Ask any Magnepan loudspeaker owner about amplifier choices and they’ll tell you that you need three things: power, power and more power. This is the premise upon which I hooked my search for budget integrateds to partner withe MMG. Class D is a fast-track to more watts per channel but what about Class A/B? Surely there must be a manufacturer or two doing it keen with the double whammy of low pricing and high output? Indeed there are: Emotiva in Tennessee are perhaps the goto budget brand in the USA. They have an almost cult-like fan base, continually nailing their value for money colours to the mast with high power amplifier designs. Their XPR-2 offers 1000 wpc into 4 ohms. Holy smokes.
For Australians, the sucker punch is high shipping costs. It really puts a sting in the tail of an Emotiva purchase.
Closer to home – and transportation costs easier on the wallet – Chinese manufacturer Audio-gd are the goto guys when maximising bang-for-buck. Their line of R-2R and Delta-Sigma DACs are second to none. I’ve covered the NFB-2.1, the Reference 7.1 and the Reference 10.2 in these pages. I’m a BIG fan of Kingwa’s extreme value approach (despite his products not having the same high quality aesthetics of the Emotiva range). In review land, his (power) amplifiers are less of a know quantity. I did spend considerable time with an Audio-gd pre-power combo in 2011 at which one of my audiophile buddies levelled the accusation of ‘light-sabre audio’. I called it out as dead neutral – ‘bleached, hospital clean’.
The Master 10 (US$1880) is a 38kg behemoth – so shipping costs are still likely to sting – but you get 500 watts per channel of Class A/B performance. In the context of Magnepan’s MMG, I didn’t hear the same polished window effect as the ACSS-connected separates.. This integrated sounded warmer, more humid. Read the full coverage here.
Further information: Audio-gd