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plastic penguin

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To the Hegel. As mentioned at the beginning of the thread, I owned both it's predecessor, the H90 and the model above the H95, the 120.

I guess I am biased because of it but hey, we all like certain things.

I keep this short; I love the sleek/low looks (more so than the bigger Hegel amplifiers) and the OLED display is simply great and looks smart and the front controls have a lovely feel to them.

Build quality is ok for the money, its relatively heavy and most of that comes from the substantial Transformer/Power Supply.

Substance, dynamics, refinement … all there and enough for me. I just listen to it and forget about the technicalities. Not something I could have said about the KEF Meta Wireless and B&W Formation Duo's.

Are there 'better' amplifiers for £1600? No idea but its plenty good enough for me. - It does 90% of the H120 and most of the 10% are ultimate loudness, which I never used.

Bad points; Not really a fair 'minus' but speaker damping is relatively high. If you have over damped speakers it may come over as slightly reticent in the lowest octaves (though they are there). It doesn't quite have the 'slam' of the above Arcam but it goes deeper cleaner and it's in slightly better proportion to the rest of the frequency range. It will control 'loose' speakers better too.

60 watts doesn't seem like a lot for this money but it sounds like more than this and most of us use single digit watts most of the time. Think about it. The power supply is also over engineered for the power stated.

You can buy far more watts for the money but will it sound as good?

It may be slightly better than the H90 (but there are not many second hand H95's about) and it's a fair chunk of money. However, I believe you get what you pay for and the price is absolutely fair in the greater scheme of things. If this is too much and if you can land an H90 at around £1k you will also get a very, very good amplifier and a bargain imho.
Fascinating reviews DM. Sometimes it isn't what's necessarily the best but what sound suits your room, speaklers... even a reflective Jack Russell can influence the sound :)

Nice one.
 
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robdmarsh

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Sitting at work and thought I'd give a little more info on how I feel about the Arcam SA20.

It's a sleek amplifier with a small'ish footprint for a full sized unit. It's less deep than either the Hegel or the Audiolab but build quality is rock solid. The amplifier weighs around 11kg and feels like a brick. The rounded feet look great and the volume knob is of good quality with a nice tactile feel. No wobble or egging.

Does it look £1000? No idea but it feels it and I love the understated looks (as I do with the other two amplifiers). The front display is a little old school but shows all important info. It's not quite as legible as the ones on the other two amplifiers, especially the Hegel's but it does the job and is sure better than having no display!

Digital inputs are slightly limited compared to both the Hegel and Audiolab but likely enough for most.

The remote is good and back lit. Others take note.

This is a 'Class G' topology amplifier. It's said to run the first few watts in pure Class A then switching to a second rail for more power. I can not confirm this run's in pure Class A but it sure dispels a considerable amount of heat at the volumes I normally listen to (even 1 watt can get considerably loud in to most loudspeakers). Put your hand above the heat sink and you can feel it even without touching it.

Sound … lovely, powerful, refined with substance. It doesn't draw a soundstage like the Audiolab nor has it's pin point accuracy or micro dynamics but has a tad more low end weight (more info below). - It doesn't quite have the image solidity or refinement of the Hegel but it is nevertheless dynamic and exciting without inducing fatigue. It is rated at around 90 to 100 watts into 8 ohms, depending on which distortion figures you prefer and around 150 watts/4ohm. It sounds it. It has a lovely 'bounce' to music making.

Bad points? The power LED is too bright, on or off. A little bit of dark film fixes this.

Bass, whilst fantastically full and bouncy may be a little too much for under damped floor standers. Both Hegel and Audiolab will do better there but it could be the ticket for Standmounts which may sound a little anemic.

It may not be quite the bargain the Audiolab is (though I don't think at all it is expensive for what you get) but I can see this amplifier pleasing many, many folks with it's facilities and sound which is engaging and without any obvious fails. - Like most Arcam's it'll likely last decades.

It has no annoying sound traits. Pair with (good quality) standmounts and off you are. If you have Floor standers I'd advise an audition to see whether bass works in your room.

The last time I've used an Arcam, I still had dark hair. It was a somewhat underwhelming experience.

This is different.
You're good at describing your experiences with these amplifiers using audiophile terms like "micro dynamics" but I don't get an idea of which amplifier is giving you more joy listening to music (you know that Sister Sledge song) but maybe that kind of subjective evaluation is not what you're aiming for with this exercise. For me however, what is musical appreciation if it is not about emotional reaction which is ultimately subjective? So when I said I didn't like the Audiolab I meant because it didn't move me, but I'm not sure in the end which of these is moving you!
 
