Extraudio X250T Integrated Amplifier Page 2

That aside, this is an ergonomic joy. As mentioned before, the front panel is intuitive, the remote carries all you need and the back is perfectly laid out, with the nicest speaker terminals I have encountered – even when using notoriously heavy cables which were designed by some sadist to break off one's binding posts. The unit was up and running in mere minutes... warm-up included.

sqnote Hammering Home
I got a short, sharp shock (not literally, that is) when I turned on the unit, because I think it remembers the previous level: it blew me off my feet, it was so loud. The dots around the volume control were lit, so I should have guessed what would come out of the Wilson Sasha DAW loudspeakers [HFN Mar '19]. Then again, it was Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels' 'Jenny Take A Ride' from Sockin' It To You [RPM QRPMT549] via my Marantz CD-12/DA-12 CD/DAC combo, chosen because it has both single-ended and balanced outputs for comparison. And that music sounds loud even when played softly.

Not knowing what to expect, as my previous exposure to Class D amps has ranged from the execrable to the excellent, I was delighted to hear a cohesive wall-of-sound as befits Ryder's music. The drums were vast, meaty, with powerhouse attack, while the detail was worthy of an audiophile pressing – and Ryder's oeuvre is such that it can only ever sound like a punch in the head. Maybe I was approaching the X250T ass-backwards, starting with material that actually demands no refinement at all.


Suffice it to say, I was listening here for immersion into a track designed to get 16-year-olds jumping a half-century ago. The coherence was impressive, the amp conveying the live, party feel which was essential to Ryder's music. His gutsy, shout-y vocals were sibilance-free and sufficiently menacing, and the rhythm section hammered home hormonal teen passion in all its sweaty glory.

Folk Treasure
I also used this opportunity to compare balanced with single-ended, and – at the risk of repeating myself – the balanced bettered the single-ended. After an hour of raucous rock, I began to suspect this wasn't the X250T's forte, because it was so graceful even under duress. Turning to the Otari MX5050, a balanced-output-only tape deck, I dug out my copy of Joan Baez's In Concert [Vanguard VTC1653; 7½ips tape], a glorious souvenir from her 1962/3 tour with just voice and guitar.

The sense of space and the crowd noises were as natural as I've heard. While there was slightly less stage width than I know the recording to possess, the stage depth was cavernous, and the soundstage was filled with an airiness and presence which suited perfectly this utterly 'unplugged' recording. As a test I followed it with another Vanguard folk treasure, only this time one recorded in a studio, with more voices and instruments.

BBC Grade
Ian & Sylvia's sublime Play One More [Vanguard VTX1717; 7½ips tape] adds drumming, keyboards, organ and bass to the Hootenanny/protest-era folkie formula. Slightly later vintage, probably similar tape stock, characteristic Vanguard sound, and with a further trial: the two are stationed at either end of the soundstage. What this did was reinforce my impression that the soundstaging is deep, the midband reproduction – especially voices – is BBC-grade convincing and the bottom end is more valve-like than transistor-y in its sound.

620extra.remFor the coup de grâce, I turned to Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass' The Lonely Bull [A&M OR-4101; 7½ips tape], to hear a phalanx of gorgeous trumpets. As much as I love the title track, it's actually not that great a recording, sounding almost like reprocessed mono. The second track – 'Let It Be Me' – features the full-on cod-mariachi shtick, abetted by that jaunty classic, 'Acapulco 1922', so I was able to hear what the amp could do with the punchiest of transients and even whistling.

This amplifier certainly belies its solid-state innards. No teeth-jarring edginess, no closed-in sensations – it reminded me of the first-generation Primare 'cube' [HFN Feb '19] and even 1970s Denon monoblocks, which were always exemplars of solid-state without the austerity.

I will leave it to PM to explain how Extraudio managed to render Class D so musical, but I suspect a goodly part of it is simply down to the designers and engineers knowing how to voice their product.

Was I imagining the lushness? Turning to Ray Conniff's You Are the Sunshine of My Life [Columbia 1R1-6085; 7½ips tape], the room was awash with gossamer-light schmaltz so unctuous I could count the calories. This is, simply put, a sexy little minx of an amp. And I'll regard the muting intervals as foreplay.

Hi-Fi News Verdict
When the first word that springs to mind is 'finesse', and the second is 'Whoa!' because of sheer slam, you can call it a 'hybrid' in yet another context. The X250T is one of those iron-first-in-a-velvet-glove amps that lets you rock or chill as desired. It handled the silkiness of Ray Conniff with the same authority it conveys the force of Mitch Ryder in manic mode. This amp does, indeed, 'beat the Dutch.'

Extraudio BV
The Netherlands
Supplied by: Whole Note Distribution, Scotland
02039 115 549