Pre/Power Amplifiers

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Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 22, 2023
hfnoutstanding'Tubes Rule' is the Manley Labs mantra as we catch up with an aquatically-inspired pre/ monoblock combo that have been at the core of its range for the best part of 20 years

Timely or what? When editor PM pointed out that the Manley Jumbo Shrimp Line Preamplifier (£5849) and Mahi Monoblock Amplifier (a stereo pair at £7599 making up Mahi-Mahi – geddit?) had been in the catalogue for ages, I learned from company president EveAnna Manley that it was exactly 20 years to the day of their debut that I was auditioning the latter.

Ken Kessler  |  Mar 23, 2021  |  First Published: Jan 01, 1997
hfnvintageClassic tubes meet modern tech in the £30,000 Project T-1 monoblocks. Is this Marantz's ultimate amplifier, asks an awestruck Ken Kessler

Contemplating the Project T-1 power amplifiers from Marantz, I realise that nothing in hi-fi should surprise us any more. If, in 1990, someone had told you that, by 1997, the hi-fi community would be clamouring for single-ended triodes and horn systems, that Quad and McIntosh and Marantz would reissue their valve classics, that Mobile Fidelity would open a new LP pressing plant and that Krell and Audio Research would introduce integrated amps, you'd have had that someone committed.

Martin Colloms  |  Jul 30, 2019  |  First Published: Mar 01, 1990
Martin Colloms hears the ultimate amplifier system from one of audio's elite names: the No26/No20.5 pre/power duo and No25 phono stage

Since acquiring the Mark Levinson Audio Systems company five years ago, Madrigal Labs has pursued an evolving research programme, generating improved circuits and product designs. The result is that current MLAS products now have an importance comparable with the original brand's landmark designs.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 01, 2018
hfnoutstanding.pngThey may typify Stateside heavy-metal hi-fi, but this pre/power amplifier from one of the high-end's best-known names is really all about simplicity and directness

Depending on your point of view, what you see before you are either objects of absolute hi-fi aspiration or a symbol of everything that's wrong with high-end audio in the 21st century. Along with compatriot Krell, Mark Levinson is one of those names that's likely to be known even by those with only a passing interest in hi-fi and – though the marque has undergone several twists and turns in its near-50-year history – it remains one of the best-known in the audio business.

Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 20, 2015
At last, Levinson’s flagship No53 monoblock amplifiers [see HFN Jan ’11] now have a Reference-status preamplifier with which they may be rightly partnered. The No52 is a two-chassis component designed with meticulous attention to detail both in its topology and in features that offer comprehensive system configurability. The rationale of this approach is to isolate the pure analogue audio circuitry from any possible source of pollution: it physically separates the power supply and microprocessor-driven controls from the audio electronics contained in the larger chassis. Volume control is via a precision ladder resistor network with fine gain adjustment in 0.
Ed Selley  |  Nov 20, 2011
The latest Levinson product is a consummate music maker New electronics bearing the Mark Levinson badge don’t appear too often. When they do, the world of high-end audio expects them to be exemplary. In producing its first switching amplifier, the ML design team has been able to scale things down to (almost) manageable proportions. The benefits of Class D amplifiers include increased efficiency enabling greater power output while requiring less heat dissipation in smaller, lighter and more affordable packages.
Ed Selley  |  Nov 19, 2011
A sumptuous Italian pairing with sonics to match the exquisite looks You have to hand it to Italian designers: they sure do know how to make a statement. These mightily imposing valve power amplifiers dubbed 845 Monoblock and accompanying PhL-5 preamplifier simply ooze luxury. At £9995 per pair, the monoblock employs twin 845 tubes in parallel single-ended pure Class A mode, with two 6SN7 dual-triodes used as drivers and, as you might expect, zero negative feedback. The transformers are hand-wound with litz wire to avoid the use of solder and are ‘potted’ in a mix of resin and gravel to provide mass damping.
Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 04, 2022
hfnoutstandingHandbuilt in Berlin, this preamp and monoblock power amp defies the industrial look, favouring instead an exquisite finish. And the sound more than lives up to the style

By any standards, the Noble series from Berlin-based MBL is a looker. The components aren't massive – in place of slabby high-end units wearing their audio prowess on their sleeve, as it were, both the £11,500 N11 preamplifier and the N15 mono power amplifiers, at £13,900 apiece, are relatively slender units. They are also immaculately finished in a choice of gloss black or white, with accents for the control elements available in either polished gold or palinux (silver), with black detailing also offered if you go for the white main colour.

Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Nov 13, 2014
McIntosh’s original MC275 featured as an ‘Audio Milestone’ [HFN Dec ’10], but what’s reviewed here is the current production version of this most famous power amplifier. It’s the same as the 2011 Anniversary Edition but with stainless steel rather than a gold chassis. Its most spectacular outward feature, described in staid McIntosh tech-speak as ‘small tube illumination for amplifier status operation’, comprises LEDs indicating status or output tube failure. This is a part of a protection circuit system which will also shut the amp down if speaker wires are shorted or there is a gross impedance mismatch.
Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 21, 2023
hfnoutstandingWith its rack-mount 'ears' and 2U chassis, Mac's MI502 amplifier has its sights set on the custom install market. But is this Class D powerhouse also a treat for purist stereophiles?

It's not unusual to find consumer hi-fi hardware making some concessions to the custom installation (CI) space – typically connectivity, such as RS232 and Ethernet – that enables a CI professional to integrate and control the product in a wider system. Yet there are also items, such as McIntosh's MI502, that are more deliberately aimed at the CI market. A slimline two-channel power amplifier, it looks a world away from some of the Binghamton, New York-based company's heavy-hitters. Should it be given a swerve by the dedicated audiophile? Or might it be just what the doctor ordered?

Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 22, 2015
Here’s a stylish new Meridian product right in the mainstream: a headphone amp/USB DAC with optional outboard PSU. It wouldn’t be a Meridian, though, without having some novel features. The cases are interlocking aluminium extrusions, double-skinned to enhance screening, and having no visible fasteners holding it together – clever. The PPS power supply is not dedicated to the PHA headphone amp but provides five 12V/500mA DC outputs on mini-DIN sockets, each incorporating dual-stage linear voltage regulation, for powering other Meridian products as well.
Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Dec 01, 2017
hfncommended.pngSomething for the high-end user with a sense of fun – Metaxas' Marquis 'Memento Mori' headphone amp marries form with function and the result is rather jolly. Er, Roger.

Headphones now rule – period – and as a vivid illustration of the current profusion of cans, I was staggered to see, at a store in Tokyo, a selection of something like 1500 headphones, and with plenty of high-end brands notable by their absence.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 01, 2018
hfncommended.pngThis slimline amplifier from an established French brand may suggest another product from the same country, but it's a very different prospect with some unique features

So, it's a slimline amplifier, and it's French – already thinking of the 'D' word? But while it might seem that the M-One amplifiers from Micromega could be 'inspired' by the success of Devialet's range, in fact they have little in common beyond their country of origin and a passing resemblance in dimensions: under the skin they're very different animals.

Ken Kessler & Paul Miller  |  Dec 16, 2009
Time to disregard all the French felonies that form my antipathy towards our neighbour across the Channel: the revived Micromega has returned to the market with a family of new products offering build quality, style, functionality and, above all, prices belying manufacture in Europe. The brand will be a cat among UK pigeons, despite arriving when the economy suggests that this is not the time to launch, or re-launch a brand. Perhaps new owner Didier Hamdi knows something we don’t. Maybe tough times are just made for bargains.
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 20, 2015
ModWright’s owner Dan Wright argues that ‘Valves are great voltage amplifiers and solid-state devices are great current amplifiers. ’ Hence the combination here: the top of the range ‘DM’ dual-mono version of the LS 36. 5 preamp, with its separate PS 36. 5 power supply, and the KWA 150 Signature Edition power amplifier.