Pre/Power Amplifiers

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Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 03, 2022
hfnoutstandingEngström's pursuit of the 'pure Scandinavian Sound' reaches its peak in the ARNE amplifier – a triode tube amplifier that takes aim at solid-state competition

This isn't our first encounter with the valve amplification from Swedish company Engström, the ERIC Encore power amps [HFN Oct '21] lighting our blue touch paper of interest. The ARNE integrated amplifier, its 'entry-level' offering, is quite possibly an amp best suited to what comedy writer Danny Robins made famous as 'The Cold Swedish Winter', it also doubling as potent heat source. The curvaceous glass cover protecting the pairs of power triodes gets very warm indeed, so this amp needs plenty of 'fresh air'.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Sep 22, 2022
hfncommendedNow in mkII guise, Lindemann's network-attached DAC and analogue preamp sees a raft of internal updates and the promise of 'production secured for upcoming years'

Look at the latest iteration of Lindemann's network music player, the £3450 Musicbook Source II, and you'd be forgiven for thinking that nothing much has changed [HFN Jun '20]. This is still a compact unit, just 28cm wide and a mere 6.3cm tall, with nothing much on show save a power/standby button sunk into one end of the top-plate and an edge-mounted volume control, with a push-to-mute function, at the other.

Ken Kessler  |  Sep 16, 2022  |  First Published: Dec 01, 2001
hfnvintageLooks like valves, smells like valves, uses transistors – Ken Kessler hears 100W of single-ended MOSFET power from the pen of Tim de Paravicini

Statement amps are nothing new to Tim de Paravicini, his original EAR 509s and 549s hardly being minor projects. Neither were the first amps to bear the Yoshino names, a pair of designs showing that single-ended topology could be applied to both valves and transistors. But the latter, while Tim was able to voice it to ape the tubes, ran just as hot as the valves, and proved just as inefficient as all single-ended designs are known to be, so why bother? Damned if I know, for Tim's latest is a huge mutha of a single-ended amp... and it's solid-state.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Sep 02, 2022
hfnoutstandingA bigger PSU, more power transistors and a new input/driver stage – all inspired by the 'Relentless experience' – gives D'Agostino's M400MxV monoblocks more Momentum!

Avoirdupois aside, Dan D'Agostino Master Audio Systems' Momentum M400MxV monoblock just may be the least fussy or fiddly power amp one can aspire to in the extreme high-end. Of course, something cute and tiny like a PS Audio Sprout [HFN Feb '15] or Quad Vena [HFN Jan '15] can be lifted with one hand and requires no degrees in electronics, but that's 'real world' gear. At £90,000 per pair, the M400MxVs are as exclusive as it gets, and such a strong physical presence is de rigueur.

Ken Kessler  |  Aug 19, 2022
hfnvintageKen Kessler explains why he believes Audio Research's Reference 1 preamp and Reference 600 power amplifiers are in a class of their own

Whatever your response to once-in-a-generation revelations, the Audio Research Reference 600 monoblock amplifiers and the matching Reference 1 preamp will render all who hear them something akin to 'gob-smacked'.

Review: Ian Harris, Review and Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 22, 2022  |  First Published: Aug 01, 2003
hfnvintageIan Harris and Paul Miller hear the amps that crown MF's 20th anniversary

The kW and kWP are the final models in Musical Fidelity's 20th anniversary Tri-Vista series, and are intended to be the ultimate expression of the company's skills as amplifier builders. In contrast to the nominally 'real world' SACD player and integrated amp, the pre and power amps have been built on a totally cost-no-object basis – to borrow MF's own words, they're 'simply the very best we can do'.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 23, 2022
hfnoutstandingThis Polish hotshot brand broke onto the audiophile scene with its programmable DC PSU, followed by the OOR headphone amp. Now, with DAC onboard, comes the ERCO

The name of this new product from Polish company HEM, selling under its Ferrum brand, is spelt ERCO, but pronounced 'ertso'. Apparently it's Esperanto for 'ore', and so follows on from the mineral-based brand-identity – Ferrum, OOR – you get the idea. What's also not immediately apparent, given that all the Ferrum products basically look the same, is that the £2395 ERCO is perhaps the most comprehensively equipped model the company has made to date.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 16, 2022
hfnoutstandingNow a full quartet, T+A's compact but beautifully formed Series 200 has expanded to include a media player, DAC/preamp and Purifi Eigentakt Class D stereo power amp

