New Stellar 1200 review on Stereotimes

I don’t recall having seen mention of this recently posted review of the Stellar M1200 mono amps. Unlike Fremer, the reviewer does compare them in context with more relevant market competitors, a Pass Labs X30.8 and a Coda CSiB integrated. Unfortunately, he only used one high efficiency speaker during his evaluation.

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Nice find. Thank you.

I considered waiting for the M1200 (as an upgrade to the M700) but decided to go the BHK 250 when on sale. Too bad the reviewer didn’t have a BHK to compare.

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Personally, I’d rather have the BHK than the Stellar 1200’s. I have a BHK pre and I like having a matched pair of Bascom’s creations. The only reason I’d opt for the 1200’s is the issue of weight, the BHK is a beast to move about.

Me too! But the power savings, much less heat to dissipate and weight are significant if the amps are otherwise ‘equal’. The price is essentially equal.

In my system the 250 was a rather significant jump from the M700 and they were pretty darn good. I wouldn’t hesitate to use the M700 in a secondary/cost conscious system.

Still a comparison seems appropriate given their respective MSRP.

considering the m 1200s were voiced with the bhk preamp and not the stellar gain cell preamp it would seem logical to compare the 1200s with the 250. if you are considering upgradeing your amp some day it gives you something to think about for sure.i dont understand exactly what voiceing is though.

Voicing is listening and adjusting the tonal values. In the case of the amplifiers it could mean changing one resistor value for another to change the tonal character.

I would expect Darren et al used the big system with the IRS-V, DS, BHK pre to ‘voice’ the M1200 and everything else they develop.

I have the M700’s and I’m very pleased with them! With that being said I’m very intrigued by the M1200’s! I’ve been saving up for a pair of BHK 300’s but I’m strongly considering the 1200’s as a necessary step on my journey to the BHK 300’s! I might like the 1200’s so much that the savings gained by not getting BHK amps will make me splurge on a power plant!

I would have thought the BHK and M1200 are very different beasts. This type of Class D can sound a bit hard on the ears because they are so fast and deliver sharp transients. Class A/B is easier on the ears. These amps also clip very hard and tend to be flat to the clipping point (see the measurements of the Purifi 400 module) whereas I assume the BHK clip fairly soft. I had a 35w triode amp and if it clipped I never heard it, but then I never heard much bass either which is why I sold it.

makes sense-thank you

Your bad luck is that you may have to buy both! My experience using class A, class A/B and class D, and a regenerator and conditioners, is that a regenerator benefits units with conventional transformers, whereas units with switch mode power benefit from conditioners and component isolation.

I appreciate others may disagree, just my experience, and many consider mains treatment “suck it and see”. Class D is highly dependent on the power supply and power filtering, about which this review says absolutely nothing. This reviewer used a regenerator P12. It’s a shame he did not plug the M1200 straight in the wall and then noted if regeneration had any effect and, if so, what. Like you, not many people have a regenerator.

That would be part of another question I need to figure out! Would the sound of my current M700’s benefit greatly from a power plant? I think I already now the answers that I will receive on that question! So stick with the 700’s get a good regenerator? Or get the m1200’a and a good regenerator? BHK 300’s no regenerator? BHK 300’s with power plant? I don’t know if sadly is a good word but… more than likely I will personally find out the answer to all those questions some day traveling along the Audiophile Upgrade highway!

I suspect the typical response would be BHK250 and regenerator on a 30-day trial. A big factor is your speakers and how much power they really need. Quite a few reviewers seem to own BHK250 and 300, which speaks volumes for how good they are.

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Regarding the native sound of this generation of class D, I have a Mivera AS1200 amp which uses the Icepower module the Stellar 1200’s uses (no custom input like Darren engineered.) Mine was loaded with all the expensive Furutech wiring and connector options FWIW. One’s expectations of “sharp transients” and sounding “fast” were completely at odds with my experience. The stock Ice module sounds rounded off and lacking in treble energy and “air” compared to the other amps I have ( Aloia ST 13.01, Decware Zen Torii II, and BHK250.) Previous issues with Class D “hard sound” are a complete non-issue with this module in my experience. The AS1200 module makes so much power I’d have a hard time imagining that clipping would ever be an issue in most home listening environments. I bought the amp on a bit of a lark because the hyperbole surrounding the latest iteration of Icepower modules by certain purveyors and users led one think it was the ultimate merging of affordability and performance. 10 Audio’s review of that amp summed up my experience fairly accurately. This reviewed the stripped down entry level version without all the Furutech goodies.

That doesn’t surprise me. Nord put a plain vanilla ICA 1200AS2 for the same price (£750 plus sales tax). I’m told that the most popular are the NC1200 with the nCore 1200 SMPS, because they sound really good with no tweaking. They cost three times as much. Nord do a tweaked version, even has WBT speaker terminals, costs almost as much as the M1200.

Obviously Darren has worked his magic and turned a sow’s ear into a silk purse. This is obviously a real skill. One of Peter Walker’s objectives when he designed the Quad current dumper, one of the best value quality amps ever made, was to produce great sound with cheap and easily serviceable components. The design has lasted 40 years, I’ve owned a few of them, and a service and re-cap to “as new” condition can be done by Quad for a fixed price of about $100.

I purchased my UK-made 35w triode valve monoblocks from a USA dealer very cheap as they were broken and could not be serviced in the USA. I shipped them back to the UK and got them fixed. (Turned out a valve seat had blown, black everywhere, mostly cosmetic and could have been fixed for $50.) The guy who designed and made them told me that for the USA market he was often told to use components of certain brands that were the most expensive. Buyers expected to see those brand names inside. For Europe he used components that he considered sounded better and were cheaper. He rebuilt them with those components.

The reviewer explains that Darren did a lot of component switching. Maybe there was more potential to improve on the ICE than the nCore, as the latter seem to be packaged unmodified.

The potential for more improvement vs. the stock module is indeed likely as Icepower modules are intended for a much broader range of applications that are more price sensitive than our specialist corner of the electronics market. Looking over Icepower’s AS module product page one sees that in addition to hi end audio applications they also intend these for subwoofer amps, guitar and bass amps, and professional sound reinforcement.

I have a pair of BHK 300’s driving mains, and Moon M400’s driving center and surrounds.

I love the BHK’s dearly, but for the reasons you listed, there is a part of me thinking that swapping them all out with M1200’s “might” not be a bad idea.

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I own the 1200s and love them! The rest of my system is:
PSA Stellar Power Plant
PSA Perfect Wave Transport (new product)
Driving Sonus faber Concerto Home speakers with
Two REL T9i subs

I gave up vinyl long ago so with streaming and CDs only, I have no preamp. The DS serves as the preamp.

The BHK pre is out of reach. Should I consider something else? How much benefit is there to adding a preamp at all, to this system?


grateful has a BHK Preamp for sale on the marketplace at a fantastic price. I started by using a Stellar GCD, and went to DSD Sr for preamp big jump in sound quality! Went from DSD Sr. handling preamp duties to BHK preamp with even a bigger jump in sound quality! If you have all the PS gear you listed then you are selling yourself short in my opinion without a bhk preamp!