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leftAmplifiers - Classe DR3 VHC
→ Updates February 23rd, 2016 with the Dave REICH message,
who was the boss of CLASSE AUDIO

Reviewer: Florent
Source: Wadia 850
Digital cable: Stereolab XV-Ultra
Preamp: JadisS JP80MC
Amp: Krell KSA-50 mkII
Interconnect: Siltech, DNM
Speakers: Apogee Diva
Speaker cable: Siltech LS2-090
Stand: Finite Element Pagode
Power conditioner: System and Magic, Blacknoise Six
Average retail price: N/A
There are a few pleasant periods in a life, where things are going extremely well... The number of amplifiers hosted in my home increases regularly: I already host a KRELL KSA-50 MKII, a pair of JADIS JA-80 monoblocs, a THRESHOLD SA/4e and a THRESHOLD SA/3.9e.
Then, a surprise arrived in my house: a beauty, an exceptional piece of equipment like only the golden age of the Hi-Fi could achieve: the mythic CLASSE AUDIO DR3 in the VHC version...

The first thing to note is that this amplifier is a true beauty, with its large and black front face, its golden handles. The VHC acronym means « Very High Current », and an amplifier able to deliver huge current is necessarily a big and heavy amplifier !
It is also one of the tallest amplifiers even produced, reaching 45cm. It is a monster, but a beautiful one:


The amplifier has a set of very big and tall heatsinks, which host the power transistors. In the center of the amplifier, there are two big 500VA transformers, hidden by a metallic plate:

Another good point for this amplifier is the lack of fan: most of the time, they are noisy and disturbing when you listen to the music.
This model is the 3rd of the DR3 line: the first one to be released to the market was the DR3, the second one was the DR3-B, followed by this VHC version.

To clearly see how big and tall this amplifier is, just have a look at the above photography where the (grey) KRELL KSA-50 mkII is just at the left of the DR3 VHC: the KRELL looks like a dwarf...

This amplifier has established the CLASSE AUDIO brand name in the 80s. Its building quality is outstanding, and surely costly: it sems impossible to achieve the same actually without reaching a stratospheric selling price. The counterpart is the weight (45 kg), meaning approximately the same than a THRESHOLD SA/4e.

Its power is not high with only 45W in class A, but is was specially designed to cope with the Apogee Scintillas impedance (less than 1 ohm) which were well known to kill a lot of amplifiers...

Below the amplifier are the power supply capacitors, reaching 160,000 µF per channel !

After a 30mn of listening session on our reference system #2, I decided to name this amplifier «The Clone». The reason is that it is only the 3rd time that an amplifier really copes with its reputation on my system. I remind that the ELECTROCOMPANIET 25w class A had been ridiculous on my APOGEE DIVA based system...

The other point is that is sounds very close to the KRELL KSA-50 mkII that I love. The KRELL is both a little sweeter with a higher punch, but the rest is almost identical...
I wonder if the power transistors are the same than on the KRELL ? only Dan D'AGOSTINO and David REICH could anwer this question...
This CLASSE AUDIO DR3 VHC merits the highest rank.

  • it is a king amongst the transistors amps
  • it is a true Beauty
  • the midrange is full of qualities: purely magic
  • the overall musicality is pleasant
  • it never becomes too hot
  • no fan (meaning no noise)
  • outstanding design
  • only 45w, but sounding like 150 W

  • You are obliged to put it on the floor because of its weight and size
  • the bass is beautiful but not enough punchy


Update 23rd February, 2016: the memo of Dave REICH, the boss of CLASSE AUDIO:

We are very pleased and very proud to have received the following message from Dave REICH, who was the Boss of CLASSE AUDIO and founder of THETA. Thank you very much Dave !

Dave REICH memo_site.jpg



Article written by Florent (provence13 on our Forum)

Creation date : 13/05/2009 @ 23:09
Last update : 26/02/2016 @ 18:48
Category : Amplifiers
Page read 1797 times

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Reactions to this article

Reaction #2 

by MLAS 06/04/2013 @ 18:32

You´re wrong,
The first commercial availeble Classé Audio was the DR-2.Then came the DR-3 and the the DR-3B and DR-3 VHC.Then DR-3B has a DR-3 VHC frontend.I have the DR-3 in my second system.It´s the best amp I had there and it couls also measure up against the Levisnon ML-2´s I have in my first system aprat fron the bass.
Greetings Robert

Reaction #1 

by francis13800 14/05/2009 @ 20:05

Salut Florent,

Ce DR3 est dans la même lignée que le prépré NIL fabriqué par Classé à la bonne époque. Son rond, grave retenu par rapport à un ML2, je l'ai quand même entendu remuer sans difficulté une paire de Magnépan.


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