Pre/Power Amplifiers

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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.
Richard Stevenson & Paul Miller  |  Jun 06, 2009
Until the recent addition of high-end Japanese AV processors like Denon’s AVP-A1HD, the upper echelons of the multichannel pre-amplifier market have been dominated by US brands like Lexicon and Krell. Neither of which have ever really got my juices flowing if I am honest. Enter Anthem, a new contender from Canada’s Paradigm stable [see box], with the Statement processor and power amplifiers. It is easier to start with the Anthem Statement P5 and P2 power amps.
Paul Miller  |  Jun 06, 2009
If ever a brand typified the most conservative values of reliable, performance-driven British hi-fi, then Audiolab alongside its IAG stablemate, Quad, would be firmly in the running. Which is why the launch of its first AV product demands some serious attention. After all, this processor/amplifier combination even bears the moniker of the company’s formidable 8000-series separates, with the historical resonance that this invites. Audiolab itself is reticent in the 8000AP’s description, referring to its new HDMI-enabled product as a ‘reference quality 7-channel audio processor and preamplifier’.
John Bamford & Paul Miller  |  Jun 06, 2009
There’s a reassuring matter-of-factness about the design and construction of Bryston’s amplifiers. While they might lack a little glamour – there’s no frivolous dressing up to impress – there’s an understated purposefulness to the marque’s range that has brought the company considerable success in the professional arena since it first began making amplifiers in 1973. Countless professional sound studios around the world employ Bryston electronics for 24/7 amplification duties thanks to the company’s acclaimed quality control and reputation for reliability. In the world of high-end hi-fi manufacturing, boasting to be somehow connected to the worlds of medical and/or the aerospace industries adds a certain cache to a brand, conjuring up images of hard science and meticulous attention to detail.
Ian Harris & Paul Miller  |  Jun 06, 2009
Up to now, Coda Technologies Inc of Sacramento, California, has managed to resist the economic rip-tide which has swept so much audiophile manufacturing towards the Far East. Resolutely continuing to design and build wholly in the US, Coda offers both integrated and pre/power amplification solutions, with prices starting at a point that sits squarely in the territory of the burgeoning Chinese high-end zone. In terms of build quality, the Coda faces tough competition from the latest Far Eastern products. On construction alone, the CS earns a draw, but the CL’s slightly less than hewn-from-solid casework cedes the initiative to the best competition.
Richard Stevenson & Paul Miller  |  May 06, 2009
I love the design of Classé’s Delta series products. The beefy build, curved fascias and contrasting silver and dark colours make for an extremely cool look. Add in a colour LCD screen as a display and source monitor, a remote control handset hewn from an aluminium ingot and Classé’s audiophile heritage, and the new SSP-800 processor is one of the most desirable pieces of multichannel lushness available today. I want one, can you tell? Some two years in the making and coming to market with a price tag around the £5000 mark puts this beast up against the Denon AVP-A1HD.
Steve Harris & Paul Miller  |  Apr 17, 2009
You might be surprised to see Leema launching a massive £20,000-plus amplifier combination now, hard on the heels of its lower-cost Pulse and Stream models. But as with everything this company does, there’s a logical progression. The Pyxis/Altair IV combination forms the heart of Leema’s long-considered reference series. ‘We needed to produce our reference system,’ says Mallory, ‘and from the outset it was always going to be monoblocks.

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