Integrated Amp Reviews

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Art Dudley  |  Nov 19, 2005  |  0 comments
Yet another of the best systems I've ever heard at a hi-fi show was an exhibit by some former distributors for the English manufacturer Exposure Electronics, at a Chicago Consumer Electronics Show in the late 1980s. The exhibitors seemed to believe it was better to impress with a humble product than to overwhelm with a full-bore assault, because they limited their display to a single amplifier: the then-new Exposure X (as in "10") integrated, mated to a record player comprising a Linn LP12 turntable, Ekos tonearm, and Troika cartridge, and a pair of Linn Kan loudspeakers.
Art Dudley  |  Jun 25, 2008  |  0 comments
Three years ago, the idea of a solid-state integrated amplifier that sold for only $1250 yet combined some of the best performance aspects of a Naim Nait and a Dynaco Stereo 70 seemed likely to resonate with consumers and critics alike. And it did: Introduced in early 2005, the British-built Exposure 2010S was an unequivocal hit on both sides of the Atlantic, and remains in Class A of Stereophile's "Recommended Components." Deservedly.
Art Dudley  |  May 21, 2019  |  9 comments
Audiophilia is nothing if not nostalgic—in fact, it's doubly so. Listening to recorded music is an act of looking back, often with the hope of re-creating some wistfully recalled wonder. On top of that, the zeal to perfect the playback experience, whether by means of better-quality recordings or better hardware, is far less common than it used to be among middle-class consumers. Although in recent years our pastime has surprised with its resilience, we're surely nearer the immolation scene than the Prelude to Act I.
Robert Harley  |  Jul 11, 2019  |  First Published: Feb 01, 1993  |  2 comments
American audiophiles have long had a love-hate relationship with British integrated amplifiers. On one hand, they often provide superb musicality, sell for a moderate price, and don't take up much room. On the other, these British alternatives to Adcom or B&K separates often have low power output, nonstandard connectors, idiosyncratic appearance (footnote 1), and dictate the kind of speaker cable and interconnects you can use.
Robert Deutsch  |  Jun 24, 2007  |  0 comments
The naming of audio companies is a tricky business. Ideally, the name should be distinctive, so that people will remember it, and descriptive of the products. However, given the proliferation of audio manufacturers, it's getting more and more difficult to come up with a name that fulfills these criteria, and some names are similar enough to lead to confusion. In one of my show-report blog entries from the 2007 Consumer Electronics Show, instead of correctly listing a company name as Divergent Technologies, I called it Definitive Technologies, which is the name of an another audio company—and was rightly chastised for it in a comment by a reader. I'll bet that no such confusion will occur in the case of Flying Mole Electronics. (As far as I know, there is no Flying Groundhog Electronics.)
Ken Micallef  |  Mar 24, 2017  |  39 comments
As Stereophile's true cub reporter—sorry, Herb Reichert, you're senior staff!—I work in the domestic fields of the high-end audio landscape. Meanwhile, my fellow Stereophile correspondents trot the globe, attending international audio shows, experiencing all the sweet spots offered by such far-flung locales as Munich, Montreal, and Northamptonshire, UK. Am I complaining? Not! But when an audio show of merit invades New York City, still the capital of the civilized world, you can believe I'm there on opening day, pen and pad in hand. The first rooms on my must-visit list usually include Audio Note UK, DeVore Fidelity, MBL—and, when the gear is warm and the good vibes flowing, as they usually are, Wes Bender Studio NYC.
Herb Reichert  |  Apr 29, 2020  |  7 comments
I hope you can tell how grateful I am to be writing a column every month. A column makes me feel like a reporter or raconteur, both of which I aspire to become. In a column, I can be more me. I can evolve, think out loud, and speculate, right in front of you. I can pass on crazy stories from a lifetime of audio. When I write about products in a Dream, I try not to form it as a review, per se, but rather as an informal chronicle of discovery.
Robert Schryer  |  Oct 16, 2020  |  15 comments
I was doing my press beat for Stereophile in the hallway of Montreal's 2019 Audiofest when I glimpsed something that stopped me in my tracks. It was a marketing slogan, across the room on importer/exhibitor Goerner Audio's floorstanding banner: "Tubes or semiconductors? Magneto-solid technology amplifies emotions."
Kalman Rubinson  |  Dec 16, 2011  |  3 comments
The very first amplifier I bought was a Harman Kardon PC-200, aka The Prelude. It was a 10Wpc integrated, but I chose it over the competition for some of the same reasons that the HK 990 has appealed to me. Almost all amps back in the1960s had a plain cake-pan chassis with tubes, capacitors, and transformers studding the top. Integrated amps had the standard four knobs on the front for input selection, volume, bass, and treble. The HK PC-200 had an enclosed black chassis cage that formed a graceful cowl over the brushed-copper front panel and the six matte-black knobs: for Input selection (with three phono turnover settings), Volume, Bass, Treble, Loudness contour, and Treble rolloff. In addition, it had a Rumble Filter switch. The PC-200 was not only more beautiful than the rest of the push-pull competition powered by EL84 tubes, it also had more useful features. (Take that, you fans of the Grommes Little Jewel!). Over the decades, H/K products have always been stylish and innovative, but in today's fractured marketing world, most such creative energies are applied to audio/video receivers and lifestyle products.
Ken Micallef  |  Oct 27, 2016  |  1 comments
I recently watched Terra, an exceptional film by French directors Yann Arthus-Bertrand and Michael Pitiot. It's not a nature documentary per se, rather a history of life on Earth from lichens to lions, amoebas to humans. Terra boasts stunning cinematography of the natural world, revealing a beauty that nearly softens the film's cautionary message.

