Channel Islands D-100 Amplifier

Has anyone had an opportunity to listen to this amp yet? It looks very interesting ( but I'd grateful for any first hand impressions. I'm looking to use two of these monoblocks for the front two channels of a multi-channel system, using a Marantz SR9300 receiver as the preamp, to improve two-channel stereo performance.
I have been listening to these monoblocks for a week. They are tremendous amps. Great bass, musical, wide and deep soundstage. Very tubelike and transparent. I cannot find anything to fault. Very powerfull 100 watts. The smaller versions got a great review in Positive Feedback, they will be reviewing the D-100 shortly.
I have listened to both the D 100 and VMB amps. At $999 the VMB are well worth considering. They are quiet, clean, musical and do little wrong. However, due to the nature of the beast, the top end is rolled off -- like a tube amp -- and are not as transparent as better ss and tube amps. Do not get me wrong. In a starter, second or HT system these will do what you want them to. They are not meant to be paired with a $5000+ speaker system. You should listen to them if you are looking for an amp in the sub $1500 range. The reviews on them are accurate.

Now the D100 are a differnt animal and different story. There is even a D200 in the works. At first I was not sure what I was listening to. It was too quiet and to real to sound like a stereo amp. So I kept switching back and forth between the D 100s and my other amps. I even borrowed a third amp from a friend. I now had amps ranging from $1500 to $4500 in my living room. If it was winter, I could have saved a lot on heating.

After a week, the amps settled in and I was very familiar with them. My first impression as to their quietness was confirmed. These amps are dead quiet. You cannot hear anything coming out of the speakers when they are on. Dusty at CI said that they were "revealing." I think that specific and neutral are the more accurate adjectives.

So the starting point is a pitch black background. Then you layer in music that is "life-like" (and reflects the source). Soundstage is wide, deep and natural. It finally dawned on me that I was hearing analogue sound from my CDP with these amps.

The most interesting comment I heard from some of the others who were listening with me was "there is no halo around the music any more. Does that mean that these amps eliminate the distortion that you hear in other amps?" We called CI and were told that the input and output signals are identical except for amplitude and the amps are distortion free (I think I remembered and interpretted that correctly). So, that clarified the quietness and the, at first, eerie natural sound.

They are truly amps to have. Can they out perform the + $5000 amps? I am not sure, but I do not even care. They play music. I feel that I have found analogue again.

What have you two respondents compared these monoblocks to? Which amps have you compared directly to them in your systems? TIA
They bettered my PS Audio HCA-2 which, in its own right, is a great amp. I have had more amps than you could shake a stick at and the CI's are better than anything I have ever had:

BAT VK-200
McCormack DNA-1
Quicksilver Silver Mono's
Atmasphere M-60s
Ayre V-3
Bel Canto 200.2
Clayton M-70s
Yes, I am very interested in purchasing the D-100's.
I called Dusty today and discussed my current system with him.
He is a very helpful, courteous, intelligent man.
That's certainly some high recommendations! I guess there's no doubt then that the D-100 would be a significant improvment over the Marantz SR9300's internal amps.

I'm located in Australia and have contacted Dusty, who's told me there's no problem shipping internationally and that a 220~240v/50~60hz version is available (for Australia, Europe, most of Asia etc). But obviously it would be difficult for me to take advantage of the 30-day trial and I need to be pretty sure of the quality of the amps before ordering.

Please keep the comments coming. This is very useful and, so far at least, sounding more promising than I could have hoped.
My comparison was against: CJ MF2250A, BAT VK220 and Manley Stingray. DM 100 bettered all in clarity and soundstage.
I'm getting close to pulling the trigger on these. My only concern, sparked by terms such as 'revealing' and 'specific' is that the amps may sound a bit bright to my ears (though 'tubelike' wouldn't necessarily fit that bill). I prefer a slightly warm, musical sound. Do you think these amps would fit?
Everyone forgot the other, just as important, end of the equation... What speakers were all the comparative amps talking to?

This makes a difference as well...
Not everyone! If you look at our system page (and I also mentioned this on my write up)you will noticed that I run three different speaker types (one at a time of course) to evaluate the amp. In fact, at present, I have my MLTL hook up to my amp.

I'm looking at using the amps with Elac 207.2 speakers, which I'd describe as open, detailed and neutral in my system, with sacd playback via a modified SA8400 (a two-channel version of the SA8260) and cd playback through the Marantz and a Bel Canto DAC2.
Well, I bit the bullet and ordered the amps. What's the worst that can happen? They'll presumably take a little bit of time to get here (Australia) but I'll post my findings after I've listened to them.

