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Theta Digital Casablanca V Music and Cinema Controller (Gear Review)

THEATER BYTE REVIEW

It has been exactly three years since I weighed in on the Theta Digital Casablanca IVA and, during the interim, the Amplifiers Technology, Inc. team has not been resting on its collective laurels. Casablanca controllers have been manufactured for the past quarter-century and if you look at the chassis’ front panel, the only difference that you are likely to notice between the new Theta Digital Casablanca V and its predecessor the IVA is the logo on the upper left corner.

See what Widescreen Review has to say about the Casablanca IVa

Issue 245 of Widescreen Review

Theta Digital Casablanca IVa Immersive Sound Preamp/Processor

By Doug Blackburn

 

“The Casablanca Delivers Exceptional, Pristine Audio From Digital Sources.”

THETA DIGITAL CLASS D MONOBLOCK: $12,00/PAIR

Joining the growing ranks of class-D amplifiers with perfectionist aspirations, the Theta Prometheus combines the Hypex Ncore NC1200 module developed by noted class-D specialist Bruno Putzeys with a linear power supply designed by Theta’s own David Reich (The latter-or at least its enormous toroidal transformer-accounts for the amps’ 54.5-lb weight,) Specs include 500WPC, less than 0.001% THD+N at 1W, and an output impedance said to be extremely low. According to LG, “The most striking things about the Prometheus’s sound were its huge dynamic range and bass impact.” He also noted that “The Prometheuses projected a broad, detailed, involving, three-dimensional soundstage,” and “the midrange response blossomed when my [Quad ESL-989] speakers were driven by the Thetas.” LG’s conclusion: “My last impression of the Prometheus was the same as my first: It’s one of the best sounding amplifiers I’ve heard in my listening room. “Following the Theta’s time on his test bench, JA wrote, “The measured response of Theta Digital’s Prometheus is superb, even for an amplifier with a class-D output stage.

Vol.38 No.3 WWW

Stereophile

THETA DIGITAL DREADNAUGHT D: $6,149.95 AND UP

The Dreadnaught D is the fourth model in Theta Digital’s Dreadaught series-hence the D, which also refers to the output stages class of operation. The D uses Hypex NCore modules, coupled not with a switch-mode power supply but with a distinctly robust supply of more traditional design and construction. Hence this class-D amp’s atypical size and weight: 17.5 inches W by 7.9 inches H by 19.6 inches D, and 98.6 lbs. A modular design, the Dreadnaught D can be had with up to eight channel of 225W each; according to KR, the 225Wx5 sample Theta Digital sent us “not only sounded good, it sounded right.

Vol.39 No.3 WWW

Stereophile

Dreadnaught D

“…Theta Digital’s Dreadnaught D not only sounded good, it sounded right. I could–and in my next column, I will–pick away at the things that distinguish it from other amps. But from the moment I turned it on, I’ve been smiling. The Dreadnaught D is really quiet and very dynamic, and sounds consistent at any output level. And there’s nothing about its sound that says digital-even though all my sources are.

I’ll have more to say about the Dreadnaught D after we’ve lived together for a couple more months,. But for now, “Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

(Read the Full Story Here)

Kalman Rubinson

Stereophile, March 2016

Casablanca IV

Theta Digital owner gives the upgraded Casablanca IV an A+.

(Read the Full Story Here)

AVS FORUM

May, 2014

Prometheus Amplifier

My last impression of the Prometheus was the same as my first: It’s one of the best-sounding amplifiers I’ve heard in my listening room. Seven months after I began listening to it, its soundstaging, imaging, depiction of detail and speed and slam, and its exciting dynamic contrasts remain totally addictive. I give it my strongest recommendation for inclusion in Class A of Stereophile’s “Recommended Components.”

(Read the Full Story Here)

Larry Greenhill

STEREOPHILE, March 2015

“I was elated by the smoothness and effortless nature of the amps power capabilities. The soundstage is enormous and its noise floor is extremely low.

I found the bottom end on analog playback to be punchy and well controlled, the midrange detailed with high amounts of texture reproducing instruments such as guitars and drums, and the top end well balanced.

I thought the amps helped produce an amazing amount of micro-dynamics with the bass exuding a nice attack and lots of fullness, plus a gigantic soundstage.

…the Prometheus represents a fantastic way to provide a state-of-the-art design that delivers state-of-the-art sound quality.”

