Another Great British brand here: Roksan. Here I review Roksan Caspian M2 integrated amplifier.
Roksan – a bit of history
Roksan is a British company but with it’s roots in the middle east due to the origins of its two founders Tufan Hashemi and Touraj Moghaddam. The company was launched in 1985 with the Xerxes turntable and has gone to produce amplifiers, speakers and other electronics too – all with Persian (Iranian) themed names.
In 2016, Roksan was acquired by another British hi-fi company, Monitor Audio. This is an interesting development and in some ways makes sense as Roksan are predominantly a “hi-fi source” company whereas Monitor Audio are predominantly a “hi-fi speaker” company. There is some overlap but I imagine the product lines will be reconciled over time.
Today we are reviewing the Roksan Caspian M2 integrated amplifier, originally released in 2010 following on from the successful earlier Caspian M1.
It was a joy to open the box to the Roksan Caspian M2. It love the looks of the Caspian! Some people think the styling is a little odd, but not me – I think it looks amazing. The steel case reminded me of a DeLorean from Back To The Future for some reason (which just makes it even more cool in my book). I would happily have a whole rack full of Caspian styled products.
The amplifier is reassuringly heavy – when you pick up an amplifier and its heavier than expected you get a feeling that this is going to be good. The front has two knobs which are nice to use as they feel firm and solid. The Caspian M2 has good rubbery feet which will protect your hi-fi shelf / rack and reduce vibration from entering the amplifier. There are also two buttons for Tape loop monitoring and an input Mode button. Small LED lights indicate the selected input.
On the subject of LED lights (this drove my other half nuts!) red = ON and green = OFF / STANDBY. Thats backwards, right? It didn’t bother me as it went hand in hand with the quirky styling.
Round the back are a single pair of speaker terminals, nice and chunky. There is 1 balanced XLR input, 6 unbalanced RCA inputs, 2 Pre Outs and tape loop output. If you want to use the balanced input then you need to flick a little switch that toggles CD input between XLR and RCA. Also included is a power amplifier input – this will turn the integrated amplifier into a power amplifier, should you want to. The latter option has to be activated in the factory.
Internally, the Caspian has two separate Toroidal transformers: one for the preamplifier section and one for the power amplifier section. Apparently there is fan inside to keep it cool – I never heard this running though so don’t let it worry you. Included in the box is a programmable remote control – this is very cool as it allows you to use the Roksan remote to control other non-Roksan products (just like an All-In-One).
Listening to the Roksan Caspian M2
I gave the Roksan a week or so to break in before I settled down for a proper listen. This is a lovely sounding amplifier! It is rated at “only 85 watts in to 8 ohms” but it feels louder than this. There is plenty of power on tap. I hook up the Caspian to my IPL S2TLK speakers.
Bass response is very good, controlling the bass drivers with ease. Bass-lines are rendered with agility and accuracy. Midrange also sounds great, producing clear vocals and instrumentation. Treble does what it should do, no artificial brightness here. The Caspian digs up bags of detail but presents it in a well ordered manner.
If I had to categorise the sound I would say it is on the warmer side of neutral. Music sounds somewhat bassier [sic] and grittier than rival amplifiers. For my tastes, this is a good thing as it means the music sounds more organic, more “live” and you can listen for hours on end without fatigue. At the same time the music is taut and rythmic, never becoming bloated or heavy.
The sound stage produced is very good with excellent separation of the channels. This is an amplifier that will get the very best from your speakers.
This is a fabulous amplifier which will delight you with its sound. Powerful enough to drive almost any speaker and with a nice character to its sound meaning it will be easy to match with other components. It looks very cool too. It retails for around £2000, but there are often open box or second hand deals to be had so keep your eyes peeled. I can highly recommend the Roksan Caspian M2.