"I am a first time customer to Baldwin HiFi, but from the moment I spoke with Paul on my initial enquiry, he took his time with an almost consultative
approach to understanding and improving my home system!
For review purposes my system consist of a Cambridge CXC CD Transport, Audiolab M-DAC, a vintage Optonica SM4646 Integrated Amplifier (now used as pre)
and the Baldwin 405c power amplifier, plus a Hitachi P12 turntable. Speakers are my own build 74" Voigt Pipes containing
Mark Audio Alpair 12 full range drivers, speaker cables are 4mm silver coated and Van Damme Interconnects.
One of the issues I have had was achieving the level of desired lower end bass response with my Voigt's as the ports are designed to be front facing,
requiring careful room placement. My listening room does not unfortunately provide corner space, so my solution had always been a tweak of the tone
controls (an obvious NO NO!). Paul quickly recommended some experimentation. After an evening of tactical speaker manoeuvres
and failed negotiations on furniture re-arrangements with my wife (I did try and disguise it as Fung Shui, but failed miserably!).
Paul's advice has paid dividends and I finally convinced myself to engineer a solution by repositioning the ports on the rear of the speakers
(sounds easy, but it had really been tough mental decision leading to the first cut!).
I am pleased to report that this is now done and although painful at the time it has made a massive difference...Thank You Again Paul!
Then came the arrival of the 405c....Wow what a difference.
I had been using my Optonica SM-4646 which has 3 transformers on board and can deliver
60W RMS... this thing is a tank and NO expense was spared in its development as Sharp 'top end' HiFi Optonica brand development in mid 1970's.
To be honest, I was initially a little concerned that I would not squeeze much more out of my listening experience, but I was also aware that I
had no exposure to higher level systems. I thought that I had been hearing a great soundstage, instrument separation, real clarity, low end timber etc,
but listening to the 405c was like cotton wool being removed from your ears!
The 405c with 120 clean Watts of RMS power does not have to try in driving 92db efficient speakers, but what it delivers is a full transience and
pace which I have not ever heard before. Albums I have owned for many years were suddenly sounding fresh and new, Kate Bush Hounds of Love - mind blowing,
Pink Floyd, Villagers, Mostly Autumn, whatever I picked up, it was a whole new learning experience.
I believe that with a few more hours usage and as the 405c get to know each other, things will only get better, so I can only recommend that if you are
looking to upgrade your system in terms of precision engineered 'high quality' Hifi components, Paul Baldwin will deliver this to you in spades!"
Amplifier arrived 09:30.
I have set it up in my main system using Artera Play as the pre-amp and my Dynaudio Focus 340 speakers.
I also have a REL Strata sub in this system.
Interconnects are Audioquest Qartz (3rd gen) and speaker cables are Meridian Sommer 4mm high purity copper stranded cables.
Overall this is a pretty revealing system with extended frequency range at both ends of the spectrum but very smooth and open.
I normally have my Artera Stereo as the power amp, connected via Audioquest Diamond X3 XLR interconnects, same speaker cables.
You may feel that's an odd combination of cabling in that the Diamonds when bought cost around £1000 for a 1 metre
interconnect, but the speaker cables were bought fairly recently from Studio Spares and were a measly £3/metre.
I terminated the speaker cables with Copper/Beryllium 'Z' plugs.
I have given this amount of detail on the partnering equipment to give you an idea of how your amp is being used for evaluation.
First impressions are very favourable. Noise levels are negligible, subjectively this makes for an excellent
sense of dynamic range with a very clean and open sound.Transients and inner detail excellent.
The sound stage is bigger and more open than I have ever heard from a standard 405.
Bass is very well controlled with no overshoot, even on low frequency synthesiser notes, mid and top
very open with separation of instruments well defined. L/R channel separation is excellent, a fair old
improvement on the original Quad 405.
It's definitely a Quad, but at the same time not a Quad. I always felt that the original 405s painted the sound with
fairly broad brush strokes and the hotter it got the better the music flowed, and they got seriously
hot when driven hard, but seemed to thrive on it.
Your version has much more detail than the original and is more neutral in character.
Initially the character of yours was a little 'clinical' but as it plays (as might be expected), it is mellowing nicely.
Over the years I have found Quad amps to be very good straight 'out of their box' and that their 'run in' period
is pretty fast but with continuing improvement over a number of weeks. Judging by what I am hearing so far I
suspect that yours will follow this pattern.
Despite all the analysis of the sound of an amplifier (Or any other component in the chain) the acid test is
how much you are enjoying the music. Your amp is already passing this hurdle with flying colours!!
The sound is 'warming up' nicely in the bass as it plays and that is very 'Quad'.