(Read the Full Story Here)

Robert Archer

CE Pro, December, 2014

Joe Palenchar discusses the new Theta Digital’s new Prometheus amplifier.

(Read the Full Story Here)

Joe Palenchar

TWICE, February 2012

Brent Butterworth discusses the new Theta Digital’s new Prometheus amplifier.

(Read the Full Story Here)

Brent Butterworth

Sound and Vision, January 2012

Casablanca IIIHD

Casablanca IIIHD DIRAC Live digital room correction daugther board. The Dirac Live system reduces the effects of early room reflections and improves the clarity and bass response in the listening room.

(Read the Full Story Here)

Robert Kozell

Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity, January 2012

Casablanca IIIHD DIRAC Live digital room correction daugther board.

(Read the Full Story Here)

Joe Palenchar

TWICE, February 2012

Widescreen Review

January 2012

As they rightly said, it is the best $4K you can spend to improve the sound of your system. If you have a Theta processor, it is a must have upgrade in my opinion.

(Read the Full Story Here)

Amir M

AVS Forum, January 2012

Unlike many pre/pros, this one is completely configurable, with circuit-board slots that can be populated by a variety of available modules, including three different digital-to-analog converters (DACs), one 12-channel digital-audio output module, two analog-audio input modules, and audio DSP. (Read the Full Story Here)
Scott Wilkinson

UltimateAVMAg.com, February 2011

Compli Blu Universal Transport

Using versatility and performance as yardsticks, this new model from Theta Digital potentially, at least, comes near the top of the list and, perhaps, at the absolute pinnacle.

(Read the Full Hi-Fi Choice Compli Blu Review Here)

Reviewed by Alvin Gold in Issue 337

August 2010

Generation VIII Series 2

“…the Theta Gen. VIII Series 2 is about as good as it gets.” Click here to read the complete review.
Jason Victor Serinus

Enterprise Amplifier

“An enterprising addition to the roll-call of ball-breaking, US-made high-end power amplification”

“It was clear from the outset that it is a great solid state amplifier, among the best we’ve ever encountered. In the first place, it has an airy and open cleanliness, and an unusual ability to paint wide open spaces, the subtle sound of a large concert hall for example. In this area, the Enterprise has few peers.”

“The immediate impression was that the Theta delivers a more expansive soundstage, and a subtly darker, richer tonality… Theta’s low frequency voicing has a touch of richness and muscularity…there was a loose-limbed quality in the way it worked that somehow seemed better able to convey a feeling of relaxation and ease when the music called for these qualities. A great amplifier then – and a true individual.”

Alvin Gold

Hi-Fi Choice Special Collector's Edition "In-depth reviews of the world's finest hi-fi" October 2005 Issue 272

Casablanca III

“… leave all the limits in the rear-view mirror. This home theater system is nothing less than an assault on the current state-of-the-art.”

“Few products have enjoyed such a long run at the top as Theta’s Casablanca, which has been the high-end choice in a digital controller for years.”

“The ‘Blanca signature is a miraculous blend of resolution, powerful dynamic contrast, and smooth natural, undigital textures. Like the best components, its main strength may be that it sounds less like a component, allowing the program material to be experienced in full..”

Shane Buettner, Neil Gader, Robert Harley, Chris Martens, and Jonathatn Valin

The Perfect Vision( Issue 62 July/August 2005)

“With the introduction of the Six Shooter, Theta has created a unique, elegant and affordable solution for those who are serious about both film and the highest resolution music available.”

“Marrying soundtracks and hi-rez music within the same system-treating each optimally while maintaining ease of use-is a thorny challenge. Controllers subject vulnerable analog signals to a noisy digital environment, and no controller I know of supports more than one multichannel source. High-quality stereo preamps and multichannel linestages can serve as pure analog adjuncts to controllers, but this a costly, cumbersome approach.”

“Enter the Six Shooter, a passive multichannel “robot” preamplifier that connects to and takes direction from a Casablanca controller. Because the two are interconnected, integration is seamless from the user perspective. Yet because they’re separate, each signal type is treated to an optimal environment.”

“Theta liberated resources for performance and connectivity by eliminating spending on superfluous aesthetics and functionality. Volume changes, though under the Casablanca’s command, are actually effected by high-grade metal-film resistors within the Six Shooter.”

