Roksan Caspian M2 Integrated Amp
Gold Note Pianosa Turntable with B5 arm and Ortofon Cadenza Red cartridge, Advance Paris X-CD1000 CD player, Audiovector SR3 Signature speakers, Titan Audio Chimera mains cables, Atlas Ascent interconnect and speaker cables.
The Roksan Caspian M2 is probably now one of their longest serving amplifiers. Roksan Audio was originally formed by Toufan Hamedi and Touraj Moghaddam and were based in Wembley, London however Touraj left a few years ago to set up Vertere ( cables and turntables) and the company recently was bought over by speaker manufacturer Monitor Audio.
The Caspian M2 sits in the middle of their amplifier ranges with the less expensive K3 their entry level model and the more expensive Blak range recently launched.
The Caspian M2 amplifier is available in both black and Silver finishes. It is a slim design but is a full width amplifier and is also quite deep. The front panel is clean with only an on off switch and a volume control and the design has remained the same since its launch despite a number of upgrades during the years.
Currently priced at £2000 the amp has been subtly upgraded over the years although still retains a similar look to the original model. It is a line stage amplifier with a pre out so you can add a power amplifier as an upgrade path if required. One of the better upgrades made was the addition of an XLR or balanced input. This is a true differential balanced input and not puedsu balanced so you will get a decent sonic improvement using the balanced input. The M2 has a healthy 85 watts per channel output and can increase to 125 watts per channel into 4ohms. The mains transformer is a low noise, high quality 350va transformer. It also has five line stage outputs and two pre -outs. It is also a relatively slim amplifier and while it is full width and quite deep is will easily fit into most shelves and still allow enough height for plenty of ventilation.
The rest of the Caspian range consists of a matching CD player, a preamp, a stereo power amp and mono block power amps.
For me this is still a good looking amplifier, the front panel is nice and clean and I do like the stainless steel top cover although it is a little bit flimsy for an amp of this price. It also comes with a decent remote with all the functions you need.
I remember listening to the K3 amplifier from Roksan and while it was punchy on rock music I was less enamoured with it on other types of music as I felt it could sound quite bright. However I have to say this was not the case with the Caspian M2 it seems to be very happy playing most types of music with no drama whatsoever. In many ways it sounded totally different to the K3 and certainly to my ears for the better. Its certainly not the most powerful amplifier on the market for £2,000 so the speaker choice is important but it should drive most models and types of speakers without too much of an issue. There is no phono stage which might upset some users and the lack of any digital inputs is certainly likely to an issue for many people and yes there is no bluetooth or streaming options so this is probably an old school amplifier rather than one which will appeal to everyone. However it is a really nice sounding amplifier and quite musical which I think certainly makes up for the lack of features and inputs.
While the M2 is musical I would not say that the amplifier is soft and cuddly in any way, more it is a rich sound and especially on acoustic, blues and jazz music and while its probably not an amp for out and out rock lovers and it has decent timing and certainly it played all of the music I normally listen to happily and without any issues.
This is a tricky one for me as I really like the sound of the M2 amplifier, it has both balanced (XLR) and single ended (RCA) snouts and you can upgrade it via the pre outputs. Its well made with a good remote and it plays all types of music so thats great. Well yes BUT!
This is a very hotly contested sector of the market and there are a huge number of very good integrated amps in this price point including both solid state, hybrid amplifiers and all valve designs, Many of these models have features the M2 dosen’t like built in phono stages, built in DAC’s ( digital to analogue converters) so you can attach digital sources and in some cases bluetooth receivers so you can stream music from your phone or tablet. There is even one which has a built in Wi Fi streamer so my concern is, maybe the Caspian is a bit too long in the tooth against these more modern amplifiers which seem to offer more facilities and to be honest also sound very good.
This is a bit of a conundrum for me as I do like this amplifier sonically and do prefer it to other amplifiers in this price range. Its also built in the UK which I like but I also feel its a bit outdated and I therefore have to mark it down for its lack of features and value for money despite all that.