The D-Sonic M3a-1200S is an attractive alternative to the large, heavy, high-powered amplifiers available today. By utilizing Class D amplification topography, the D-Sonic is relatively light and generates very little to no heat. Featuring newly available technology, the D-Sonic M3a-1200S offers high-performance sonics and proven reliability. Whether used in a 2-channel stereo system or a home theatre capacity, the sonic purity of sound and control of the loudspeakers used was excellent. Given the reasonable price, the D-Sonic M3a-1200S is a very attractive, high-powered alternative for those seeking ultimate performance.
D-Sonic M3a-1200S Power Amplifier Highlights
- A claimed 800w/channel into 8Ω, with almost double into 4Ω.
- Stable into <2Ω loads.
- Comes with a 3-year transferrable warranty.
- 30-day in-home trial.
Who hasn’t dreamed of owning a monster power amp? The promise of unlimited power and control of loudspeakers is a compelling one. In my audio journey, I have lusted over the big McIntosh, Threshold, and now Pass Labs monster amplifiers. As a serious audiophile, I eventually had to grow from owning a stereo receiver, then to an integrated amplifier, and then to a separate pre-amp and amplifier. Today I still want the authority of a BIG amplifier. My stumbling block is the price, which has escalated to new heights, and the weight. Weight as in the weight of the amp. I am no longer the spry, young man that could easily lift and move 75-to-100-pound amplifiers. 25 to 35 pounds is more my speed these days. Fortunately, this is where D-Sonic comes in as a very attractive alternative.
D-Sonic is a US manufacturer headquartered in Sugar Land, Texas. Their product line is comprised of stereo amps, mono amps, and custom multi-channel amps. All of their amplifiers are based on the Class D mode of operation. This very attractive amplifier seemed to hold promise. How would it perform on my systems?
2 X 800w at 8 ohms
8ohms, 1W, 1kHZ 0.003%
1kHZ 6 mΩ
1kHZ 60 kΩ
Class D amplifiers have been used in audio for a very long time, decades. They operate by utilizing transistors as electronic switchers. The amplifying devices need to power up and off very fast between the supply rails. They operate by using pulse width modulation to amplify the signal being fed. Without getting too technical, the benefit of a class D amp is that they are very efficient. This means that size, weight, and heat are minuscule compared to conventional class A and class AB amplifiers. Although Class D amplifiers look like a perfect way to go, were some drawbacks to the design. Drawbacks that generally affect the way the high frequencies are reproduced. Up until recently, class D amplifiers were used mostly as powered subwoofer amplifiers. Major refinements in the circuits and the transistors used have resulted in much better performance.
The D-Sonic M3a-1200S is a stereo or 2-channel amplifier. Housed within the chassis are two mono amplifiers that share grounding and the AC line. The class D module used in the D-Sonic amp is the highly regarded Pascal module. To ensure the best sound performance, D-Sonic amps are assembled using aerospace-quality switches, inputs, and outputs. In addition, medical-grade filters are used to remove RFI/EMI interference from the AC line and signal circuits. The signal output wiring is silver/Teflon produced to mil-spec. The amplifier is housed in a 14-gauge steel chassis with an aluminum billet face plate with an attractive brushed anodized finish.
The initial setup was done using the Pro-Ject Pre Box RS2 Digital pre-amp and Pro-Ject CD Box RS2T CD transport and the NHT C4 speakers .
The D-Sonic M3a-1200 is a stereo amplifier that only requires a pair of interconnects and speaker cables for use. The consumer has the option to use RCA or balanced XLR interconnects. Two small switches on the back of the amplifier between the RCA and balanced XLR inputs allow the consumer to select the cables/input used. I decided on the balanced XLR inputs. When connecting the amplifier make sure you have the switch in the correct position or you will not get sound. Up for the RCA input and down for the balanced XLR. I accidentally pushed the switch on the left channel up when I connected the amp and I only got sound from the right channel until I corrected the switch position.
