Classe CAM 350 monoblock vs Classe CAM-400 or Bryston 4B3

I am looking at two Classè audiogon postings. A Classe CAM 350 monoblock ($4,449) vs Classe CAM-400 monoblock ($4,900).

I don’t know Classè amps all that well but the earliest reviews I can find for the CAM 350 go back to 2001. The CA-400 may go back to 2009, when was the CAM-400 last made? I don’t know. Any differences in reliability or performance?

Should I assume both need to be recapped? Does one amp run hotter than the other? Is one Class A the other class AB?

Are there any Classè experts out there? I’d guess for the newer more powerful CAM-400 and extra $450 is not much of a difference everything else being equal.

As an audiogon virgin, having never bought or sold here I don’t know that “everything else is equal”.  I don't know how much to trust what I read.

All source material will be FLAC files. Speakers are Magnepan 3.7i about two years old. I know I love how Classè sounds but I worry about the heat making the room unlivable.  My taste in music is eclectic, almost anything except rap.

Perhaps the cool alternative would be a used Bryston 4B3 which Audiogon has 4 for sale at $4,100 - $4,500, any of which would have to be newer and less expensive than the Classè amps.  I have never listened to Bryston 4B3 on magnepan 3.7i speakers.  I don't know if I would like it?

A little guidance for the blind, but not deaf, yet, please; thank you.

You can,not go wrong with those listed amps. All are superb!

  I would have them checked by the manufacturer just for shi*s & giggles.

classe amps are amazing.
 Bryston I would go with a larger amp.  
 Let us know what you choose!
If the older Classé amps ever need service, that might be complicated by Classé’s ownership changing from the B&W Group to Sound United, which I believe is not repairing older units. Bryston, of course, is not owned by a holding group and repairs all their gear.

I have not heard those Classé amps; a newer CA-2300 sounded superb to me. Unfortunately, it had a fan, which I could hear -- ugh. I picked a Bryston 4B3 instead and am enjoying it very much. It's a great amp, very smooth for a SS amp yet with a powerful grip. Still, $4500 would be high for a used one, in my opinion. You might also think about the 14B3, the bigger one, as @arctikdeth suggested. I had a 14BSST and thought it was really wonderful. I hear that Maggies like power.


The Magie 3.7i have a nasty low load at 200-600hz

The Classe CAM 350 monoblocks on Stereophile said
"Classé more than met its specified power, delivering 450W into 8 ohms (26.5dBW) and 780W into 4 ohms (25.9dBW). Into a 2 ohm load, however, the protection circuitry cut in at 1000W, equivalent to an output current of 44.7A!"
Look good to go for the 350 monoblocks

Cheers George

I have been performing a little research. The Classè heat issue still concerns me with my modest abode.  I can listen to music for hours at a time and Classè amps operating over that length of time could make my listening room uncomfortable.

Today I found a black Bryston 4B3 power amp for only $3575 on Black will match the rest of my rack. This unit is only 2 years old and in “9” condition. S&H will cost me an additional $119 but this will total cost $1,000 to $1,500 less then either pair of Classè monoblocks which were at least 10-15 years old. The difference in money concerns me less than the significant heat issue which I have experienced myself.

I expect I can manage to get by with “only” 500 wpc into 4 Ω which is a small step up from 350 wpc into 4 Ω. I will have three days to decide once I take possession.  I could be annoyed, not at anyone here at audiogon.  If I can buy from a dealer in Oregon but my local shop has not answered my phone call for at least a month. Had he at least returned my phone call and told me what Classè amps he had in stock I would probably own one of those instead.

Those monstrous Classè monoblocks do radiate a presence in a bachelor’s home, some evidence of commitment and grander, and contempt for all WAF issues.  One could put two of them together with a dog bed on top and keep several greyhounds very happy all winter long. I can admit that I was tempted but in the last analysis only impressing oneself does not amount to much.  Better to own something I can live with.

I’ll need at least six XLR cables of reasonable quality. I have some on order from Cable Matters. I may yet replace my Rotel RC-1590 preamp with a tube amp given the opportunity. I looked into music service streaming DACs but I suspect none will sound better than my 54,000 flac files ripped from 4,000 CDs.

I would like to thank all who were so generous with their advice and encouragement.

Today I found a black Bryston 4B3 power amp for only $3575 on Black will match the rest of my rack.

Classe over Bryston every day, less the back matching the rack has priority sound. 