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RoA

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You're good at describing your experiences with these amplifiers using audiophile terms like "micro dynamics" but I don't get an idea of which amplifier is giving you more joy listening to music (you know that Sister Sledge song) but maybe that kind of subjective evaluation is not what you're aiming for with this exercise. For me however, what is musical appreciation if it is not about emotional reaction which is ultimately subjective? So when I said I didn't like the Audiolab I meant because it didn't move me, but I'm not sure in the end which of these is moving you!
They all do, in different ways.
 

RoA

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A.Robinsons impressions when reviewing a $8000 speaker using the Audiolab 6000A.


View: https://youtu.be/0qWU_FCAWXo


Whilst this is not a review of the Amplifier and not a carte blanche for saying this amplifier is either a giant killer or good for every system (or ears) it nevertheless confirms my impressions of this highly competent yet low priced product.

It also means that many new audiophiles may not appreciate its grown up sound until they have been through a few amplifiers at differing (and more expensive) price levels. Conversely, some seasoned hifi lovers seeking alternative amplification may ignore the Audiolab because of its low cost.

Imho a mistake either way.
 
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nn_in

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Feb 23, 2015
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No. I bought the Hegel and Arcam. The Audiolab is a dealer display loan with a new one waiting if I want it.

To clarify, because I sold both of my active systems I am building two replacement systems, so I need/want to try some amplifiers.

I will try and get my hands on an Exposure 3010S2 and MF6Si.

The thing is, they have to sound good at low'ish volume, my preferred way of listening. Huge power is not required, quality is.

All the ones I have here fulfill that brief but its fun trying a few options.
Thank you for sharing.Audio equip selection for low level volume listening selection needs a lot of experience and diligence to get it right with a given available of brands.The experiments you describe are valuable.
 
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RoA

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Swapped the S20 in yesterday. Lovely amplifier.

You really don't have to spend a fortune these days (or have a battery of ugly boxes on display) to get good sound.
 
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Gray

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...buzzing transformers aside, the more I hear about the 6000A, the more I'm tempted.
Must admit I don't particularly like the oval display look - but it's no uglier than many amps and with hi-fi, looks are not my top priority.....
 
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RCduck7

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Good read. I'm also tempted to try the Audiolab 6000 but my speakers are to diffucult to drive (4 ohm, 85db).And the more powerful 8000 series is an other (boring) sound i heard from people that tried both.
 

Gray

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...a few reviewers marvel at the 6000A's 9A peak current.
I see the 8300 has 15A.

My old HK was only 50W but gave peak current of 39A....and you could tell!
 
...a few reviewers marvel at the 6000A's 9A peak current.
I see the 8300 has 15A.

My old HK was only 50W but gave peak current of 39A....and you could tell!
As I have often said it's not simply WPC it's current delivery and HK obviously had this sorted....
 

plastic penguin

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...buzzing transformers aside, the more I hear about the 6000A, the more I'm tempted.
Must admit I don't particularly like the oval display look - but it's no uglier than many amps and with hi-fi, looks are not my top priority.....
This is my take on amps. Most modern amps aren't real lookers, unless you have dancing VU meters etc etc, so I'm fine with the Audiolab's looks.
 

plastic penguin

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Swapped the S20 in yesterday. Lovely amplifier.

You really don't have to spend a fortune these days (or have a battery of ugly boxes on display) to get good sound.
Agreed. I think quality in general over the last decade or two has definitely improved

Really enjoying your adventure into the dark world of audio auditions. ;)
 
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MUSICRAFT

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As I have often said it's not simply WPC it's current delivery and HK obviously had this sorted....
It's better to have current rich power rather than have current starved wattage. However simply having a higher current number on paper doesn't necessarily guarantee that an amplifier will grip, drive and energise a loudspeaker more effectively than an amplifier with a lower current figure. I've used amplifiers with for eg, with their specs. stating 100A peak. But in reality these so called 100A sound weedy and ultimately feels like coal powered 100A. On the other hand I've experienced amplification at around a quarter of the current and the 25A feel and sound like they're coming from a nuclear source :)

Sometimes less is more (y)
 
It's better to have current rich power rather than have current starved wattage. However simply having a higher current number on paper doesn't necessarily guarantee that an amplifier will grip, drive and energise a loudspeaker more effectively than an amplifier with a lower current figure. I've used amplifiers with for eg, with their specs. stating 100A peak. But in reality these so called 100A sound weedy and ultimately feels like coal powered 100A. On the other hand I've experienced amplification at around a quarter of the current and the 25A feel and sound like they're coming from a nuclear source :)

Sometimes less is more (y)
Acknowledge up to a point, however if tend to avoid anyone that comes out with the less is more statement...... :)
 
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