Michael Creek first made a name for himself back in the early eighties. It cost around GBP100 and shook the British hi-fi world to its very foundations, because it seemed much better than anyone could have anticipated given its modest price. A compact, slimline design housed in a hand-painted wooden sleeve, this little amp was not as well presented as the day's rival Japanese products, but one listen soon won over you.

The CAS4040 also set the blueprint to which Creek has worked ever since; you might say the business is somewhat tweaky, obviously specialist, although not too 'far out'. Precisely the same path has been walked by it for quite some time, making affordable, high performance products with the emphasis.

The Evolution collection is appropriately named. Here we are finding modest steps are taken by the business towards more comprehensive, mass appeal in a attempt to offer Creek values that are traditional . Which would be to state that the amps feel better and slicker finished, too as having more facilities. The obvious question is does the sound suffer? But more on this particular later...

The Evolution 100A seems just like its 50A. It works on the pressed steel case with brushed aluminium fascia, and two metal knobs that are largish supplying volume control and source selection. In the middle is a crisp, fine-pitch white-on-black OLED display which can be dimmed or turned off if needed.

One explanation for that is the Creek's possible FM tuner functionality. This doesn't come as normal, owners must purchase the Ambit plug in radio module that is discretionary (GBP125). It fits into the back panel's 'Smart-Slot' and replaces line input signal 5; when installed turning the amplifier into a receiver. The elective Sequel 2 module (GBP120) is a phonograph record phono phase that is plugged into a committed connector on the printed circuit board of the preamplifier. As normal, the 100A's preamp section offers balanced or unbalanced input signals, and has electronic volume, balance and tone controls.

There's a particular low impedance headphone amplifier section assembled into the preamp circuit board, as opposed to the usual expedient of taking the signal direct from the power amplifier. Multiple little capacitors are paralleled for low inductance and ultra low impedance. The Class G circuit generally runs at a lesser voltage up to 25W (into 8ohm), but automatically swings to a higher secondary voltage to improve output signal power (into 8ohm) when needed, says Creek. This helps the amplifier to run cooler and use less power. Two sets of loudspeaker output signals are fitted.

With twice the rated power output, and also a mains transformer that's a third larger, it comes as no real surprise that the 100A sounds more punchy and dynamic than its little brother. It's not that the 50A is sounding that is anaemic; it compares very well to its Arcam FMJ A19 price competition in this regard; it is only that the 100A seems less constrained when asked to drive loudspeakers that are hard to elevated degrees.

Sound quality

This really is among the most powerful amplifiers I have heard in the purchase price.

It doesn't out- punch at the gutsiest integrateds that are high-end, but certainly does not sound like a budget merchandise.

It's not just a bruiser, however. It's really a performer that is highly finessed, having an incredibly appealing nature that does not attract attention to any single section of the frequency band. Tonally it's clean and open but rounded. Cue up Kate Bush's Wow, just as it should be, and you're greeted with a warm and smooth sound. Her voice is carried attractively, with familiarity and actual delicacy. A lot of solid state amplifiers merely cannot do this, managing to lose the sense of intimacy the record offers, as well as freezing out the emotion also.

Another way the 100A betters its sib is its ability to carry multiple strands in the combination. Spin up The Teardrop Explodes' Treason, also it appears better in a position to cut through the densely layered and highly compressed record, to reveal individual instruments. There's a superior awareness of the space around those instruments too; the do not appear to be packed like sardines. It includes a commendably wide soundstage that stretches well from left to right. Within this, instruments are tightly situated; the power of the vocal line also impressed me.

Behind this, towards the trunk of the recorded acoustic guitar, there is a whole lot of subtle, low level detailing.

Provide the Creek some powerful electronic music in Kraftwerk's Musique Non Stop's form and it is in its component. This wonderfully clean record showcases the born foil of the design. Although lacking the out and out clarity of a price-no-object incorporated, it still does an excellent job communicating the music completely. The lilting bass transients do nothing to upset the Creek; it does not deflect the overall rhythmic flow one jot. One have heard lesser amplifiers get blown off course by the powerful drum work, but it keeps a clasp of it all, as you'd expect from a top integrated only at that cost. Rhythmically it's quite great indeed, giving an authoritative sound that consistently seems in management. It ties this in well with its fine order of dynamics also; this does not just mean when building as much as a huge crescendo, and going loud very fast when needed. In addition, it tracks micro dynamics well, thanks to its lithe and sprightly nature. Creek solid-state amplifiers have never not sounded musical, so it is not bad to understand that all the added functional sophistication hasn't robbed it of its birthright.

Really the only criticism you can level at it really is that it always puts on a face that is advanced when the music doesn't quite demand it. Go over to a tube amp a similarly priced, as an example, and you're going to get a more louche, psychological sound. The 100A, by contrast, keeps everything so well controlled that it merely can't quite undo its top button entirely. This really is most obvious on jazz music; as an example, the slippery beats of Lou Donaldson's Alligator Boogaloo reveal the Creek to be a terrific performer, yet it does not quite get into the groove in the manner that say a great tube amp can. Strong, clean, punchy and expressive, it isn't quite ready to let its hair down. Despite lacking the Creek's power, tonal unevenness, bass grasp, etc., in this regard a tube amp may seem better

Creek's last top end integrated - the Destiny 2 - was a fantastically beguiling listen that was a little soft with a few forms of music. It's a subtly different strategy, but finally more successful for today's buyer, I suppose. The acid test of this is, obviously, classical music, and a wonderfully capacious acoustic, falling back too, and stretching much left to right is duly served up by one's Grammophon recording of Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony. Within this, instrument positioning is outstanding, and individual sections seem competent to play entirely independently of whatever else is happening. Massed strings possess a full bodied and warm tone, with actual vibrancy, yet don't sound dull or opaque in any means. The amplifier tracks the song's dynamic swings convincingly, as well as the general effect is an extremely satisfying interpretation.

The Creek has few failings then, and it hides well what weaknesses it's.


They say it is hard to get a poor car today. That's as maybe, but it is products that get you think the same might be happening with hi fi! It is definitely no amplifier that is inexpensive, but it's truly multi-talented and gives a fantastic performance across the board. The concept of the new Evolution series is always to offer greater flexibility and refinement that is operational, while keeping sound quality that is serious. A year or so past, the 50A triumphed in this, and today the 100A goes farther still. Here is an incredibly adaptable yet highly realized sounding product; factor in the good standard of build and end, and it is difficult not to advocate. It's an important audition for all those looking for a superb sub- GBP2,000 integrated.

CREEK EVOLUTION 100A Amplifier photo