Integrated Amplifiers

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Ed Selley  |  Feb 06, 2011  |  0 comments
Roksan Caspian M2 With its tuneful performance and natural detail, the Caspian M2 is lined up to be the perfect hi-fi partner Roksan started out in turntables, but quickly diversified into amplifiers and the Caspian name goes back a long way in the company’s history. This particular iteration is in outline specification, your completely average integrated amplifier circa 2010, with six line inputs, an 85-watt nominal output and no funny business at all, unless you count the deeply funky touch-screen remote control. The appearance is distinctive, though, with that stainless steel top panel and as you’ll expect if you know the maker, there are a few interesting touches inside. The most obvious of those, after removing the cover, is the pair of mains transformers which between them take up the left half of the chassis.
Ed Selley  |  Feb 06, 2011  |  0 comments
Sugden Mystro From a brand with a long pedigree, the Mystro could well be the answer to all your amplifier needs We’re not sure how to pronounce the name, but we are sure that this is a Sugden unlike those we’re familiar with. For over four decades (!) the firm has been synonymous with low-power Class A amplifiers. This one changes everything, offering 50 watts of Class AB power from an all-new circuit. Mind you, in many ways it harks back to yesteryear, offering as it does a mere three-line inputs plus phono, single speaker outputs, no preamp or even ‘tape’ output, and remote control for volume only.
Ed Selley  |  Feb 06, 2011  |  0 comments
Leema Acoustics Pulse III With its proprietary interface and stylish controls, the Pulse III is the next phase in Leema’s enviable amp range As one of our listeners observed after the veil had been lifted on the amps, “That Pulse looks like a set-top box”. Maybe it does, too – and Leema mentions in its literature that the Pulse is intended to be for all the family. Maybe, indeed, hi-fi with the easy familiarity of a set-top box is no bad thing in this day and age. It’s a bit of a deluxe STB, though, not least thanks to the milled-from-solid aluminium front panel and solidly made casework.
Ed Selley  |  Feb 02, 2011  |  0 comments
Count on Cantata Jason Kennedy looks at the matching 50-watt integrated for our favourite CD player of 2010. Can Resolution Audio shine with its amps, too? Last year we had some bad news. Resolution Audio discontinued one of our favourite CD players, the Opus 21. The good news, however, was that it replaced it with the Cantata Music Centre, which went on to win several HFC awards in our 2010 Awards issue.
Ed Selley  |  Dec 07, 2010  |  0 comments
Progressive electronica Electrocompaniet has heavily revised its flagship integrated for the MkII version. Ed Selley rings the changes Electrocompaniet has been rather more active in the pages of Hi-Fi Choice over the last few year or so, but a major revision to a product in its ‘classic’ line is still sufficiently unusual to warrant us giving it some attention. The ECI5 MkII replaces the ECI5, which in turn replaced the ECI4. 7.
Ed Selley  |  Oct 22, 2010  |  0 comments
Fast lane for new M3i Musical Fidelity has gone back to basics with its new, affordable M3 Series. Ed Selley test-drives the ‘engine’ behind the new range Over the last fifteen years, Musical Fidelity products have literally come in all shapes and sizes. They have sported both extremely high and comparatively low power outputs and frequently mixed a variety of valves into the mix. This has, of course, resulted in a number of interesting products, all of which incorporate design thinking from the flagship Titan power amplifier (see the Talking Point box opposite).
Ed Selley  |  Aug 27, 2010  |  0 comments
Luxman luxury For sheer musicality and agility, the Luxman L550A-II has the potential to delight vinyl lovers everywhere. Ed Selley cues up Luxman has begun to rebuild a worldwide reputation as one of the premier Japanese audio brands. The current product range is considerable and expanding and features a bewildering variety of solid-state and valve amplifiers, SACD and universal disc players and phono stages. The latter is an interesting product line for Luxman to make as every single integrated it produces, be it valve or solid-state is already equipped with an internal phono stage.