"How have our relations with other living beings changed so much?" asks Arthus-Bertrand on his website. "What do we still see, or notice, of the living world around us? . . . We no longer see the wild, we dream of it. It's an age-old fascination, visible in the paintings of the Chauvet Cave. But this dream is today disappearing, vanishing in factory smoke and industrial smog. . . .

Herb Reichert  |  Jun 05, 2015  |  8 comments
For decades, I read all the British and American audio magazines, and I pretty much believed everything written therein—with one exception. The equipment reviews published in Stereo Review had an off-puttingly disingenuous quality. I learned a lot from the magazine's reviews of recordings and loudspeakers, but every time senior editor Julian Hirsch wrote that any amp with sufficiently high power, low measured distortion, and high damping factor would sound the same as any other with similar qualifications, I felt estranged from my favorite hobby. Stereo Review's arrogance came off as duplicitous and self-serving. The magazine seemed committed to stamping out all forms of individualized audio connoisseurship.
Art Dudley  |  Jan 02, 2014  |  5 comments
Last summer, in an uncharacteristic fit of wanderlust, I took an American Airlines flight to London. Two days later, I rode the Eurostar train to Paris in the company of my daughter and my wife, a travel agent, who had secured first-class train accommodations on her professional discount. Our ride was brisk, but the upgrade would have been a waste at any price: The Eurostar food was vile.
Art Dudley  |  Mar 25, 2020  |  10 comments
I am the world's worst consumer. Not only have I made more than my share of disastrous purchase decisions, I'm also inexplicably luckless: If there's one defective sample or repack in an inventory, it will find me.

I'm also a deceit magnet, and I'm spineless: More than once in my life, I have made abominable purchase decisions solely to please a manipulative salesman or a disinterested third party (read: girlfriend). There is abundant photographic evidence that I don't know how to shop for clothes, my glasses are wrong for my face because I trust the advice of opticians with bad or no taste, and the less competent/more antagonistic the barber, the likelier I am to say "Great job, I love it" and tip them 50%. If I were smarter, I might actually be rich by now, or at least comfortable.

Art Dudley  |  Dec 01, 2015  |  0 comments
I don't think Americans dislike the French a tenth as much as the corporate media, in their endless struggle to sell our pettiest ideas back to us in cartoon form, suggests we do. Our nations' histories are intertwined, to our great mutual benefit. Americans envy the French their centuries of cultural accomplishments, the French envy Americans their sense of industry and their wide-open spaces. (That one's a tie.) We turn to them for wine, they turn to us for blue jeans. (A point for France.) We watch their films about law-breaking hipsters, they watch our films about law-breaking gangsters. (A point for the US, in whose films things actually happen.)
Michael Fremer  |  Jun 12, 2005  |  0 comments
The French-made Kora line has been in and out of American distribution over the past decade. It's currently imported by Norman AV of Aventura, Florida. With the window of opportunity open again, I decided to listen to Kora's modestly priced hybrid integrated amplifier, the Explorer 150SB ($2030).

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