Integrated Amplifiers

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 |  Jan 29, 2015  |  0 comments
Once upon a time if you mentioned the words computer and audiophile in the same sentence you would have been chased out of town. Those days are long gone and thanks to hi-res audio downloading there’s now a turf war going on for ownership of your desktop by hi-fi manufacturers eager to cash in with products that deliver maximum sonic satisfaction for those of us who like to listen as we learn or earn. Understanding hi-res formats can be more daunting than deciphering the Da Vinci code in Nooksack, but one thing that is incontrovertible is that owning DSD files and not having an external DAC is like owning an E-type and keeping it in the garage. One such example is the AI-301DA, which boasts a Burr-Brown PCM1795 DAC and an asynchronous USB input.
 |  Jan 29, 2015  |  0 comments
The name says it all. In a Googled-up world that monitors your every online movement in order to better sell you things you want to buy, this new miniature Micromega box catches the zeitgeist perfectly. The MyAmp is your amp, because you’re an individual. It’s something that’s made for you – yes, just you, and everyone else like you! Well alright, I’ll excuse it the rather obvious name, because that’s theonly thing predictable about it.
 |  Jan 28, 2015  |  0 comments
Who remembers the early thirties? They contributed a lot to the world in which we live now. From Edward Elgar opening Abbey Road studios and the debut of what went on to become the Royal Ballet, to the issuing of The Highway Code and the pound coming off the Gold Standard, things would never be the same again. Meanwhile, in the United States, things were moving apace too – and in one little corner of RCA’s factory, a new and rather remarkable thermionic valve began manufacture. The 845 power triode started lifeas a radio transmitting vacuum tube; physically large and with an impressive anode dissipation of 75W, it ran 1,250V on the anode no less.
 |  Jan 28, 2015  |  0 comments
For Essex-based Monitor Audio the only way is not loudspeakers, which it can make and sell pretty much standing on its head. After dabbling in speaker docks and impressing with its W100 AirStream active desktop stereo speakers it is now entering the new world of amplification and streaming. Sporting AirPlay rather than Bluetooth, the A100 is very much aimed at the Apple crowd with their MacBooks, iPhones and iPads crammed with AAC, AIFF and ALAC files in iTunes. That’s not to say non-Apple devices are excluded from the party, PCs and DLNA sources connected to wireless routers canjoin in the fun if they can run iTunes (version 10 or later) and/or can be controlled by Monitor Audio’s remote control app (iOS and Android).
 |  Jan 21, 2015  |  0 comments
While two-channel audio has been staging something of a fight back of late, the bulk of new product has come from existing manufacturers returning to the category, while new arrivals have tended to be at slightly higher price points than ones we would define as entry level. This makes the duo you see here especially interesting. Not only is Vieta Audio returning to the UK after sufficiently long a period of time that it is new for many people (me included), but the products it is returning with are at the affordable end of the market. The range arriving in the UK is an extensive one.
Hi-Fi Choice  |  Jan 12, 2015  |  0 comments
Does the classic NAD 3020 integrated amplifier need any introduction? Most HFC readers will have owned one, heard one orat least known someone else who used one. It came out 35 years ago, for the princely sumof £59 in the UK, and was painfully uncool looking back then; its 3030 predecessor wasa far more fashionable beast with its broad expanse of brushed aluminium, inset with big chunky analogue power meters. By contrast, the 3020 had a dull charcoal grey plastic fascia, a miserly mono LED power meter,and precious few facilities by the standardsofthe day. Worse still, it put out a piffling 20W RMS of power into 8 ohms.
Ed Selley  |  Jun 20, 2012  |  0 comments
Tomorrow's world Peachtree Audio’s next-gen iDecco offers an amp, multi-input DAC, head amp and iPod dock all for £1,000 and Ed Selley just loves a good deal. . . Peachtree Audio has already graced the pages of Hi-Fi Choice, when we reviewed the Nova integrated amplifier and DAC.
Ed Selley  |  Mar 13, 2012  |  0 comments
Two's company Question: when's a tube amplifier not a tube amplifier? Answer: when it’s also solid-state. David Price meets Jolida’s hybrid JD1501BRC. . .
