(Review) Orchard Audio Starkrimson Mono Premium, Class D is Hifi

Class D gets a bad rap in the Hifi world, but is it still as bad as people once thought? Orchard Audio is among the ones who think it doesn’t deserve the reputation it has gotten over the years. They have created a few GaN Class D amps and are one of the pioneers of the tech. The Starkrimson Mono Premium is their latest GaN amp that provides 150 watts into 4 or 8Ω and will handle 2Ω loads. The small but mighty amps cost $1,249.95 (each) with free shipping within the U.S. What you get is a balanced monoblock that will push even fairly demanding speakers. So, does the Starkrimson shale the reputation of Class D, let’s find out.

Unboxing and Setup

Unboxing is fairly simple, yet the packing is very effective. My pair showed up in their respective boxes, and inside where the amps cradled in expanding packaging making them very secure and safe from damage in shipping. Once out you (if ordered) will have a power cord and the amp and you are ready to plug them into your speakers and preamp. They use balanced inputs and have completely balanced circuitry throughout. The binding posts are substantial and premium being WBT units. You can use all manner of speaker cables with these posts so what you have shouldn’t be an issue. Setup is literally just plugging them in and turning them on. They are true power amps that have no controls at all, which is my personal preference for power amps. I do like having some adjustments on my preamps, but I like it when power amps keep their circuit clean and avoid any additional user inputs.

orchard audio starkrimson mono premium


This is the part we are all hear for (see what I did there), how do they sound? They sound wonderful and dynamic with no harshness. They really do shake the reputation of Class D amps, and they are truly Hifi. They have good speed and attack, transients and details are plentiful. Leo from Orchard Audio has implemented the GaN technology masterfully and at a price point that is extremely compelling. If you don’t know what GaN is, it is Gallium Nitride, which is a material used in semiconductors that aims to maximize power throughput, meaning more of the power gets turned into music instead of heat.

orchard audio starkrimson mono premium

I used a variety of preamps to see how they perform as well as a variety of speakers. For Pre Amps I used the Arylic BP50, Marantz SR7009, and a combo no one would predict, the Viva Solistino. For speakers, I tried them with my Sonus Faber Sonetto V, Magnepan LRS+, and Acoustic Energy AE109. Every one of these combos offered a bit of a different sound and really showed how the Starkrimson Monos sounded in differing systems. My Favorite combo was the Viva Solistino and Sonus Faber Sonettos. The tubes provided some front-end warmth and the dynamics of the Sonetto V showcased what the Starkrimson is capable of sonically. With the Arylic and Magnepans, they were a bit to analytical and forward. I wouldn’t say harsh, but the combo leans towards bright, a touch too bright for me. Though that said they did power the hungry LRS+ very nicely offering great dynamics, one of the better low ends I have heard with my LRS+ so far, and very clear detail. With the Arylic and Sonus Fabers, the brightness was reeled in and the lush midrange presented, the sound softened and had a more laidback approach. The AE109s, with both the Marantz and Ayrlic as the preamp were pleasant and easy to listen to with good punch though a bit too warm for my preference.

My favorite combination, the Viva and Sonus Fabers with the Starkrimons had everything I was looking for with the other combos. Now I do not think too many people are going to use a Viva Solistino in this way, and even I would likely not do this regularly other than to try different gear out as I am always curious about how different setups would sound. The thing you are really buying with the Viva is the tube amplification, however, the tube pre-amp section is what I was interested in testing. If you have a tube pre you can get some incredible musical sound from the Starkrimson. It offered warmth and power. We see this quite a bit now with hybrid-integrated amps. As you get the tonality of tubes but the efficient power of solid state. High Power tube amps do exist and they are extremely expensive, even the Solistino retails for $22,500.00 in the U.S., and it is far from high power. So, if you have low-sensitivity speakers that you love but want tube sound, perhaps looking into a tube preamp and the Starkrimson Monos would be a good solution. I don’t want to compare the sound to the Viva as a power amp as it’s not really a fair comparison being very differently designed and priced amps. They use different technologies and topologies, the Viva being pure Class A tubes and the Starkrimson being a Class D solid State.

orchard audio starkrimson mono premium

When I compare the Starkrimson to other Class D amps I have and have heard it is one of the top contenders for me. You get premium sound, premium materials, and efficiency for a price that is extremely competitive. I recently Reviewed the Gold Note IS-10, which is an integrated Class D amplifier and these run about the same price, though you still need a preamp to use them. That said If I were buying, I would prefer the Starkrimson Monos for my money. They offer more power and benefit from being mono block chassis, eliminating any chance of cross-talk.

