Classé Sigma SSP AV Processor and AMP5 Review

gene

gene

Audioholics Master Chief
Administrator
Ratings
4,530 22 9
#1
What if you could have the high-end, two-channel sound in a modern, highly flexible 7.1 system? The Classé Sigma SSP AV processor and Sigma AMP5 Class D multi-channel amplifier promise to satisfy both the finicky audiophile and the demanding home theater lover. From the first listen, I felt as though there was something instantaneously remarkable about these Classé electronics.

How did they handle home theater and music functionality?



Read the Classé Sigma SSP AV Processor and AMP5 Review
 
Last edited:
Alexandre

Alexandre

Audioholic
Ratings
29 1
#2
Hello! I've been eye-ing the Sigma SSP for a while (since I found out about nearly a year ago). I really love the looks of it and the philosophy behind it: the focus on stereo performance and lack of frivolous (to me) features like analog video, 4K, 3D, etc… It just has what I want: a great stereo pre-amp, airplay, DLNA, just what I need for my home theater (5.1) in a really nice looking, slim case.

I have a pair of lovely Triangle Magellan Duetto speakers, a sub (JL-Audio),a triangle center channel and Anthony Gallo surround satellites (teeny tiny ones). I am debating whether it would make sense to get the Sigma SSP but for cost reasons, I am debating pairing it with an Emotive XPA-5. Any thoughts on that pairing? I am not quite ready to spent over 10K and saving on the amp sounds like a reasonable compromise at this point.

Thanks for your help, thoughts and for this very helpful website!

Cheers,
Alex.

PS: I would probably end up putting the amp in a closet nearby rather than in full view (the SSP would be below the to, in plain sight)
 
Last edited:
TheoN

TheoN

Audioholics Contributing Writer
Ratings
45
#3
Hello! I've been eye-ing the Sigma SSP for a while (since I found out about nearly a year ago). I really love the looks of it and the philosophy behind it: the focus on stereo performance and lack of frivolous (to me) features like analog video, 4K, 3D, etc… It just has what I want: a great stereo pre-amp, airplay, DLNA, just what I need for my home theater (5.1) in a really nice looking, slim case.

I have a pair of lovely Triangle Magellan Duetto speakers, a sub (JL-Audio),a triangle center channel and Anthony Gallo surround satellites (teeny tiny ones). I am debating whether it would make sense to get the Sigma SSP but for cost reasons, I am debating pairing it with an Emotive XPA-5. Any thoughts on that pairing? I am not quite ready to spent over 10K and saving on the amp sounds like a reasonable compromise at this point.

Thanks for your help, thoughts and for this very helpful website!

Cheers,
Alex.

PS: I would probably end up putting the amp in a closet nearby rather than in full view (the SSP would be below the to, in plain sight)
Hi Alexandre,

Based on your description I think that the SSP is a great fit for your situation and preferences. You can turn the TFT display off or have it go to black after 30 seconds so that it is not distracting to you. You also have the option to adjust the intensity of the TFT brightness.

The AMP5 is truly something special. You also have the AMP2 as an alternative. It's not cheap, but for two-channel it gives you the fully balanced section of the AMP5. That being said, I think you'll have some compromise with sound quality but if you're looking to save some money then yes, by all means go for it. I do think you owe it to yourself to audition both the Sigma SSP and the AMP2 or AMP5 as a combo to see what it sounds like even if you don't end up spending the money for that part of the setup. It gives you an idea if you ever want to think about that as an option down the road.
 
Alexandre

Alexandre

Audioholic
Ratings
29 1
#4
Hi Alexandre,

Based on your description I think that the SSP is a great fit for your situation and preferences. You can turn the TFT display off or have it go to black after 30 seconds so that it is not distracting to you. You also have the option to adjust the intensity of the TFT brightness.

The AMP5 is truly something special. You also have the AMP2 as an alternative. It's not cheap, but for two-channel it gives you the fully balanced section of the AMP5. That being said, I think you'll have some compromise with sound quality but if you're looking to save some money then yes, by all means go for it. I do think you owe it to yourself to audition both the Sigma SSP and the AMP2 or AMP5 as a combo to see what it sounds like even if you don't end up spending the money for that part of the setup. It gives you an idea if you ever want to think about that as an option down the road.
Hi Theon,

Thanks for your response, I did audition the Sigma SSP + AMP2 driving a pair of B&W 804 diamond at Century Stereo in San Jose. It sounded amazing but it's always so hard to transfer that to my home reality (different speakers, a room clearly not optimized like the showrooms of the dealer, etc…). I really wish I could do in home testing/auditioning but I have yet to find a place that will allow that, it'd be such a great service. I guess Emotiva essentially allows you to do that with their friendly return policy, most high end audio shops' sales are final unfortunately. Maybe there is an opportunity for a high end audio "rental" service where you can rent out equipment for a month and return it, netflix style.