“The … goods to perform well beyond its price point.”

“…no question that the Six Shooter represents a brilliant-and so far unique-solution to a real-world problem.”

AVguide.com,February/March 2005, by Alan Taffel, Contributing Writer

The Absolute Sound and The Perfect Vision

“Expensive*, but with the Six Shooter option, Theta’s high-end processor facilitates high-quality multichannel audio.”
Hi - FiNews

January 2005

“Only Theta offers a separate, high-grade ‘robot’ multichannel analog preamp for its top digital controller. Analog signals benefit from metal-film resistor volume adjustment and an environment unpolluted by digital noise. The Casablanca controls input, level, and balance in a completely seamless, integrated manner. Thus far, this is the most elegant (and affordable*) approach to combining the very best of music and film audio.”
AVguide.com's CES 2005 Report CONTROLLERS, MULTICHANNEL PREAMPS & AMPS By Alan Taffel, Contributing Writer

The Absolute Sound and The Perfect Vision

“Theta’s Citadel is a massive, powerful, gorgeously sculpted solid-state monoblock with the liquid, musical soul of a tube amp. Based on a zero-feedback circuit design, the citadel reveals layer upon layer of transparency with a deep and sensationally focused soundstage. The bass is extended and powerful, the midrange is pure and naturally resolved, and the top is extraordinarily clean and detailed. The Citadel sounds pure and natural and offers no hint of the mechanical sound that betrays some solid-state contenders. A statement product in every way.”
Reviewed by AHC Issue 138 ofThe Absolute Sound

October/November 2004

Casablanca III & Dreadnaught II

“There is nothing quite like the emotional impact of the huge pictures provided by front-projection video displays (whether based on three big tubes or a solid-state digital-light-processing or liquid-crystal-display chip). When the hero and heroine go into a clinch, you can feel your heart beating faster. These giant images need appropriately scaled-up surround sound.”

“Once again, you’ve graduated to a higher level… Theta Digital’s Casablanca III preamplifier/processor and Dreadnaught II 10-channel amp.”

Mark Fleischmann

Casablanca III

“To give you some examples of how our editorial staff would assemble complete home-theater systems as price levels ranging from $3147 to more than $205,000, we’ve put our heads together and come up with the following recommendations.”

“…the products we’ve chosen are, in our collective opinion, the performance and value leaders in their categories.” For the “Best of the Best” of their 7 recommended Complete Home Systems: “To drive your surround system, we once more recommend the nonpareil Theta Casablanca controller” (Casablanca III Xtreme DAC version)

The Perfect Vision

July & August 2004 issue

Citadel Amplifier

Shane Buettner reviews Citadel Monoblock amplifiers. He says: “They have layers of front to back depth, resolution and utterly convincing image focus and dimensionality.”

“Other components in your system will set the sonic boundaries of the soundstage, not these amplifiers.”

“…with a sound that is just impossibly sweet and purely musical for an amplifier that’s this revealing and high in resolving power.”

“Taking nothing away from my Dreadnaughts, for the first time since I’ve had them there was a let down switching back to my reference amps! I say that takes nothing from the Dreadnaught because we’re talking about a competitor that’s got more in common than not, and costs substantially more. You’d be unlikely to perceive the shortcomings of the Dreadnaught except in direct comparison to the Citadels.”

“The Citadels are the finest amplifiers I’ve had in my system, period.”

“…and the Citadels are an astounding aesthetic achievement to boot. Perhaps the best way I can make my feelings clear is this: if I could afford them I’d buy the Citadels in a heartbeat and I wouldn’t look back.”

(download PDF file, 1.34 MB)

Richard Hardesty

A note from Richard Hardesty: "The Theta Citadels are the best amplifiers I've heard."

Dreadnaught II Amplifier

Tom Norton reviews the Dreadnaught II amplifier. Under the heading “Sound” he says: “With DVD soundtracks, the Theta was impossible to fault…no detail seemed neglected or overemphasized. The sound was both dynamic and forgiving. Instruments and voices had a natural warmth through the midbass and a natural presence in the midrange.”

“The Dreadnaught II’s treble was convincingly detailed…I consider the Dreadnaught II to be a worthwhile improvement over its predecessor, which for two years was one of the top-rated amplifiers in our annual March/April ‘Recommended Components’ issue.”