You will gather that I am delighted with this amp, I have tried (probably failed) not to go into excessive detail
on what I am finding, but hopefully have picked out the main points.
To summarise :-
Essentially tonally neutral.
Negligible noise levels.
Dynamic and open sound.
Excellent timing and control.
You have taken the original 405 to a new level, but have managed to retain much of the original character of the
Quad design which made it such a musical performer. A classic amp brought bang up to date and up there with
some of the best at a fraction of the cost.
I do not give this praise lightly, I have owned many Quad (and others) over the years, enough to know what I like
and what sounds 'right' to me and your amp satisfies me in every regard."
Many thanks for the hospitality on Monday when I came to pick
up my newly built Baldwin 405c power amp (with the added circuitry to
measure/display signal input).
My view? In a word – wonderful!
Just as a reminder of my set up. Source is mainly (99%) digital from a
minimum 44.1 khz 16 bit files (being driven by JRiver Media Centre) from
a purpose built media computer. This is output to a non-oversampling
DAC (Chevron Paradox Deluxe) and from there to a Musical Fidelity PreAmp
(thanks for cleaning that preamp up) and then to your 405c power amp
(well actually via your switch box, but I will send you a note about
Speakers are primarily to PMC LB1 signatures (highly
resolving, neutral and transparent – as you know). The other speakers
are a pair of Acoustic Research book shelfs.
Anyway your 405C really provide a great sense of music drawing me in
wanting to listen more and more. Played lots of tracks I’m very familiar
After a day of warming up the amp simply disappeared giving me an
open window to the music with a real sense of presence.
The singers and instruments were very lifelike providing a great depth where I could
really sense the distance between instruments. This is provided with an
almost magical atmosphere to individual items working together in their
own space to provide a coherent whole.
The amp was able to give a purity to the full dynamic range that the
various recordings I used. From various bass instruments where the bass
was not lost in ‘boominess’ but felt real, to high trebles that were
somehow warm and as such not grating as many amps will cause. But the
mid-range was especially pleasant, with a valve like organic sound which
simply gives and gives.
I played some tracks that had lots of fast
action music (e.g. drums, cymbals, shakers) and was amazed how the 405c
was able to meet it with the correct speed, attack and decay. This was
similar to tracks that had lots of transients where your amp was able to cope
extremely well (helped a lot by the NOS DAC which minimises pre-echo).
So all in all a highly rewarding purchase and I’m looking forward to the
amp settling down over the coming days/weeks as I’m sure the sound will
simply improve further from what is an already a fantastic sound (or
It is really criminal that you charge so little for
I decided that I liked what I heard so much, and I reckon that your 405 sounds better than a 909 that I'm going to bi-amp
my Tannoys with two of your amps. Originally I was looking for a low cost 2nd amp to run the Tannoys
in conjunction with the 909 already driving them.
Anyway, having sung the praises of your amp I thought I'd put my money where my mouth is......... so I've ordered another!
Still listening to yours in my main system, it's getting better quickly,
For what it's worth I have a friend who recently got a 405 upgraded by Dada. I thought that sounded bloody good and
made a big difference, not least as tired capacitors and a couple of other components were replaced and upgraded
from the originals.
However, I reckon that yours is a substantial improvement over the Dada modified amp, and that's a big compliment
as what they did was pretty effective.
I suspect that the big advantage that yours has is the power supply. It has to be one of the quietest amps I've heard
and that absence of even small amounts of background noise makes a very worthwhile contribution to perceived dynamics
I'll need to some extended listening and comparisons, but your 405 may give the Artera Stereo a good run for its money.
Better than the Artera? Not sure on that one. The Artera is a fairly big improvement on a 909 and although
basic circuitry is still a 405 the Artera has built again on previous iterations of the Quad power amps and
is a very open and revealing amp.
However, that's for another day. I'm just going to keep listening to yours in this system until No 2 arrives when I'll put
them both in with the Tannoys. That should be interesting! Perhaps overkill for a 'bedroom' system but the Tannoys,
some years ago were my main system speakers and at that time I had them bi-amped with 2x909s.
So, if your 405s are better than 909s that new partnership should be very rewarding.
Keep up the good work, whatever you're doing works rather well and I'm impressed.
Paul, Still listening to the 405c in my main system......without the sub now!
Still improving, tightened up nicely in the lower frequencies which has opened up the mid/top nicely again.
Just love the way it plays music, so fluid and sweet!!
Anyway, I was worried that you might run out of things to do so I've decided that I want the bigger L10 for my main system.
So - I've now ordered one as you can see!
Working on the assumption that it will basically be a 405c with more grip?
Keep up the good work.................. Brian