The new Coda S5.5 amplifier: It's a "Petite Beast"!

I have in-house the New Coda Technologies S5.5 amplifier for review for Stereo Times website. It will be awhile before I write the review. However, I'm so impressed by the performance of this petite amplifier, it only weights 45 pounds, that I wanted to give a heads up to you GON members if you are in the market for a balanced pure class A amplifier, delivers 50 watts @ 8 Ohms, and can drop 100 Amperes of current on a peak!

The world class build quality of Coda amplifiers is on display with the S5.5, along with the most beautiful purity of tonality, precise sound-staging, complete liquidity offered by pure class A design, and what might be the best top end regarding details, decays, and a natural shimmering without brightness or any edge at all.

The S5.5 uses extremely wide bandwidth output transistors instead of the usual TO3 devices used in most transistor designs. I own the Coda #16, which is great, but the midrange/high end is taken to another level of musical enjoyment with the S5.5. The S5.5 has a sense of speed/aliveness that is exciting to listen to that you experience in live music. The amp is dynamic as hell, has driven with ease any speaker I have tried it with, hence my nickname of the "Petite Beast". Remember, 50 watts pure class A, can drop 100 amperes of current and only weights 45 pounds.

Teajay (Terry London)


Would love to hear it.  I'm sure it's fantastic.  I am very happy with my Pass XA30.8 but how would you describe the differences between the two, Teajay?

I have the #16 and another person and I did some listening with various gear and the #16. We felt that a brighter DAC such as the Benchmark DAC3B cut through the Class A warmth of the #16 nicely.

Hey paulietunes,

Your Pass Labs XA30.8 is a great amplifier. I would say the major differences between the XA30.8 and the S5.5 are, 1) The top end is more airy/extended/detailed on the S5.5 without being etched or bright in tone. 2) The S5.5 has a faster more alive sounding presentation then your Pass Labs. Both are great, but slightly different.

Have the S5.5, love it, can’t believe the price/performance value on offer, $6K new 10 year warranty 45 lbs only runs warm not hot and yes drives everything with ease.

My understanding is that it is sliding bias not "pure" Class A which makes sense given it runs warm not hot, but I defer to Terry on this as I’m not in contact with the factory.

Terry, how new is the S5.5 actually? And is there a better value US hifi gear manufacturer than CODA?

If there is I’m all ears...

What makes the Coda S5.5 better than the much more expensive #16 that has 100 watts of class A. BTW I own the Coda #8 that has the first 18 watts in Class A for the V1 that I own. Beautiful amp with massive current!

The #16 is much cleaner sounding on the top end vs the #8 V1, which I also owned. The #16 is the strongest amp for bass that I owned. I would think that the cleaner top end is what this S5.5 would offer vs the #8.

I did a listening test with the #16 vs the Benchmark AHB2 last weekend. The #16 was better on the mid and the highs on every track with my current setup. However, on 1 track, Sympathy for the Devil by the Stones. My musician friend told me that the AHB2 had better articulation of the bass. He said the CODA did not get the bass correct on that track (it got a little confused). However, on everything other track the #16 was great on all areas. The AHB2 also got some microphone placement correct vs the CODA.

He normally HATES the AHB2, but I think he came away surprised at the potential it has. When I get a warmer DAC, PlayBack Designs Dream, we will do another listening session with the 2 amps.

For the longest time, I found the CODA #16 a little lacking on the top end, that was until last week when I replaced my speaker cable with Audience FrontRow. Now I have no issues with the #16. I also use my too hot Benchmark DAC3B with the #16, which seems to work well.

This is a bit of a contrarian view, but there are tons of other posts saying different things than I am about the #16. The S5.5 looks like the baby brother.

CODA Technologies – Destination HiFi

Hey curiousjim,

Yes, it has balanced  inputs, I believe it retails for around $5,700.


Hey Kairosman,

Congrats you own a great amplifier. I do believe the S5.5 is pure class A, not a sliding bias design, It runs around 110 to 115 degrees, warm but not wickedly hot. 

The S5.5 that is being built now has new parts and a redesigned front end. That's why I referred to it as "new". Totally agree that Coda is one of the finest American amplifier companies that build great pieces at very fair prices.

