Rated at 180W/8ohm, Quad’s Platinum Mono power amp is for those who crave more power than offered by the Elite QSP. Concurrent with its release is the Digital Media Player: a logical progression for those enthusiasts who have long enjoyed the earlier 99 Series CDP-2.

While there are no analogue inputs, the DMP does adds a USB input and digital outputs include one each of Toslink, coaxial, BNC and AES/EBU via XLR.

Both the Monos and the DMP provide balanced connection via XLRs for the main line-level output from the preamp and input to the power amps. Other connections on the DMP include two pairs of conventional single-ended outputs through RCA connectors, ‘System Link’ via Ethernet cables and two 12V trigger outputs.

As a concept, the DMP is now a fairly common component, where a CD player’s DAC has been accessed and turned into a digital preamp by the addition of a level control. For those using PC feeds, special drivers are required, and Quad supplies a fat manual to walk you through this. For those with Macs, synergy is instant.

The DMP transport is constructed from die-cast aluminium and ABS plastic, with a tray supported by steel rods running through sintered bronze bearings. Quad says this construction ‘reduces noise and vibration through critical damping, allowing the laser to read the disc with unerring accuracy’.

After the DAC, a fully differential signal path feeds the balanced XLR outputs, and the DMP allows the user to configure the XLR and RCA outputs independently for variable or fixed level operation.

Finesse and value

The DMP proved more than a competent CD-player-with-accessible DAC, while the Monos made us think of 909s on steroids.

2011’s Listen To Me [Wrasse WRASS295], has a number of tracks with sonics of the to-die-for variety. Stevie Nicks’ scarily rocking ‘Not Fade Away’ places her distinctive, slightly nasal voice in front of lean percussion and an array of backing vocals. When joined by subtle electric guitar, the sound coalesced into a liquid whole despite the contrasting textures – the Quad amplifiers providing all the requisite dynamic swings.

Linda Ronstadt’s ‘That’ll Be The Day’ emerges half-way through the album and, damn if it doesn’t still sparkle, with astonishing transient elements and rich lower octaves. Again, the DMP handled its melange of textures with equal assurance. All of this is arrayed across a wide stage allowing the most curious of listeners to zoom in with Zeiss-ian focus on specific musical details. Natalie Merchant’s ‘Learning The Game’, just strings and piano, showed the system’s sheer finesse.

Verdict

By virtue of the Monos’ ease with our Wilson Sophias, the lack of drama with the DMP’s faultless segue from CD to iTunes to iPlayer, and with prices nowhere near the high-end norm, the Platinum pairing is a marvel. As a coherent system, it’s manna for those who still love British hi-fi’s most revered name.

Originally published in the 2013 Yearbook