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Amplifier Creek CAS-4140 S2 review

This amplifier was covered way back, so why did Creek choose to re-submit two years lateron? Gluttons for punishment or would the TGI group have us believe that the CAS-4140 S2 witnessed some significant improvement? Nothing so dramatic I’m afraid. Creek has simply fitted a new toroidal mains transformer and generally tightened upon quality control. Prise open its medite bonnet and you’ll discover the same NE5532-based disc network, internal selector switch and discrete MC headamp. Why Creek can’t leave this switch poking out the rear panel is beyond me. After all, that’s what everyone else does.

Nevertheless there are subtle changes. All those messy RC compensation poles have been tidied-up, for instance, reducing the gain of the line stage while consolidating any feedback around the power amp. So the ‘4140 S2 is just a little more responsive to your vinyl collection but less sensitive with CD.

Sound quality

As the last track drifted into silence it was joined by a collective sigh from our panel of listeners. ‘At least the phono stage has some body and weight’ they intoned ‘because the CD input is noticeably more forward’. The line input is certainly predisposed to strings and vocals, often at the expense of accompanying performers.

Refer back to old review and you’ll see we identified the ‘4140S2 as ‘training a spotlight of interest on the upper ranges of vocals, strings and percussion, all of which could sound a little urgent, hard and unforgiving at times.’

Two and a half years later we achieved a remarkable correlation, even if the clarity of the old 4140 was now hostage to a plummy and generally loose quality which blurred its sense of focus.

Tracy Chapman sounded fulsome enough but her voice swam in a peculiarly ‘thick’ soundstage. This was certainly one of the most coloured amplifiers we had heard in a long time, one that throws its upper-mid forward while failing to grapple with more resonant bass detail. Fragile detail that was once so clearly in its grasp.

So our listeners were more taken by its MM stage, preferring this input for its rounded balance and tauter bass. Nevertheless, the extra colour, the inherent ‘blurring’ and loss of subtlety were all too painfully obvious.

Conclusion

Creek was right, the CAS-4140 S2 has changed. Unfortunately it’s changed for the worse, a little innocent and well-meaning dabbling that has only succeeded in muddying its sound. As a result this amp is shown off the commercial ballpark to sit unrecommended on the sidelines.

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