Siegfried Amft, founder and MD of T+A, declares the intent of the brand's Series 200 is to 'combine the appearance of a Midi system with a high-end performance'. Midi, of course, is a word that evokes memories of 1980s/'90s hi-fi, so I'm surprised to see the term attached to a range that's rather more aspirational in its technology. You might think something has been lost in translation, T+A being a German manufacturer, until you lay eyes on the DAC 200 and its button-heavy compact chassis. From the appearance side, at least, the 'Midi' mission has been accomplished.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 13, 2022
hfnoutstandingWith no fewer than eight channels (bridgeable to four), Primare's most powerful amp to date will service the most ambitious bi-, tri- or quad-amp loudspeaker solutions

It goes without saying that an eight-channel power amplifier is unusual. In the hi-fi world, two channels is the default, and even in multichannel home cinemas the trend is to start with five or seven and then, if you must, add more in pairs. Furthermore, the A35.8, priced £4500, arrives not from a specialist custom install brand, or an audio company with pro studio leanings, but from Primare.

Review: Ken Kessler  |  Apr 15, 2022  |  First Published: Mar 01, 2003
hfnvintageThe British company has unveiled a system with the same stunning livery as its highly successful DAC64. Ken Kessler reaches for the blue yonder

Sometimes manufacturers do listen! After Chord Electronics' DAC64 proved to be such an immediate hit, the company decided to figure out why everyone fell in love with it. Sure, it sounded wonderful. Yes, it had neat features like balanced and single-ended operation and its three-setting, user-adjustable RAM buffering. But that wasn't it.

Review: Ken Kessler, Review and Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 04, 2022
hfnoutstandingIt's taken three years, but it was worth the wait: D'Agostino's Relentless Preamplifier has arrived, and it's as much of a revelation as the matching power amplifiers

You gotta love items with absolutely perfect names: 'Land Rover Defender', 'Rolex Explorer', 'Fender Jazzmaster'. When founder and chief engineer, Dan D'Agostino, dubbed his assault on the high-end 'Relentless', with cost-no-object flagship monoblock power amps [HFN Mar '20], he might have been referring to himself, as that is how he approached the task. With this matching three-chassis Relentless Preamplifier (£159,500), he's raised the bar once more.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 04, 2022
hfnoutstandingHandbuilt in Berlin, this preamp and monoblock power amp defies the industrial look, favouring instead an exquisite finish. And the sound more than lives up to the style

By any standards, the Noble series from Berlin-based MBL is a looker. The components aren't massive – in place of slabby high-end units wearing their audio prowess on their sleeve, as it were, both the £11,500 N11 preamplifier and the N15 mono power amplifiers, at £13,900 apiece, are relatively slender units. They are also immaculately finished in a choice of gloss black or white, with accents for the control elements available in either polished gold or palinux (silver), with black detailing also offered if you go for the white main colour.

Ken Kessler  |  Feb 24, 2022  |  First Published: Mar 01, 1992
hfnvintageThe irrepressible Antony Michaelson is at it again, with pre and power amps from Michaelson Audio and Musical Fidelity. Ken Kessler listens

Upon my taking delivery of the review samples of Da Vinci, about which I was warned in mid-summer 1991, company founder Antony Michaelson launched into his usual tirade about the high-end, with barrels of venom for American ballbuster amps in particular.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 21, 2022
hfnvintageThey're British and they're obscure, but can these pre/power amplifiers lay claim to classic status when it comes to their all-out performance? It's time to find out...

British company Crimson Elektrik started life in the mid 1970s as a manufacturer of ready-built power amplifier modules. Using these, a home constructor could assemble a fairly decent and up-to-date piece of kit, needing only to add a power supply, connections and a cabinet. Complete amps followed in 1979, initially in kit form and later fully assembled. The latter, which were similar to the 1200 series amps seen here, were reviewed in the June '80 issue of HFN.

Martin Colloms  |  Jan 25, 2022
hfnvintageMartin Colloms hears a power amp setting the pace for the 21st century

The development of this completely new power amplifier has been a major undertaking for Naim. Up to now, its designs have been variants on the late Julian Vereker's founding concept, which led to the first NAP 250 stereo chassis some 25 years ago. Even now, the company's biggest current model, the NAP 135, is a monoblock variant of the '250, with more generous power supplies allocated to the separated channels.

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