Pre/Power Amplifiers

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Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Aug 23, 2021
hfnoutstandingThis flagship, fully balanced preamplifier comes with Bryston's BDA-3-inspired DAC plus updated BDP streaming platform and full network control. It's busier than it looks!

There's so much functionality under the bonnet of Bryston's BR-20 that you might wonder where to start. I would suggest the manual – this £7500 networked USB DAC/preamplifier isn't, it must be said, the most instantly intuitive of system hubs I've ever auditioned. But the effort is worth it though, because what the BR-20 can do, and how it does it, is quite special.

Steve Harris & Paul Miller  |  Aug 06, 2009
Some electronics manufacturers manage to move upmarket just by adding more elaborate casework, a few audiophile components and, if you are lucky, a bigger transformer. Not so with the Cambridge Azur range. With these products, it seems the company set out to leapfrog the competition in technology and technical performance. And so, at the top of the Azur line, we have a truly sophisticated preamp, the 840E, and a truly muscular power amp, the 840W, at a total price of £2000.
Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 07, 2021
hfnoutstandingNamed after founder Prof. Gordon Edge, Cambridge Audio's flagship series is reinforced by the new 'M' monoblock amp. With the NQ Streamer, does this combo have an edge?

Nothing if not ambitious, Cambridge Audio's Edge series first broke cover three years back as part of the company's 50th anniversary celebrations. It took its name from Gordon Edge, one of the company's founders and the brains behind its first product, the P40 amplifier. Designed to take on the best in high-end audio, these Edge separates also serve as 'halo' products for the company's lower-tier ranges.

Martin Colloms  |  Oct 16, 2020  |  First Published: Jan 01, 1982
hfnvintageTiny amp, lashings of power... Martin Colloms lifts the lid on a box of tricks

The long awaited Carver Cube power amplifier is at last available in the UK. Bob Carver, its designer, is not a particularly well known figure in the UK but most people have heard of Phase Linear, which was founded by him, and he also designed its range of products. His special interest has been in high-power amplifiers, with the 400 B and 700 B Phase Linear models now audio legends.

Review: Ken Kessler  |  Apr 15, 2022  |  First Published: Mar 01, 2003
hfnvintageThe British company has unveiled a system with the same stunning livery as its highly successful DAC64. Ken Kessler reaches for the blue yonder

Sometimes manufacturers do listen! After Chord Electronics' DAC64 proved to be such an immediate hit, the company decided to figure out why everyone fell in love with it. Sure, it sounded wonderful. Yes, it had neat features like balanced and single-ended operation and its three-setting, user-adjustable RAM buffering. But that wasn't it.

Review and Lab: Paul Miller, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 02, 2020
hfnoutstandingThe Chord Ultima range has grown from a single pre and power amp, as the tech becomes more affordable. The Ultima 2 models might just give the flagships a scare

Never let it be said that the Chord Electronics range isn't distinctive in its styling: all the way up from the tiny Mojo DAC [HFN Jan '16] to the flagship Ultima reference preamplifier [HFN Feb '19], the company's products look like nothing else on the market, as if to emphasise that what's going on inside them involves no shortage of proprietary technology, too.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 08, 2019
hfnoutstandingJoining the 'horsepower club', Chord Electronics rolls out its flagship pre and massive (and hefty) monoblock power amps. Does the sound live up to the imposing style?

At the risk of tempting fate, I wonder whether there's a power output arms race going on between manufacturers. The arrival of the new Ultima power amplifiers from Chord Electronics – at £30,000 apiece in either silver or black, along with the matching (and similarly-priced) Ultima preamp – suggests so. After all, their rated power of 780W/8ohm load is just north of the 768W claimed by Naim's 'Statement' NAP-S1 monoblocks [HFN Jun '15] – a target vaunted as 'one horsepower'. In practice, Naim's NAP-S1 achieved 795W/8ohm in PM's lab tests at the time, but it seems that in the current ultra-high-end amp scene, there ain't no substitute for cubic inches – or something like that.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 02, 2021
hfnoutstandingClassé is back with a bang – its third-generation Delta amplification carrying 'does what it says on the tin' model designations, and sounding as thrillingly no-nonsense as ever

When it comes to prosaic model naming, Classé has it nailed: its latest Delta series preamp, selling for £9999, is called 'PRE', and the matching monoblock power amps at £10,999 apiece, are called 'MONO'. The only other model in the lineup is the Delta stereo power amp, at £11,999, which is unsurprisingly called 'STEREO'.