One of the first albums I sat down to really listen to was “The Sleeping Beuty” Composed by Tchaikovsky, Recorded on my copy is the Kirov Orchestra in St. Petersburg, conducted by Valery Gergiev. I played this on my Rotel CD-11 Tribute, and the sound was spectacular. The instruments were lively and musical, and the softer parts of the of the piece were handled with delicacy yet still dynamic even at their lower volumes. Crescendos had punch and energy that was exciting, which drew me into the music and made the presentation lifelike. The sound stage was large in every direction, creating a sense of spatial awareness and holographic sound. In the second act towards the end, the piece speeds up with the addition of the horns and becomes extremely dynamic, going from soft to loud quickly. The Starkrimsons handled it with poise, never breaking, or showing any sign of fatigue, nor did I. I did not use a subwoofer while listening to this album. I didn’t miss it, as the Starkrimsons have the power to move my four woofers on the Sonetto Vs with precision. The big bass drum was powerful and built a massive foundation for the rest of the instruments. This was a wonderful way to enjoy one of my favorite classical pieces.

orchard audio starkrimson mono premium

The next album I listened to was “Discovery” by Daft Punk, one of the all-time great albums. Discovery is a very energetic, exciting album that requires power to really deliver, and the Starkrimson answered the call. The bass throughout the whole album is punchy and fast meaning control is a priority. I was not disappointed with the sound from the Starkrimsons. This pair of pears delivers in spades, keeping pace without breaking a sweat. The high frequencies certainly don’t take a back seat though, with the synths and electronic effects present, even a bit forward. It is hard to judge the vocals on this album as they are not natural by design, with the manipulation to create that futuristic aesthetic Daft Punk is known for, that said they are very clear. The nuances in the music are also clear meaning you get all those transients and micro details.

To compare the Starkrimson to other power amps I have like the MC250 from McIntosh and the Nakamichi PA-5 Stasis, I would say I prefer the Starkrimson over my Nacamichi, they offer more power and better control over the bass, as well as speed. It is hard to say I prefer either with my vintage Mac as they both sound great but in different ways. The Mac has a warm old-school touch and maybe it’s just nostalgia but I wanted a Mac amp since I was young and owning one, it just does not disappoint. The Starkrimson on the other hand offers again, more power, contemporary tech, and a neutral tonality with gobs of clean power. I can’t get anywhere near distortion without the risk of hearing damage.

orchard audio starkrimson mono premium

Pros and Cons


  • Plenty of power
  • Clean power
  • Premium components
  • Runs cool
  • Attractive casework
  • Neutral


  • None at this pricepoint
  • Is not actually a pear you can eat


  • Fully balanced from input to output
  • Extremely low noise and distortion
  • Power output 150W into 8/4Ω
  • Gain 21.5dB
  • 2-ohm capable
  • Size: 11″ (26.9cm) x 6.1″ (15.5cm) x 3.1″ (7.9cm) – including binding posts

Associated Gear

  • Marantz SR7009
  • Arylic BP50
  • Viva Solistino
  • Sonus Faber Sonetto V
  • Magnepan LRS+
  • Acoustic Energy AE109
  • Audio Technica LP-7
  • Rotel CD-11
  • Audio Quest Power and interconnects, Prosper Cables Speaker Cables
  • Synergystic Research Foundation SX Power, Interconnects, Speaker cables, and conditioning.
  • Macbook Air M2
  • iPhone 14 Pro


I can wholeheartedly say that Class D is in fact Hifi, there is no reason for it to be a bad word anymore and the Starkrimson Mono Premiums are the proof. They are extremely compelling at their price point and offer wonderful sonic quality in a small and efficient package. I know it can be hard for some people to get into the smaller gear as it is less flashy, but don’t let the size fool you, it isn’t everything. You get more than you pay for with these amps in terms of performance, and they are versatile, allowing you to drive even power-hungry Magnepans with ease. The fit and finish is wonderful with the engraved logo on top and the sleek sloped profile. You get premium binding posts on the back as well as balanced inputs. I have seen more expensive amps that aren’t this nice. I really can’t think of anything negative to say especially when you consider the value you get for your money, they don’t leave me wanting for more or expecting more of them. Leo from Orchard Audio has done an excellent job implementing the GaN tech in these amps and his passion shows in the end product. Leo often has open houses at his building in New Jersey where he demos his various products and I highly recommend following them on Facebook to see when the next one is.

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