We are delighted to hear the news that Canada’s Classé is to be acquired by Sound United, after months of speculation -- assumption, indeed -- that the company had been sidelined and all but shuttered by its current owner EVA Automation, which took over the brand alongside its purchase of Bowers & Wilkins in 2016.
Sound United is the parent company of Denon, HEOS and Marantz, having bought D&M Holdings in 2017, as well as owning "the classic American strength of Polk Audio, the premium performance and minimalist cool of Definitive Technology, the action-inspired form factors of Polk BOOM, and the accessible performance of Boston Acoustics."
In Classé, Sound United inherits a strong product line among which we have just recognised the $7500 Sigma 2200i in our Sound+Image Awards 2018, this particularly fine and unique performer taking out our award for Stereo AV Amplifier of the Year over $2000.
This stupendous HDMI-equipped stereo amplifier is proof of the quality for which the marque, long a sister brand to B&W, has been widely lauded for delivering. The Sigma 2200i not only addresses the need for today’s lounges to have HDMI inputs as well as analogue and digital stereo ones, it implements a remarkable all-digital signal path right through to its audiophile-level Class-D amplification (the analogue inputs are digitised), and the sound from that 2 × 200W amplification will blow the sneer from the face of anyone still doubting the quality available from Class D.
It networks, it has AirPlay, you can plug your iPhone into the front. Its inputs are software configurable, and it’s capable of transforming a TV-based lounge system into something truly special. The judges had discussed whether this award should be announced given the uncertainties surrounding the brand at the time -- we are now delighted that the recognition was made anyway, given the hope now that recent years of sometimes painful efficiency management at the company can now bear fruit in a rebooted brand within the Sound United stable.
We'll add more regarding local distribution as we hear it. Currently the Sigma 2200i remains available from B&W Australia: www.classeaudio.com