Halcro Eclipse Stereo Power Amplifier Page 2

Cabling between the two housings is hidden in the uprights, which also disperse heat from the relatively cool-running FET power amplifier. Connections on the rear of the top (amplifier) case accept unbalanced RCA or balanced XLR inputs, plus extra RCAs offering a half-gain mode with a very low 660ohm input impedance. The speaker cable terminals are chunky combination spade/banana types. Power output is given as 180W/8ohm, and 350W a side into 4ohm, with extensive protection built-in against accidental short-circuit, over-current, DC offset, mains transients and quite possibly possum attack – Halcro has always been big on protecting its amps from users. Finally, the whole thing weighs a substantial 62kg, so is a two-man lift as you shuffle it into position.

sqnote H Is For Heroic
For all its claims, the Eclipse Stereo genuinely delivers on its promises – so much so that a note of caution is in order. Most amplifiers produce a little (white) noise, which can be heard with an ear close to a tweeter with no music playing, but with this one there really is nothing, just silence. As a result, some care is required with the volume control on first acquaintance – full-force music just appears from nowhere when it starts playing, so it really could take you, and your speakers, by surprise.


The mains IEC socket and AC switch is located under the lower (PSU) enclosure – a red LED illuminates until the 'air pressure' switch under the upper (amplifier) enclosure is depressed. A blue LED indicates full operation

Get the measure of how this happens, however, and the Eclipse Stereo is an absolute delight: used between the Aurender W20SE [HFN Mar '23], dCS Vivaldi APEX and Bowers & Wilkins 801 D4s [HFN Nov '21], the Eclipse produced a sound as compelling as it was startling. With Fred Hersch and Esperanza Spalding's Alive At The Village Vanguard [Palmetto Records PM2007], I was immediately taken by the intimacy of the sound, and the sheer enjoyment as Spalding speaks and sings her way through 'Girl Talk', interacting with the very present audience, as much felt during the music as heard when it reacts. Striking, too, is the way this amplifier renders the timbres of voice and piano, which is both delicate and totally revealing.

Drama King
Even with a denser mix, such as Adam Lambert's lush High Drama [Much is More Records, 5054197308642], which has a sound befitting its title, the Eclipse gives the singer's voice absolute focus on his take on Culture Club's 'Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?' while still giving the accompaniment full value. And with his version of Noël Coward's 'Mad About The Boy' the performer is superbly delineated centre-stage, just as intended!

The other immediate impression this amplifier creates is one of massive power held under ruthless control, as is evidenced by conductor Gustavo Dudamel's self-released Wagner sampler with the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela [48kHz/24-bit, via qobuz.com]. The way the amplifier hints at the drama about to be unleashed in the low opening chords of the 'Götterdämmerung' prologue is spine-chilling, but don't be too tempted to turn up the volume to listen even more closely as the final, explosive power will quite possibly rearrange your furniture. There's glorious fluidity in the brass and woodwind, and the violins as they take up the theme, with the building of volume as the orchestra swells just totally natural. It's thrilling stuff.

Halcro Eclipse Brochure v2.1

Lattice-like side cheeks improve heatsinking airflow and provide access to the numerous bolts clamping the lower PSU and upper amplifier cases in place

Caution To The Wind
All that clout and control also serves the driving beats and multiple layers of Bonobo's 'Otomo', from his Fragments album [Ninja Tune, ZENDNL 279]. The bass is tight, but oh so deep, and the ethereal vocal both clear and distant. Want the full deep house experience? Go on, then – crank the volume: it just gets louder, with no smear or loss of definition, but just great big pounding beats, the higher percussion clattering excellently above the low stuff, fizzing and buzzing electronica and a totally unstoppable drive. If your speakers can take it, the Eclipse will seemingly do it.

On which subject, at this point in my listening notes there's a telling line: it says, 'I don't think I've ever heard these big B&Ws driven so convincingly', and that's going some given the range of amplification we've heard fronting the 800 D4 series Diamond flagships in PM's listening room. Here, under the total control of the Halcro Eclipse Stereo, I got the impression they were really doing what they were built to deliver.

But the musical thrills kept on coming, deepening my affinity for this remarkable amplifier. With The Sixteen's latest release, A Watchful Gaze, on its Coro label [COR16195; 96kHz/24-bit], the Eclipse illuminates both the voices and the musicianship of the ensemble as it marks the 400th anniversary of the death of William Byrd. Every note and syllable is crystal clear, and there's a wonderful sense of the voices hanging in, and decaying into, the reverberant acoustic of All Hallows, Gospel Oak.


Balanced (XLR) and single-ended (RCA) inputs lie alongside Halcro's gold-plated/rubber-coated speaker cable terminals. Removing the screw-down clamps reveals 4mm inserts for banana plug-terminated cables

Magic Act
Similarly, with Chloe Chua's recording of the Vivaldi Four Seasons with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, on Pentatone [PTC5187062, 96kHz/24-bit], the openness of the sound is as striking with the bite of the solo violin as it is with the combination of orchestral strings and organ. There's wonderful attack in the massed strings in the allegro non molto opening movement of 'Summer', delivering a superb sense of exuberance.

Bring it down to the intimate trio jazz of Estonian pianist Tõnu Naissoo's 'Broken Hopes', on his Turning Point album, remastered from the original Melodiya analogue release [APSoon Recordings APS02023; DSD64], and the Eclipse's 'maximum information' presentation is perfectly suited to the music, creating that magical 'in the room' presence. It's a trick it also pulls off with Van Morrison's rootsy Moving On Skiffle album [Exile/Virgin Music 4819141]. Here the old boy's world-weary voice is delivered with great character and focus, and the joyful performances of the band, with every contribution easily heard, add to the retro, light-touch feel.

This really is an amplifier for all musical styles, and entirely addictive. It may have its roots in one (exceptional) man's obsessions, and be imbued with a stack of myth and mystery, but this is a sensational revival of a legendary design, and entirely capable of rearranging your perception of music.

Hi-Fi News Verdict
If you're aware of the Halcro legend, the Eclipse Stereo confirms all those laudatory reviews of the past. If you're new to the brand, you'll just be blown away by the sheer confidence, poise and excitement it can deliver. This isn't just a very fine amp, with useful power and superb clarity. Rather, it's nothing short of revelatory, and with high-quality speakers will thrill and delight in equal measure.

Halcro (Longwood Audio)
Adelaide, Australia
Supplied by: Sound Design Distribution Ltd, Cardiff
0800 0096213