Perreaux Eloquence 255i integrated amplifier/DAC Page 2

But, Holy Cow! This thing is an animal... Yeah, yeah – I know PM has measured challengers that can, in certain cases, dispute the claims as most powerful-ever integrated, but that's the only area where Perreaux should be censured. By claiming such, they simply set themselves up to be bettered or contradicted, which is unnecessary, as the 255i is a powerhouse to reckon with, whether or not it's the most bad-ass unit currently available.

So I quickly moved on, because the 255i never failed to 'light up' both sets of speakers. When, for example, assaulting my ears with Crabby Appleton's 'Go Back' from their eponymous debut [Man In The Moon; MITMCD31], I was immediately able to discern a different kind of slam from that which greeted my ears via the ARC REF75SE. And I used an SPL meter to ensure that it was extra level that I was hearing!


Having received the Gato FM-50s the same week as the Perreaux 255i, and having just reviewed them as above, I repeated the test regime by dropping in the new amp and leaving all else as before. Same with the music – a boon to expediency as I was able to simply compare my listening notes.

Silky Phono Stage
After that quick burst of 'Go Back', just to shake the rafters, I got mono operation out of the way with Jackie Wilson With Billy Ward & The Dominoes [Varèse Sarabande 302 066 553 2]. Using it primarily to assess focus, and as an aid to playing with the menus, all was rock solid in the centre. Vocal quality was a bit less 'warm' sounding than via the all-valve Audio Research, but no more than one expects on solid-state versus tubes (a gap that has narrowed over the decades). The 255i sounded deliciously sweet with this early '50s vocal group material via CD.

But what made my day was the phono stage, which – and I have no idea why – made the London (née Decca) Gold sound more silky and refined than I have heard it via solid-state. My reference EAT E-Glo phono stage still has greater bloom and depth, but the Perreaux 255i made the already shimmering presence of 'Cherry Pink And Apple Blossom White' from Perez Prado's Big Hits By Prado [RCA 'Living Stereo' LSP-2104], just more vivid and natural.

Rocks With Vigour
Of particular interest to inveterate cartridge changers, and those who love to compare pressings is the retrieval of detail. This is one clean-sounding phono section – and I say that as one who has been for ever spoiled by the silences offered by the DS Audio photoelectric cartridges, with their near-digital blackness in the absence of low level shmutz. Prado's orchestra soared, with proper scale, but it was even easier to discern individual instruments with ease.

But back to Crabby Appleton. My reason for concentrating on this hard rock epic is to support the manufacturer's mission statement in creating such a powerful beast. Make no mistake: this is not the world's only integrated amp with phono stage and DAC, but the power claims may be the deal maker for many would-be purchasers.

Leaving aside the need for power if one has hungry speakers, the other is to rock with vigour. Yes, I'm talking maximum SPLs without compression or clipping. And as 'Go Back' lends itself to ear-bleeding levels and the playing of air drums (as much as air guitar), there was no way I could resist cranking it up. The only way I can describe the sheer mass of air pushing at me is this: I gave up for fear of destroying the speakers long before I reached the limits of the 255i.


Like the fat Owner's Manual, there is too much to cover when dealing with this amp. The digital stages are almost a match for the ridiculously good Mytek standalone DAC; there is unlikely to be a cartridge the phono section can't match; and as has been emphasised, power is certainly not an issue. It boils down to something that has nothing to do with sound at all...

In the debate over separates versus integrateds, long resolved are matters of interference between components, while this unit certainly has no weaknesses in the power supply debate. Convenience? The saving of three AC outlets? No question – this is an integrated amp for those who favour expedience over complication, but without compromise. The only deciding factor – how it will sound in the target system?

Hi-Fi News Verdict
As with its predecessor, this is an example of composure applied to a take-no-prisoners attitude, for it does whatever you ask, from delicate music to rave insanity. Aside from the omission of wireless connectivity – no loss, thanks to a USB socket that welcomes all manner of devices – this does it all with grace and eloquence. While just under £9k ain't chicken feed, it's still a helluva lot of amp for the dosh.

Perreaux Industries Ltd
New Zealand
Supplied by: Elite Audio (Distribution) Ltd, London
0203 397 1119