Cheers George

You may be correct on Classe over Bryston. For me matching color is minor. The determining factor is the heat.  If I will not use something because they make my home unlivable than no sense paying $4,900 for it.
If I will not use something because they make my home unlivable than no sense paying $4,900 for it

It won’t, people think Classe Audio amps are Class-A and produce big heat and is going to roast them. They are not, they have as as much Class-A bias put on them to make them run luke warm like any other Class-A/B amp.
And if thrashed at party levels they will get hot, just like any other Class-A/B amp will.
If you want a cool running amp get a Class-D and you go black too as sound won’t matter.

Cheers George
I have an angel who lives on my right shoulder (Thanks be to God).  The Bryston 4B3 was on consignment and the owner of title does not want to ship the Bryston power amp cross country. Call it divine providence.  So the deal fell through.  I am not out a dime.

There is a local owner of a pair of Classe' Audio CAM 400 monoblock speakers who I expect (Lawd willin') will let me try the pair in my own listening room.   If I can avoid S&H, sales tax and demo in my own home I'll be a happy puppy.  That will cost $1,300 more than plan "A" but if it does not burn down the house with BTUs I know I can live with the Classe sound.

So I may yet own a set of Classe monoblocks. As long as I don't worship them it will not break the first commandment.  (joke)
The soap opera is never over. The Classe dealer is now answering his phone but he no longer sells Classe.


He would like me to listen to McIntosh MC312 which gets great reviews, but he doesn’t have any Magnepan 3.7i speakers to mate up with them.

 The McIntosh MC312 actually gets rave reviews for being rewarding to listen to at conversational levels of volume. It would not fit on the unmovable shelf under my TV.

 Then I am reminded that the McIntosh MC462 is only $1000 more and perhaps better fitting my power requirements?

 I was warned that McIntosh owners are cult members and that McIntosh was not as good as Pass Labs or Classe for the same money.

 I am still keeping an open mind, looking for a little direction here because for me $8,000 is a whole lot of money.

timothywright OP
I was warned that McIntosh owners are cult members and that McIntosh was not as good as Pass Labs or Classe for the same money.
They’er not.

Seriously have a look at the new John Curl design Halo A21+ you should find a dealer that will let you listen to it. and you’ll have $$$ left in your pockets.

Or if you want monoblocks and can afford them the Halo JC1+ monoblocks, (too new no review/bench tests yet.)

Cheers George
@timothywright I am not sure what EchoHiFi said exactly but I am the owner of the 4B3 on consignment with them. They never contacted me about shipping this so there seems to be some misunderstanding. If you are still interested please let me know. I will contact them tomorrow and figure out what is going on.

Go with something current , that can be repaired or in the case of the Bryston probably still has a decent warranty left
@ GeorgeHiFi


I have never actually listened to either the Parasound Halo A21+ or the Bryston 4B3. I am trying to arrange that now.

 I don’t have an informed opinion.  At best I have uninformed concerns as follows:

 The Parasound Halo A21+ is rated 500 wpc 4Ω (which I like) costs $2995, however THD is rated <.1% which does not impress me. The amp I am replacing has THD <0.005%

 I also know that Parasound runs hot as hell at my listening levels.

 The Halo JC1+ mono-blocks cost $8,495 each which at $17,000 for the pair puts them out of my price range. The Halo JC1 (no +) is an older and inferior to the Plus and still cost $5000 used. It does spec much better.

 The Bryston 4B3 in contrast MSRP is $5695, almost double the Halo A21+ ; about 1/3 the MSRP of Halo JC1+. So one can not fairly compare three items of such vastly different costs.  Suffice it to observe the Bryston spec much better than the A21+. And I can find 4 late model Bryston 4B3 on Audiogon right now.

 The halo + items are newly introduced; I could only find those for sale at a dealer for full price.


I own a 4B3 and it's the best amp I've had. I preferred it to the Pass X250.8, not just for lower heat, but because I found the Pass a little too lush and tubey. A great amp, to be sure, but not as neutral to my ears as the 4B3.

Regarding the Magtech, when I auditioned it a home, I disliked it intensely. It was the anti-Pass -- icy and uninvolving. I can't explain why I reacted that way to this widely respected amp.

As I said in a previous post, I have enjoyed both Classe and Bryston amps (the brands you were considering).

In getting what suits YOU, it would be great if you could audition what I think is a prime contender, the 4B3 (or 14B3). Any way you could audition one? They are great amps, more relaxed than previous Brystons. You can find dozens of glowing reviews in actual publications, as well as by happy owners.
I would look at the Parasound JC5. Very high current rating. 400 wpc at 8 ohms and 600 at 4. Also stable at 1.5 ohms. You can also use them as mono blocks. Rated at 1200 wpc. The amp is $5995.

