Pre/Power Amplifiers

Sort By:  Post Date TitlePublish Date
Steve Harris and Paul Miller  |  Aug 08, 2011
Though outwardly unchanged, a serious internal makeover has brought Karan's cool-looking pre/power duo up-to-date. But how do these revised models sound? here must be many audiophiles who are torn between valve and solid-state amplification. If you are attracted to the sound of valves, but hesitate to take the plunge for practical reasons, you’ll be interested in solid-state products which try to offer the best of both worlds. And that’s part of the promise held out by the Karan amplifier line, which is built in the Republic of Serbia and has been gathering a following in several other countries since around 2000.
Steve Harris and Paul Miller  |  May 08, 2011
Still refining its triode technology after all these years, the American company offers a purist preamplifier that promises new levels of musical insight Now that tube amplifiers seem to grow on trees, at least in China, it’s hard to imagine the overwhelmingly solid-state hi-fi scene of 35 years ago. In America, though, a tube revival was coming. Audio Research had been selling new hi-fi tube amplifiers since 1970, while many audiophiles were still finding something in the sound of old tube amps that seemed to be missing from the shiny new solid-state stuff. Among those users of classic tube equipment were Dr William Conrad and Dr Lewis Johnson, two economists who were both also keen audiophiles.
John Bamford and Paul Miller  |  Apr 10, 2011
The first product from a new Japanese high-end marque, this imposing hybrid power amplifier system employs a ‘DC reactor’ power supply housed in a separate chassis Rarely does an amplifier designer launch a new hi-fi company with such a bold high-end statement. ‘This is our vision of amplification’s ultimate form’, says designer Robert Koch of the imposing ‘tri-chassis’ Takumi K-70 power amplifier, designed and built in Japan, and the very first product to sport the Robert Koda brand name on its fascia. The Japanese ‘Takumi’ character can be translated as ‘maestro’, while the word ‘takumi’ actually means artisan – the naming of the Takumi K-70 being particularly apt as the amplifier is wholly hand-crafted, and manufacturing is limited to just 20 units per year. It’s a single-ended hybrid design employing some 32 power transistors and two 5842 triodes in each monoblock and one 6X5 rectifier tube per side in the power supply.
Ed Selley  |  Nov 24, 2010
With the introduction of stereo LPs in 1958, Leak wasted no time in bringing stereo equipment to market. The fi rst public demonstration of the Stereo 20 amp and matching preamp took place in April 1958 at the Audio Fair in London. This must have been quite a coupe for Leak as most rival manufacturers at the show were demonstrating mono equipment. The price of the Stereo 20 was 29 Guineas with its partnering Point One stereo preamp costing 20 Guineas.
Ed Selley  |  Nov 24, 2010
The Pyxis is a sturdy, handsomely-styled preamp which, in the best modern fashion, can be used with all manner of amplifi ers despite a plethora of Leema-only features. Pyxis provides both fully-balanced and single-ended analogue operation, with extensive custominstall/ home cinema-friendly settings and sockets. Its price is further ameliorated by the inclusion of digital ins and outs, including USB and S/PDIF in both directions, so the Pyxis is able to accommodate all of your digital sources and feed a computer for archiving. For another £500, the Pyxis can be supplied with an onboard phono section (based on Leema’s £3k Agena).
Ed Selley  |  Nov 24, 2010
With the C-600f preamp and the M-600A stereo power amplifiers, Luxman has delivered its interpretation of current generation solid-state excellence. The power amp offers balanced or single-ended operation, the option of converting it into a bridged monoblock of up to a specifi ed 120W/8ohm, plus a couple of neat touches on the back. Like all new Lux products, an indicator tells you with the press of a button if your mains polarity is correct. Another rear panel delight is a quartet of the largest speaker terminals I’ve ever seen, a nod to those who like tight terminals, but with an aperture for banana plugs.
Ed Selley  |  Nov 24, 2010
Leading from the top of this amplifier’s trump card specifi cation sheet is the £20,000 price tag, followed closely by the two-box design and claimed delivery of 1kW into an 8ohm load. Reading the spec-sheet alone does little to prepare you for the sheer size, weight and physical presence of the two-box Titan. It is massive, with a combined weight over 110kg, each unit boasting a footprint the size of a small chest of drawers. Sitting side-by-side you have two enormous works of art in milled aluminium – low, wide and deep.
