Hands On: Lexicon DD-8 Amplifier

The strength of Lexicon's DD-8 Amplifier is its imaging. CE pros can use the DD-8 with full confidence for whole-house audio, two-channel audio and home theater applications.

Hands On: Lexicon DD-8 Amplifier

Photos & Slideshow

Robert Archer · November 16, 2012

It could be stereotype or a simple audiophile bias against the whole-house category, but the distributed audio market is typically dogged by comments suggesting lo-fi quality.

Over the years a handful of traditional audio manufacturers have released electronics into the market to attempt to change that perception, but it has been debatable whether the products were successful. The latest such company to introduce a whole-house audio amp is Lexicon.

Its single-rack high DD-8 is an eight-channel amp that incorporates Harman’s DriveCore technology, which is said to fuse the drive and output stages of the amp into a chip. The DD-8 ($2,500) is rated to produce 125 watts per channel, and Lexicon says the amp is designed to provide the sound qualities of a traditional Class A/B analog amp with the benefits of a Class D design, such as 90 percent efficiency capabilities and low power consumption.

I set up the DD-8 for two-channel listening in the offices of CE Pro with a CD player and Wharfedale Opus2 loudspeakers. I stripped some 16/2 Monster speaker cable and inserted one end into the Phoenix connectors. I terminated the other end of the speakers with banana plugs. I positioned the amp’s mono/stereo controls to the stereo option and finalized everything by using the local bus option.

DD-8 Features
- Multi-patented DriveCore Amplifier Technology

- 8 channels each with 125W into 8-ohms

- High-efficiency, Quiet Convection-cooled Design

- Local/Bus RCA Input Selection and Independent Channel Output Level Controls

- 12V Trigger Input/Output and Signal-sensing Channel Inputs

- Power Save Low-power Consumption Standby Mode (Less than 0.5W)

- Front Panel Standby Power Switch and Channel Status with Indicator LED’s

- Short-circuit and Thermal Protection Circuitry

- Lightweight Chassis Only One Rack Space (1U) High

After letting the amp run for approximately 50 hours with the volume knob around 9 o’clock I sat down to do some critical listening. Before the amp was broken in I would describe the unit’s sound as clean, but on the lean side. Unlike many amps that use digital technologies, however, I would not say it sounded cold and impersonal.

Lowering the volume to the 8 o’clock level for my listening sessions, I thought the performance fattened up. On a classic rock tracks from bands like Bad Company and Led Zeppelin I found the amp to deliver mid-bass with a punchy firmness and vocals with a smooth clarity. On Stevie Ray Vaughan’s cover of “Little Wing” I did catch a touch of the leanness I heard earlier in the midrange, but that trait varied from song to song.

The strength of the amp may be its imaging. The DD-8 produced a lush and layered image within its soundstage that allowed, for example, some Los Lonely Boys music I was playing to breath. The low end was open, the midrange with guitars was textured and the top end was fully extended without sounding hard and tinny.

Switching sources, I connected a Parasound Halo JC-3 phono preamp and Thorens TD-160 turntable and spun records from Boston, Ozzy Osbourne and Foster the People and found the amp mated really well to analog content. The amp flawlessly rendered the sonic perfection of the re-released Boston self-titled debut on 180-gram vinyl. The recording was full, layered and highly detailed with nice extension on the bottom end.

I’ll admit that I haven’t heard some of the newer Class D products to come from the audiophile manufacturer’s market, but based on what I heard, I think Lexicon’s DD-8 could be used with full confidence for whole-house audio, two-channel audio and home theater.

  About the Author

Bob is an audio enthusiast who has written about consumer electronics for various publications within Massachusetts before joining the staff of CE Pro in 2000. Bob is THX Level I certified, and he's also taken classes from the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF) and Home Acoustics Alliance (HAA). Bob also serves as the technology editor for CE Pro's sister publication Commercial Integrator. In addition, he's studied guitar and music theory at Sarrin Music Studios in Wakefield, Mass., and he also studies Kyokushin karate at 5 Dragons in Haverhill, Mass. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Robert at [email protected]

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