Ed Selley  |  Jan 09, 2012  |  0 comments
Heavy metal The TP106VR+ is the flagship integrated in a new range of valve products from Slovakian brand Canor. Ed Selley feels the glow Canor is a new arrival in the UK but we have seen some of its handiwork before. The Slovakian based company used to be known as Edgar and its very distinctive wood fronted electronics featured a few years ago. These products are still available but were rebranded as Canor in 2007 and were joined by a range of more conventionally styled units that use valve topology.
Ed Selley  |  Dec 01, 2011  |  0 comments
20 gives plenty Icon Audio has taken its cue from the Leak Stereo 20 for its latest entry into the budget valve market, says Jason Kennedy Beside the Quad II, the Leak Stereo 20 (ST20) is one of the most sought after British valve amps of yore. Introduced in the mid-fifties by H J Leak, it sold in substantial numbers for over a decade, but today even unrestored examples cost more than Icon is asking here. The Stereo 20PP’s circuit is based on the original ST20 and uses the same output valves in a push-pull configuration. It only delivers 15 watts per channel, but as any glass audio enthusiast will tell you, it’s not how much power you have, but how you use it that counts.
Ed Selley  |  Nov 30, 2011  |  0 comments
Musical update This Creek amp claims a variety of technical improvements over the original. Richard Black investigates how this works out in sonic terms Rather to our surprise, we find it’s over five years since we first set eyes and ears on the original Creek Evolution amp. Amplifier design may not have made any revolutionary leaps in that time (at least, conventional amplifier design like Creek’s – switching amps have progressed rather more), but it’s natural that a manufacturer would find a few tweaks to apply that could justify adding a ‘2’ to the model name. Extra, extra One of the changes is a practical one, adding an ‘AV direct’ inputwhich bypasses the volume control, allowing the Evo 2 to be used as a power amp.
Ed Selley  |  Nov 30, 2011  |  0 comments
Swell new bel From America comes a switching amp that’s big on digital inputs. Richard Black thinks it might be the most exciting thing he’s heard in a while Don’t be too hard on yourself if you haven’t heard of Bel Canto. We’d had very limited exposure to the firm’s products and only a rather hazy idea about what the range consists of. In fact, the company can sort you out a complete hi-fi system (minus speakers) from its product list, which includes predictable things like a CD player and a handful of DACs, as well as an FM tuner with partly digital processing and a digital output.
Ed Selley  |  Nov 29, 2011  |  0 comments
Brio benchmark Rega's new compact Brio-R amp uses a circuit design originally conceived in the late sixties. Jason Kennedy examines the modern classic The Brio-R is new in more ways than its remote handset, for a start it’s a totally new circuit, albeit one that was originally conceived in the late sixties. Rega designer Terry Bateman discovered the circuit as a result of buying and reading a large collection of second-hand Wireless World magazines and noticing that the previous owner, engineer Mike Howell, had circled particular articles. These articles led him to a design which was published in 1970, but to Terry’s knowledge never put into production.
Ed Selley  |  Nov 29, 2011  |  0 comments
Beauty and the beat Who said you can't have beautiful hi-fi and keen pricing? Richard Black looks at Primare's new £1,250-per-box CD and matching integrated Primare doesn’t launch new products every day, so we were excited to be offered the first chance to try these newcomers. Replacing the CD21 and I21, they are the company’s budget models, though obviously that’s a relative term. Still, £1,250 is a keen price although we can’t think of much hi-fi that looks this impressive for that kind of sum. The sound’s the thing, of course, but there’s also no denying that visually, these units just ooze class.
Ed Selley  |  Sep 27, 2011  |  0 comments
Moon I3. 3 Lots of upgrade options, great build and we liked the internal DAC, but a little expensive taken just as an amp This is one of a growing number of integrated amps to include a digital input, either as standard or, as in this case, as an optional extra. It makes a lot of sense: you don’t need a huge amount of circuitry to make a pretty decent DAC and if you’ve got a case and power supply already it’s quite a simple addition. Electrical, optical and USB connections are provided, with the actual conversion being done by a good-quality, recent DAC chip supported by good passive components and onboard supply regulation.