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Following article originally posted by Robert Neill on October 19, 1999 at 08:53:33

in AudioAsylum.com.

Reproduced here with permission.

Blue Circle BC 2.1 singled-ended, hybird, Class A, 75 watt monoblocks.

I'm not ready to do a full review of these amps yet. I've had them in my house for just four days, and am more comfortable with anecdotes anyway. I have been cohabiting with a Plinius SA 100 III for several months now and have been praising it here (and elsewhere) as the fine, solid, rich & sweeting-sounding amp that it is. But I have not fallen in love and this has troubled me some, caused me to keep looking out the window. It is an amp with no real faults I've been able to identify but it's also an amp that doesn't exactly put the music "in the room." It is certainly not analytic. It just doesn't sweep you away. For $4000, perhaps that's too much to ask.

The B.C. 2.1's arrived last Friday from Canada, the exact amps that Doug Schneider just reviewed on Soundstage. I have a lot of listening left to do -- on my little B&W 805's and on ProAc 3.8's arriving soon for audition. But so far, without elaborating much yet, let's just say I'm overwhelmed. Quite simply, my system has never sounded this good, in every way. EVERY WAY. The music has entered the building. I'll break it down in a week or so, but for the moment I'll just say that whereas I expected the BC's to be slightly fuller (tubes at the input) and more holographic (being single-ended monoblocks) than the Plinius, with a somewhat lighter bass, they are on a whole "other level," as we say when we're overwhelmed. Again, EVERYTHING is better: bigger, clearer, airier, more "palpable," more full of life, more graceful. Is the presentation as forceful and impactful -- punchy -- as the Plinius? That I can't say yet. Everything else is so wonderful, I haven't really considered that yet, in isolation. Listening with these amps makes considering anything in isolation difficult, unnatural. I have the uncanny sense that what they actually do is bless the music. Groan, I know, I know, but that's the first word that came to mind when I tried to characterze what I was experiencing.

Truth demands some analysis when the smoke clears and I'll get to that. But the smoke hasn't cleared yet. If you want a shortcut (and better prose), go right to the Blue Circle website and read all of the notes on the BC 2's and the lastest on the 2.1's. Everything there I've read is accurate. I have not heard the BC 2's ($6300). According to the Schneider, who has owned and loved 2's and who has just reviewed the 2.1's ($9800), the differences, while real, are subtle. Matters of refinement. At this moment, would I buy the 2.1's? I can't afford them (but we do often find ways around that one, don't we!), but I will say I have trouble going backwards. Now that I've heard the 2.1's... Someone once asked me if whether my Naim CDX sounded good without the XPS power supply and I had to admit to him that I've never tried that, so no reason to. Once you've tasted better, going back to good is very hard for me. Character flaw.

I will be auditioning the new Plinius 250 IV over the next couple of weeks alongside the 2.1's. (I'm afraid the 100 is now out of the running.) What will be the determing factor here is which amp sounds best with the ProAcs, the speakers I will be pairing them up with later next year. I have had some mild concern that the 2.1's won't be powerful enough for the 3.8's but having heard them totally satisfy my very inefficient 805's, that concern is easing. Hell, if Dennis Had can drive his with 20 watt SET toys...

Again, I'll be back with more detail and less gush in a week or so.

Reminder about the rest of my system: BC 3 preamp, SPM interconnects, Straightwire Virtuoso speaker cable, Electraglide Triglide power cords, dedicated 20 amp circuits. Oh, by the way, I'm having to use "ordinary" Beldon cords on the BC 2.1's for now, so they may get better yet....

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Contact:  bcircle@bluecircle.com  /  519-469-3215