I own a full Classe pre/pro SSP Sigma with CA 5100 (which is from the series that the CAM 400 resides) a 5 channel 100 wpc amp that I use for all surround and the newer CA 2300 (the newer series from which the architecture is very similar to the current Delta Series) a 2 channel 300 wpc amp which I use for primary left and right and all music reproduction.

A number of points:

Firstly, Classe is back up and operating and is still supporting repairs on earlier equipment so I would not discourage you from buying.

The CAM 400 is a nice sounding system and it utilizes heat sinks along the sides for cooling.  If you search internet, you should be able to find pictures of 6 of these amps in numerous rooms at Abbey Roads studio where they are powering TOTL B&W speakers (pretty cool!).  CAM 400 was replaced with CAM 600 around 2011.  CAM 350 was replaced with CAM 400 around 2006.

The CAM 350 is getting a little "long in the tooth".  

If you are concerned with warming, I would strongly recommend you looking at either CA 2300 or CAM 600 monoblocks (although these may be overkill for the rest of your system).  BTW the CAM 600 is essentially a CA 2300 with both output channels wired together.  This series is much newer than the 400 and uses "ICTunnel" cooling with a variable speed fan on the back.  Other than switching to "on" from standbye, when the fan is momentarily turned on at 100%, I have never heard the fan during listening, either when using with home theater setup or just two channel.  I have the 5100 sitting on top of the 2300 and even when left on for 24 hours (which just happened earlier this week) the 2300 does not even get warm on the outside.  The 5100 does get slightly warm (as do CAM 400s).  This being said, it is much less warm than Class A operating amps or even my previous BAT VK 500 which warmed my large dedicated room at least 2-3 degrees.  In fact, my wife regularly teases me that the room is cold since I went to the all Classe system.

In terms of sound quality the Maggies will sound great with any of them. I would strongly recommend instead of the CAM 400, buy a CA 2300 and use the leftover money to buy a Classe pre/pro this would give you option of home theater but primary L/R channels are balanced.  There is a 2300 currently on ebay which should be available for $3-3.5K in Nashville, TN area (I actually know a little about this one's history as I own it's "brother"!).  There is an SSP Sigma mkII available on Audiogon which is owned by a friend of mine in CA and it has been absolutely babied it's whole life!   This is person that I bought my 5100 from.  I can tell you this marriage SSP and 2300 with excellent cabling will rival systems costing many times more.  You can see a complete description and picture of my current system under psnyder149 virtual systems.  Let me know if you need any additional info. and good luck!

@ Mike_in_NC

It has been frustrating trying to get anything done.  I have a local dealer who sells Magnepan, Bryston and McIntosh. I would love to listen to both Bryston 4B3 and McIntosh (MC312 or MC462) drive my MG-3.7i speakers but after maybe 6 calls yesterday he called back this morning to say he was open for someone else but not for me.

 He didn’t sell me the $7,500 Magnepan speakers either; he made a mess out of that as well.

 I have no education in culinary arts, but I have had family who made a grand living as professional taste testers.  Fact is I can taste things in food many others can not. In the same way I can hear nuances in music some other folks may not notice. Exactly what you recommend is exactly what I would prefer.  Listen and make up your own mind and Lord knows I would have an opinion.

 You are the second individual who is not too impressed with the Magtech, I don’t have an opinion but I respect yours. I know Wendell loved the old Bryston and the Bryston 4B3 is much better than what the old Bryston 4B stuff. I think I should place some credence on Wendell’s opinions?

 I had a deal with a Bryston that somehow fell through?  If that deal can be resurrected a used Bryston 4B3 would could me almost $2,000 less than a new Sanders.

 There are still a few Classè amps on Audiogon; a pair of CA-M350 mono-blocks, and pair of newer CA-M400 mono-blocks but they were new in 2007. I am temped. I know what they sound like but I have issues with their age, location and Classé’s service in the future.

 Road blocks at every turn, after all the drama somehow, Lord willing, this will all work out for the best.

timothywright OP
The Parasound Halo A21+ is rated 500 wpc 4Ω (which I like) costs $2995, however THD is rated <.1% which does not impress me. The amp I am replacing has THD <0.005%
That’s because John Curl as does Nelson Pass etc etc most of the gurus, don’t believe in tones of feedback (and use local instead of global feedback) to get "reasonable" THD figures, where the amp that has .005% obviously does. I hope you know feedback if not used sparingly is detrimental to sound and can make an amp sound sterile.

Stereophile A21+: The A 21+’s distortion was predominantly the subjectively innocuous second harmonic, the second-order difference product at 1kHz lay at a very low –86dB (0.005%), and higher-order intermodulation products were even lower in level.

