COPLAND CSA-100 integrated amplifier > EAR-NET review
The Scandinavian countries have between them produced some iconic audio brands – I bet if you put your mind to it you could name at least half a dozen without hesitation. Copland would certainly be on my list if I was to do the same thing, and yet this is the first time that I have had the pleasure of hosting one of their devices in my system.
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Over the next day or two the Copland opened up even more. I started to listen to vinyl via the built-in phono-stage. Sometimes these can feel like an afterthought, added so that some marketing guru’s checklist of features is complete. Not with the Copland – vinyl replay through this was genuinely enjoyable. This produced a pile of albums that grew to some depth in my room. Was it as good as my £2k separate stage? Well it may have lost a tiny bit of dynamic impact, a little bit of immediacy, but quite honestly it was more than good enough to be paired with any moving magnet cartridge and satisfy 99.9 per cent of owners.
The ESS DAC is again a first class implementation. As I have already said, CD replay through it was extremely pleasing. TV sound, delivered through the optical interface, was clear and detailed, with action soundtracks being delivered with verve. Dialogue was crisp and easy to follow. The CSA 100 does all those hi-fi things extraordinarily well. The soundstage it creates is as wide, deep and tall as the loudspeakers will permit. While driving music forward effortlessly it easily picks up and presents to the listener micro-details that are sometimes sacrificed by less competent amplifiers. Rock music had real drive while at the other end of the spectrum solo cello had warmth and immediacy.
In the last year or so I have been lucky enough to have had several excellent integrated amplifiers for review that sell for less than £4,000 here in the UK. Each of them has impressed me and reminded me that we have almost too much choice as consumers. I would be more than happy to have any of them here for good. However, I would have to say that on a balance of features, sonic excellence, build quality and sheer long term pleasure, I would choose the Copland CSA 100. It has a sweetness of tone coupled with the of power to drive most loudspeakers very comfortably which makes it a most compelling package. If your friendly dealer carries the Copland range you really should try to hear it.
– Chris Kelly | Sep 14, 2020