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Wednesday, 17 February 2010 ,  Written by Andre Marc
Perreaux Eloquence 150i Integrated Amplifier Review
In years past, I’ve usually rolled with an integrated amplifier. Reasons included less space, fewer cables, tons of inputs, conveniences like headphone jacks, remote controls, and even subwoofer connectivity. But there are integrated amps and there are integrated amps.  I was in the budget component and midfi camp during my college days.  At that point, integrated amps were not known for being state of the art. Things have changed quite a bit since then. Integrated amplifiers have approached, if not crossed into the state of the art. Most exalted high end audio manufacturers are currently offering battleship integrated amps along side their flagship separates. Many designers are even offering built in world class phono stages, Digital Audio Converters and digital inputs.It has been a number of years since I have had any experience with a high grade integrated amp in ...
Monday, 01 February 2010 ,  Written by Todd Whitesel
Hegel H100 Integrated Amplifier Review
Integrated amplifiers have come a long way in the last three decades. For years, they've had a reputation (deserved or not) as sonically inferior to separate preamp and power amp setups. Naysayers  argue any component containing pre-amp and power amp modules is subject to cross-talk and bound to introduce unwanted noise and distortion into the signal chain. Still, an integrated's advantages – lower cost, space saving and fewer connections – make it a popular choice for music lovers faced with budget and/or room constraints. I believe most audiophiles would prefer stereo separates, but it's tough to go wrong with a well-designed integrated amplifier serving as heart of an audio system. And well-designed describes Hegel Audio's H100 integrated amplifier, a 120-watt  designed to trounce distortion. Hailing from Oslo, Norway, the H100 is Hegel's entry-level amp. Though its $3,000 asking price may ...
Wednesday, 23 December 2009 ,  Written by Todd Whitesel
Electrocompaniet PI-2 Prelude Integrated Amplifier Review
The southwest of Norway is a region best known for its rugged coastal scenery. Consult any travel guide of the region and you'll be lavished with descriptions of towering fjords and images of landscapes almost indescribably beautiful. It's unlikely you'll read anything about transient intermodulation distortion (TIM), why it's bad for audio and how one company operating in the little village of Tau, Norway, has been on a mission for more than 35 years to make sure you don't have to hear about TIM, in the most literal sense. That company is Electrocompaniet, an early leader in research and developing solid-state gear that addressed the problems of distortion unique to that design, when previously the audio world was ruled by tubes. Electrocompaniet managing director and CEO Mikal Dreggevik relates, “Electrocompaniet introduced their first amplifier more than 30 years ago. That ...
Wednesday, 16 December 2009 ,  Written by Todd Whitesel
Marantz PM-KI Pearl Integrated Amplifier Review
Marantz's PM-KI Pearl Integrated Amplifier is one of two limited edition components (along with the SA-KI Pearl SACD/CD Player) celebrating designer Ken Ishiwata's achievement with the company in 30 years. For the event, Ishiwata went into the audio lab and reshaped and retooled these two components to his aesthetics and offered them up for a select few music lovers. The KI is limited to just 500 units, making it instantly collectible, and I felt humbled knowing I was among such a wee group who would ever hear these components. Marantz has a Web site (http://www.marantz.eu/kipearl/) dedicated solely to the KI Pearl and its brethren SA-KI Pearl. I'm always wary of quoting and seemingly confirming views of a company's product in question, but I doubt anyone would question Marantz's and Ishiwata's ideals that “... specifications are just facts. We're interested in ...
Tuesday, 24 November 2009 ,  Written by Todd Whitesel
Neuhaus Labs T-2 Integrated Vacuum Tube Amplifier Review
Computer audio has come a long way since I purchased my first PC back in 1996. It was a Hewlett Packard model that ran on Windows 95 and had a pair of speakers that clipped onto each side of the monitor. That bulbous display and plastic speakers served as my first computer audio console, and though the sound was abysmal the prospect of having a glut of music at my fingertips was pretty cool. I watched as computer audio went from its humble beginnings to challenging home audio component space for pride of place. Many audiophiles are ditching their CD players for hard drives and CDs for audio files; others are treading into the waters slowly. Want to have your brain toasted? Visit an audio chat forum, ask what's the best way to set up a computer audio system and ...
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