Review: Plinius 8200 Amplifier

Category: Amplifiers

Trying to simplify my life (and audio system) I decided to try an integrated amp. This was prompted by numerous equipment failures that left me without the ability to listen to music for weeks. I got really tired of sending equipment in for repair, waiting for it to return, only to have another component fail.

Looking around I had heard good things about Jeff Rowlands but that was a little pricey. I auditioned a Gryphon Callisto 2100 and liked it as well but also out of my range. The Plinius was highly rated and had the right pedigree and fairly reasonable at $3000 so I went for it.

Mine arrived in silver and had the impressive Plinius quality with low key good looks. The power switch leaves a little to be desired but there you go. The remote, thankfully, is simple with only three buttons for a change: MUTE, and VOLUME UP & DOWN.

The 8200 has plenty of inputs (all RCA) and two sets of speakers binding posts. The speaker outputs are very good quality, substantial, gold plated metal. I used a 13mm wrench to tighten down my Empirical Audio Clarity7 spaded cables, connected Empirical Ics to the Cary and let her warm up for a few hours.

When I came back, man my rack looked empty! All that was there now was my Cary 306/200 and the 8200. The Plinius (like everything else these days) has a blue led for a power indicator that flashed briefly when it's first turned on and another blue led indicating whether the 8200 is muted or not.

My first listen was with Keiko Matsui's "Deep Blue". I have listened to this CD so many times I know it very well. It is soothing yet dynamic, restrained yet thrilling. She plays piano and keyboard for those that don't know her. Within the first few notes I knew the Plinius was something special.

The mid range came alive with lush fullness I had never heard before from my Muse monoblocks or Bryston 4B-ST. And the highs, well they were etched in space and time with definition I didn't think a redbook CD was capable of. Each key struck, hung sharply in the air with perfect pitch until it gradually dissipated in anticipation of the next. And then there were incredibly low level triangles and chimes I had never noticed before, so subtle as to be almost inaudible but now clearly heard. These did not call attention to themselves but blended into the overall composition as she intended.

After many hours, I am still in awe of what the 8200 can portray. I listened to Norah Jones, Lorenna McKennit, Vanessa Mae, and Rachmaninov. The 8200 produced vocals, piano, violin, and brass with equal fidelity and effortlessness. Oh, but does this come with a price? In my system, I began to detect a looseness in the very lowest bass octaves.

I put on Madonna's "Like a Virgin" and played through all the cuts and it seemed okay, brilliant in fact, in keeping pace. I then played McKennitt's "The Visitor" and on track 5 "Greensleeves" and especially on track 6 "Tango to Evora" I detected an irritating boominess at the bottom which I had not noticed before.

The Bryston went back into the system, using the 8200 as a pre-amp. I played the same CD.
Damn, the boominess was mostly gone but so was the phenomenal midrange and highs I loved so much.

Recently, I have trying different power cords. A DIY 8 AWG cord helped quite a bit, but I'm not sure I can live with the low end. I don't care how loud it is, I just want it tight. Maybe the 8200 is actually getting lower than the Bryston and my speakers can't handle it. I will continue to work with this amp because it is too good to give up.

If you lack space, and seek a high resolution, yet smooth sounding amp, give the 8200 a try.

Associated gear
Cary 306/200 CD Player
Empirical Audio Cables

Similar products
Gryphon Callisto 2100
Denon 5700
This is not the Mk II version, correct?

Have you tried the phono stage?

My experience was about the same. I loved some things about the 8200 but the boomboomboom drove me crazy after a while. I think I actually like the 8100 better.
I own and love the Plinius 8200 Mk-1, which is an incredible product!
I do not believe the Plinius is responsible for the "bass problems" reported in this thread. I get absolutely taut deep bass with mine, driving Meadowlark Heron i speakers - which go down to 25hz!
Without addressing room acoustics, there is little hope of good sound - especially good bass! I use ASC Tube Traps to control lower frequencies, Sonex Foam (4- walls & ceiling) panels to absorb reflections, and an area rug on the floor. Get your room right first - only then can you appreciate and honestly judge equipment!