The Hovland STRATOS Mono-Bloc Amplifiers

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Solid-state power amplifiers
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Hovland Stratos Mono-Bloc
The Hovland STRATOS Mono-Bloc Amplifiers

The notion that (in hi-fi terms at least) real power comes with a heavy cost attached had become something of an article of faith around these particular parts, not least because the sonic price paid all too often seemed even greater than the financial one. For many years, any amplifier offering much more than a hundred or so Watts seemed to become increasingly bludgeoning and muscle bound as its power rating climbed, reason enough to seek out speakers that offer a less demanding load. But then came the Karan KA M1200s, massive and massively impractical, there was no escaping the fact that, faced with the awkward load and extended bandwidth presented by Avalon’s Eidolon Diamond they were both much more capable and more musical than lower powered alternatives. Well, you can always stick a finger in the dyke of dogma, but when the latest range of conrad-johnson amplifiers gave the rare opportunity to compare genuinely similar designs at three different power levels, the intellectual temptation was simply overpowering. The result merely confirmed the suspicion raised by the Karans that it’s not the quantity that’s the problem, its executing its delivery, the LPM275s offering up a truly memorable performance.

The amplifiers feature appliqué Perspex slabs that create nonresonant sub-assemblies. The heavy cylindrical feet shroud adjustable cones to ensure stable placement and mechanical grounding of the amplifier’s substantial 40.5kg bulk. The shoulders can be replaced with extensions allowing the amps to be stacked, although sonically speaking I’d avoid this in all except the direst situations, as the uprights lack the sophisticated mechanical coupling of the chassis itself, thus negating its effectiveness. Having said that, they sure do look purdy…

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