Review: Chiro C-200 Amplifier

Category: Amplifiers

Jazz, New Age, and female vocals are what I listen to the majority of the time. The most important aspect of reproduced sound is getting a sense of being "there". My pet peeves are too much bass and upper frequency "shrillness".

The Chiro C-200 has been my primary amp for about 6 months. I got a great deal on a used piece locally and jumped on it. It replaced an Acurus A150 which was in the same league.

The Acurus is a great amp. It has better bass "slam" than the Chiro but is inferior in all other areas. The Acurus tried too hard to be clean, and has an over sterile quality that I do not apprecaite. It does not convey the music with the same sense of realism thast the Chiro does. The biggest difference I found is that the Chiro has better resolving power. There is simply more music with the Chiro, and it seems to be more in control. Imaging ans sounstaging are more focused and deeper (instruments and voices do not jump around anymore). The Chiro handles the high notes with significantly more "naturalness" than the Acurus, which I sometimes found a little foggy.

All in all, the Chiro was the amp to beat for <1k. It is a few years old now, and Kinergetics is no longer in business, but great deals can be had on second hand units. (If you do a search in there is some info about guys that are servicing these, however it has become a little dated) Build quality is top notch, and the unit runs fairly cool even with the 84db sensative Solos.

The conclusion is this; The Acurus are great amps. It is neck and neck with the Chiro in many areas. The difference is in overall resolution and the upper frequency presentation, the stuff you pay the big bucks for. The Chiro does it better, significantly.

For under $400 bucks, this is a great amp that gives the listener a taste of the high end.

If money was no object, would you still own this?
Are you kidding me? I am a grad student on an an ultra tight budget, if money was no object I would be listening to ML#33s or a pair of Halcros.

Bottom line;

The Chiro C-200 is a sweet amp that can be had for next to nothing. (I got mine for $250)

Associated gear
Platinum Audio Solo's
Rotel Preamp
Ixos biwire speaker cables
Ixos gamma 1000 interconnect for pre-pow
Tributaries sca-300 for cd-pre
Marantz cc-52

Similar products
Conrad Johnson Sonographe
I paid $500-and-change for my C-200 demo. It replaced a 15-yr-old Carver M 1.0t. The Chiro's 140 watts appear to play louder than the Carver's 200. I don't know how that's possible, but maybe it has something to do with cleaner sound??? The bass is definitely much tighter. Imaging is solid and the sound stage is deeper and much wider, if a little forward on some songs. Voices are well defined and it is easier to pick out individual male voices, say on a song by the Tempatations or Moonglows. This amp is a definite step up in sound quality. Minuses?

1. Be careful tightening the plastic binding posts; I cracked one of mine accidentally.
2. Be extremely careful when changing cables: actually, just make sure to unplug the amp if you decide to do some listening tests with different wire. I've blown two fuses when spades accidentally brushed against each other.
3. Mine developed an intermittent hum. I heard it once after playing some music at "11 o'clock or 11:30" for a couple of hours. After a half-hour or so, it became silent again. I heard it again a few days later at turn on for several minutes, but haven't heard it again. I've only had the amp about six weeks.

As already pointed out, Kinergetics is no longer in business.

Despite the negatives, my system really does sing now when all is well.
I also picked up a Chiro C-200 amp from Audiogon. I just dont find much wrong with this amp. It seems to be quite effortless in everything it does,,and that is with only 2 40kuF amp has an issue in that I cant turn it off with the front button,,I have to unplug it...

I feel that maybe because it sounds so good and its cheap, that Its a good candidate for upgrades by a tech.
My chiro is driving JBL L-96, which are 89dB/W. preamp is a David Berning TF-10 tubed pre and Parasound CDP-2000 CD player/
This is my second review. I've had the amp since last March (2003) and I still love the sound. But.... I'm getting big time turn-on transients and more often than not, one of the channels will cut out at startup (usually the left side). Sometimes I have to turn it off and back on 10 or more times to get it working right. Has anybody had a similar problem and know the root cause and have a solution?
sorry, I can't help on the issues some are having. I have the five channel version of this amp I bought locally for $600! That is about $120 per channel. Not bad. This amp is a great deal in the 2, 3, or 5 channel versions. I'd like to pick up some more just to run other channels. It is probably the best out there for the money.