SPL Elector/Performer s1200 Pre/Power Amplifier Page 2

Playing the Irish Baroque Orchestra's The Hibernian Muse [Linn Records CKD 685; 192kHz/24-bit], this SPL duo is remarkable for its speed and definition, really taking the listener into the heart of the pieces, and revealing the exuberance of the playing. The bass is rich, but tight, and the entire frequency range, right up into the subtle ambient clues of the high treble, is beautifully resolved and creates a delightfully involving sound.

The same transparency serves well Eric Clapton's Nothing But The Blues live album [Reprise/Bushbranch 093624906452; 48kHz/24-bit], particularly as it storms out the 1994 recording of 'Crossroads'. This will have you wondering whether it's a totally different track as it opens with its 'Willie And The Hand Jive' riff – both Clapton's guitar and his vocals are ripe and upfront, while the accompanying musicians are wonderfully apparent throughout. The old guy may have expressed some odd views of late, but this is a joyous set of him doing what he does best, and the SPL pre and power amplifiers offer a captivating sense of communication.

Beautiful Intimacy
The Elector/s1200 pulls off a similar trick with Leonard Cohen's Live In Dublin triple-disc offering [Columbia/Sony 88875031862], which also has a beautiful intimacy and focus, even down to the presence of the singalong Irish crowd on the closing 'Save The Last Dance For Me'.


Preamp [top] has three balanced (XLR) and three single-ended (RCA) ins, a tape loop, direct (RCA) and variable outs (XLR). Power amp [below] has switchable RCA/XLR inputs (with 0 to –5.5dB attenuation) and 4mm speaker binding posts

Switch genre completely to Deus Arrakis [SPV Recordings SPV 246152 CD], the swansong of the late Klaus Schulze, who died in April '22, and the clarity and power of the Elector and Performer s1200 brings out all the drama of the ever-shifting waves of electronica on the three long pieces here, creating an enveloping soundscape that fills the room way beyond the loudspeakers.

Meanwhile, with David Bowie's The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars [Parlophone 192kHz/24-bit download], the immediate sound of the amplifiers really gets you into the studio with the singer and the Ronson/Bolder/Woodmansey power trio. From the original 'concept album that wasn't' to the record company-demanded single 'Starman', the music comes up as fresh as a somewhat spacey daisy 50 years after its original release.

And yes, the Elector and Performer s1200 are more than up to the album's instruction 'To Be Played At Maximum Volume', and even though I suspect Mr Bowie wouldn't have imagined the tracks with this much welly behind them, things stayed clean and thrilling, and I didn't get those fans spinning once.

Unstoppable Force
From the simplicity of Matei Varga's The Year That Never Was set [Sono Luminus DSL-92258; DSD128], with its solo piano works – the instrument rendered with gorgeous vibrancy – to the crisp Dausgaard/Swedish Chamber Orchestra recording of Brahms's First Symphony [BIS 1756, 44.1kHz/24-bit], these SPL amplifiers are a revelation.

They seem able to deliver realistic weight and power while still keeping rhythms tight and the musical flow unstoppable. Although the Varga album shows a battered upright on the cover, his piano is beautifully captured in a lively studio atmosphere, while the Dausgaard recording shows a lightness of touch not common with what can become a real orchestral potboiler. And then there's the conductor – taking the piece at a thrilling pace, while still building skilfully to the big theme in the symphony's final movement.


A 'naked' s1200 reveals the machined fascia for your choice of colour-anodised magnetic insert, and fan cooling hidden within its base

All of this is conveyed with ease by this SPL duo, but there's nothing safe or easy here, for these are amplifiers that seduce the listener with the power and message of the music, not the mechanics of how it's being reproduced.

Less Is More
That's the beauty of this compact combo: without all the size and visual swagger of some of its rivals, this is a pre/power pairing fully able to deliver on all its promise of power and purity, and proof of its manufacturer's 'less is more' philosophy. The Elector preamp and Performer s1200 power amplifier have an almost jewel-like quality when you unbox them, yet go on to confound any expectations of cuteness with truly massive ability.

Hi-Fi News Verdict
Immaculately built and finished within and without, the Elector and Performer s1200 prove you don't have to find space for big, macho-looking components to achieve a remarkable level of performance. With all the speed, weight and dynamic ability most listeners will ever want, this pre/power is a delight, delivering a scintillatingly wide-open sound that just gets more impressive the more you listen.

SPL electronics GmbH
Niederkruechten, Germany
Supplied by: SCV Electronics Ltd, Herts
03301 222500