By Lam Seng Fatt
It is commendable that Malaysians are venturing into designing amplifiers – the Xtark integrated amp was the first to be launched this year and now, there is the CCY A2540 power amp.
‘CCY’ are the initials of Chong Ching Yong, who calls himself a “former kuli at Amperes Electronics Sdn Bhd” in his Facebook profile. He studied electronics at MMU and obviously knows his stuff.
His latest version of the CCY A2540, which by the way is named thus because it pumps out 25 watts in Class A before switching to Class AB to reach 40 watts per channel, comes in black with a red faceplate, which some Malaysian audiophiles said was reminiscent of Ferrari red.
CCY is a DIYer and the A2540 power amp does not pretend to be a super-expensive super-attractive amplifier like a Jeff Rowland or a Boulder. The CCY A2540 power amp is built on an aluminium I-beam, which is normally used for construction purposes. The circuit board is screwed to the underside of the web of the I-beam and is exposed – there is no cover. In fact there is no power on/off switch either.
The circuitry is based on a Nelson Pass design which CCY has modified and the layout is commendably neat with as-short-as-possible circuit lines. The power amp measures 17.5 inches long, 8.75 inches wide and 4.5 inches tall (excluding the feet) and it is about the size of large shoe box.
How does it sound? First of all, I have to state that the CCY 2540 power amp runs very hot. I actually placed it upside down with the circuitry facing up because it looked better that way and the lights on the circuit board were the only way for me to know if the power amp was on or off, other than the heat, of course. I actually touched the transformer, capacitors and transistors after a few hours of playing music and they were not that hot, but the I-beam was really hot.
Since turning it on and off was by plugging in and unplugging the power cord, my worry is that the IEC connector may loosen after a while. Also, my fingers always brushed against the really hot I-beam whenever I unplugged the power cord.
I used my Lamm LL2 Deluxe preamp, the CEC belt-drive CD player and the Wyred4Sound DAC2 DAC. Speakers were the ATC SCM50 floorstanders and the Acoustic Energy AE100 bookshelf speakers. I played these CDs: The DALI CD Vol 5, Sarah McLachlan Surfacing, Songs of Bob Dylan All Blues’d Up! and Neil Diamond Beautiful Noise.
Driving the ATC SCM50 floorstanders: There was surprising depth in the soundstage, but the width was a bit narrower than with the resident Bryston 4B SST. Even though these speakers are 85dB in sensitivity, the CCY A2540 power amp could drive them easily to quite loud levels.
The mids were dense and rich, the highs were clear and not harsh. The bass was ample, but the low-bass was a bit loose and uncontrolled. However, the upper-bass was quite lively which gave the sound a rhythmic drive. It appeared as if the CCY 2540 could not really control the eight-inch woofer of the ATC SCM50 and I presume this is due to the damping factor.
While the images were stable, the separation and definition were not as well executed as with the Bryston, but bear in mind the difference in cost.
Driving the Acoustic Energy AE100: These entry-level speakers are rated at 87bB in sensitivity and the woofer is a four-inch model. The CCY A2540 had no problem driving these speakers and low-bass looseness was not so apparent. So it is vital for the CCY A2540 to be matched with easy-to-drive speakers with less-demanding woofers.
However, it has to be noted that the AE100s sounded better with the CCY A2540 than they did with an amp from a well-known British company, which also costs many times more, that I had for review and was in my system earlier.
Should you buy it? I would recommend it for an entry-level or even a second system for an audiophile who has a pretty good and pricey system, but you have to choose the speakers wisely. Something with quite high sensitivity – maybe 87-88dB and above – and easy to drive should match well with the CCY A2540. However, you have to get used to its quirky looks, the heat it generates, lack of power switch and speaker jacks which accept only banana plugs.
CCY has not finalised the price yet, but it should be in the very affordable region. He can be reached via his Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/chongchingyong