Product: Burson Audio Timekeeper - power amplifier
Manufacturer: Burson Audio - Australia
Price: 2600$/1900€ (price may vary depending on Country)
Reviewer: Lucio Cadeddu - TNT Italy
Reviewed: December, 2013
You might want to refer to the first part of this review to learn more about the Timekeeper used as a standard stereo power amplifier. In this second part I'll focus my attention on the Timekeeper used as a monoblock power amp.
Transforming your stereo 80 watt Timekeeper into a 240 watt monoblock is extremely easy. A switch in the rear lets you choose between standard stereo mode, unbalanced (RCA) mono bridged mode and balanced (XLR) mono bridged mode, in case you're using balanced interconnects between preamp and power amps. All you have to do is just connect speaker cables and interconnects so that one power amp serves the right channel and the other the left channel. The whole procedure takes less than 60 seconds :-)
Of course, follow the manual instructions step by step, carefully!, and only when the units are switched off. Now that your Timekeepers are configured in bridged mono mode your speakers will be powered by 240 watts each, so be careful with the preamp volume knob.
The first thing one notices, of course, is the massive increase in power output, but there's more: the sound gets bigger, tighter and even a bit faster. Briefly, a Timekeeper on ...stereoids! You don't need to fully exploit all the extra power, the effect is remarkable even at low listening levels. Actually, exploiting all the 240 watts is a hard task even for a headbanger like yours truly :-)
Moreover, don't forget that it's the first watts that really count.
Overall macro-dynamics performance becomes excellent and even very complex and highly demanding musical programs greatly benefit from the monoblock conversion. The already low levels of distortion seem even lower, especially at very high listening levels.
There's a slight, but noticeable, improvement even in the micro-dynamics department. Attacks and decays are tighter and faster: this makes the whole sound appear drier. Bass notes benefit from a better articulation and weight.
On the other hand, it seems the two monos have lost that velvet touch which was the mostly evident (and welcomed!) Timekeeper sonic signature. Vocals are drier and, overall, the two monos seem less forgiving than a single stereo unit. Perhaps they are closer to what's been recorded into the discs but this also means that poorly recorded albums sound less bearable than with a single Timekeeper in use.
Tighter and beefier sound translates into more focused soundstage as well, wit better defined contours and virtual images.
One Timekeeer costs, more or less, 2000/2500€ and is very good value for money. Powerful enough to cope with the most demanding speakers, this is an amplifier that can be at the heart of any high quality set up. With two Timekeepers, power output goes up (from 80 to 240 watt per channel) but the price of the combo comes close to the 5000€ target. There are many competitors, in this price range, but most of these offer lower power output and are standard stereo units. If you use very low sensitivity speakers or your listening room is really large you might need the extra power output. Moreover, you can use two (or more) mono'ed Timekeepers to build a no-compromise fully active multi-way system.
On the other hand, if the 80 watt per channel power of the stereo mode is sufficient for your needs and you don't wish to explore the joys of active multi-amping, my simple advice is to use just one Timekeeper, set to stereo mode and spend any extra budget on speakers, a better source or preamp. The sound of the mono pair is better, but it hardly justifies the extra cost.
One Timekeeper was very good, two of them....it's even better! Overall sonic character changes a little bit: powerful yet gentle in stereo, tight and drier in mono. Strongly recommended if you need the extra power or if you are going into active multi-amping, otherwise even one single Timekeeper will be a very good choice.
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