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Integrated amplifier


Manufacturer: Creek Audio Ltd
Price (at the time of the test): 8300 PLN

12 Avebury Court | Mark Road
Hemel Hempstead | Hertfordshire
HP2 7TA | England


Product delivered for test by: AUDIO SYSTEM

don't even remember the last time I reviewed Creek's amplifier. I's been at least few years since I even held any Creek's device in my hands. During that time a whole new generation of EVO components was released and then the Evolution series evolved from it, first – in 2013 – an amplifier 50A, and in the second half of 2014 it's bigger brother, 100A. Both might be combined with CD Players, respectively models 50CD and 100CD.

Having the first look at it I couldn't resist the feeling, that Mike Creek, man behind the company for 34 years, was a fan of simple, unpretentious design. Evolution 100A, the one under review, kept a low profile of older models from Classic line, as well as of all even older ones. The thick, front panel (silver or black) sports just two knobs and eight buttons and that's it.

Despite the similarities with older models, this one, when plugged in, would quickly prove itself as a quite up-to-date, 2015 model. Namely, it sports a very nice large OLED display, that delivers information on volume level - in dBs and on graphic display – and a selected source. The other sign of its modernity is its open architecture, meaning it can be fitted with few different optional modules. This is a solution known, for example, from Accuphase products, but I rarely saw it in relatively inexpensive products, because implementation of such a solution isn't easy.

The 100A can be fitted with phonostage module called Sequel Mk2. Another option is the brand new AMBIT FM/AM RDS plug-in module. All the tuner-related information would be displayed on the above mention OLED display. Same slot, Line 5 actually, can be utilized to insert optional Ruby DAC.

Since this amplifier is controlled via microchip, it's functionality is significantly bigger than of most average amps. For example – display can be deemed or turned off, there is tone control at user's disposal, user gets to choose whether Line 3 and Line 4 work as classic line inputs or as „Direct” ones, that bypass preamplifier section of the device – this function will be useful when integrating Creek with home cinema system. And finally it is user's choice whether speakers outputs are cut off when he plugs headphones in (yes, the 100A sports a headphone output, too).


Apart from a more elaborated functionality this is one the most important changes for the bigger integrated amplifier of the new Creek's line Evolution – instead of traditional AB class power stage, 100A sports a G class one. It is an analogue amplifier, not a digital one, and yet it's been designed to minimize power consumption. Up to 25 W (at 8 Ω) power transistors are supplied with lower voltage. When more power is required system automatically increases the voltage. Designers assumed that for most time, most users use on the first few watts and these ones are the most important ones.

David Gamble’s – Creek's chief engineer – design is a version of a design known for years. Even though more people got to know it recently because of Arcam AVR600, and then also A49 and P49, in fact it is as old as 40 years. It wasn't commonly used though, as there was an issue of a smooth transition from one voltage to another. Arcam found their own solution, and Creek switches only between two voltages and managed to find a secure way to do it.

Taking into consideration tendencies on the market it seems that there will be more and more Class G amplifiers coming to market in the near future – high power output combined with low power consumption and low temperatures – that's the most likely future of, at least, relatively inexpensive amplifiers.

I assessed amplifier in my reference system but also with Chario Reflex Prima loudspeakers and Mogami NIII IC and speaker cable. As power cable I used Oyaide GPX-R V2 and Crystal Cable Absolute Dream. It pays off to put this amp on some high quality anti-vibration feet taking into consideration that one side is heavier than the other. I decided to use Franc Audio Accessories Ceramic Disc Classic.

Recordings used for this test (a selection)

  • Sing with the Voice of Melody, Stile Antico, Harmonia Mundi USA HMU 807650, SACD/CD (2015).
  • Aquavoice, Watermusic, Zoharum Records, “Master-tape copy”, CD-R (2015).
  • B.B. King & Eric Clapton, Riding With The King, Warner Bros./Audio Fidelity AF 211, “Limited Edition No. 0115”, SACD/CD (2000/2015).
  • Deep Purple, Now What?!, Edel Germany/Victor Entertainment VIZP-116, 2 x SHM-CD (2013).
  • Herbie Hancock, Maiden Voyage, Blue Note/EMI Music Japan TOCJ-90039, HQCD (1965/2008).
  • Macy Gray, The Way, Kobalt Label HMBT001CD, CD (2014).
  • Miles Davis & John Coltrane, The Complete Columbia Recordings 1955-1961, Sony Music 856222, 6 x CD (2011).
  • Rival Sons, Great Western Valkyrie, Erache Records/Hydrant Music QIHC-10059, CD (2014).
  • The Beatles, Abbey Road, Apple/Toshiba-EMI TOCP-51122, CD (1969/2000).
  • The Doors, The Best of the Doors, Elektra/Audio Fidelity AFZ5 206, “Limited Edition No. 0115”, SACD/CD (1973/2015).
Japanese CD editions are available from

