Copland CSA-150 Hybrid Integrated Amplifier Review by Hifiplus

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Copland is one of those audio companies that never shouts about its products. Their marketing is, in the UK at least, decidedly low-key. As a result, Copland’s products might even slip below the radar of most audio enthusiasts. Thinking about it and considering the amount of amplifiers that have passed through my hands over the years, I cannot recall ever having heard one let alone having one at home for any sort of listening but I had always thought of them as tube amplifier builders. But I was wrong, as the CSA-150 leads the line of three new models that are hybrid designs. These use a tube input stage and solid state MOSFET power sections with the obvious intent of utilising the best of both technologies to achieve a specific sonic balance. When implemented successfully this can be interesting audio chemistry.

I have obviously heard other hybrid designs over the years, some more rewarding than others. They are often designs that bring mixed musical blessings. The tonal richness and ease of the tubes alongside the drive, grip and transient power of solid-state is a difficult balance to master. All of my previous experiences have left me with the conclusion that, sitting the amplifier on a performance peak and extracting the best from both technologies often results in a design that, while generally sounding sweet, often come across as a bit soft and certainly a touch conflicted where tempo and drive are concerned. A classic curate’s egg. But the Copland is an object lesson in how it should be done.

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