of balanced ICs there is the option of fitting a more conventional preamp in between (which would offer a much greater level of connectivity).  I haven't felt the need to do that, but I probably will just so I can say I've tried it.

 

Orchard Audio's  mono-block amps are little class D units but they use Gallium Nitride transistors rather than the more usual Silicon ones.  This means they can switch quite a bit faster and I have to say, they really don't have much of a "Class D" sound signature at all.  I suspect there will be Gallium Nitride class D amps all over the place in the coming years, but at the moment there are only two or three models on offer (Technics have a model out) so the Starkrimson gear doesn't have much in the way of direct competition.

 

The little cigarette packed sized mono amps are rated at 150 watts into 8 Ohms.  Yeah, I know, really hits that whole "class D is much more efficient than class A/B" doesn't it?  

 

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There is no remote, just a volume knob on the front and a power switch on the back.  Nice and simple.

I haven't found it to be very sensitive to either speaker or interconnect cables, so that's a good thing.  

 

So, how does it sound?  Well, nothing like class D.

It has a background slickness to it, almost a slippery nature.  It comes across as very agile and clean, no grain, no exaggerated crispness or grate to it at all.  If this is what GaN does then I can definitely see it as being a big part of the future of class D designs.

 

I'll get to the listening impressions soon, I just wanted to get started writing today.

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Check out the Orchard Audio site: https://orchardaudio.com/shop/ols/products/starkrimson for more info.

 

 

Edited by Cafad
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58 minutes ago, niss_man said:

Cover off lets see the goods!

Hold your horses, I'll get to that in good time.

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Looking forward to hearing your thoughts and comparisons to Purify based amps if you have any experience of them.

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1 hour ago, Cafad said:

Hold your horses, I'll get to that in good time.

I'll show mine if you show yours.

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2 hours ago, niss_man said:

I'll show mine if you show yours.

What's your latest toy then?

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Nice! Been watching this amp development for a while. The original monoblocks had quite low gain, presumably to achieve low noise and distortion figures. This all in one should overcome that limitation allthough the power output is average for class D.

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18 hours ago, AudioGeek said:

Nice! Been watching this amp development for a while. The original monoblocks had quite low gain, presumably to achieve low noise and distortion figures. This all in one should overcome that limitation allthough the power output is average for class D.

I don't think that has changed.  When I hooked up the power amps directly to my Consonance droplet the result was not so good, low volume and a bit messy and soft.  The Pecan Pi DAC section however proved itself to be an excellent performer when trialled with a much more expensive power amp.  

 

22 hours ago, niss_man said:

I'll show mine if you show yours.

 

OK fine, here you go.

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Edited by Cafad
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On 30/01/2021 at 1:42 AM, AudioGeek said:

The original monoblocks had quite low gain, presumably to achieve low noise and distortion figures.

 

The gain of the Starkrimson amps is 16.8dB. The input impedance is 44k. 

The old version of the amps (BOSC) the input impedance was 5k with gain being the same.

 

On 29/01/2021 at 6:21 PM, Cafad said:

I've had this Orchard Audio unit for a while now and I haven't said much about it.  It's time for that to change.

 

Thanks for posting.

Edited by orchardaudiollc
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It's interesting I cant see anywhere the Dac is cabled to the Class D modules? Do you use a balanced cable from Dac Output and loop back to the Amp balanced inputs?

Also uses SMPS's for each Amp module. The designer has gone for high efficiency here.

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4 hours ago, niss_man said:

It's interesting I cant see anywhere the Dac is cabled to the Class D modules? Do you use a balanced cable from Dac Output and loop back to the Amp balanced inputs?

Also uses SMPS's for each Amp module. The designer has gone for high efficiency here.

 

You have to cable the DAC to the amps externally. The amp comes with short XLR jumper cables, to do this.

 

This also allows for addition of pre-amps, DSPs or other devices between the two.

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  • 1 month later...

I've been living with the Starkrimson integrated amp for a few months now and I have to say it is rare for me to keep an amp in use for so long without swapping it out.  The tonality of it really suits my personal taste, and the fact that it drives my Lenehans rather well in the rock arena is also a considerable factor in its longevity.

 

I have tried using the Pecan Pi DAC separate from the power amp section and I must say it has continued to impress.  I've tried it with some high end and more middle end amps and each time the combination has been very good.  I'm trying it out as I type with one of my Sansui collection, feeding the output of the Pecan Pi into the 'Power Amp Direct' input of a Sansui 607 MOS Limited and the result is pretty impressive.  I mean I already liked the 607 MOS Ltd, but the Pecan Pi pushes it to perform even better than it already does.  Giving an extra boost to the tight, expressive bass that the Sansui MOS models already do so well.  

 

Looking forward to this higher output model in development.  Putting the Pecan Pi in front of 250 watts, now that has potential.

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  • 5 weeks later...

 

I have a DIY version on the Starkrimso.  What you said about black background, and no grain is why even though the switching frequency seems to be interfering with talk back AM radio that I love listening to, it still sounds  a lot better than the  other amps I have had. 
I'm building a SE to balanced converter hopefully it will improve things even more!

On 13/03/2021 at 11:44 AM, Cafad said:

I have tried using the Pecan Pi DAC separate from the power amp section and I must say it has continued to impress. 

I might have to get one now.

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On 12/04/2021 at 2:06 AM, misternavi said:

 

I might have to get one now.

No reason why you shouldn't.

 

 

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I have heard Jeff’s Starkrimson in action and it is a mighty impressive bit of gear. 
 

cheers,

Terry

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