I get through a lot of products for review. As a consequence, some of them quickly fade from memory. A few – usually the exceptionally good (or exceptionally bad) ones – stick in the mind. One such product was the original Densen Beat DM10. With its two large gold knobs and sharp-edged black case, it was certainly visually distinctive, but it was the sound that remained. It managed to straddle the great divide between the expansive, detailed sound of big Americana and the tight, driven rhythmic sound popular with late-model ‘flat earthers’ of the 1990s.
The Beat is dead. Long live the Beat!Densen’s current range of B-series integrated amplifiers (as well as pre-powers, digital products and even a tuner) are the progeny of that original Beat design, and the B-175 is the flagship one-box amp in the range. In the process it provides a perfect link between the ideas that went into the old Beat amplifier and the new; it could be considered a B-250 preamp and a pair ofB-350 mono amps in one box, albeit with some savings in the shared case and power supply.
As standard, it’s a remote control line integrated (sadly, my own sample was light by precisely one remote control, as well as a manual and plug… it having done the rounds already), delivering 125W into eight ohms that doubles down perfectly to 250W into four. This spells ‘stiff’ power supply delivery, and in real terms mean vice-like grip over the bass cones. It’s also upgradable, with optional surround processor boards, Densen’s very clever moving coil and moving magnet phono boards, the possibility of driving the amplifier as part of an active system (more power amps are needed to achieve that goal, of course) and even a DNRG power supply. The phono boards can also be taken out of the box and used in Densen’s excellent DP-Drive box (I also used one of these for some considerable time in the 1990s. Although the current phono boards are different to previous ones, if today’s LED-fed, light-powered phono stage is as good as the last generation, it’s almost worth the price of admission in its own right).