All of this preamble became part of why we accepted an unusual solicitation to revisit the Digital Amplifier Company Cherry Maraschino Desktop monoblock amplifiers. Where Srajan had reviewed these already with their small SMPS, we received the King V60 version equipped with a larger switch-mode power supply . For those who like their numbers big, the King V60 is alleged to scale up to 800W into a 2Ω load thanks to the 60V/1KW which this optional power supply can deliver. That power supply is tucked into a black 17 x 17 x 5" enclosure with red anodized front and back panels. A power switch and LED indicator are at the front, the back sports an IEC power inlet and connector for the braided 1m umbilical cord that connects to the power amp. This plus the black aluminium base of the amps make the difference to the specs and description of the amplifiers Srajan reported extensively on before. Our review would thus concentrate fully on the sound we perceived from these amps in combination with various sources and loudspeakers at our disposal.


From the specs, we read that their input sensitivity is 3.1V/in which would result in 400 watts at 4Ω. Our first loudspeakers to combine with the Maraschinos were the Arcadian Audio Pnoe horns from Greece. Rated at 100dB/16Ω for their hornloaded AER MD3B widebander, the amps would have plenty of power headroom. Thus we decided to precede them with our Music First Audio passive magnetic preamplifier. With such sensitive speakers, all we needed was attenuation and the multi-tapped transformers in the Music First are perfect for that task. Our first source was the La Rosita Beta streamer. This French design does not match the 3.1V input of the Maraschinos but the amps would still see up to 2V. With everything wired up, we switched the power amps on. It took a second or two during which the speakers emitted a slight hiss. Then a fairly loud pop announced that the amps had awoken. This loud turn-on transient was a bit disturbing and with a previous DC-related burn-out of the AER drivers still fresh in mind (and the repair amount as well), we were a bit worried, the more so when after the pop, there was no sound coming from the drivers, not even with our ears on their whizzers. Did we have another pair of murder victims on our hands? The only proof would be to kick off the music stream and turn up the volume. Fortunately there was music emerging from both horns. What a relief. [I'd already mentioned this turn-on transient in my review and it's interesting to learn that it hasn't been addressed in the meantime. Other DC-coupled amps from FirstWatt and Goldmund never exhibit this behaviour – Ed.]


Before the Maraschinos arrived, the Pnoe horns had been coupled to Hypex nCore 1200 prototype amps as our high-power class D references. Those are dead quiet, very transparent and fast. When they go online after a comprehensive round of internal safety checks, they only indicate so with the mechanical click of a relay but zero noise through the speakers. Sonically these OEM demonstrators are close to the production Mola Mola Kaluga monos where designer Bruno Putzeys tweaked a few signal traces on the PCB and swapped parts. Tommy O'Brien, the designer of the Maraschino monos, claims that the wider frequency response of his circuit is one benefit over competing class D amplifiers. The nCore 1200 specs at left show a -0.5dB point at already 20kHz, being down more by 50kHz. Maraschino at right maintains 0dB all the way to 20kHz and even rises by +0.5dB at 40kHz. That was nice on paper but our input in the first setup would be limited to 20kHz with our Redbook source. Furthermore, the AER driver maxes out at 21kHz.


When comparing the sound of the Maraschinos to the Hypex nCore 1200 OEM demonstrator amps, we noticed a slightly heavier low end with the Yanks and somewhat of a sparkle on top. The sound moved closer up though our listening distance to the speakers and our playback SPL remained unchanged. Looping back to our introduction where we mentioned regional differences for sonic ideals, we'd call the Maraschino sound character more American. For an illustration we will mention our motorcycle days of yesteryear. There were the Harleys with their distinctive sound due to the two pistons on one crankshaft pin causing a pop pop pause pop pop; the BMWs with their smooth continuous pop pop pop pop; and the screaming Suzuki two-strokes. The American bikes not only produced the lower exhaust burps, their noisy pushrods and (back then) chain drive added some higher frequencies. So for now we thought of the Maraschino as American and the nCore as more Germanic. Labeling is dangerous, we know, but do read on. To exploit broader input frequency bandwidth, we swapped the La Rosita streamer with its Qobuz or Tidal feeds for our PS Audio Perfect Wave Transport and matching DSD DAC. That DAC converts anything coming in to DSD; plus it acts as a preamp attenuating the signal digitally and lossless. We fed this two-box source with various high-res recordings like M.A. Recordings' Sera Una Noche in the 24/176.4 format. That recording already fantastic in the humble Redbook format gained in presence—that is the correct word here—when we compared the nCore reading to the Maraschino version. Remarkable to say the least!