Hey Terry, do you mean CODA updates the amp parts without signalling the change with a new name, like S5.6?

If so is there a way to check the manufacturing date of the amp? If that's a stupid question forgive me!

Post removed 

Hey kairosman,

No your question is a fair and good one. I suggest you give a shout out to Doug Dale regarding why he did not change the name of the amplifier from S5.5 to S5.6.



Sounds like a winner. Thanks for the heads up, Terry. I just ordered one for myself.

Hey vinylvalet,

Congrats! I'm sure you will have great musical pleasure with the S5.5 driving your system. When you get it please let us know what you think.


Teajay what is the Price $$ it  most important to most working class people ?

Ok it’s $6500, what I find totally off is from the front the left channel should be left and right is right ,instead you. Have to bring the speaker cable totally across the amplifier on both sides ,that doesnot make an6 sense .I have owned many amplifiers I just looked on their website Backwards ?I have awg9 thick speaker cables it’s reverse logic.

Hey audioman58,

I have no idea what you are talking about. The inputs and speaker wire terminals are symmetrically laid out. The left channel is on the left side and the right channel is on the right side.



Hey audioman58,

I have no idea what you are talking about. The inputs and speaker wire terminals are symmetrically laid out. The left channel is on the left side and the right channel is on the right side.


He may be referring to this in the manual. Probably just a misprint. It’s also true you can just use inputs / speaker outputs however you want... they don’t know their given names.  🏁




Hi Terry,

Does the S5.5 have a preamp preference? Tube, SS, SE, balanced? I know you have a few on hand. Maybe you have rolled them?

This “model” has been around for a long time. First as the S5 and now the S5.5. AFAIK, it received upgraded parts around 2019. Do you think it has been upgraded again?

Does anyone else know the story with the upgrade status? I haven’t reached out to Coda. I don’t want to bother them if others have already.

On paper it looks like a good amp for my speakers. Just looking for a few opinions/answers before I do anything.


Hey tuckia08,

Yes, I have tried it with several preamps (SS/tube) single ended or balanced with great success. The S5.5 passes on very clearly what "flavor" each line-stage is providing.

Regarding your question about the history of the current S5.5 I recommend that you contact Doug, I'm sure he would be more then happy to provide the details you are seeking, before I give information that might be incomplete.

Don't know what speakers you run, but so far I have tried four different pairs of speakers and the S5.5 makes all them shine with great dynamics and musicality.


@johnah5  sonically what separates the new 5.5 and the #8? They are relatively close in price. I’m curious as to what would prompt one to select one vs the other.

Hey gochurchgo,

I believe that the S5.5 has a better top end and slightly more midrange transparency/clarity then the #8. Unless you need the extra power of the #8 I would chose the S5.5. I have tried the S5.5 with different speakers and have had no problems reaching high dB levels  without attenuation/distortion at all.



So I’m somewhat intrigued by the various Coda amps - but- how come there aren’t any reviews in Stereophile, Absolute Sound, Ultra , Audiophiliac etc. ? Can’t find any in any "popular" reviewing source? Also, they charge 3k for adding meters to their larger amp ??? Really? 

Stereo Times isn’t popular enough for you? I heard there is a forthcoming review, lol.

I’d pay to take the meters off, otherwise I’d have to tape them over. Don’t need spot lights burning into my retinas. But I’m the kind that turns the fireplace off because it is too bright.

However, a credible review that directly compared current Coda to Pass, Gryphon, Vitus or any other class A amps would be very desirable. Terry has some Pass amps so I’m looking forward to his comments regarding the S5.5. Others have told me that the S5.5 sounds more like the 16.0 than the #8.

My speakers are 99db sensitive horn type with 15” woofers. Large amps are too loud on the lowest volume control settings. Finding quality in a smaller package is important for me. The Pass XA 25, Coda S5.5, Vitus SIA integrateds, Gryphon Essence and possibly Westminster REI have been on my radar. A bit of a price spread in this list. Already have an 8 watt SET, but want an SS amp alternative.

