I recently had the opportunity to experience the Acoustic Reality ear 1001-Ref monobloc which I had in my setup for about a month. Note this write up is for the 2007 model and not the current model which I understand has some circuit revisions.
Capable of delivering 500 watts per channel into 8 Ohms and 1000 watts per channel, it has more power than you could ever need.
Finished in shiny mirror cases with a shoebox footprint, it will look the part in a sleek and sexy setup. Apart from the annoying ability to show up dusts and fingerprints, you can use it comb your hair.
The ear 1001 Ref monobloc is based on the B&O ICEpower ASP1000 module, which is also used in the Bel Canto Ref 1000 monobloc.
They were given a work out powering a variety of speakers, both easy and hard to drive loads.
Many have complained that ICEpower sounds cold, dry and lacking in emotion. On the other hand, the number of hifi companies, including very respected names, suggests that the technology must have some merits.
Soundwise, the first thing that strikes you is the extremely tight grip on the bass. In the midrange to high frequencies, the extension and detail is incredible. Detail freaks will love these amplifiers.
Balance wise, it did not strike me as being cold or clinical (and these are comments coming from a tube lover). in fact the midrange seemed slightly laidback and full. However, there is a slight lack of fluidity and not much sense of air, so you will need to match with care.
Downsides ? The units appear to be very sensitive to grounding arrangement. Plugged into different wall sockets, the resultant hum was loud enough to take out a speaker drive unit which had me dive for the power switch. Plugging all equipment into the same power strip solved this, but this wasn't a problem I had with any of my other equipment before. Even with careful grounding arrangement, there was a very low volume hum audible about a foot from the driver units.
The gain seems to be fairly high too, and my excellent sounding Promitheus TVC preamp was way too loud even at the lowest setting. It seemed to like my homemade passive preamp (based on an Alps Black Beauty pot), but liked my Diva M7 preamp even better (which has a selectable gain switch anyway). The M7 combination mitigated many of the shortcomings I described above. So maybe, a tube pre could be a good way to go.
How would I rate this ?
Looks and build : 8.5/10 (nice shiny finish, WBT bindings posts)
Sound : 9/10
Value : 10/10
You can find out more about this amp at www.arhifi.com
BTW, there is no local dealer, so you have to direct order from the manufacturer.