Roksan Caspian M2

With its tuneful performance and natural detail, the Caspian M2 is lined up to be the perfect hi-fi partner

Roksan started out in turntables, but quickly diversified into amplifiers and the Caspian name goes back a long way in the company’s history. This particular iteration is in outline specification, your completely average integrated amplifier circa 2010, with six line inputs, an 85-watt nominal output and no funny business at all, unless you count the deeply funky touch-screen remote control. The appearance is distinctive, though, with that stainless steel top panel and as you’ll expect if you know the maker, there are a few interesting touches inside.

The most obvious of those, after removing the cover, is the pair of mains transformers which between them take up the left half of the chassis. The big one, of course, powers the output stage, but while plenty of amps have a second tiny transformer to keep remote-control-receiver circuits powered up in standby, the Caspian M2 has a substantial 60VA unit dedicated mainly to powering the preamp portion of the amp. It’s a thoughtful touch and apart from any extra quality it may confer on the main (loudspeaker) outputs it should also maximise the quality from the dual preamp outputs at the rear of the unit.

The heatsink is quite big and will manage on its own under most conditions. Beyond it sits the main circuit boards, generously filled with smoothing capacitors for the multiple power supply rails and equipped with relays for input switching. A single balanced input is available at the back, a nice touch.

Sound quality

In what you’ll already have gathered was a very strong group, this amplifier seems to have been one of the best liked by our listeners. Significantly, it put the most emphatic tick in one box that some seemed a little reluctant to address: the bass. In the lowest two or three octaves it seems to have the lot, with extension, power, drive and tuning all just where one wants them. It kept things visceral in rock and classical tracks alike and allowed the full character of low instruments to shine through.

That’s not to say that the higher frequencies were less than satisfying and the treble was thought very clear and open. The midrange is neutral too, although just occasionally it can be a touch overwhelmed if the bass gets particularly busy. This does have one unfortunate effect in that vocals can sometimes become a little less easy to understand than via other amps. All the same, it’s not so common that vocals are underscored by really heavy bass and under most circumstances this is just not an issue.

Discrimination between different instruments of similar range and weight is excellent. And, perhaps most importantly, there’s that essential ‘you are there’ touch that keeps one listening and enthralled past bedtime. The combination of detail, imaging and overall solidity is a potent one and makes a strong case for the Caspian M2.

LIKE: Excellent bass, solid, extended, rhythmic and tuneful; very good detail and imaging
DISLIKE: Midrange can sometimes be subservient to the bass
WE SAY: Produces sound of almost tangible naturalness  

DETAILS
Origin: UK
Weight: 13kg
Dimensions: (WxHxD) 435x70x330
Features:
• Inputs: 6 line level (one balanced/unbalanced)
• Tape output
• Dual preamp outputs
• Single speaker outputs
• Nominal power: 85W
Distributor: Henley Designs
Telephone: 01235 511166
Website: roksan.co.uk