Hey speedthrills,

To be quite frank, Coda does not spend their money either to get reviews in the magazines (the payola is that you have to sign up for very expensive advertising for a period of time) and does not get rooms at great expensive at shows. They have been in business very successfully for close to 30 years because of the best endorsements of all, "word of mouth". 

This is one reason, in my opinion, that Coda builds superlative preamps and amplifiers that compete with any solid state gear, regardless of price, for very reasonable prices compared to other companies. I have written reviews on Coda's FET 07x preamplifier, #8 amplifier, #16 amplifier, and will shortly be writing the review on the S5.5 amplifier for Stereo Times. All these pieces offer reference level performance and I purchased the FET 07x and #16 for my systems. 

Hey tuckia08,

Remember, for certain people not having meters would be a deal breaker! That's why the meters are an option. I ordered my #16 without meters, because I too I'm not attracted to them. The S5.5 does not have the meters, just a half inch attractive engraved faceplate.

I do not experience that the S5.5 sounds like its big brother #16. It has the virtues of the other Coda amplifiers and then adds on a sense of overall aliveness/transient speed and the best top end of any solid state amplifier I have heard in my system. It sounds different then either the #8 or #16, which are both great in their own right, and is turning out to possibly be my favorite of all the Coda amplifiers.

Of the list of amplifiers you mention in your post, which are the "cream of the crop" in solid state Class A amplifiers, I have heard them and still would argue that the S5.5 competes with them easily for far less money.




@tucki08 If you want to hear a very smooth, relaxing, and yet detailed Class A amp check out the Krell Duo XD lineup. I liked the KRELL Duo 175XD over my CODA #8 (sold). I like the CODA #16 more than the 175XD (sold). I had the CODA 07x preamp when I had the 175XD and the #8. I use the Holo Serene preamp now.

Next week if I manage to get a job, I am seriously considering trading in my CODA #16 for the KRELL KSA i400. That is 400 watts in Class A and doubling to 1600 at 2 Ohm. I think the Class A stays at 400 as it doubles.

The KRELL XD lineup can be had for similar price as the CODA lineup. Both are great, I think the KRELL is a little smoother sounding. Normally this smoothness is not my preference, but I had the KRELL XD’s I owned sounding great with my other gear.


@tucki08 I have a Krell 300xd amp, I’ve had Coda’s CSiB integrated.  I would agree with yyz’s assessment.  If you are looking for a smooth, tube like SS amp that also has the power, command of SA Krell is tough to beat.  Coda wasn’t better or worse in my opinion, it had a different sound signature.  I agree with Terry, I’d put Coda’s gear up against anyone’s, price aside.  They use extremely high quality parts and really know how to design, get the most out of those parts. 

Yes I had a #8 and a CSIB and ended up with the S5.5 and agree with Terry it's the best of the lot, and by a considerable margin, at least in my system. Yet it is the cheapest amp CODA makes. I have it paired with an Audio Hungary Qualiton C200 tube preamp, and there is no musical genre the stack doesn't render faithfully, at least to my ears. 

Just now I finished listening to two tracks (via Tidal) that had me spellbound:

-Art Pepper's "Nature Boy" 

-Leonard Cohen's "The Night of Santiago"

The tonal verisimilitude of the acoustic instruments was breathtaking. Cohen's voice was so eerily "present" in the room, when I turned the lights back on I had to chuckle at my goosebumps.

The system is as follows:

Puritan PSM156 conditioner -> Melco S100 ethernet switch (fiber optic output) -> Lumin U1-> Gustard R26 w/external masterclock -> Qualiton C200 -> S5.5 -> Mofi Sourcepoint 10s (cabling is all by Transparent)

I sometimes prefer this setup to my main setup in the living room, where the amp is a Gryphon Diablo 300 running B&W 804 D4s, especially for small scale acoustical music.

Regardless, the point is IMO someone could build a killer system with the S5.5 at its heart for under $20K.


Hi Teajay, thanks for the heads up on this CODA. How would you say it compares to the Pass XA-25 ? I know you mentioned in the past that you thought it was the best of the pass labs amps. Would a move from the XA-25 to the CODA be more of a sideways move or a step up in your opinion ?