Ed Selley  |  Nov 24, 2010
Bottom of the five-model XA. 5 series of mono power amplifiers, all of them true Class A designs, the XA60. 5 offers a rated output of 60W and, it’s claimed, much higher current capability than previous XA models: to the tune of a fi ve-fold improvement. So tough loudspeaker loads, of which there are still many, are grist to the XA.
Ed Selley  |  Nov 24, 2010
Radford Electronics was set up in Bristol by Arthur Radford back in 1959. In some ways Radford was a late starter in the world of high fi delity, especially compared to Peter Walker of Quad or Harold Leak, and the electronics refl ect this. Indeed, Radford’s designs are often described as being the most ‘modern’ of vintage amplifiers. It was the Series Two amplifiers, soon changed to Series Three, that put Radford’s designs on the map, the Series 3 range comprising two monoblocks – the MA 15 and MA 25 – plus two stereo versions, the STA 15 and STA 25.
Ken Kessler & Paul Miller  |  Dec 16, 2009
Time to disregard all the French felonies that form my antipathy towards our neighbour across the Channel: the revived Micromega has returned to the market with a family of new products offering build quality, style, functionality and, above all, prices belying manufacture in Europe. The brand will be a cat among UK pigeons, despite arriving when the economy suggests that this is not the time to launch, or re-launch a brand. Perhaps new owner Didier Hamdi knows something we don’t. Maybe tough times are just made for bargains.
Paul Miller  |  Nov 17, 2009
You could have knocked me down with a feather when, late last year, I received an e-mail from Adrian Walker, one half of the dynamic duo behind the original Deltec Precision Audio. I had used DPA’s 100S pre/power combination for the best part of a decade in my own system, and reviewed the inaugural product in HFN Oct ’87, but the company had dropped off our collective radar by the late 1990s. Rob Watts, the pioneering engineer behind the outfit, had moved on to other projects including a now longstanding relationship with Chord Electronics. Yes, Rob Watts ex- of DPA is the same Watts behind the WTA digital filter used in Chord’s Red Reference CD player.
Ken Kessler & Paul Miller  |  Oct 06, 2009
‘Business as usual’ marks life at Audio Research under Quadrivio, its new, Italian owners. The American-as-root-beer virtues that exemplify the products remain; banish any notions that we’ll see ARC amps made with staves of curvy walnut. The new 120W/ch VS115 is pure Yankee ARC all the way, though one now needs to turn to Russia for 6550s. Advancing from the VS110 by adding balanced inputs, the VS115 retains the layout of its predecessor: open architecture and an anodized top plate with every aperture clearly labelled for each of the eight matched 6550 output tubes and the quartet of 6H30 gain and cathode follower valves.
Ken Kessler & Paul Miller  |  Aug 17, 2009
Class A operation has a noble history. Thanks to the always-on nature of the topology and the removal of an entire type of distortion, allied to sound that excels in low-level detail, superb dynamics and transparency, its devotees are more than happy to put up with low efficiency and heat. From Sugden to Levinson to Krell, and here to Belles, it’s a choice for connoisseurs. Should the escape of all that heat come to the attention of Brussels, the EU might then outlaw Class A amps as they have light bulbs.
Steve Harris & Paul Miller  |  Aug 06, 2009
Some electronics manufacturers manage to move upmarket just by adding more elaborate casework, a few audiophile components and, if you are lucky, a bigger transformer. Not so with the Cambridge Azur range. With these products, it seems the company set out to leapfrog the competition in technology and technical performance. And so, at the top of the Azur line, we have a truly sophisticated preamp, the 840E, and a truly muscular power amp, the 840W, at a total price of £2000.
Ken Kessler & Paul Miller  |  Aug 06, 2009
John Howes has been tweaking, modifying and restoring vintage hi-fi equipment long enough to have a healthy approach to the purity of spot-on restorations. It’s a philosophy he applies to the customising of Quad’s classic II mono valve power amplifier. Because he’s also a realist, he also knows how to recognise if a product is a basket-case, useful only as a donor for spares. As the original sold well over many years, there are sufficient beyond salvation.

Pages

X