The new Coda S5.5 amplifier: It's a "Petite Beast"!

I have in-house the New Coda Technologies S5.5 amplifier for review for Stereo Times website. It will be awhile before I write the review. However, I'm so impressed by the performance of this petite amplifier, it only weights 45 pounds, that I wanted to give a heads up to you GON members if you are in the market for a balanced pure class A amplifier, delivers 50 watts @ 8 Ohms, and can drop 100 Amperes of current on a peak!

The world class build quality of Coda amplifiers is on display with the S5.5, along with the most beautiful purity of tonality, precise sound-staging, complete liquidity offered by pure class A design, and what might be the best top end regarding details, decays, and a natural shimmering without brightness or any edge at all.

The S5.5 uses extremely wide bandwidth output transistors instead of the usual TO3 devices used in most transistor designs. I own the Coda #16, which is great, but the midrange/high end is taken to another level of musical enjoyment with the S5.5. The S5.5 has a sense of speed/aliveness that is exciting to listen to that you experience in live music. The amp is dynamic as hell, has driven with ease any speaker I have tried it with, hence my nickname of the "Petite Beast". Remember, 50 watts pure class A, can drop 100 amperes of current and only weights 45 pounds.

Teajay (Terry London)


Also wanted to post my findings on comparing the Accuphase E-380 used as a pre-amp vs using a Holo Audio Serene pre-amp.

I am using relatively inexpensive RCA's to connect my E-380 the S5.5.  They are good but not at the same level as the rest of my cabling, but I bought them to test the Accuphase as a pre-amp with the understanding that I would either sell the Accupphase and get dedicated pre-amp and connect via XLR or I would purchase a higher end set of RCA's if I wanted to keep the Accuphase.

My friend brought over his Serene and we fist listened to the Accuphase and then listened to the Serene using the same RCA's.  We found the Serene to be a very good fit with the S5.5 as is the Accuphase.  They both sounded very similar but there were 2 main differences.

1. Using the Serene the bass was quite a bit better.  Faster and more of it.

2. Using the Accuphase the upper range frequencies had more sparkle and sounded a bit better.

I would be happy with either and they both seemed to fit really well with the S5.5.  Then we swapped out the XLR connection on his Serene.  Once we did that there was a huge difference in overall sound quality, clarity, bass, etc.  Everything just got a lot better.  It is worth noting that the RCA's I am using are around $100 where the XLR's we tested are around $2,000.  So, how much of the difference is in the XLR connection vs RCA and how much is due to the cable?  That is the big question.  I tend to think about 80%+ is due to the quality of cable but I am not sure.

I did just borrow a pair of Nordost Heimdall 2 RCA cables from my local hi-fi dealer and will test this weekend with a higher quality pair of RCAs. 

I do not know enough to know if RCA or XLR connection from the pre-amp will yield better sound, but will find out in a little while if a nicer pair of RCA's enhances the sound.


Hey, TJ. Those new Spectre 12 speakers from Aric Audio look really impressive! High quality! In your post you refer to them as a "large stand mount". The Spectre 12’s are very close to the size and weight of a Klipsch Forte 3/4 floor stander. The published dimensions for the Spectre 12 on Aric’s site are 35" x 14" x 13"; is that just for the speaker itself, which I am guessing is the case, or does that published 35" height include the stand as well which accompanies the S-12’s?

Anyway, I am curious on the stands that are provided with the Spectre 12’s. If they are not included in that 35" height, how much higher do the included stands elevate the Spectre 12? And are the stands wider and/or deeper than the speaker itself ? Also, do you hard attach the stand to the speaker, or does the speaker simply rest on the stand? What are the stands made of (metal, wood, other?); if wood,do they match the speaker cabinet?

In your listening tests how are the off-axis highs from the Spectre 12's Ribbon? 

If you have the complete dimensions for the stand itself, please share those with us. There were no photos of the Spectre 12 on its stand on Aric’s website unless I missed them. I am of course assuming the stands are not part of the published Spectre 12 dimensions of 35" x 14" x 13" off Aric’s site. Thanks Teajay! Joe

@firefly627s Thanks for your interest! The dimensions on the site are for the speakers only and does not include the stands, which are not quite ready yet. They are currently being built by the cabinet maker, out of wood and finished to match the speakers. The speaker will simply sit atop the stands. The stands themselves will be 13” off the floor with the footers included in that height which puts the total height of the speaker at 48”. TJ currently has a different set of stands which put the speakers at roughly this same height for his review process.
Best regards, Aric


           Thank you Aric for your fast reply and the information. I can picture them better now on their stands; the Spectre 12  w/stands being about the same height as a Magnepan LRS+ . I think that's a great height for the ribbon tweeter too! Excellent!

            I have been  looking at the products you offer and various reviews along with comments on this thread and am very impressed with the products you have to offer, your high quality ethic, and the fact that you have a strong customer focus based on your guidance to customers for their specific applications. Thanks again, and when I am ready to move on changing some of my components, you are right at the top of my list! Thanks again. Best, joe

Some additional observations on the Serene preamp. I disconnected the Serene from my office system (Magenpan LRS+ and CODA #16) and drove it down to my friends place in Ventura, CA.

I wanted to hear the new RAAL 1995 Magna and Immanis headphones. I am a 2-channel guy but the older CA-1a and SR1a are spectacular, and I wanted to hear the new ones that are supposedly way better.

I took the Serene because it has a headphone only XLR output on the back. Last week, I spent $200 and bought the required cable from Kitsune.

My friend was building a crossover less speaker. It was a prototype and we listened to it with a passive preamp (volume control) that he had also built and my Serene. After just a few minutes I could tell that the Serene was outclassed by the passive. Everything was better across the board. I would expect the same result if I used that same passive preamp with the CODA #16.

My friend is thinking of building a balanced 4-input passive with dual XLR outputs. I told him to keep it cheap and let me know. I am keeping the Serene but no longer with the CODA #16. I will move the Serene downstairs to function as a headphone amp and 2-channel preamp.

The 2 new phones I heard were amazing. So good that I want to get the one I preferred for rock music, the Immanis. I am not sure how I can pull that off without selling the CODA #16. If it has to go it will, to get the Immanis.