Does anyone know the damping factor for this amp?  I don't see it listed, but do see 200 listed for the no-8.    I had a Pass X250.8 and XA-30.8 (both listed at 150) and really liked them but didn't find either as good as a few other amps I've owned relative to bass control with the 30.8 being a little loose in the bass at times.  If the 5.5 has solid bass control it definitely looks very appealing for the $.   

Hey ddafoe,

I did a review on the Pass Labs X250.8, excellent amplifier, and the bass control on all the Coda amps, including the S5.5, is much better controlled/dynamic because of the loading of 100 amps of current based on their giant power supply sections.



Sorry for being off topic but do you know if there is or will be in the future a Coda S5.5 integrated amp?

@tyray, great point and question. I have a Coda amp and would love to recommend Coda to any of my friends who are in the market for an integrated amp. Unfortunately, none of them can afford the CSiB (definitely not new and probably not used); so, having another option at a lower price point would be good (and smart).

Matching it with a tube preamp in balanced mode could be an issue with some, since the balanced input impedance is only 10k ohms.

@audioman has a point...the left and right channels are reversed from most amps! I don't recall having seen that before. It's shown not only in the diagram but also in a picture on their website. The channels should be labeled as such when one is facing the front of the amp.Wonder why they did that? It may not ultimately matter, but it does seem rather odd.

Hey grk,

Forget the diagram. When I face the S5.5 head-on the left channel is on the left and the right channel is on the right, like every other amplifier I have in-house (five).


@speedthrills I live in Sacramento and Coda is a 15-minute drive from my house. I bought my amp directly from Doug Dale and was fortunate to have a long talk with him recently and I asked some of the questions you were asking. Many magazine review sites are pay to play and require money or require you to be an advertiser. Doug doesn't feel they need to do this. Much of their business comes from overseas and Asia. Doug is in poor health and according to him that is the reason he never brings their equipment to any of the shows such as Axpona. I'm fortunate to be close to him which makes changing versions on my #8 easy. I have a version #1 now but am considering buying some Magnepan 3.7i/x soon and may have him bump up the power with the #2. So far Doug has been very responsive to my question. Great company. 

Thanks and in general I can mostly agree with the explanations of not wanting to advertise or pay etc. BUT the reality is that there are plenty of reviews on products that don't advertise and even more that see value in going to a couple fo the big industry events in order to get some exposure and buzz, even if they have to partner / share a room with other vendors. It just makes good business sense. For those who buy/sell/upgrade regularly it can be a stretch to invest 15k in a brand that even if superlative has no reviews from the mainstream reviewers and little or no industry presence in terms of shows. When it comes time for reselling this may or may not become an impediment on either how long it takes to resell the item or how much of a discount is required to get it sold. Perhaps Coda is different based on word of mouth and resales are fast and at top dollar, people who own them seem to love them!

@speedthrills yup I think reselling CODA amps might not be as easy as McIntosh, I imagine the circle of CODA buyers and sellers is somewhat self-contained but then also self-sustaining. I’ve owned 3, all were rock solid amps. The S5.5 is $6.5K new, the only other amp I’ve heard in my system that’s of similar price/build quality/warranty/sonics is a Pass XA25. And that thing runs HOT. There isn’t a lot out there you can buy new that’s of similar quality (unless you like Class D, which I haven’t had success with), personally I’d love to hear from others which amps they’ve owned and felt were of a similar price/quality ratio.

CODA is not the easiest to sell but people who have heard it are quick to buy. I sold a few CODA items before, CSiB, 07x, and #8. I have the #16 now.

I also have a Sanders Magtech that I really love with my Magnepan LRS+. I was told by Roger Sanders it was first designed for Maggies. The reason I mention it is because I think CODA builds the Sanders amp. I also think the Magtech is a bit better than the #8, not the #16. I bought a 10-year-old used Magtech (refurbished) from Sanders for $4k. I threw out the Magtech shipping box.

BTW - I did some critical listening with the #16 and the Holo Serene preamp this morning with my new replacement powerline streaming (use fibre at the end). The Serene and the #16 sound great together. Highly recommended with CODA amps.

I've resold several Coda pieces. They go fast. Folks that know this product line generally keep their purchases.