Listening to the music with 100A is a pure fun. It offers an uncolored, clear, not edgy presentation that is also interesting and involving. Tonality is superb. I haven't found a single recording that would sound “suspicious”, meaning uncomfortably. This English amplifier emphasizes musical content of each recording which, if properly recorded, translates into a very pleasant experience that one feels when listening such albums. It worked great for me when I listened to Macy Gray The Way, which is surely a product made for mass market of music players and mp3 streaming, but also when I listened to a refined re-issue of Herbie Hancock Maiden Voyage, that I purchased from Japan on HiQualityCD.

The tonal balance is shifted towards bass – that is very clear. But it does not impact a very positive impression that one has listening to colorful, smooth sound. Bass offers nice clarity, it is resolving and nicely extended – as for an amplifier from this particular price range. So it seems that one does not have to afraid of the issue most systems at this price level have, meaning of a dry sound lacking richness – it does not happen with 100A. The upsides of this amplifier will work to user's advantage whenever he uses sources like a streamer or computer. In my experience at this price level sources using music files almost always lack proper richness and softness of lower midrange – Creek should take care of that. It won't fix issues of streaming but it will convince listener not to care about them, not to be bothered by them.

Bass is this element of the presentation one will notice at once and appreciate it. It is a deviation from a perfect tonal balance but it was done on purpose and in such a way that it does not have any negative “side effect”. One doesn't really feel like there is any emphasis in the sound. One plays any newly bought album knowing that one will be able to listen to the whole of it and not stop listening mid first piece to quickly sell the album on eBay.

I believe that such a perception of this presentation should be credited mostly to a very nice, very pure treble. It is this part of the whole frequency range that opens the sound at least enough for it not to be perceived as dark and “heavy”. I noticed that when I listened via headphones, especially via very demanding HiFiMAN HE-6, but listening using loudspeakers confirmed this observation. The above mentioned album of Macy Gray was produced to sound very energetic using compression and some other tricks. This, of course, makes the material less resolving, less dynamic and it looses some clarity too, but that's how music is produced nowadays. When it comes to listening to such recording on a high quality system then problems outweigh advantages. But if designer takes that into consideration he might be able to compensate that issue – just like they managed that in Creek.

And since I've already mentioned headphones... . Creek 100A is the second, or even third integrated amplifier that I reviewed recently, that offers a headphone output that is not just a nice addition to the main device, a a high quality device. The headphone amplifier offered with Creek can easily be used instead of any separate device that costs up to at least 3.000 PLN.

First thing I noticed was a fantastic tonal balance. This slight shift towards bass, that I noticed when listening using speakers, here existed only a richness of the lower end. Timbre seems very flat and sound very clean.

Headphone amp is able to deliver quite a lot of current, enough to drive nicely above mentioned, planar magnetic HE-6 cans. To do that I had to move volume control the the level of -6 dB (which is quite fine in this case), dynamics and timbre did not change a bit, there was no harshness to the sound, which is what you get from many headphone amplifiers when you push them to their limits.

Using dynamic cans gave similar results, similar tonal balance – that's great news. Sennheiser HD-800 delivered rich and very spacial sound – which is what they do when properly driven. That's why I believe that Creek is able to drive nicely any cans one chooses. I could suggest Oppo PM-3, or Audeze EL-8, to get a rich, creamy, smooth sound. If HiFiMAN or Sennheiser are chosen spacing, drive and transparency will become most important sound features. That's a great headphone amp!

What Creek does not offer if a deep insight into recording nor high energy of the presentation. Together with richness, density and good balance comes moderation, calm of the presentation. It does not exaggerate, it's not a real disadvantage but if one compares it with some Marantz, Denon, or Cambridge Audio (from the same price range) any of the latter with shake your pants off with their energy. But it often doesn't do them any good. That's why many amplifiers offered by those brands sound best when driving rather warm sounding speakers. Creek is a proposal for people who already have some experience in audio, who already know what they want/expect and who like to listen to music for hours. Genre doesn't really matter – classical, jazz, electronic or rock music – they all will sound well. But if I were to rank my favorite Creek's presentation the order would be as just given.