Cheers George
Have A Bryston 4B that I bought used 27 years ago, driving peripheral speakers. never a problem. Have a newer 4B SST driving Vandersteen 3A sigs. I messed up a binding post on the 4B SST and Bryston fixed it under warranty with great communication and quick turnaround. Both Brystons are being driven by a DeHavilland Ultraverve. I’m happy with the sound produced by this combination. Both Brystons get a little warm (temp) but not enough to be of concern to me. 
A few comments.

@psnyder149 found the Classé CA 2300 fan inaudible. I agree that it's a fabulous-sounding amp; in fact, I was about to buy one. But in my audio room, when I was listening to string quartets, the fan became audible during quiet passages. I'd urge caution in this respect for prospective buyers. Most listeners don't mind the fan, but some of us do.

@georgehifi points out that amps that use reduced feedback might have "high" THD, around 0.1%. I agree with George that that amount of THD can be inconsequential. It's difficult to hear, and I would not rule out an otherwise well-regarded amp for that reason. THD, especially 2nd and 3rd harmonics, is far less objectionable than IMD.

On Classé repairs of older equipment, I urge caution again, and I'd ask Classé how repairs might be handled for a specific model. The last information I saw from Classé (during resurrection from the B&W closing) was that older products would be handled by B&W but that parts availability might be problematic. So, wise to check before buying.

And @timothywrite, I sympathize with the difficulty of getting anything done these days. Looking at Audio Advisor, I see Bryston again has raised prices, with the 4B3 MSRP going from US $5995 to $6795 (though currently discounted to $6115). That would be one way to get a home audition, but boy, Bryston sure has become pricey!
You are correct that for 1-2 years, the Classe repairs were being handled by B&W and quality was definitely suspect but over the last year or so many of the original technicians from Montreal have been re-hired.  Last year at Axpona (April 2019), I had the opportunity to speak with Dave Nauber (General Manager of Classe) and he told me that this was exactly the plan that would be taking place over 2019 and it appears that the plan has been successfully executed.  All of the new equipment is now being manufactured in a SOTA factory in northern Japan.

Classe is now back up and operating as well as shipping new products.  I actually listened to a new Delta Pre with Delta Stereo in February that had been delivered in January.  These products are extensions from the CP-800 pre-amp (which was the design basis for the Sigma SSP I recommended) and the CA 2300/ CAM 600.  These new and improved versions are priced at nearly 2x their predecessors.  They sound fantastic but I have not had the opportunity to listen back to back with the predecessors so I can't say degree to which they are better.  The amps are biased much more towards class A operation (I think 35wpc before crossing into class A/B.  Even so, these units run very cool compared to other designs.  

Last month, I was on the phone with one of the technicians that I remember from earlier days as I was trying to purchase a new shipping box for a Classe Sigma Amp 5 that I am going to be selling.  Unfortunately, they were not able to supply me with one as this product has been discontinued but he did confirm that they will service it as well as the 3 other Classe products that I own.

The market seems to be taking notice of this situation as many used Classe prices have been drifting upwards.  There is an exception to this:  the Sigma Amp 2 and Amp 5 lines.  This is because Listen Up in Colorado bought up all of Classe's remaining inventory and has been selling these at less than 50% original list.  I own an Amp 5 and used it for nearly 5 years with my SSP.  This is a very good class D 5 channel amp with 2 channels fully balanced, but the sound quality of the CA and CAM versions is significantly better IMHO.  I say this at my own loss because I would love to sell the AMP5 and it will not be worth nearly as much as I would like. 

Regarding the fan noise, in my listening room, the fan noise from my plasma TV is actually louder than from the 2300.  This could be a function of layout, proximity to hard reflective surfaces vs. absorptive, etc.   So I can only say that in my room the 2300 is not audible over ambient levels except at startup as noted before.  I live near a highway in the Chicago suburbs so my ambient noise might be greater than yours therefore potentially covering up fan noise that might otherwise be audible.  
... in my listening room, the fan noise from my plasma TV is actually louder than from the 2300 ...
Wow - I had no idea that some TVs have a fan. Thanks for this info!
L6FAYYYH0111 Panasonic Fan
The part number so that you can have one of your very own for $28.95! lol
psnyder149L6FAYYYH0111 Panasonic Fan
The part number so that you can have one of your very own for $28.95! lol
Amazing! What does this fan cool - a processing chip??
@psnyder149 --

Thanks for the great info about Classé. My audio room is in the basement, far from highways, and soundproofed, so I am the most likely audiophile to hear any fan noise. I have banished fans from the room.

