CLASSE SSP-60 A/V Preamp-Processor
By Ron Goldberg
Quebec-based Classe Audio's high-end stereo separates have earned kudos and a devoted following for over two decades. The SSP-60, the company's new flagship multichannel preamp-processor, combines Classe's tradition of rock-solid construction and exquisite design with the digital smarts necessary for today's multi-purpose listening environments.
The SSP-60 is a THX-Ultra certified pre-pro capable of 7.1-channel
playback. It decodes THX/EX, Dolby Digital/Dolby EX, and DTS ES Matrix/Discrete, and offers Dolby Pro Logic II and DTS Neo:6 for surround playback of stereo program material. Speaking of stereo, which is obviously this unit's heritage, the left and right channels are capable of 24-bit 96 kHz resolution. A pair of balanced outputs further demonstrates the company's dedication to the serious two-channel audiophile.
Overall connectivity is similarly well thought out for the videophile, as well as the audiophile.
There are 11 pairs of single-ended audio inputs and four outputs, as well as four coaxial and two optical digital connections and an AES/EBU input. There is 7.1-channel analog passthrough for DVD-A and SACD, and corresponding balanced outputs. In addition, there is switching for three component video inputs (one output), with bandwidth above 100 MHz, for compatibility with HDTV signals. Integrators will be pleased to see RS-232 control, IR remote control (front and rear panel) and two-channel second-zone capability. As an added bonus, the SSP-60 also features an automatic calibration function to balance channels, and even includes a microphone for this purpose.
The problem with most high-end stereo manufacturers that have made the move to incorporate video functionality (sometimes, most reluctantly) in their products, is that it often seems that the multichannel environment is a begrudging afterthought, seemingly tacked on to an older stereo-only design.
I'm pleased to say that Classe has avoided this trap. The video functionality on the SSP-60 is absolutely top rank, with pristine pass-through to the monitor. Classe has thoughtfully implemented two separate monitor outputs, one with a superimposed on-screen menu system and one without. If the user chooses this second option, the front panel display window