The D-Sonic amp has audiophile-grade speaker posts that will easily accept banana plugs, pins, spades, or bare wire. A receptacle on the back left side of the amp is where the high-quality provided AC cable connects to your AC mains. A rocker switch is provided above the AC receptacle to turn the power to the amp on or off. There is a 12V DC trigger input on the back so the owner may connect to an AV receiver or pre-amp to have the amp enter standby mode when not in use. Or you may elect to always keep the amplifier on like I do when using solid-state electronics. The D-Sonic amplifier draws very little power at idle and I prefer to keep my system warm. In addition, the compact size and weight of the D-Sonic amplifier made it very easy to place into my audio cabinet.
Even though the D-Sonic amplifier is efficient and cool running, I recommend that you leave enough space above the amplifier to allow for proper airflow. Once the D-Sonic amp was installed, it performed without issues. When I later installed the Rotel RC 1590 pre-amp to the D-Sonic M3a-1200S, I continued to use the balanced XLR interconnects. Toward the end of my listening trial, I used RCA interconnects between the D-Sonic and a Rega Elex R integrated amplifier in a home theatre system. The speakers used were then the Klipsch Forte III.
Karl Jenkins “The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace”
The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace by Karl Jenkins is a large orchestral composition that features a full orchestra, full chorus, and an organ. The Benedictus movement from the Mass is a good showcase for dynamics as well as delicate solo work. I was struck by how the D-Sonic M3a-1200S handled the solo cello. The vibrato on the notes seemed to go on and upward in a glorious way. Tonality was very well presented. This was apparent in the female and male chorus as they carry the musical motif forward. The clarity was so good I was able to hear individual voices in the ensemble. Many times, on lesser equipment, massed chorus sounds like a big meshing of voices. In contrast, the D-Sonic M3a-1200S made the chorus sound like individual humans forming the notes. On the big crescendo, the D-Sonic sailed through. Unfazed by the size of the music and the notes from the orchestra, chorus, and organ, the D-Sonic kept everything in place. The control and low distortion of the D-Sonic amplifier were outstanding. Soundstage height, width, and depth were wonderfully recreated and did not lose their perspective with the increase in volume. The speakers just disappeared and allowed the music to take over. Listening to this piece makes a good argument for having this much amplifier power at your disposal.
The Beatles “Revolver”
The D-Sonic amplifier made this recording pop. What I mean is that there was a nice pulse to the music. I think because the D-Sonic has such good control of the speaker that the stops and starts of the beats in the music just jump. This is a very good thing for this record, and music in general. In addition, there was wonderful clarity. This is music I have listened to all my life, and I was treated to new discoveries in the layering of the instruments and the voices. The legendary Beatles’ vocal harmonies were lifelike and just beautiful to listen to. The tracks Here, There, and Everywhere, I’m Only Sleeping, Good Day Sunshine reveal how accomplished the group was on their harmonies. The reproduction of the voices by the D-Sonic is very good, I did not hear any grain or veiling. Mostly though, it was fun to listen to the Beatles through the D-Sonic M3a-1200S as it was impossible to keep still. Because of the D-Sonic’s excellent timing capability, the sound made me want to bounce and dance to the music.
David Benoit “A Midnight Rendezvous”
Once I had the D-Sonic M3a-1200S connected to the Rotel RC 1590 pre-amp and NHT C-4 speakers I decided to listen to this David Benoit album, A Midnight Rendezvous. I was immediately struck by the full, smooth sound of the piano. The timing and pace were very good, too. So much so that I felt like I was on a raft on the Guadalupe River coasting along effortlessly. The music and the beat were the waters bearing me along a beautiful sonic journey. Although I had other matters to attend to, I had to pause and soak in the notes of the bass, sax, piano, and the beats of the drums.
