Pre/Power Amplifiers

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John Bamford and Paul Miller  |  Jan 15, 2012
New to the British hi-fi scene, this exquisitely formed pre/power amp combo is highly compact thanks to the use of Class D modules and switched mode power supplies Once you’ve got the hi-fi bug it seems it’s impossible to shake it off. Certainly this is the case for John Young, who has recently launched a new electronics marque, Acoustic Imagery, based in Warminster. Acoustic Imagery’s first products are these D400M Class D monoblock power amplifiers and a partnering active preamp called, simply, the Pre Amplifier. With a sharp eye, as ever, on the latest developments on the hi-fi scene, HFN has secured the first samples for a world exclusive test.
Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 01, 2018
hfnvintage.pngWhile designed for the pro market, this rugged little workhorse of an amp from 1978 found its way into domestic systems of the day. How does it sound, 30 years on?

How sad. Last year was the 70th anniversary of the founding of Crown, and the event seems to have gone unmarked. The only notable occurrence was that its parent company, Harman International, was acquired by Samsung, which is a rather forlorn way for this most American of brands to celebrate seven decades.

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.
Ed Selley  |  Nov 01, 2011
A very substantial design indeed with impressive performance to match Owned by Paradigm, Canada’s largest speaker manufacturer, the Anthem electronics brand is renowned for its high value AV offerings. While its ‘bread and butter’ receivers are made in China, its premium Statement components are built entirely in-house, this massive P2 power amp sharing the same case as the company’s five-channel P5 [see HFN June ’09] that draws so much current it needs two power cords. Just as in the P5, each channel of the P2 is built as a monoblock on its own PCB with substantial heatsinks fitted with thermal sensors to monitor operating temperature. And each channel has its own toroidal transformer and regulated power supply.
Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 01, 2018
hfncommended.pngWith an upgraded specification including an asynchronous USB input with DSD capability, ATC’s CD player/DAC/preamp aims to be a complete system front-end

Is this a new twist on the CD player? Or yet another new variation on the DAC? Well, neither actually, for as that ‘Mk2’ suffix suggests, this is a revised version of ATC’s innovative CDA CD player/DAC/preamp combination, selling for £2950 and designed as the perfect partner for the company’s £3375 P2 power amplifier [HFN Mar ’17], or its range of active speakers.

Ed Selley  |  Nov 01, 2011
A robust design that produces a sound noticeably free of adornment Famous for its uncoloured, bomb-proof monitors beloved of recording engineers the world over, ATC builds not just speaker drive units but also the amplifier power packs for its active speakers in true artisan fashion in its Gloucestershire workshops, populating circuit boards entirely by hand. Similarly, the company’s standalone pre- and power amps are individually hand crafted, only the metal casework is bought in from an external supplier. As mentioned on page 43, we reviewed the P1 and its partnering CA2 Mk2 preamp in March ’10. Since then the power amp has unfortunately crept up in price by some £250.
Richard Stevenson & Paul Miller  |  Jan 17, 2009
There is something about the Italian high-end that gets my juices flowing. It’s the style, the grace, the sheer passion that goes into the design – and the absolute certainty that there will flaws of epic, forehead slapping proportion. Exhibit A – the Audia Flight Pre remote control. Utterly gorgeous, CNC-machined from an aluminium billet and offering an innovative multifunction interface that keeps the button count to a luxurious minimum.
Ed Selley  |  Nov 20, 2011
Anniversary edition of the Reference five splits into two boxes for improved performance Released to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the company’s Reference preamp, the Anniversary Ref 5 promises to address the few solutions not available in its recently unveiled single-chassis version. This two-chassis model sees the valve power supply relegated to a box of its own and, being a true dual-mono layout, two fat umbilical cords connect it to the chassis. Under the lid can be found an all-valve, zero feedback, pure Class A circuit employing four 6H30 triodes per channel, again dual-mono, while mounted on the bottom of the main board are four massive custom Teflon coupling capacitors, weighing around a kilo apiece. Each valve is fitted with a now-familiar damping ring; the main circuitry is fitted to a large mother board; daughter boards deal with the front panel and the socketry.
Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Aug 01, 2018
hfnoutstanding.pngNot just a new model but a radical change for the venerable Reference Series, the REF160M mono power amp heralds a fresh direction in both looks and performance

A genius mix of both rebellion and restraint, Audio Research's latest chapter in the Reference saga, the REF160M monoblock power amplifier, is one of the biggest departures in the much-lauded series' evolution. Most obvious is the new look, which takes its cues from the G-Series, bringing with it a cool oversized meter, but the rest of the amplifier has been redeveloped, too, not least to incorporate features that will improve system matching, reliability, ease-of-use and initial set-up.

Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 20, 2015
Ifyou’re old enough to remember Audio Research gear circa-1972, the new SP20 will tug at your heartstrings. This preamp’s fascia designer has revived the distinctive sectioned faceplates of the SP3 – the whiff of retro is much appreciated. Suffice it to say, gone are the days of a half-dozen toggle switches, mechanical push-buttons or old-school rotaries. The SP20’s buttons are limited to power on, mute and a choice of output to ‘speakers’ (power amp) or headphones, but not at once.
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.
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’.
Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 01, 2018
hfnoutstanding.pngSitting at the top of the German company’s range, this flexible pre and hefty stereo power amp are designed to take on the high-end’s big names, and take no prisoners

The PA 8.2 preamplifier and SA 8.2 stereo power amp sit at the top of the German company’s Ovation range, although there’s also the option of buying its MA 8.2 monoblock amps in place of the SA 8.2. These are essentially the SA 8.2 bridged internally to give even greater power – rated at 600W/8ohm in place of the stereo amp’s 250W a side. However, despite the commonality, there’s no bridging option on the stereo model reviewed here.

Ken Kessler & Paul Miller  |  Mar 06, 2009
Americans have this phrase – probably politically incorrect – for those areas you never hear about. They call them the ‘flyover states’, a perfect description for anywhere that isn’t New York, California or Florida. Which is not to say that places like North Dakota, Idaho or Nebraska are totally without charm. They’re just not on everyone’s radar.
Ed Selley  |  Nov 01, 2011
The entry level Belles power amp has some charming characteristics This midi-sized power amplifier from American designer Dave Belles’ Power Modules company naturally has a similarly compact preamplifier to partner it, dubbed Soloist 3; there’s also an MM/MC phono stage. This is ideal for enthusiasts desiring a separates combo that requires precious little space. There are no frills here – while better known for its high-end amplifiers, the Soloist components are Belles’ entry-level models. Build quality is staid and workmanlike, without the gloss of more costly designs.

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