Creek 100A can hardly be called “inexpensive”. It doesn't look like cheap amplifier and its design and functionality clearly indicate that this is a product of a serious company, that cares for its customers. But the truth is also that 100A's small size and its look will appeal rather to those who don't need fancy looking systems. This one, unless it is turned on, is easy to miss.

But when one turns it on the sound will attract attention immediately as it suggests that what one hears is some big, powerful amp. Creek offers quite refined, rich sound with hefty bass and very clean treble. It is a proposition for those who want an amplifier for years, who don't get another audiophilia nervosa attack each time they see some shiny, fancy new model. Turning 100A in your system will be like putting on some very comfortable shoes and going for a lazy walk during warm, summer day.

When one takes Creek out from the box one has to be surprised by a dissonance between its small size (especially its height) and its weight. Significant weight is usually good news – at least as long as it is a classic amplifier with linear power supply, and not class D amp, the more weight the better. Large credit for 100A total mass goes to large, 360W toroidal transformer with few secondary windings. Preamplifier, power-stage and digital controlling circuits are all powered separately. What makes it different than most other amplifiers is its low profile. Creek, as in other its devices for years, used several small smoothing capacitors. Mike Creek says that smaller capacitors reload faster which increases their ability to deliver short current impulses. Such a capacitor bank has also smaller inductance and impedance than single large capacitors.


The front, aluminum panel is very simple and orderly, a yet it is user-friendly and highly functional. There are two large knobs, both different diameter and shape, one for volume control another for input selection. Volume control knob is placed bit too close to headphone output so once one plugs cans in manipulating this knob is bit tricky. It is easier to use remote control. The other know allows user to operate also device's menu – one has to push it first. One can get into the menu using a backlit button.

The buttons on the left side of a display control optional AM/FM tuner. On the right side one will find buttons to operate menu, tone and balance.


It is a really well equipped amplifier that even can be modified any time with optional modules. The basic version, that we received for this test, it sports 5 linear inputs with one of them giving user a choice of RCA or XLR sockets. This is an unbalanced design so the XLR input is there to make lives of those who need to use long interconnects easier. Signal, once it enters XLR input, is desymmetrized. An optional module with MC phonostage can replace input 1, module with D/A converter may replace input Line 5, and Line 3 and Line 4 are user-defined and might be used as direct inputs bypassing preamplifier section of 100A. This way Creek might be easily integrated with home cinema system, or some other kind of sound processor, external preamplifier, or it can be used with a source with adjustable output signal – this amp gives its user a lot of options.

At both sides of the rear panel one finds two pairs of loudspeaker binding posts - ‘A’ and ‘B’. User selects which one (or both at the same time) should be active in device's menu. There is also an IEC power inlet and pair of sockets that allow user to integrate more Creek devices. There is also a pre-out to use it with a second power amplifier or with subwoofer. Device's feet are made of plastic and rubber.


Creek for years has been using its own “species” of power amplifiers – they are push-pull type but quasi-complementary. They used the same type transistors in both halves, but with reversed phase for one of them (just like it's done in tube amplifiers). For 100A they returned to a classic solution, i.e. a complementary push-pull circuit but working in class G. Creek decided to use Darlington configuration (with two transistors and one diode) Sanken STD03P + STD03N, two pairs for each channel. Model 50A sports one pair per channel. The output stage is based on transistors, and the PCB sports nice Wima capacitors.

Sankens are bolted to a large radiator that also separates power stage for a preamplifier. The latter is placed on a separate PCB mounted next to the rear panel of the device. Signal selection is executed using relays, than signal is attenuated in JRC resistor ladder. This element allows also to use balance and tone control. The same PCB sports a slot that allows connecting an optional phonostage module.
Next to Line 4 there is JRC 5480 chip that desymmetrizes balanced input signal. Line 5 input is placed on a separate, small PCB. It can be replaced with an optional DAC module.

Power supplies are placed on both PCB – the one with power stage and the one with preamplifier section. The large resin-potted toroidal transformer is bolted to the chassis using a Teflon washer/insert which significantly reduces vibration. There are few groups of filtering capacitors on PCBs, separately for each channel of the power section, and separately for preamp and controlling circuits. The wiring of the speakers posts for left and right channels differ in length and RCA sockets are not gold-plated – these are the only weaknesses I could point out. The rest of the design is excellent.