Olivia Rodrigo “Sour”
Many years ago, I worked as a theatre director for a high school and some of my best memories were of the musicals my students and I produced. I remember that there is a sweet quality to the sound of young voices. This is what I heard in the sound of youthful Olivia Rodrigo’s voice. On the tracks Traitor and Drivers License, Olivia’s voice is intimately recorded and through the D-Sonic I easily heard the way she forms the notes in her mouth and the way she uses her head resonance for effect. The D-Sonic M3a-1200S recreated Ms. Rodrigo’s voice palpably and vividly. This is a testament to the D-Sonic’s great clarity. Olivia Rodrigo’s voice was reproduced with purity and smoothness.
I tried the D-Sonic M3a-1200S on my home video system which uses the Klipsch Forte III speakers as the front mains in the 2.1 setup. My wife was in the middle of watching the series This Is Us, so I asked if she could pause for 5 minutes so I could connect the D-Sonic amplifier. I used the Rega Elex R integrated amp as a pre-amp as it was the amplifier driving the Klipsch. I connected a pair of RCA interconnects to the D-Sonic’s RCA inputs and the existing speaker wire to the amplifier speaker terminals. The connection was made, and the D-Sonic fired up with no problems.
There was an immediate improvement in vocal reproduction. The voices not only were more palpable but seemed more 3-dimensional. The series This is Us has very nice music, some of it is period to the different eras depicted in the drama. In this segment, the producers chose Cat Steven’s “Where Do the Children Play?” When the music and the sound began it was spectacular. Again, I must come back to the vocal reproduction along with the guitar reproduction. The clarity and purity were superb.
This is because the D-Sonic M3a-1200S produces a sound in the midrange that is unlike what I am used to hearing from solid-state class A/B amplifiers. There is a smoothness and a lack of grain that I normally associate with low-powered SET tube amps while driving the Klipsch speakers but without the roll-off in the highs and a thickening of the sound. I put an LP on later when I could to listen to the vocal reproduction in order to further verify what I was hearing. The Klipsch Fortes are very revealing of the equipment used with them. I can report that the D-Sonic M3a-1200S did a wonderful job controlling the big 12” woofer and presenting a very listenable treble through the Klipsch Forte III.
Owners of A/V receivers would do well to try the D-Sonics amplifier on their home theater system. Even if you believe you have enough power with your large A/V receiver, you will not get the best (or “beast”) from your speakers until you add more clean power. It is not all about playing louder, though. At lower levels, the D-Sonic M3a-1200S reproduced the richness and depth of details in the soundtrack. This applies to music as well. The D-Sonic provides very low distortion sound and tremendous headroom for soundtrack and music reproduction.
The D-Sonic M3a-1200S is a very well-designed and nicely built amplifier available at a reasonable price.
- Clear, controlled sound
- Compact size and weight
- Sturdy, clean-looking chassis
- Cool running, low heat emission
In seeking an amplifier upgrade, the consumer has many choices available today. There are amplifiers available from well-known companies that have been around for decades. Some of these brands like Marantz, Yamaha, and McIntosh have a great reputation. There are also some innovative, relatively newer companies like D-Sonic that offer a quality product. So, deciding can be time-consuming and maybe confusing.
Here is my take. I know some folks like to have a certain sound for their listening pleasure, and many manufacturers work at providing a certain sonic flavor. Some amplifier manufacturers provide an iconic appearance for status appeal or a technology that is of a certain vintage. I know I have myself purchased audio equipment based on the above criteria.
If, however, you are looking for an amplifier that will accurately reproduce what is on the source material and looks attractive in an understated way, then I would highly recommend the D-Sonic M3a-1200S. The D-Sonic offers the benefits of reasonable size, low heat, and relatively low weight. The enormous power and low distortion should figure strongly in the D-Sonic’s favor, too. Add to this the very reasonable price and it becomes a must-listen if you are considering an amplifier upgrade. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the D-Sonic M3a-1200S amplifier. The D-Sonic worked flawlessly and sounded great on all the systems I tried it with.
D-Sonic offers a 30-day in-home trial so you can see and hear for yourself if this amplifier is your next step to better sound. I recommend hearing new equipment in your home and on your system before making a big purchase, anyway. Therefore, the D-Sonic M3a-1200S gets a solid recommendation.