Canadian amplification legend Classé has announced some serious upgrades to the multi-talented eight-channel surround preamplifier Sigma SSP, now in MK II guise.
I’ve not heard any of Classé’s home-theatre products, but I’m a big fan of their two-channel preamps, and power amps, especially when I’ve heard them driving the B&W 800, and 802 Diamonds… which is probably why Bowers & Wilkins acquired the company back in 2001.
While we don’t tend to cover home-theatre products per se at Part-Time Audiophile, I’m not opposed to posting announcements, so please feel free to leave feedback if this is something you’d like to see some more coverage of in the future. Also the SSP is a lot more than just a surround preamp.
The reason this announcement caught my eye was because the SSP MKII also includes an optional phono stage, asynchronous USB and Ethernet for streaming (I’m a huge Tidal fan, especially through Roon), coax, optical, balanced, and single-ended analog inputs make this quite the versatile preamplifier.
For all you home-theatre specification geeks, it is HDMI 2.0 equipped, and the new dual-DSP module is a Texas Instruments 456 MHz DA830 (dual core floating-point audio processor). The ARM9 DA810 32/64-bit floating point DSP is stated to provide “the needed processing power to accurately decode the latest 3D audio formats and perform the many post-processing capabilities that set the Classé Sigma SSP MkII apart.”
In keeping with Classé’s long-standing practice of providing upgrade paths whenever possible, original version Sigma SSPs may be upgraded to the new standard by installing a comprehensive hardware upgrade and updating the firmware. For speed and convenience, MkII upgrade kits consisting of four new circuit boards may be installed in Sigma SSPs either in the customer’s home or the dealer’s shop—no need to return the unit to the factory!
From the Classé press release:
“Building on the outstanding value proposition that defined the original Sigma SSP, the MkII version brings a technology upgrade aimed squarely at raising the user’s experience to another level,” said Classé president Dave Nauber. “We are particularly pleased to support owners of the original Sigma SSP by offering an upgrade path that gives them every advantage of the latest model. A properly executed 5.1.2 system like this can envelope you in a true 3D experience.”
No word yet if Classé plans on native RoonReady support, but digging around the Roon Community support pages I found this concerning the CP-800 preamplifier, which considering the Sigma’s ethernet streaming capability, hopefully applies:
“You will be able to stream over ethernet from Roon to the Classe CP-800 using AirPlay. AirPlay is limited to 16/44.1 (for video 48). Ideally you would want to stream from Roon using RAAT (Roon Advanced Audio Transport) which supports up to 32/384 and DSD256. In order to use RAAT, Classe would have to implement a firmware upgrade to make the device RoonReady.”
Suggested MSRP for the Sigma SSP MkII is $6,000 USD ($7,900 CAN), and the upgrade kit is $1,000 USD ($1,300 CAN). Both will be available in late February, 2017.