Pré-amplificador A/V Classe Delta SSP-800 AV (via Audioholics)


My familiarity with Classe Audio dates back to college where they were carried at my hi-fi shop of choice back in those days.  The impression that I had, at the time, was of high quality components that straddled the space between high value, bang for the buck hi-fi gear and the gear that soared into the price stratosphere.  In the years since, Classe, along with Rotel, was purchased by Bowers and Wilkins and the new owners have subsequently pushed the company closer to stratosphere while filling the resulting gap with Rotel’s offerings.

In the end, all Audioholics lust for the gear that hovers in the stratosphere—even if being of more modest means—limit the ability to obtain such gear.  So when Gene asked, I was more than happy to take him up on the review and have a closer look at just what Classe has been up to more recently.

In the intervening years, multi-channel audio has gone from its infancy to becoming the dominant player in home audio.  Every high-end audio company that wants to show it is still worth its salt to the audiophile crowd still produces stereo gear.  But, they also produce multi-channel gear now as well.  And in true high-end fashion, these companies tend to change more slowly and maintain the minimalist mantra focused on sound quality in the face of the mass-market rush for every bell, whistle, and blinking light that comes along.

Playing the part, the Delta series SSP-800 Surround Sound Processor, originally released in 2008, was Classe’s first foray into the world of HDMI audio and video several years after hitting the mass market with advent of HD-DVD and Blu-Ray.  During the intervening years, the original SSP-800 that was limited to only decoding LPCM audio in the early days has been updated to include Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master Audio and then a full implementation of HDMI v1.4, while maintaining its core focus on the output of uncompromised analog sound quality.

The SSP-800 is a statement preamplifier/processor that looks to strike a balance between embracing many of the newest technologies while maintaining enough minimalist focus on two channel audio purity to satisfy the expectations of the target clientele.

Especifications

Connectivity

20 programmable source settings that can be configured with any available inputs:

  • HDMI: 5 in; 2 out
  • Component Video: 2 in; 1 out
  • Composite Video: 2 in
  •  Digital (Coax/Optical): 4/4 in; 1/1 out
  • Analog (RCA/XLR): 7.1/na in, 2/1 stereo in; 7.1 + 2 aux out/7.1 + 2 aux out
  • DC trigger: 2 out
  •  IR: 1 in; 1 out
  • CAN Bus: 1 in; 1 out
  • USB: 1
  •  RS-232: 1

Video measurements

  • Input impedance: 75 Ω composite/component
  • Output impedance: 75 Ω componentd
  • HDMI: v1.4a supporting 2D/3D video with resolutions up to 1080p @ 24/50/60 fps, HDMI Ethernet Channel (HEC), Audio Return Channel (ARC), Deep Color and x.v.Color(xvYCC)

Audio measurements

  •  Maximum Output (Vrms): 8/15 (RCA/XLR)
  • Maximum Input (Vrms): 2/6 (RCA via DSP/Bypass); 4/12 (XLR via DSP/Bypass)
  •  Output impedance (Ω): 56
  • Input impedance (kΩ): 100
  •  THD: 0.001% digital/bypassed analog source; 0.002% processed analog source
  •  Frequency response: 20Hz–200kHz <0.1dB stereo analog bypass; 20Hz–20kHz <0.2dB all other sources
  •  Signal to Noise Ratio (THD+N @ 10Vrms input, unweighted): 102dB bypassed analog source; 100dB processed analog source; 105dB digital source
  • Channel Separation: >100dB
  •  Crosstalk (any input to any output): >-120dB @ 1kHz
  • Gain Range: -100dB to +14dB

Audio Formats

  • Dolby Digital: Digital 5.1, Surround EX, Digital Plus, TrueHD
  • DTS: ES discrete, 3/2/1, 96/24, High Resolution Audio, Master Audio
  • PCM: 24bit/32-192kHz

Post Processing Modes

  • Dolby Pro Logic IIx
  • DTS-ES Matrix, Neo:6
  • Music Plus, Movie Plus
  • Stereo Down Mix
  • Mono, Mono plus, Party

Video Transcoding

  • Composite to Component and HDMI
  • Component (up to 720p-1080i) to Component and HDMI
  • HDMI to HDMI

Power Consumption

  • Power Consumption: 75W
  • Mains Voltage: fixed per country
  • Over/under voltage protection circuitry

Dimensions (SSP-800 / CT-SSP)

  • Width (including faceplate): 17.5” (445mm) / 19” (482mm)
  • Depth (excluding connectors): 16.5” (419mm) / 14.91” (378.71mm)
  • Height: 6.75” (172mm) / 6.97” (177mm)
  • Shipping weight: 38 lbs (17 kg) / 49 lbs (22 kg)
  • Net weight: 29 lbs (13 kg) / 33 lbs (15 kg)

Pros

  • Statement level audio performance for two and multichannel audio
  • Unique setup features to switch between different numbers of channels
  • History of upgrades made available by Classe to keep the investment relevant

Cons

  • A heavy burden on the wallet that few will be able to carry
  • Rudimentary video processing features and no up scaling
  • Some slight fit up issues but on an unusual case geometry