The CH Precision L1 pre-amp and A1.5 stereo power amplifier

I used the amp almost exclusively with my FinkTeam Kims which represent a fairly unchallenging load, so fiddling with the gain structure and the feedback didn’t bring about any radical changes and I settled on 0% global feedback for its freer, slightly more loose-limbed sound, because the system, and in particular the bass, wasn’t giving me any issues that I felt needed 10% global feedback (the next step on the options list), still less any of the other available options right up to 70%. Still, it’s nice to know you can, if you need to. Move up to a bi-amped system and there’s the option to apply gain and global feedback adjustments to just the bass channel, which is where things start to get really interesting. The flagship CH 10 Series amplifiers offer 1% steps for global feedback. How long before that greater resolution filters down to the 1 Series amps?

I know there are several reviews of this amplifier out there, including some by people I know and respect, but for the most part I’ve resisted the temptation to read them. I am aware, though, that one common and overarching theme is the sheer levels of transparency on offer here. And that’s the first thing that strikes you when you listen. This CH Precision combo inserts less of its own character into the signal than anything else I’ve ever worked with. Listen to ‘Side Effect’ from Mary Halvorson’s acclaimed new album Amaryllis (Nonesuch) and the decay of the stringed instruments is just so long, and so natural, that you realise just how many systems truncate the natural dynamics and decay. Partly, this transparency is a product of this tweakability, the way the amp is so agnostic of partnering kit you can get the book figures regardless.

Mostly, though, it’s because of a relentless and slightly obsessive approach to the design parameters, including but not confined to, reducing and eliminating noise beyond levels generally thought to matter by those who set great store by the measurement of such things. CH Precision wanted to use a notoriously difficult finish for their products, but the anodising process wasn’t consistent enough to offer a reliable colour match across the various panels of a unit, let alone across the various different units in a system. So, together with their chosen contractor they co-invested in new anodising plant and developed the technology to accurately monitor the progress of the anodising process, so as to ensure that consistency of output. And it’s true, the units are remarkably uniform in colour, regardless of batch, or product line. That sort of approach can’t help but cost quite serious amounts of money, and you might be forgiven for wondering why CH Precision didn’t just opt for a more standard finish and save the expense. The answer, of course, offers us just a little peek inside the head of Florian Cossy, founder and CEO. And when you extrapolate this sort of uncompromising approach across the design, testing and implementation of every circuit, and board, then you start to realise a) why this stuff costs what it does, and b) why it has taken almost ten years to get the full model range to market.