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AudioControl Maestro M9 and Director D2800 (8 channel)

How could the same company that makes the Maestro M9 even consider releasing an amplifier to go with it as noisy as the Director D2800?

After installing the 8 channel Director D2800 in my rack to deliver the music signal from the Maestro M9 to the ceiling speakers it was only a day before we had to remove it.

The fan in the Director D2800 is like an airplane engine on the tarmac of JFK airport.  When the fan kicks in, there is no location in the large 24’ x 22’ room where the noise from the amplifier cannot be heard.  It dominates the empty spaces in movies and audio playback to the point of just wanting to disconnect it and listen to the sound from the television monitor instead.

AudioControl must have been in a hurry to release the D series amplifiers earlier this year to have some new product to offer in celebration of their 40th anniversary.  Unfortunately, one must wonder how the same brilliant engineers who designed and built the Maestro M9 could let the Director D2800 leave their shop.

It is always risky to buy a high-end audio product before it has been subject to the scrutiny of reviewers and the broader community of discriminating music listeners.  However, it was a logical decision to buy the Director D2800.  After all, anyone would think that it should be paired perfectly to the Maestro M9.

Reviews for AudioControl Maestro M9  

The Maestro M9 is a brilliant product—more computer than tuner.  It delivers the sound with nuance and delicacy that I was not getting from my Marantz tuner.  I wholeheartedly agree with the reviews in Sound & Vision; Home Theater and High Fidelity.

Kris Deering, writing in Sound & Vision, 12/6/16 says, “Listening to a high-resolution recording of Diana Krall’s “Peel Me a Grape” was intoxicating with the Maestro.  Fine details in the recording emerged, with a great sense of air around not only Krall’s lush vocals but also around each instrument accompanying her.”

More recently, Jim Clements 6/14/2017 review of the Maestro M9 in Home Theater & High Fidelity said that “one of the most salient categories was the way the AudioControl (Maestro M9) created a seamless surround bubble.”  He said that “…the Maestro M9 was able to localize sounds in my theater with little regard to where the speakers were placed.”

The AudioControl Director D2800 is Heard but Not Seen

Most high-end audio components are designed to drastically reduce or eliminate noise from the component.  A good power regenerator like the PS Audio P-10 made some noise as it converted AC power to DC power then back to AC power again thereby cleaning the electricity from the wall.  However, the newly release PS Audio P-15 that replaced it has solved that problem.  The P-15 is near completely silent.  For a powerful device like this, that’s a near miracle.

The only hardware in the rack that makes noise to let you know it is there is the Maestro M9.  Maybe that should have been a warning that AudioControl is not that concerned about component noise.  However, the noise from the Maestro M9 is as forgivable as the noise that came from the PS Audio P-10.

The noise from the Maestro M9 is forgivable because of the amazing job it does automatically controlling the sound levels from multiple speakers and directing the signal from the source to the correct speaker in just the correct way.  It would be an even better component if it made less noise, but the noise from the M9 is within acceptable limits.  It does not intrude on the silent moments of a dramatic piece of music or the low volume of a dramatic movie scene.

That is not the case with the Director D2800.  This small amplifier is heard but not seen.  You must ask, how so much fan noise could come from an amplifier this small?  If AudioControl needed to make the D2800 bigger to make it quieter, they should have done that.  No one cares if you could see the amplifier, but everyone cares if you could hear it.

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