Creek Evolution 100A Integrated Amplifier
Same size: Twice the power
To maintain a family resemblance with the lower powered amplifier, the Evolution 100A is housed in a similar slim case with engraved front panel and solid metal control knobs as the Evolution 50A. It is available with either a Black or Silver brushed aluminium front panel and uses the same ingenious soft push button design as the Evolution 50A.
The front panel features a large OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) display, exactly matching the Evolution 50 series. The white on black display provides higher clarity and resolution than a normal display and has a wide range of customised graphic symbols. Display brightness levels can be changed or turned-off, if not required, via the menu system.
In addition to greatly increased performance, thanks to ingenious new circuit design, the Evolution 100A has been equipped with 2 sets of high quality loudspeaker binding posts, with local and remote switching for A & B outputs. Optional extras include the ability to plug the Sequel mk2 Phono pre-amp inside and add the AMBIT FM/AM radio or RUBY DAC/Bluetooth/FM radio module to the expansion slot on the rear panel.
At the heart of any high-end amplifier there must be a good power supply; The Evolution 100A uses a massive 300 Watt, low profile, toroidal mains transformer, with multiple windings for high and low voltages and current, to separate the power amp, pre-amp and digital circuitry. Creek’s long-standing design policy of paralleling several small capacitors in the power supply creates an ultra-high specification capacitor, with low inductance and ultra low impedance. This significantly improves filtering and helps produce a very powerful and accurate sound from such a relatively small amplifier.
After testing several methods of building a high performance and high efficiency power amplifier, suitable for this new model, David Gamble – Creek Audio’s Senior Engineer – created a unique Class G circuit especially for the Evolution 100A. David chose to use four Sanken STD03 complimentary power Darlington transistors per channel, as used in the Evolution 50A, which feature built-in thermal compensation. Compared to the Evolution 50A, he improved the performance of the voltage gain circuitry, which, in combination with the output stage, now achieves extremely high open-loop gain and exceptionally low distortion, without sacrificing stability. The result is an exceptional power amplifier circuit with very low output impedance and high output current capability. This combination provides exceptional speed and control suitable for driving most loudspeakers.
To increase the power output of the smaller Evolution 50A, yet still retain the same case size, David Gamble developed a cunning Class G circuit which runs normally at a lower voltage for power levels up to 25 Watts into 8 Ohms. When required to produce more than 25 Watts, the amp automatically swings to a higher secondary voltage, to increase the output power capability to over 100 Watts into 8 Ohms.
Statistically, average audio signals are mostly below half the maximum voltage swing available, which incidentally is only one quarter of the power. As the dissipation of lossy ‘idle current’ in a Class A/B amp (in the form of heat) is much lower for a 25 Watt amp than the potential 100 Watts in the Evolution 100A, this solution dramatically improves the amplifier’s thermal efficiency and helps to keep it slim and attractive.
The Pre-amp circuit provides high levels of flexibility and control, via unbalanced or balanced inputs. It has multiple input options, switched either electronically or by gold contact relays. It also has a State-of-the-Art electronic Volume, Balance and Tone controls. Volume control and op-amp circuit outputs are all buffered with constant current sources, to provide improved load tolerance and stable distortion characteristics.
Correct grounding is difficult, if not impossible, in an un-balanced amplifier, so Creek has provided the consumer with a balanced line input for both the pre-amp and power amp input. The matching Evolution 50CD also has a balanced output capability. In addition, the optional RUBY DAC module also benefits from having a dedicated balanced audio connection to the Evolution 100A’s pre-amp, via its flat foil cable, to avoid potential ground loops inside the amplifier.
It is a modern listening trend for headphones to now be fed from low voltage sources, such as smart-phones and portable music storage devices. This required the development of low impedance headphones, to draw the required current to make them loud enough to satisfy the consumer. This trend has also necessitated a re-think of circuitry used in modern Hi-Fi amplifiers, to drive such low impedance headphones, together with the traditional medium to high impedance versions also.
Creek Audio has taken the unusual step of driving the headphone output socket of their Evolution amplifiers from a dedicated low impedance source. Instead of the headphone output being sourced from the power amplifier, the headphone output is derived from a dedicated amplifier, with only a few Ohms in series for protection against short circuits. This dedicated HP amp is now located on the pre-amplifier circuit board.
Excellent overall measured and sonic performance has been achieved with this analogue integrated amp, but when used together with the matching Evolution 50CD, the analogue pre-amp can be bypassed completely, to allow the volume to be controlled in the digital domain. Connecting the output directly to the “Power amp AV direct” inputs elevates the performance to an even higher level, by reducing noise and distortion associated with active pre-amplification.
Creek Audio no longer makes a separate FM Tuner, but die-hard analogue tuner fans can continue to enjoy this valuable format by using the top-quality AMBIT plug-in tuner module, which augments the Evolution 50A and 100A’s capabilities. The AMBIT or RUBY modules are mounted on the back panel ‘Smart-Slot’, replacing Line Input 5. When the AMBIT is fitted, it automatically turns the amp into a Receiver, configurable for use in any region of the world. The OLED display shows all the tuner’s functions and it’s controlled by the left hand buttons and control knobs, as well as remote control.
For vinyl fans, the Evolution 100A can also be configured for Vinyl Disc input, using Line input 1. A SEQUEL 2 (40, 48 or 54) module can be plugged into a dedicated connector on the pre-amp PCB. It doesn’t restrict the use of either the AMBIT or RUBY modules. Sequel 2 comes in three versions – 40dB MM, 48dB MC and 54dB MC.
To simplify the many options a stylish system remote handset controls all the functions of the Evolution 50 and 100 series. An optional IR extender to enable the products to be hidden away, but still operable via remote control.
The Evolution 100A is the most sophisticated and reasonably priced amplifier Creek has ever made. It provides stunning audio performance and is capable of out-performing other makes of amplifiers costing many times the price.