Richard Stevenson & Paul Miller  |  May 06, 2009
I love the design of Classé’s Delta series products. The beefy build, curved fascias and contrasting silver and dark colours make for an extremely cool look. Add in a colour LCD screen as a display and source monitor, a remote control handset hewn from an aluminium ingot and Classé’s audiophile heritage, and the new SSP-800 processor is one of the most desirable pieces of multichannel lushness available today. I want one, can you tell? Some two years in the making and coming to market with a price tag around the £5000 mark puts this beast up against the Denon AVP-A1HD.
Ian Harris & Paul Miller  |  Jun 06, 2009
Up to now, Coda Technologies Inc of Sacramento, California, has managed to resist the economic rip-tide which has swept so much audiophile manufacturing towards the Far East. Resolutely continuing to design and build wholly in the US, Coda offers both integrated and pre/power amplification solutions, with prices starting at a point that sits squarely in the territory of the burgeoning Chinese high-end zone. In terms of build quality, the Coda faces tough competition from the latest Far Eastern products. On construction alone, the CS earns a draw, but the CL’s slightly less than hewn-from-solid casework cedes the initiative to the best competition.
Steve Harris & Paul Miller  |  Feb 06, 2009
There cannot be many words more overworked than ‘classic’. Sometimes it means a previous model, kept in production ‘by popular demand’, perhaps because the new replacement model doesn’t quite cut it. Sometimes it means a new emulation of an old and once successful product, which may bear little real resemblance to a famous forebear. Conrad-johnson’s website straightforwardly lists all its discontinued models as ‘Classic Products’.
Steve Harris and Paul Miller  |  May 08, 2011
Still refining its triode technology after all these years, the American company offers a purist preamplifier that promises new levels of musical insight Now that tube amplifiers seem to grow on trees, at least in China, it’s hard to imagine the overwhelmingly solid-state hi-fi scene of 35 years ago. In America, though, a tube revival was coming. Audio Research had been selling new hi-fi tube amplifiers since 1970, while many audiophiles were still finding something in the sound of old tube amps that seemed to be missing from the shiny new solid-state stuff. Among those users of classic tube equipment were Dr William Conrad and Dr Lewis Johnson, two economists who were both also keen audiophiles.
Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Dec 19, 2019
hfnoutstandingAlways fancied a pair of mighty monoblocks? From Constellation's 'entry-level' Inspiration series, these self-effacing cubes offer power a-plenty and awesome sound

Surprises, at my age, could prove fatal, so I neither invite nor encourage them. Even pleasant ones. Neither do I relish my preconceptions being challenged: 'Old dogs, new tricks...' That said, and despite spending countless hours listening to assorted Constellation systems over the years, I must admit to being unexpectedly bowled over by these Inspiration Mono 1.0 power amplifiers.

Review: David Price, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Dec 01, 2017
hfnoutstanding.pngBased on the popular Inspiration series, the new Revelation range offers upscaled performance for gimmick-averse audiophiles. Its new pre/power is a formidable package

High-end hi-fi offers many flavours of weird and wonderful design, technology and functionality. In a sense, that’s what it’s there for, in order to differentiate itself from more prosaic, modestly priced products. Yet it’s all too easy to get lost in ‘surprise and delight’ features, wild styling or wilfully alternative engineering – and lose the plot.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 03, 2020
hfnoutstandingEquipping its Centaur amplifier with a power supply from the Reference series Hercules model has done more than boost the output of this mkII – a true high-end heavyweight

At first glance, one might be forgiven for wondering what's going on here – after all, California-based Constellation Audio already has a Centaur II stereo power amplifier on its books, selling for a not inconsiderable £48,000. So the $64,000 question must surely be 'what is this second version, dubbed the Centaur II 500 Stereo, bringing to the party?'.

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