Remote control

The plastic remote control one receives together with the amplifier works not only with 100A but also with Creek's CD Player. Not only Creek's but with any using Philips' RC5 protocol – my own Ancient Audio Lektor AIR V-edition also reacted to the commends. Despite large number of buttons I managed to learn how to use it quickly – seems to be quite intuitive.

Specifications (according to the manufacturer)

Power output:
• >110 W/8 Ω
• >170 W/4 Ω
Output impedance: <0.05 Ω/20 Hz – 20 kHz
THD: < 0.002%
SNR: >102 dB – Line inputs
Frequency response: 10 Hz – 100 kHz (+/- 2 dB, Line outputs)
Gain: 33.3 dB (x46)
Input impedance: 410 mV
Crosstalk: -80 dB/1 kHz
Offset DC: < +/-10 mV
• at idle - <20 W
• full power – 500 W/p>

Polish distributor:


tel.: (22) 662-45-99 | fax: (22) 662-66-74



- Turntable: AVID HIFI Acutus SP [Custom Version]
- Cartridges: Miyajima Laboratory KANSUI, review HERE | Miyajima Laboratory SHILABE, review HERE | Miyajima Laboratory ZERO (mono) | Denon DL-103SA, review HERE
- Phono stage: RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC, review HERE

- Compact Disc Player: Ancient Audio AIR V-edition, review HERE
- Multiformat Player: Cambridge Audio Azur 752BD
- Line Preamplifier: Polaris III [Custom Version] + AC Regenerator, regular version review (in Polish) HERE
- Power amplifier: Soulution 710
- Integrated Amplifier: Leben CS300XS Custom Version, review HERE

- Stand mount Loudspeakers: Harbeth M40.1 Domestic, review HERE
- Stands for Harbeths: Acoustic Revive Custom Series Loudspeaker Stands
- Real-Sound Processor: SPEC RSP-101/GL
- Integrated Amplifier/Headphone amplifier: Leben CS300XS Custom Version, review HERE
- Headphones: HIFIMAN HE-6, review HERE | HIFIMAN HE-500, review HERE | HIFIMAN HE-300, review HERE | Sennheiser HD800 | AKG K701, review (in Polish) HERE | Ultrasone PROLine 2500, Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro, version 600 - reviews (in Polish): HERE, HERE, HERE
- Headphone Stands: Klutz Design CanCans (x 3), review (in Polish) HERE
- Headphone Cables: Entreq Konstantin 2010/Sennheiser HD800/HIFIMAN HE-500, review HERE

- Portable Player: HIFIMAN HM-801
- USB Cables: Acoustic Revive USB-1.0SP (1 m) | Acoustic Revive USB-5.0PL (5 m), review HERE
- LAN Cables: Acoustic Revive LAN-1.0 PA (kable ) | RLI-1 (filtry), review HERE
- Router: Liksys WAG320N
- NAS: Synology DS410j/8 TB
System I
- Interconnects: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-DA6300, review HERE | preamplifier-power amplifier: Acrolink 8N-A2080III Evo, review HERE
- Loudspeaker Cables: Tara Labs Omega Onyx, review (in Polish) HERE
System II
- Interconnects: Acoustic Revive RCA-1.0PA | XLR-1.0PA II
- Loudspeaker Cables: Acoustic Revive SPC-PA

System I
- Power Cables: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9300, all system, review HERE
- Power Distributor: Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu Ultimate, review HERE
- Power Line: fuse &#8211; power cable Oyaide Tunami Nigo (6m) &#8211; wall sockets 3 x Furutech FT-SWS (R)
System II
- Power Cables: Harmonix X-DC350M2R Improved-Version, review (in Polish) HERE | Oyaide GPX-R (x 4 ), review HERE
- Power Distributor: Oyaide MTS-4e, review HERE
- Stolik: SolidBase IV Custom, read HERE/all system
- Anti-vibration Platforms: Acoustic Revive RAF-48H, review HERE/digital sources | Pro Audio Bono [Custom Version]/headphone amplifier/integrated amplifier, review HERE | Acoustic Revive RST-38H/loudspeakers under review/stands for loudspeakers under review
- Anti-vibration Feets: Franc Audio Accessories Ceramic Disc/ CD Player/Ayon Polaris II Power Supply /products under review, review HERE | Finite Elemente CeraPuc/ products under review, review HERE | Audio Replas OPT-30HG-SC/PL HR Quartz, review HERE
- Anti-vibration accsories: Audio Replas CNS-7000SZ/power cable, review HERE
- Quartz Isolators: Acoustic Revive RIQ-5010/CP-4

- FM Radio: Tivoli Audio Model One