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Amplifier Creek CAS-6060 review

Glance too quickly at the photo above and you might mistake this latest CAS-6060 for the older CAS-5050. Broadly speaking the ‘6060 shares the same casework and complement of facilities as its forebear, but it was the budget CAS-4040 that served as inspiration for its electronics.

So, there’s no change in the separate rec-out and input selection of its three line inputs, two tape decks and disc stage while both MM and MC cartridges are still distinguished using a switch at the rear. Inside, a discrete low-noise MC head amp precedes the main disc stage which utilises a combination of Signetics and Motorola op-amps together with ‘tweaky’ Siemens layer capacitors and close-tolerance resistors.

If only Creek paid as much attention to the quality of the detented ALPs volume control, then perhaps the balance would improve at low levels. Anyway it’s fair to say that the overall construction – and reliability – of this amp has improved since its launch a year ago, while extras like the bridging facility and separate pre/power mode help sweeten the ?470 pill.

Sound quality

A big, meaty and confident sound greeted our listeners, similar in demeanour to the Alberry PP1 and, indeed, the Rotel RA-930AX if not quite as vivid or forward. After some deliberation they decided it had a ‘rich, sweet and romantic midrange’, enhancing the lush quality of strings (via MM disc) while portraying vocals in a very ‘human’ fashion.

Dynamics were well represented too, though neither the extreme bass nor the high treble were quite so well controlled. The bass was typically big and fulsome but it also sounded faintly ‘one note’ or lumpy, a trait that tended to passify the raw tension we had come to expect from the Christy Moore CD.

In every other respect our panellists appreciated what they considered to be ‘a very musical sound’ commenting on the convincing way that individual elements were strung together. Moreover, certain tracks, including the Julia Fordham Compact Disc, seemed to enjoy an additional degree of expression and emotiveness, her voice ‘easing across’ and engulfing us in a realistic presence that was merely hinted at by much of the competition.

Conclusion

On these grounds alone the Choice listening panel felt the CAS-6060 vindicated itself, though I remain less impressed by oversights in the implementation of the MC disc input and in Creek’s selection of the volume control.

Ok, so few people purchasing the ‘6060 will be doing so for its MC option, but at this high price I would expect all inputs to be fully optimised. After all, the CAS-5050 never had these problems.

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