DATE: June 22, 1999 Review by Mark Hardy

Dear Steve/all at DECWARE:

I thought you'd like to know that Zen amp #190 was unboxed and went on-line at our house on Father's Day (June 21), courtesy of my dear wife. A pretty cool Father's Day present, eh? Sunday evening, I hooked it up to my old Klipsch Cornwalls and a low-end Sony CD player to try it out. For practical reasons, the Cornwalls are in the basement, hardly an optimal place for listening! They're way too close together and way too far from the wall. I honestly set my expectations low 'cause as much as I wanted to be impressed, my scientist-rational mind was counting on a letdown. The first music I heard through the Zen was Sarah McLachlan's "Surfacing" (also a Father's Day present). The experience was almost unbelievable. For the first time, the Cornwalls opened up. The harshness I had always heard with them (using a McIntosh C28 and MC2100) was gone; they were as sweet and clean sounding as my old Polk Model 7A's upstairs. The most amazing thing to me was the effortlessness of music reproduction I was hearing. When I played the song "Angel", the sound brought tears to my eyes (my daughter was pretty amused by that, I think). I heard the cello on that track for the first time Sunday night; I'd never detected it listening on the radio! I hope to write a proper "review" when I've had more chance to listen. For now, suffice it say that I am AMAZED at what this little amp will do, especially for its unquestionably modest price.

Thank you very much. mrh




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