The AMP2 is an interesting option but at 3.5K, it's quite a bit of money. I'd probably end up spending about the same amount getting an AMP2 + some 3 channel amp (for the center and rear channels) as if I were to go straight to an AMP5. I think I might eventually upgrade to the AMP5 though, the XPA could be a nice in between.

Cheers,
Alex.
 
B

BWguy

Junior Audioholic
Ratings
2
#5
I also have been looking at the Sigma SSP since it was announced. I currently use the Marantz 8801 as my processor with B&W 804D speakers. I also was able to listen to it at my local audio shop, and really liked it. I like the 8801 for movies, but somewhat disappointed in 2 channel sound. Don't get me wrong, it sounds good, but doesn't quite have the clarity or punch that I felt the Classe had. The new Marantz 8802A supposedly is much improved in 2 channel music, but I will never use Dolby atmos (although 4K video might be a possibility down the road). Unfortunately, my dealer does not carry Marantz so a side be side comparison could not be done.

Has anyone gad a chance to compare these units? Or perhaps I should just keep the 8801 and invest in better speakers.
 
Last edited:
Alexandre

Alexandre

Audioholic
Ratings
29 1
#6
…Or perhaps I should just keep the 8801 and invest in better speakers.
I actually auditioned the 804d when I bought the Triangle (similar price range when you add a reasonable sub). I have thoughts about those. In my somewhat limited experience with B&W (I also owned a pair of 604S3),I've found them to be a bit muddled and a tad bass heavy at low-ish volumes but that's not super relevant to the Sigma conversation. ;)
 
B

BWguy

Junior Audioholic
Ratings
2
#7
Did you find any difference in sound in the 804D's when you auditioned the sigma amp and processor, compared to when you were comparing speakers? Your post above indicated the combination sounded great.
 
Alexandre

Alexandre

Audioholic
Ratings
29 1
#8
Did you find any difference in sound in the 804D's when you auditioned the sigma amp and processor, compared to when you were comparing speakers? Your post above indicated the combination sounded great.
Actually, I should correct my earlier post, I auditioned the Sigma SSP + AMP2 driving a pair of 802d, not 804d. It was also not a particularly controlled environment for me: there was no comparison and I wasn't super familiar with the music (it was a big event with a B&W rep and I had a baby on my lap who was only mildly amused by the experience ;-). I would love to compare the 804d and 802d but when auditioning the Triangles (my upgrade from the B&W604S3) I auditioned, Triangle Magellan Duetto, Dali Rubicon 6, Focal Electra 1028 BE and B&W 804d. I found Focal and Triangle more pleasant to my ears, more airy, defined, less "bassy" for lack of a better word, I did end up purchasing the only "bookshelf" model in the line up with a sub.
 
TheoN

TheoN

Audioholics Contributing Writer
Ratings
45
#9
On the topic of borrowing gear from dealers, most dealers that I know will allow you to take their demo gear as loaners. You can normally do this with electronics. Speakers are a whole different ballgame.

Typically, it works like this: If the dealer is closed Sunday and Monday, they will let you pickup the gear on Saturday evening before closing and then you need to return it soon after they reopen on their next business day. Every dealer will usually require that you provide a credit card (and some require a copy of your license too). The specific protocol depends on the dealer and how well they know you.

It would be very rare for a dealer to prevent you from borrowing demo gear unless it's tightly integrated into some main setup they have. An example might be a multichannel pre-pro that they have configured with room correction and source settings, etc. But even then, as long as they have an installer backup, they can flash-restore the unit to their showroom settings in a matter of minutes.

With the Sigma SSP, if a dealer does have it on display, they likely have extensive settings. However, as a dealer and installer, they should have access to the tech menu to do a save and restore.
 
Alexandre

Alexandre

Audioholic
Ratings
29 1
#10
On the topic of borrowing gear from dealers, most dealers that I know will allow you to take their demo gear as loaners. You can normally do this with electronics. Speakers are a whole different ballgame.

Typically, it works like this: If the dealer is closed Sunday and Monday, they will let you pickup the gear on Saturday evening before closing and then you need to return it soon after they reopen on their next business day. Every dealer will usually require that you provide a credit card (and some require a copy of your license too). The specific protocol depends on the dealer and how well they know you.

It would be very rare for a dealer to prevent you from borrowing demo gear unless it's tightly integrated into some main setup they have. An example might be a multichannel pre-pro that they have configured with room correction and source settings, etc. But even then, as long as they have an installer backup, they can flash-restore the unit to their showroom settings in a matter of minutes.

