|Perreaux Eloquence 150i Integrated Amplifier Review|
|Home Theater Power Amplifiers Integrated Amplifiers|
|Written by Andre Marc|
|Wednesday, 17 February 2010|
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All of the very clever bits would be pretty meaningless if the Eloquence 150i did not sound great. And I can assure you, in the weeks I spent with the amp it never ceased to amaze me. As noted, I have only had mid-fi level integrated amps in years past. But in the last year or so, I have demoed flagship integrated amps in various setups, apart from my own, from a number of well known companies that market stratospherically priced components. So I have broad points of comparison to utilize in my own demo. The Perreaux, based on my memory of those auditions, held its own and then some, and was even superior in musicality and enjoyment.
I have had tube separates for a few years now. The 150i did not suffer in comparison in any way to my separates, much to my great surprise. It was accurate harmonically, spatially, tonally, and most importantly, musically. I did not feel short changed, which is a typical feeling, even if just imagined, when comparing an integrated amp to a very good separate preamp and power amplifier set up.
The biggest surprise for me was how wide the soundstage was. It made my speakers seem like they were spaced a few feet wider than they really were, but without any loss of focus and locked center image. If that was the biggest surprise, then the most delightful aspect of this component was that it did absolutely nothing to give away that you were listening to either solid state or tube amplification. It was so grain free, so natural sounding, so musical, and refined, that that question never entered my mind. From my experience, it is one of the few components that transcend the comparison. It just delivers the goods, in spades.
I enjoyed so many musical moments with the 150i, that I won’t bother to describe the performance in the usual compartmentalized aspects of bass, midrange, treble, etc. With the Perreaux, I don’t see a point. It offers such a coherent presentation, and did not have me shying away from any genre of music. That is a rarity. I was able to use the 150i in my secondary system first, and in my main system with consistent results. It worked immaculately with my Spendor S5R mini monitors, and with my Harbeth Compact 7’s. I would have loved to have had it with the DAC module installed so I could have used it my music server and Logitech Squeezebox. But I can’t imagine the module quality is not commensurate with the rest of the 150i.
I recently bought a copy of the 30th Anniversary Edition of Bruce Springsteens’ Born to Run. I have never heard the album in such a fleshed out, lifelike manor. I also have a copy of the mid 90’s Gold Disc version of this, and the differences were easy to hear. The recent remaster has a bit more sparkle, and bit more detail, but the Gold Disc holds up well I must say. Moving forward to 2009, I also spun the latest offering from Springsteen, Working on a Dream. It is much better sounding than his previous trio of albums, The Rising, Devils & Dust, and especially the horrible sounding Magic. Not only does is sound great, the songs are first rate. Springsteen specifically was looking to tap into some of his earlier, more romantic work like Born to Run, and he pulls it off in spades, without sounding like a cheap effort to capitalize on his classic, most celebrated period. The Perreaux made listening to the dense, beautifully crafted arrangements heavenly.
I also had on hand a few Police remasters as well. I was shocked at how well these albums were recorded and through Perreaux everything sounded so lifelike, so much so it transported me back to my early teens when these albums were new and how excited I was to hear them for the first time. I also put on quite a few singer songwriters like Ray Lamontagne, Paolo Nutini, and Lisa Hannigan. These artists are obviously big fans of an earlier, analog dominated era, and the Perreaux was superb at offering up an organic, musical portrait of each of these artists.
In addition, I recently purchased the 40th Anniversary Edition of King Crimson’s In the Court of the Crimson King. This one of my all time favorites and the Perreaux brought me closer to the music than before. The same goes for the 2009 double disc remaster of the David Bowie mega classic Space Oddity. One more rock example is the 2001 remaster of the Guess Who’s American Woman. Only a great component can make a 39 year old recording sparkle, and rock out to the point that its age is utterly irrelevant.
I also had some pleasant listening sessions with classical and jazz. The RCA Living Stereo recording of Dvorak: New World Symphony is an all time favorite. The entire spectrum of colors was reproduced gorgeously through the 150i. Strings, brass, percussion, and woodwinds retained all their natural timbres, and dynamic contrasts. It was quite the stunning presentation. The opening of the 4th movement was a goose bump inducing experience. Acoustic jazz was just as remarkbely rendered. Classic Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and McCoy Tyner recordings sounded ageless and agile.