Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past year, you know the venerable Orion brand has a new owner in MD Audio Engineering. You may have also noticed that MD is quickly restoring the brand to its former glory, with high performance, quality products at affordable prices. Among the most affordable of the company’s new amplifiers is the Cobalt Series, and this time we’re looking at the Cobalt CB2400.1D monoblock amp, which has a suggested retail price of only $185.50.
Designed to make plenty of power in any speaker load from four ohms down to one, the CB2400.1D represents a great value in the marketplace. It's a good looking piece with a backlit logo on an extruded aluminum alloy chassis, and a conventional double-ended connection and control layout. On one end of the amplifier are the power and speaker connections, which accept four- and eight-gauge cables respectively, as well as four 25 A ATC fuses used to protect the amp from inadvertent over-current situations. On the opposing end are the input connections and signal controls. The CB2400.1D is equipped with RCA connections for signal input, output and special in/out connections to bridge two of the amps together. Between these connections are controls for gain, a switchable subsonic filter, switchable phase, a variable crossover, and up to 18 dB of bass boost at 45 Hz.
With the Cobalt amp connected to my reference listening system and a pair of four ohm, 12-inch woofers wired in parallel, I make a few preliminary adjustments and sit down to put the CB2400.1D through its paces. Not surprisingly, the Orion amp shows that it has a lot of headroom in the power department, and easily handles most tracks at any volume without getting hot. Even power hungry, dynamic tracks like the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s Fanfare for the Common Man and California Projects I Get Around were no sweat for the Cobalt.
While gobs of power is always fun, a good amp has to sound good as well. Carefully listening to Level 42’s Physical Presence and Don Dorsey’s Toccata in D Minor, the amp does a decent job in handling the synthesizer dynamics of Level 42 and Dorsey’s pipe organ. At the end of the session, I think the CB2400.1D sounds very good. There’s plenty of power for an entry level amplifier.
ON THE BENCH
On the test bench, I run the amp through the usual battery of tests it performs admirably. Although my measured power numbers fall a bit shy of the published specs, the performance of the CB2400.1D actually exceeds my expectations for an amp at this price – even when I work it hard, it simply keeps delivering power. Overall efficiency is excellent, even at fractional power levels. I check all the protection circuits, and even do some nasty things like dead shorting the outputs at high power (don’t try this at home. I’m a trained professional with a lot of experience and insurance); in every case, no matter what I do, the amp protects instantly and works fine after the problem is removed. This should prove to be a reliable amplifier.
The Cobalt CB2400.1D is a well-made amp with plenty of features. Add good sound and what seems like bulletproof reliability, and you really can’t ask for much more. For less than 200 bucks, this could be one of the best deals out there.
There’s even the option of buying two and bridging them for even more power! If you’re looking for a lot of bottom end power for very little dough, get over to an Orion dealer and check out the Cobalt series of amplifiers.