Ed Selley  |  May 28, 2010  |  0 comments
Arcam A38 - £1,480 Comprehensive features list makes this amp a star performer Not much has changed with Arcam’s amps in recent years, at least superficially. That’s absolutely fine by this observer, who thought they were nicely thought-out when they first appeared and hasn’t found any reason to change opinion since. The A38 is the top model of three integrateds in the current range and it does many of the same things as most modern integrateds. For instance, it has fully electronic switching and volume control: but you still get a unique push button for each input and a decent size volume knob that is, at least, reasonably solid and generally nice to the touch.
Ed Selley  |  May 28, 2010  |  0 comments
Astin Trew AT2000 Plus- £1,740 Impressive sound and connectivity lead the way on this amp Designed in Britain’, says the literature – though construction is actually Chinese. Wherever it was put together, though, this amp offers some impressive material value for money. Indeed, it seems to tick an unusually large number of boxes. Valves, multiroom capability, front- panel MP3 input, balanced input and output, high-grade coupling capacitors (along with some fancy cable, contributing to the ‘plus’ bit of the model name).
Ed Selley  |  May 28, 2010  |  0 comments
Cyrus 8xp D - £1,550 Superb amp that tries to cover too many bases Possibly the hardest-working component in hi-fi, the Cyrus case moulding has done some impressive things in its time, but surely few are quite as surprising as hosting six-analogue and five-digital inputs, plus twin pre-out, Zone 2 out (usable as a record output), MC- Bus in/out, headphone socket, PSX-R power supply socket and bi-wire loudspeaker outputs, all on a rear panel one hand-span wide. You do end up needing slim fingers to plug and unplug, but that’s hardly a big deal when kit like this is unlikely to sell to full-on system- tweakers. The digital input provision is particularly appealing. Five inputs (including one USB) is more than you get on any sensibly priced DAC and makes this amp a perfect choice for modern systems with assorted analogue and digital sources.
Ed Selley  |  May 28, 2010  |  0 comments
Electrocompaniet ECI-3 An amp with big potential, but a little too bright for some Electrocompaniet has been around for a long time and while this amp certainly doesn’t date from the company’s earliest days, it’s hardly a spring chicken. Still, if they got it right first time round and all that. . .
Ed Selley  |  May 28, 2010  |  0 comments
Moon i. 1 - £1,450 Some technical flaws can’t dampen this amp’s spirit While a £1,500 integrated is pretty upmarket for Arcam and Cyrus, it’s the very start of the range for Simaudio, whose Moon products extend to distinctly high-end territory with such products as the vast and powerful Titan power amp. But then the Moon i-1 is not exactly a shrinking violet, even though its 50-watt rating is fairly modest by current standards and the unit is not at all daunting to behold. It’s certainly neat and practical, though, as we shall see.
Ed Selley  |  May 28, 2010  |  0 comments
Unison Research Unico Secondo - £1,860 An exciting, energetic music-maker with a handy phono stage option A large and imposing amp, this one is also pretty bare-bones, though unlike most it has the option of a phono stage. One of those was provided for review (the price given includes it, a very reasonable £125 on top of the basic model). All kinds of amplifying devices are found inside the case, as the circuit uses bipolar transistors, FETs and valves. There’s very little use of surface-mount parts and most of the amplifying is done with discrete components, though there are a few op-amps dotted around and also some integrated circuits with part numbers intriguingly obliterated.
Ed Selley  |  Mar 22, 2010  |  0 comments
Swede love A £515 power amp with the ability to work in Class A makes the Swedish-made XTZ an attractive proposition, says Richard Black XTZ hails from Sweden and is responsible for the room acoustics measurement system we reviewed a few issues back (HFC 330). The company’s range isn’t huge, but it includes an integrated amp, a CD player, a variety of speakers and some home cinema-oriented electronics and speakers, too. There’s no preamp yet, though we’d be prepared to bet on the imminent arrival of one. Running hot The big thing with this amp is its ability to work in Class A, the ‘holy grail’ of amplifiers that avoids the dreaded crossover distortion by ensuring the output transistors are always passing current.