Edwards Audio IA1 Integrated Amplifier Page 2

In other words, keep the loudspeaker choice sensible, with reasonable sensitivity, and you won't go far wrong. Well, I got it half right with one of my choices: the hefty-sounding, and heavy, MartinLogan Motion F10 floorstanders. At just under £3000 a pair these might not seem an obvious partner, but with their claimed high sensitivity they were a temptation – and one to which I was pleased to succumb.

Chugging out Elvis Costello & The Imposters' live 'Every Day I Write The Book', from 2011's The Return Of The Spectacular Spinning Songbook!!! [Hip-O Records; 96kHz/24-bit download], the IA1 showed both fine grip on the powerful, tight bass and Pete Thomas's drumming, plus excellent character in both Costello's voice and long-term partner-in-crime Steve Nieve's keyboards. Mind you, the amplifier pulled off the same trick when switched from 'main system' duties to desktop use – obvious really, given the diminutive size – driving Neat's little Iota speakers.

Carrying The Cans
Quite apart from the fact that the finish of my time-served Iotas matched the white amplifier I had to hand, the IA1 slotted into this function superbly, also proving a credible partner for some of the headphones used, from my reliable Bowers & Wilkins P9 Signatures [HFN Mar '17] to the ever-so-precise Austrian Audio Hi-X55 cans. It drove headphones and speakers alike with real conviction, ably tackling everything from Rias Kammerchor's set of Handel's 'Coronation Anthems' [Harmonia Mundi HMM902708], which had just the right combination of spaciousness and drama, to the intense focus of Kristoffer Hyldig's piano playing across two-plus hours of Messaien's 'Vingt Regards Sur L'Enfant-Jesus' [OUR Recordings 6220677; DXD]. With the latter in particular, the IA1 made it more than tempting to just let the music play on in a suitably meditative, contemplative fashion.


Two line inputs and an MM phono, all on RCAs, are hosted adjacent to blanked-off inputs for a preamp output and forthcoming/optional digital modules. Speaker outputs are on PCB-mounted 4mm sockets for banana plugs only

Yes, there's always a small voice muttering the old 'memento mori' when playing music at a decent level with an amplifier claiming 'only' 30W a side, and if you get silly it's not hard to sense that Edwards Audio's little box is running out of puff, but it sounds so much gutsier than one might expect. Okay, so I'd probably rule out the likes of the flagship Bowers & Wilkins 801 D4s [HFN Nov '21] in a room the size of a barn, but for most obvious speaker choices in more conventional listening spaces, and especially for the kind of efficient set-ups in smaller rooms for which its physical dimensions make it especially suited, the IA1 has much going for it.

System Building
The thing is, for an amplifier with so much 'only' about it – its size, its power output, its limited inputs, its price – this one requires very few allowances, let alone excuses, to be made. The IA1's MM phono stage is as good as one might expect, given its provenance as an amp from a turntable manufacturer, as proven with a spin of some favourite vinyl, notably Supertramp's opulent prog rock classic Crime Of The Century [A&M Records AMLS 68258] and Café Society's eponymous album [Konk KONK102], on my trusty Rega deck. And that points to the fact that the IA1 could easily form the heart of a cost-conscious record-playing system with Edwards Audio's Prodigy or Apprentice turntables and a couple of hundred quid spent on some speakers. Well, this is a 'Budget Esoterica' review, after all...

Let Me Entertain You
The beauty of the IA1 is that it isn't just 'the little amplifier that could', because it goes beyond that to be a little bit special. Over the time of my audition, it was fronted by everything from a long-running Marantz CD63 KI-Signature CD player [HFN Jul '96] to iFi Audio's NEO Stream [HFN Mar '23], not to mention a full-house Naim ND555/2x555PS network player [HFN Apr '19], while driving a selection of speakers far beyond its pay grade. In every case it over-delivered in a very pleasing manner.


Talk-branded remote offers control over the IA1's input selection, motorised volume and mute

The slick jazz of Trichotomy's recent To Vanish set [Earshift EAR070] was delivered with crisp clarity and rhythmical acuity, and the scale and detail of the Vienna Philharmonic/Maazel reading of Sibelius's 'Karelia' [The Seven Symphonies, Decca 4788541] was immensely satisfying. Edwards Audio's no-frills IA1 might not be a giant-killer, but it's certainly an entertaining little amplifier.

Hi-Fi News Verdict
That word 'honest' keeps coming back to mind when listening to the IA1. This is an amplifier with an exceptional degree of musical communication for the money and – with just a little common sense in the choice of partnering equipment – could sit at the centre of a very cost-effective system. It's easy to understand and use, won't take up much space, plays its socks off and looks good, too. Go on, pick a colour...

Talk Electronics Ltd
Wilts, UK
Supplied by: Talk Electronics Ltd
01344 844 204