Audio Research DS450M ?

I would like to direct this question primarily to Jim Hannon who used the DS450M in the recent review of  the Sonus faber Amati Futura. How would you characterize the sound of this amplifier? Also, how does this amplifier compare to similarly priced high-end alternatives such as e.g. the McIntosh MC452 (or the MC601), the new Musical Fidelity M8700M or the Hegel H30 in stereo configuration? By compare I mean both the "quality" of the sound and the ability to drive speakers with a difficult load.



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