I own a CP-800 (now in my desktop system) and sent D. Nauber a list of requested improvements for the Delta Pre. Three main ones were: gapless streaming, more PEQ bands per channel, and separate PEQ settings for each speaker configuration. I don’t know which, if any, of my requests were incorporated. Anyway, it’s good to know that if the CP-800 requires service, Classé might be in a position to provide it.

I have Classe' CA M600 Mono Blocks...These are clean sounding amps...I have them paired with Joseph Audio Pearl 20/20, Emm Labs DV2...Mine don't run too hot...If you have 4 ohm speakers naturally they will run hotter...Slight fan noise however in no way does it effect my listening...
BTW, now that I am using the EMM DV2 directly, I will be selling my Classe' Sigma SSP...I used the pre in 2 channel only in the bypass mode...Great preamp....Anyone interested let me know...John
Last night I called Sanders in Colorado and ordered a Magtec which should arrive next Monday about dinner time.  It has been a circus, the Classé dealers is no longer selling Classé. The local Bryston- McIntosh - Magnepan dealer is “kind of” open but not for me.  A long distance Bryston deal went bad.

I should interject that the Bryston deal was with in Portland OR and in my experience they were not forthright and square with neither me nor the consignee. Specifically I was told my debt card was declined when it was never tried and that the consignee had changed his mind when in truth he was never contacted.

 I am looking forward to listening to my Magtec. I read on Audioasylum that perhaps I should have considered a power amp with a Hypex or a NC1200 board and saved a lot of money. There is a guy who lives a half hour drive away selling a nord acoustic on audiogon. I offered he bring it over so I can listen and I’d pay cash. He told me doesn’t deliver, or take cash. But he was desperate to sell and wanted $750 over MSRP?

 In contrast Sanders could not have been any better to do business with.  I already went into CorelDraw and sketched out a wiring diagram. Unexpectedly at Sanders it was recommended that I preferentially use the unbalanced connectors.

 And thank you to all for their gracious assistance.

Timothy, Here is my 2 cents for now and the future...Always a gamble buying used...The Classe' gear was built to last...My 600's were used...I don't know anything about their current gear or the company...People who have this level of gear(the former company) usually take care of what they have...Good luck!....John
I compared the CAM-400's to the Parasound JC-1's and the Parasound was a clear winner to my ears.  I still own them after many years while nearly all of the surrounding components have changed.

Today I wouldn't consider the older Classe equipment just for the maintenance aspects, but that's me.

That McIntosh dealer who said you should listen to a product but not in your own home -- nuts!

Echo is a local dealer I’ve been happy with. I’m beyond disappointed to hear of your experience.

Roger Sanders was great when I auditioned a Magtech. I hope the amp pleases you, so you don’t have to go through any more aggravation.

We hear weeping for the fading of brick-and-mortar stores. But local dealers often don’t offer the level of service given by Internet dealers. Again, nuts!
You could also try PS Audio M700s.  New, powerful, good sounding, and cool running.

And available in black!  😉
I have been having fun with my Magtech since about 9am, my cleaning lady was here today and we have similar taste in music, she actually likes her music a little louder than I do.  She is incapable of sitting and critically listening to music, she has to get up and dance to the music.  It reminds me of my Columbian GF of a few years ago. Play a samba or mombo and you could swear someone put something in her drink; they should wear a disclaimer or require an OSHA sign.


This is more of a preliminary impression than a premature review.  The 900 wpc is useful even at 70% volume. The bass is quick and has more impact than I remember.  I attribute that to endless reserves of Magtech. I can’t fault the clarity. I was listening to the first note of Louie- Louie from Clark-Duke Project and my 95# black lab was doing his lap dog treatment. On the first note of Louie- Louie Alleluia jumped up startled and looked at me like what the hell was that?  With the Yamaha M2 power amp I was wonder if a DWM bass panel or two might help; now I know it would not be helpful with the Magtech amp diving the Magnepan 3.7i. I have a bass to be reckoned with, not excessive but authoritative.  With the proper power amp I don’t see the 3.7i ever needing a DWM.

 It has been fun, I may need to reposition my speakers, not sure which way and for what yet. I would like a better stage presence or imaging. I suspect that is nothing to do with the Magtech power amp. A tube pre-amp to replace the Rotel RC-1590 might be something worth trying.

 60-70% on my pre amp is conversational level; low to mid 70s % volume is where I find myself doing critical listening. 80% is damn loud, rude loud (120+ dBa). I’ve not ventured much above that. I read using the balanced connectors would give me 3dBa more volume but I don’t know why I would need it.

 I need to spend more time critical listening at low levels, background music volume as when I am reading or focused on a jigsaw puzzle. What is clear so far is the Magnepan-Magtech combination does not need to be cranked up to perform.