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Sunfire Cinema Grand Review (5-channel Amp)

Rate this amplifier:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 101 59.1%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 56 32.7%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 10 5.8%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 4 2.3%

  • Total voters
    171

d3adf1sh

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It is rewarding after all these years to see an objective measurement of this amp. I bought one new in 1997 and used it in a number of configurations over the years. It finally gave up the ghost a couple of years ago and is confirmed as unrepairable by my local trusted tech and by Bill Flannery, the last standing dedicated tech for Sunfire products.

I was always attracted to the physical appearance of the amp. I expect the golden lit Joule meter was more Bob's obsession with tubes than a desire to provide any useful instrumentation. Look at the vacuum tube preamp from Sunfire, he uses mirrors to make the internal tube compliment look like it goes on for infinity.

I never had any issues with inrush current making my lights dim or the transformer groan. I did have a ground hum that I could never quell. The only solution was progressively less sensitive speakers. When I got to my 83db ET LFT8's it was as close to dead silent as it was going to get. Most of its service life was in 2ch, generally in a bi-amp for 4 of its channels, occasionally running the 5th for a passive sub. That is where it was when it finally died, but in HT running the front L+R and an SVS CS20 sub.

The "current" source taps were always a gimmick and again, some sort of sublimation of Bob's hot sweaty vacuum tube dreams. I used them on and off but always went back to the "voltage" source taps. Despite what some subjective reviewers have said about these amps (the original 300wpc stereo version and all of its descendants) I never found the sound objectionable under any conditions. I am gratified to know that despite the distortion figures these beasts did deliver the rated power.

As I look at the cold, dead hulk, sitting in my office, still unable to toss it in the e-waste pile at the county transfer station, I remain convinced that while it was not a bad purchase, had I bought a Bryston 4B at that same time it would still be running. Oh well. ;)
don't throw it out!!! you can send it to carver/sunfire and he'll repair anything he's ever made! https://www.bobcarvercorp.com
here's a video about it from youtube:
Bob Carver about Carver Service
 

MaxBuck

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don't throw it out!!! you can send it to carver/sunfire and he'll repair anything he's ever made! https://www.bobcarvercorp.com
here's a video about it from youtube:
Bob Carver about Carver Service
Great! He should be able to repair all the Crimson 275s out there so they produce the advertised power.
 

peng

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As far as I can see @amirm is picking the same spot though?

Not exactly, it is hard to locate the exact spot because of the log scale. Amir typically pick the point where he considers it the "knee point" and if look at the distortions for his knee points for 8 vs 4 ohms the level would be different most of the time but in this case you are correct that if you look at the distortions you would call it the same spot.

If you look at the points where they hit the typical 1% THD+N that test sites such as Stereophile (Sound and Vision too, in the past..), then you can see that the output into 4 ohm was just about double, not more. Still it is hard to see, so I am talking approximation here. The double down thing is exact under ideal condition only anyway, and the "clipping point" is also hard to define exactly, again if I quote JA of Stereophile, he sometime referred it as "nominal clipping point" and he clearly did not use the knee point. As you can see in Amir's two graphs, the slope of the graphs are very different pass the knee points, the one for the 8 ohm is much gentler so using the knee points in such cases would naturally increase the chance of the "double down" relationship being questioned as you have, legitimately.
 

KEFCarver

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don't throw it out!!! you can send it to carver/sunfire and he'll repair anything he's ever made! https://www.bobcarvercorp.com
here's a video about it from youtube:
Bob Carver about Carver Service
That video is 10years old and the website listed can provide you with names of "Authorized" service professionals. If you have not checked out TheCarversite.com, you may want to as there are several resources you may be able to use to have amp repaired...
 

pseudoid

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Just corrected. Darn spell checker forced that.
James Prescott Joule flipped over in his grave and I understand it was due to disrespect.;)
Ah perfect, another Carver myth put to rest. Gads his stuff was awful.
Hate the product; not the Man!
The industry needed him and we would not be talking that he left a legacy.
 
Last edited:

d3adf1sh

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That video is 10years old and the website listed can provide you with names of "Authorized" service professionals. If you have not checked out TheCarversite.com, you may want to as there are several resources you may be able to use to have amp repaired...
that's why i put a link in my comment to https://www.bobcarvercorp.com on that page there is a link to "service and support"
 

KEFCarver

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I thought it was "odd" that you had to provide personal info to the bobcarvercorp.com site for them to contact you with a repair site, other than list their recommended repair facilities for older gear...
 

audioholic63

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No go. Given the state of board immolation and prior deferral from an acknowledged go to Sunfire repair guy I would have been shocked if they said they could restore it.
 

Ra1zel

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Compared to what Signal?
The noise is there even without signal.
So you just fire up the system and sit there without actually listening to any music? People here have weird daily routines.
 
OP
amirm

amirm

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So you just fire up the system and sit there without actually listening to any music? People here have weird daily routines.
You don't want noise between tracks you play. Or even after power up. It will bug you for sure.
 

pseudoid

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You don't want noise between tracks you play. Or even after power up. It will bug you for sure.
Those 4 words require no qualifications but do require a big fat period at the end!:)
 

Lambda

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So you just fire up the system and sit there without actually listening to any music? People here have weird daily routines.
the point is you clearly have no idea what your talking about when you claim the noise is at -80dB.
first you said:
If you can hear noise at -80db, that is.
Without reference this makes no sens.

Later you said:
noise thats down 80db compared to signal?
This makes no sens since noises is independent from the signal.
 

Ra1zel

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the point is you clearly have no idea what your talking about when you claim the noise is at -80dB.
first you said:

Without reference this makes no sens.

Later you said:

This makes no sens since noises is independent from the signal.
How much you wanna bet that noise floor in your room will mask noise from this device?
 

Burning Sounds

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Sure, I for one would be interested to see the measurements of this one:
or this one:
but I'm afraid not many are willing to send them "half way around the world" these days...
I have a pair of the earlier Nakamichi branded IOTAVX AVP1 - they are identical to the IOTAVX version with the exception that the standby circuitry uses an SMPS on the latest version and mine uses a linear supply. Mine are about 6 years old and have been completely reliable. They were originally used on my Linkwitz LX521s and now drive my active Maggies. I paid £499 each - so the current version is more than double that price.

The long discontinued Emotiva UPA-7 is pretty much identical, except that the Nakamichi/IOTA version has balanced as well as unbalanced inputs. It is a 12 year old design and is made at the Winner factory in China. There is a review of the UPA-7 here on Audioholics. It's no world beater, but it's not bad either.

FWIW I now drive the LX521s with an Apollon multichannel Hypex based amp. The Apollon sounds cleaner and quieter - but has suffered a module failure - failed transistors according to Apollon. I think @restorer-john is probably correct about PCB flex on these Hypex modules.
 

Lambda

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How much you wanna bet that noise floor in your room will mask noise from this device?
You don’t even seam to understand what the absolute noise output of this amp is.
How mush noise is this is this amplifier generate? In absolute therms.

And how dose this masking works in your mind. if one (frequency/noise?) is louder you won't here anything else?
I would assume noise adds up... room noise+ amplifier noise is more then just room noise no matter how low the amplifier noise is.
 
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