(download PDF file, 288 kB)

Stereophile Guide to Home Theater

Editors' choice platinum award to Theta Dreadnaught II, January 2004

Reviewer Steve Smallcombe: “I bought the Dreadnaught II in a seven-channel configuration while reviewing it, and it is now serving as my reference amplifier for reviewing other components…”
Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity

Generation VIII

Dr. Kal Rubinson says in his review. “No electronic component has so transformed my stereo system, or made such an emotional impact on me.”

(download PDF file, 1.4 MB)

Stereophile

February 2004

“The trouble with building an instant classic like the Theta Dreadnaught is coming up with an encore. Like the original Dreadnaught, the Dread II is fully balanced with zero global feedback. The new model delivers more power and impact, along with better low-end authority and control.”
SB

TPV Issue 46

“Theta’s Citadel is one of those amps that seem to shine with any speaker or cable. This sculpted aluminum tower’s strengths include spot-on tonal balance, superior resolution, tremendous dynamic poser, deep taut bass, and highs that are detailed without exaggeration. Its overall tonal character is warm, with a natural midband and realistic soundstage.”
AHC

Issue 138

Intrepid Amplifier

Reviewer Bill Roberts says: “The thing that strikes me with the intrepid is balance. All of the loudspeakers finally sound “right”…how a helicopter seamlessly moves through space over your head. This was not achieved with other setups. The balance of this amplifier is amazing! The naturalness of the sounds are really startling.”

“…highly recommended for the price…”

Enjoythemusic.com

Kalman Rubinson exults in, “the sweet, clear, grain-free sound from the midrange up through the extreme treble, which reveals human and instrumental voices with delectable precision and presence. …the Intrepid gave the Paradigm Reference Studio/60s and Studio/20s all the low frequencies they could handle. Indeed, the Intrepid smoothed the integration of the low bass and midbass.”

“The Intrepid made every multichannel mix seem more alive, with more of a feeling of a real event.”

“… the Intrepid’s clarity and liquidity, particularly from the midrange up, are world-class.”

“… the Intrepid’s excellent tonal balance and dynamics were apparent as well. It is one of the most subtly transparent power amplifiers I have auditioned.”

Stereophile

July 2002

Citadel Amplifier

Jonathan Scull, under the heading ‘Sound’, proclaims “… a woman’s voice floats way back in the soundstage. The first time I heard it, I wanted to dive into that soundstage to inform this woman that I was the guy she was singing about, grab her, and…er, give her a big hug.”

“… I noted that affinity for beautiful, grainless female vocals and a full and lovely midrange… I turned the volume up. Then the Citadels hauled off and gave it to me, top to bottom, in a manner most remarkable-the bass… took on a dynamic, articulate, detailed, and powerful sound at higher volumes that was just splendid.”

“J.S. Bach’s Adagio… made the hairs on my neck stand straight up. The air, the emotion, the microchanges in volume and the sounds of bow on string-it all made my heart race with pleasure.”

“… a certain litheness, delicacy, and transparency in the Citadel’s reproduction.”

“…and the Citadel was superb, just superb.”

“Heaven.”

Stereophile

May 2002

Intrepid Amplifier

Ken Kessler writes, “Aaah, bliss.”

” …I found myself wondering if maybe, just maybe, DVD-A might not suck after all.”

“My verdict? Let’s just say that I’m buying an Intrepid.”

Hi-Fi News

December 2001

Dreadnaught Amplifier

Class 2 – Best Buy
The Absolute Sound

June/July 2002 - CenterStage & Recommended Systems

2001 Golden Ear Awards
The Absolute Sound

January 2002

John E. Johnson, Jr. said, “Tchaikovsky would have loved to hear a recording of his music on the Dreadnaught.” and concluded:

“Like the Casablanca II, the Theta Dreadnaught is state of the art technology and extremely high quality. It delivers as much power as you, your speakers, and the wall studs, can handle. It is reasonably priced for what you get, and you get a lot. A highly recommended product.”

Secrets of Home Theater & Hi-Fi

December 2001

Nigel Pond said, “So how does the Dreadnaught sound? In a word: stupendous, amazing, mind-blowing, astonishing! OK that’s several words but I think you get the idea: I really, really, like this amp… a lot.”
SMR Home Theatre

August 2001

Contact Us

Theta Digital
1749 Chapin Road
Montebello CA 90640
USA

Phone: +1 (323) 278-0001