Thanks for the helpful comments which convinced me to make the purchase. If I don't like them it will be all your fault!
If you feel that your speakers are neutral and that the amp also is classified or perceived as neutral, there might be a potential for trouble. Nevertheless, Neutral+Neutral does not have to equal ultra neutral or sterile. I have read a review of a pair of Avalon loudspeaker paired with Spectral gear, amp and preamp. By themselves, they all were described as neutral sonically, but when they were paired, they actually complemented each other's sonics very well. It was in Hi Fi magazine, a UK based periodical. But, if they get there and do sound a tad too cold or sterile, you can always add a tubed preamp and some copper IC would be able to tame the neutrality to make it livable. What sort of pre are you planning to use?
I'm planning on using my Marantz SR9300 receiver as a pre for the time being, though will upgrade to a stand-alone unit once the budget allows. I guess the Marantz is probably on the warm side of neutral, so it will be interesting to see what sort of a combination it makes. It may also provide a clue as to what sort of a separate pre I should look for.
I received my D-100s in the third week of January (which were the first pair delivered which had been used as demos at CES. To me they sound pretty much like my previous listening system which was Sennheiser HD-600 headphones (Moon Audio Silver Dragon cable) powered by the Headroom Max 2004 ($1800). The D-100s power VMPS 626R Signature Edition 3-way stand-mounted monitors. If anything they are a little more lush especially noticeable in female vocals. They have great space and sweetness and I couldn't be happier.
Bob Major
Wow, from what I gather, these things are the ticket.
Everything said about these amps are what I'm looking for.
I guess the D-100's would be enough guts for my 10 inch 3-ways @91db. 4ohm minimum.
Or should I wait for the D-200's ?
Rx8man, I like good things in small packages and these guys do seem to be pretty special. Something I might consider fo rthe future.

Bailey, have you thought of getting the VPC•1 passive preamp to match to the D•100s? It would be cool to have a bunch of little metal CIAudio boxes all over the place!
Rx8man - it's an interesting thought. The problem is that I would like to keep my stereo and home theater kit combined, if possible. A VPC-1 with ir control would make certainly make it more attractive. I'm not sure whether the passive preamp would require a specific processor/home theater passthrough or not, though that would also be a consideration.
We're working on a RF remote controlled passive preamp with 4 inputs, a tape loop and 2 pair of output jacks. I don't believe in the pass-thru idea because if you play your hifi and forget you're in HT bypass, the volume is full blast and can cause damage. With a remote passive, just turn the volume all the way up when going into the home theater system.

D-200 is getting close to production. I'll post details and performance graphs in a day or two at our Audio Circle Forum.

I thought the idea with a HT pass-through is that when the HT input is selected the AV receiver's volume control is used - the preamp's volume dial would not need to move. Once you switched from the HT input to a different input, such as CD, the preamp's volume control would kick back in. Throughout the process they'd be no need for the preamp's volume to be on full.
Gunbei, I think my future is now.
When a pair of small mono amps run this cool, cost so little, do so much, it makes me take note of the price/performance issue in a major way.
I can't wait to see what the D-200's will do.
Rx8man, that's awesome! Let us know how they shape up for you. What will you be comparing them to?
Well, please don't laugh, a pair of highly pro-modded B&K M-200 monos that served me faithfully for ten years !
Yeah, I keep good stuff around for a while, so it really takes a substantial, favorable improvement to make me move !
I've had dozens of golden-ear audiophiles (dealers too) audition my system on more than one occasion to attest to the sound quality, they were highly impressed.
In reply to Bailey...
It all depends on how you want to set up the system(s).

The new preamp will have 2 pair of outputs, what we could do is make one pair a standard variable output through the volume control, and the 2nd pair could be configured for "bypass"(taken from the input selector switch before the volume control)or could be a 2nd pair of variable outputs(after the volume control). This would most likely be done by a set of internal jumpers.
These amps sound like they're really something... I figured Dusty would eventually do something like this though.

Most of these digital amps are built off modifying or just plain using a reference amp module as it comes from the tech vendor.

So you make some mods, get creative with supplying power, and you're good to go. It's great to see a seasoned pro like Dusty get products like this into his line-up because with his knowledge and skill he's definitely going to be besting those boutique brands that are using the same basic technology, but are charging up the wazoo for it.

