Review: Cairn 4808 Amplifier

Category: Amplifiers

i have owned a denon pma-2000ivr for about a year and a half and had been pretty happy with it. then upgraded my cd player to a cairn fog v2 soft.very happy with the sound , that got me thinking about there amps. i saw that the 4808 standard model although biased in class A, was only pushing 30 watts per had been favorably reviewed by sam tellig, but thought i needed more. there are not alot of places to review high end equipment in the denver area. i was able to listen to the musical fidelity through a set of sonus fabers and was very impressed , sold infact but kept looking. also auditioned the krell 400xi through a set of paradigms. i was expecting alot more im pretty sure it was the speakers but it just left me flat. after checking the web i saw the cairn 4808 north face it was what i wanted in terms of power and looks, i was being heavily influenced by my fog. i contacted alan at audiowaves, after a short discussion was able to get it for about half the cost of a musical fidelity a5. well im not a big fan of the french but they do seem to know how to build stereo equipment. ive had it about a month it blows away my old denon in every way .detail retrieval is top notch , i was nervous about the bass responce but it has it in spades. i was able to use balanced interconnects to my fog , witch im not sure how much it helped but it sure didnt hurt. on female voices and acoustic music my system has never sounded better.the knobs and general layout is easy to use, and it looks really cool to . the remote takes some getting used to , its laid out strangely. buttons are in wierd spots and some buttons do different things depending how long you hold them down, but you get used to it. build quality is first class. no tone controls, wich i never used anyway, it has never gotten to hot.all in all im really satisfied with this amp.i would put it on par with the a5. i dont think the krell got a fair shake but if it did the cairn blows it away. listen mostly to classic rock, bluegrass, i dont have alot of experiance in the high end market but this amps worth a listen if you can. now if i can just swing those sonus fabers. thanks fo reading.

Associated gear
cairn fog v2 soft
denon 45f turntable
cambridge 540p phono stage
polk lsi15 tower speakers

Similar products
denon pma2000ivr
musical fidelity
krell 400xi
JRW, thanks for the review. A friendly suggestion? Use some paragraph breaks, it makes for MUCH easier reading.

I really like the Cairn amp and cdp. But if you listen to a lot of classic rock, you might not want the Sonus Fabers. I have listen to several different models, and like them with several different types of music, but not any kind of rock.

Hello . Have you notice space and bass improvement when you connect your cd player by xlr? If i look under a hood i can not see that xlr is fully use to amplify. I have fog 2 with upsampler and is awsome cd player even or slighty better than very good Audio Research cd2 

but i have cairn aria amplifier upgreaded by replace power resistors for not inductive and instead bunch of thiny capacitors 2 huge elna 

cerafine ... huge improvement in bass speed and open 20khz but cd player has xlr and aria not ....but 4808 has electronic volume what is worse sound  than potenciometer but if you coud tell me if you see difference chinche to xlr on bass or vila but you have to listen carefully. if not its mean they unified xlr to single and this way gave to amplifier. cairn aria and 4808 has the same amp expect 2 resistors more on input. also if you could give me chip name located on front board than it sould say is 4 way its mean xlr or 2 way stereo. Thank you