A month or so ago I purchased a fully built Holton Five Zero Zero power amplifier, and I feel compelled to share my thoughts on it. For reference, it replaced another relatively high power, high current amplifier of similar value, albeit an integrated with a passive pre-amp stage.
First up, it looks stunning! The finishing quality is impeccable, and even my wife, who is normally a bit ho-hum with HiFi gear, commented on how much she liked the look. It's also got some serious weight to it, partly due to the solid case, thick machined fascia, and large heat sinks, but also no doubt thanks to the huge transformer and capacitor banks; no scrimping on the important stuff here!
I was very happy with my previous amplifier, but in all honesty I can say the Holton has taken the sound of my setup to another, altogether superior level. My previous amp was renowned for having good bottom end, but the impact of both drums and double/electric bass with the Holton is just phenomenal! Everyone who's heard it has remarked that it sounds like there's actually a drum kit in my lounge room! There's a track I'm infinitely familiar with where the bass guitarist slides between notes; with this amplifier I can not only hear the changing pitch, but actually pinpoint the moments when the bassists fingers slide over the frets. I can clearly discern whether they're playing with a pick or with fingers, and sometimes even how close to the bridge they're playing! Ultra low bass punches you in the face and then "blooms" outwards like an explosion from the impact zone; pretty spooky stuff!
Mid-range is also incredibly detailed and precise; there are subtle background "noises" which have suddenly turned into easily recognizable instruments. Guitars, woodwind, whispered vocals, suddenly revealed in crystal clarity despite being many layers back in the mix. Everyone who's heard the amp has also commented on how "black" the background is; one friend said "wow, now I can actually hear the notes that they're not playing". Instrument separation is superb, and you can easily follow each one in isolation, or simply tune into the music as a whole, and then again tune into another single melody or rhythm line, just like you would with a live performance. There's a naturalness to vocals that really needs to be heard to be believed, and a beautiful, expansive sense of air and space around each of the instruments; you can easily picture the size of the recording studio or venue. If you listen closely, the sound of a piano can be heard firstly as finger on keys, then keys hitting felt, then hammers hitting strings,then the body of the piano resonating with the strings, and then that resonance reverberating through the room. Imaging is pinpoint-sharp and clearly defined; when people speak of holographic imaging, this is it!! The image is higher, wider, and deeper than it was before, and the only limitation is my room and the placement of my speakers.
Treble is clear, defined, and ringing without being harsh or scratchy; tiny triangles, the sound of a cymbal struck on the bell or near the edge, the crack of a rim shot, all rendered in an utterly lifelike way.
On more than one occasion it's sent shivers down my spine or brought tears to my eyes.
And to top it all off Anthony was extremely personable, easy to speak to, and was happy to help out with all of my many queries; the sort of service you only get from someone who is passionate about what they do, and does it exceptionally well.
If you are looking for a power amplifier to build your dream 2-channel system, I cannot recommend this amp highly enough; in my opinion it'll absolutely blow the doors off amps worth many, many thousands of dollars more. Anthony, I have three words for you; thankyou, thankyou, thankyou!