I'm considering seeing if I can replace my Aragon 8008BB with a set of D-100's or D-200's... my only concern being the power supply... it doesn't looke like there's much filter capacitance for reserve, and the circuit doesn't double down into 4 Ohms which troubles me a bit.

The D-100's have 27,340uF of power supply capacitance, which is really overkill for this type of design. The efficiency of the Class D section does not require huge banks of filter capacitors like a standard class AB design.

No amp truly doubles it power output into half impedance due to various losses. The ones who claim this are probably slightly under rating the 8 ohm perfomance. The D-100 and
D-200 will output much more power into lower loads. The current limiting is really what determines this in our design.
I can thank Psychicanimal for my first exposure to Channel Islands last Summer.
I brought my modded mono amps & tube Dac over to his place and was shocked at how well his little Channel Island setup sounded.
These D-100's & (soon D-200's) must be really special.

I chatted with a happy customer of CIA (cant remember where) a couple months ago and he was very happy with his new 40 watt monoblocks.
Could any noise be coming from the 40-100 or 200 watt amp such as a "hum" or "anything" under normal operating conditions?

Thanks a lot.....Pat
All of our amplifiers use custom made transformers and are very quiet mechanically. All models are available in 100v (for Japan), 120v, and 220-240v/50~60hz (Europe, Asia, Australia).
Hum in the audio(heard through the loudspeakers)is usually caused by ground loops, poor shielding, system wiring, etc.

Thanks a lot for the answer, if a person gets serious a phone call may be an effective way to find out information.

The 200 watt monos sound interesting....Do you think they will ever be offered with a black face?
We don't have any plans to make an all black version, but it could be done at an extra cost (and lead time). Give us a call if you need more info.

Channel Islands Audio
(805) 984-8282
Great, keep this thread alive.
I think there will be a lot more to say about the D-100's and the upcoming D-200's, so let us know everything !!
Dan Wright of ModWright recently wrote in Audio Asylum about the CI-Audio D200 amps. I've copied the text below:
Comparing them to the Atma-Sphere M60 MKII OTL's is a bit of an unfair comparison, as they are so very different.
From a pure listening standpoint, with my speakers - Greybeard KB2/2's w/2/W bass modules (6ohm nominal - easy load), I prefer the D-200's hands down. The Atma-Sphere's are fantastic in terms of their soundstage, holographic imaging, etc. and are quite exceptional amps. But, I found that they couldn't drive my speakers with the bass extension and detail that I ultimately wanted. I believe that with autoformers or the right speaker, the Atma-Sphere's would fair better in this regard.

Ultimately I do prefer the D-200's and feel that they are a better fit for ANY speaker, including those with difficult low-impedance loads. They DO NOT give up anything in terms of body, warmth, richness, etc., to tube amps, but they also GIVE you the bass depth and detail that you can't always get with even very good tube gear.

For me, the penalty that you NORMALLY pay for Class D or 'Digital' amps (not to mention MANY normal SS amps), is a 'glare', cold, sterile or hard sound. Detail does NOT have to be hard, cold or clinical. Additionally, warmth, musicality and a rich full sound don't have to preclude sparkling highs and fast dynamic sound.

I believe that there is a fine line here, in terms of actual sound, between ultra-detailed and hard, and full and rich that is also syrupy, etc.

It IS possible to provide a sound that is fast, detailed, extended and with good bass control, slam and punch, that is not hard, cold, sterile or overly warm and rolled off. We at ModWright design for the ideal sound that gives you both detail and musicality and Dusty (Channel Islands Audio) does too.

In my opinion, he has hit one WAY out of the park with the D-200's.

Dan Wright
Read the thread over @ the Asylum, I had a feeling these were going to be very special amps.
If a pro-modder like Dan Wright confirms this in his own reference system, that says a lot.
We'll be hearing more about these D-200 amps.
For the record, Dan is NOT a dealer for Channel Islands nor has ANY financial interest in Dusty's amp sales.
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I own two ci audio d 200 ,driving two mirage OM 9. I amlanning To chante my speakers , the monoblocks are wonderful!!!!!!!!!!!
Ill just add that Im listening to a pair of D-500 mk 2's that are also amazing.
Wow, talk about bringing an old thread back to life. I'm still using my D-200's. I previously had a Mac 402 and Pass Labs X250.5, and the D-200 are staying. They're easy to move, run extremely cool, and use virtually no electricity, and cost less than half of the others if you buy used. What's not to like?