Accuphase C-3850 Preamplifier and P-7300 Power Amplifier

Soundly Engineered Design and Performance

Equipment report
Solid-state power amplifiers,
Solid-state preamplifiers
Accuphase C-3850,
Accuphase P-7300
Accuphase C-3850 Preamplifier and P-7300 Power Amplifier

In setting up the P-7300, the speaker outputs were used in a bi-wired (and single-wired) configuration with balanced XLR inputs. The phase selector switch was set according to the preamplifier used at the time. The majority of the time it was set to the default (pin-3 “hot”) for use with the C-3850 and pin-2 “hot” when used with the Placette Audio Active preamplifiers. The power meters were set to normal mode for most daily operation. Listening tests favored the –3dB or –6dB setting for the gain-selector switch. The max setting tended to add a bit of edge to the sound while the –12dB setting tended to sound a bit less dynamically robust. The speakers used during the evaluation were Vandersteen Model 3A Signature and the Magnepan 20.7. Occasionally, a pair of Vandersteen 2Wq subwoofers were employed to add additional bottom-octave drive to fill my rather large 18' wide and 43' deep and 8' high listening space. The P-7300 was able to control and drive any of the above speakers without sounding as if it were having any difficulties. The level of bass control the amplifier had on the 20.7 (as well as on the 3A Signature) was as good as any other amplifier I’ve used with these speakers.

When combined, the C-3850 and P-7300 become the heart of a soulfully solid, bottom-up sounding reproduction system. The solidity of the presentation from multiple sources (music and source equipment) appeared to be palpable in all cases. One of my first observations was the more forceful drive and vigor the Accuphase pair presented. Chris Isaak’s “Kings of the Highway” from the Heart Shaped World LP had the characteristically saturated soundstage it always has but with more expansion of the soundstage in all directions. Additionally, the added presence in the bass and lower midrange gave the music perceptively more powerful drive. This same characteristic was noticed on Mighty Sam McClain’s “Too Proud” from the Give It Up to Love LP with the bass and drums commanding attention when called for. On “So Far Away” from Mobile Fidelity’s reissue of Dire Straits’ Brothers in Arms LP, the Accuphase gear further solidified the foundation, maintaining low-octave energy throughout. The track seemed rooted to the bass drum, with no noticeable overhang, and the bass guitar.

Another plus was the way string instruments and organs were presented with clarity while not being pushed forward in the musical mix. Guitar separation and multitrack layering of the instruments on “Kings of the Highway” and “So Far Away” were easy to observe, and all instruments had an additional amount of weight and presence. The Hammond B-3 played by Bruce Katz on “Too Proud” filled the soundstage with this instrument’s captivating sound and made it a primary underpinning ingredient, setting the mood for the performance.

On vocals, there appeared to be a shift toward presenting more power through the chest of the singer rather than a thinner head tone. On all of the songs mentioned above, the vocals were in natural proportion and easily enjoyable. The Speaker’s Corner reissue of the Decca recording of Ravel’s Scheherazade conducted by Ernest Ansermet featuring French soprano Régine Crespin produced exceptional sound through the C-3850/P-7300 combo. Crespin’s voice was very powerful yet sweet and smooth all the way through her dynamically impressive fortissimos. The playback through this Accuphase combination had the most strikingly solid vocal foundation I’ve heard from this LP. Crespin’s voice filled the performance venue the way one observes during a live performance, with an additional amount of fullness that was captivating. The accompanying orchestral performance was just as convincing, with similar characteristics. Instrument placement was where one would expect with a proper representation of a performance venue.

The Accuphase C-3850 and P-7300 operated flawlessly during the evaluation period. In its website literature, it seems Accuphase prioritizes quality over quantity. One example is the use of vibration testing during the manufacturing process on every component. Accuphase’s belief that a single failure for the customer is a 100% failure rate drives its desire for bullet-proof product reliability. I’ve heard four Accuphase products in my listening space and all of them have performed without issue.

The Accuphase combination delivers the distinctive cues that reveal the individuality of the music (or source component) being played. During multiple listening sessions, the C-3850/P-7300 never ventured into the bright and fatiguing—nor did it veer into the soft and dull. The presentation tended to stay close to the sonic lane that provides long-term listening satisfaction with enough resolution, warmth, and soul to allow full exploration of the music being presented. With this setup, the user can tilt to the left brain or right brain depending on mood and desire. An audition is recommended.

Specs & Pricing

Type: Solid-state
Analog inputs: Four pairs of balanced XLR and six pairs of single-ended RCA
Dimensions: 18-3/4" x 6-1/8" x 16-1/48"
Weight: 55.1 lbs. net
Price: $43,500

Power amplifier
Type: Solid-state
Output power: 125Wpc into 8 ohms, 250Wpc into 4 ohms, 500Wpc into 2 ohms
Inputs: Two balanced XLR and two single-ended RCA
Outputs: Two pairs of speaker terminal binding posts per channel
Dimensions: 18-5/16" x 9-3/8" x 20-9/32"
Weight: 107.2 lbs. net
Price: $32,000

2-14-10 Shin-ishikawa, Aoba-ku,
Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture, 225-8508 Japan

AXISS AUDIO (U.S. Distributor)
17800 South Main Street, Suite 109
Gardena, CA 90248
(310) 329-0187