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Pre/Power Amplifiers

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Ed Selley  |  Sep 15, 2010  |  0 comments
Astin Trew AT1000/AT5000 - £650/£850 Confident duo packs a punch with all types of music, but is less subtle with more complex melodies Astin Trew is a young company which we’ve watched develop with increasing admiration. We’ll come to the all-important sound performance in a few paragraphs, of course, but we would be remiss if we didn’t praise the company for the highly professional look and finish of its amplifiers: these are really very smartly made units that, clichés aside, genuinely transcend their price tag. Most of the manufacturing process is carried out in China, but AT has done its homework and attended to all sorts of details. And the insides have hardly been skimped on, either.
Ed Selley  |  Sep 15, 2010  |  0 comments
NAD C165BEE/C275BEE £650/£900 NAD's budget combi looks very promising, but while looks can be deceiving the listening test reveals all From the original kings of budget audiophilia, comes a particularly well-equipped preamp and a strikingly powerful power amp, all tastefully presented in traditional NAD charcoal black. NAD is one of only very few brands to include tone controls, although as our Marantz news feature on p8 shows, they might be making a comeback! There’s also a subwoofer output which we don’t imagine too many stereo folks using, but the rest of the facilities are very useful. We’re particularly impressed with the flexible phono stage, which caters for both MM and MC cartridge and even has adjustable loading. The C275 BEE power amp is a chunky beast with the option to be used in bridged mode if its normal 150 watts isn’t enough for you.
Ed Selley  |  Sep 15, 2010  |  0 comments
Rotel RC1580/RB1582 - £1,000/£1,100 An undisputed badge-winner, Rotel promises a great deal for the money and delivers. . . in spades Like NAD, Rotel has for many years steered a careful course somewhere between the vast multinationals (Sony, Yamaha) and the small specialists, as well as managing to maintain a profile associated with distinctive products of good performance and value.
Ed Selley  |  Sep 15, 2010  |  0 comments
Tsakiridis Devices Alexander/Artemis - £1,450/£1,450 Variations in performance levels are disappointing New to us in the UK it may be, but Tsakiridis Devices is a brand with over two decades of history. A family-run outfit from Greece, it makes valve-based audio with the emphasis very much on affordability. Many of the basic themes will be familiar to valve aficionados, including the use of simple circuits with little or no feedback, thus ensuring that the valves’ character is unchecked, for better or worse. The Artemis power amp comes with a choice of EL34 or KT88 output valves fitted.
Ed Selley  |  Sep 15, 2010  |  0 comments
Cyrus Pre XP D/8 power - £1,350/£875 A traditional-sounding pre/power amp combi from Cyrus, that works hard to establish itself against the competition Built, as ever, into the famous Cyrus diecast chassis, these units are picked from among the comprehensive range of pre and power amplifiers in the company’s catalogue. To some extent we’ve chosen an unusual pairing as the preamp significantly exceeds the power amp in price and its usual partner would be the X Power, but apart from anything else, Cyrus offers an upgrade path to take the 8 to X status, so the model chosen initially matters less than usual. In addition, the preamp includes DAC functions so its price can fairly be thought of as including a DAC, as well as an analogue pre. We mentioned upgrades and this is a major attraction of Cyrus.
Ed Selley  |  Sep 15, 2010  |  0 comments
Parasound P3/A23 - £800/£900 This pre/power duo boasts a sound performance that adds extra dimension to vocals Parasound is a name which will be familiar to those interested in American audio, but historically it’s not had much visibility in the UK. These two products are part of the company’s ‘Halo’ range, value audiophile products designed in America but built in Taiwan. Very nicely built, too -– the cases are well finished and exceptionally solid, while the look and feel are generally first-rate. The P3 preamp is well equipped with inputs, including a balanced line input and also a phono stage.

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