With the Sigma SSP, if a dealer does have it on display, they likely have extensive settings. However, as a dealer and installer, they should have access to the tech menu to do a save and restore.
That would be awesome but somehow that has never come up with any dealer I've been to in the Bay Area. It might be because as far as I can tell, they are all open 7 days a week. Also, Classe has a very poor distribution network in the Bay Area with only one dealer 50 miles from San Francisco who carries the Sigma series (and 12 dealers around LA). I wish they were distributed at best buy/magnolia like the rest of the Bowers & Wilkins products! ;)
 
2

2dparrish

Audiophyte
#11
Greetings, all! I've been enjoying the forum for awhile and feel the need to chime in:).

I just received my Classe Sigma SSP/Amp 5 combo and have set it up with new B&W 803 Diamond/HTM 2/805 speakers. I have to say that this combination is PHENOMENAL....transparent, liquid/smooth, dynamic, with a terrific soundstage.

Alexandre, I inderstand your hesitation regarding the money for the Amp5.... I initially tried an Emotiva XPA-5 with XMC-1 combo for the same reasons you stated--$10000 was a little much for me as well:). The Emotiva gear is a bit bright sounding, and emphasizes the leading eadge of transients to my ears. Lots if features for the money and acceptable sound with the right speakers, but the Classe combination IS something SPECIAL.

I heard the NAD Masters series N17/M27 combo, and while easily superior to the Emotiva gear, it had a slightly colored/dark sound. The Classe is really SMOOTH while being very transparent. No hint of grain or strain, and I prefer it's handling of low bass (not over-emphasised/punchy) compared to the Emotiva (and other) class A/B amp.

I have not had the opportunity to audition the Focal speakers mentioned, but I find the 803s to be missing nothing in air (high res violin sounds AMAZING),resolution, nor beauty. I'm only waiting on my sub to complete the (very) low end.
 
2

2dparrish

Audiophyte
#12
Sorry, meant to say have not heard the Triangle speakers....I believe you mentioned Focals. Even hearing speakers seems to be difficult these days. I had to carry my Theil 2.3s to the dealer to hear the Classe electronics and compare with B&W Diamonds. No such thing around here as in-home trial...I tried that. Hence why I ordered the Emotiva gear (and ultimately returned it).
 
slipperybidness

slipperybidness

Audioholic Spartan
Ratings
2,468 7 20
#16
The article is called a review.
Yup, no measurements = subjective review.

It would be interesting to see, but you know as well as me that it's almost certainly ruler-flat across the audio spectrum.

THD + N would and S/N from 3rd parties might be interesting to see though.
 
Alexandre

Alexandre

Audioholic
Ratings
29 1
#18
So, I did it, I bought the Sigma SSP and installed it last night, it took me a while to figure out why the main speakers weren't working and I couldn't hear anything in direct stereo mode… I hadn't plugged the XLR connections on the Emotiva XPA-5 amp. D'oh!

On a different note though, I hadn't noticed and had wrongly assumed this couldn't possibly be a problem but there SSP does not have a 12V trigger output, only the CAN BUS port which means that I am not able to remotely control the amplifier.

Any advice as to how to make that work (short of buying a Sigma AMP-5 that is ;)? I wonder if there are any solutions that implement the CAN BUS protocol to do a 12V trigger.

Thanks!
Alex.
 
2

2dparrish

Audiophyte
#19
Alex,

Glad you've gone with the SSP and have gotten it to work:).
As far as I know there is no work-around for using Can-bus with your Emotiva---the Amp5 and Amp2 both have 12v triggers as well as Can-bus, so if you purchased, say, an Amp2 to go with your Emotiva amps, you could use the SSP to turn on the Amp2, which could then turn on your XPA-5.

This is one of the reasons I decided to bite the bullet for both the SSP and the Amp5. If you do go this route I don't think you'll regret it once your pocket book recovers:).

David
 
slipperybidness

slipperybidness

Audioholic Spartan
Ratings
2,468 7 20
#20
So, I did it, I bought the Sigma SSP and installed it last night, it took me a while to figure out why the main speakers weren't working and I couldn't hear anything in direct stereo mode… I hadn't plugged the XLR connections on the Emotiva XPA-5 amp. D'oh!

On a different note though, I hadn't noticed and had wrongly assumed this couldn't possibly be a problem but there SSP does not have a 12V trigger output, only the CAN BUS port which means that I am not able to remotely control the amplifier.

Any advice as to how to make that work (short of buying a Sigma AMP-5 that is ;)? I wonder if there are any solutions that implement the CAN BUS protocol to do a 12V trigger.

Thanks!
Alex.
Get a power-sensing auto-on power strip for the amp. Problem solved.
 

Latest posts


newsletter
  • RBHsound.com
  • BlueJeansCable.com
  • SVS Sound Subwoofers
  • Experience the Martin Logan Montis