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 A25M review Tom Haleas

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Join date : 2015-01-03

PostSubject: A25M review Tom Haleas   Fri Jun 09, 2017 2:35 am

I purchased the Audolici A25 integrated amp at Axpona, where
 I met the personable Harold Cooper.  The amp was being
 demonstrated on Audio Note speakers, with a tweaked out, but
 very basic (like less than $100) CD player.

I immediately enjoyed the sound in that room.  The music
 just sounded “right”.  The tone was real, very
 fleshed-out with rich mids, smooth highs and punchy bass.
 There was nothing lean or stringent about the sound.  In
 addition, there was a beguiling transparency where small
 details in the music became clear as if a haze had been
 removed.  This was all great, but I knew that the real test
 of this amp would only come after I installed it at home in
 my own room and with my own components.  To that point,
 purchasing this amp at Axpona was a bit of a leap of faith,
 because I wouldn’t know how very good this amp was until
 it was in my own system.

I need not have worried.  A week or so later, my amp
 arrived.  It came in very secure packaging, with a nice
 detailed manual.  Physically, the Audolici has a very nice
 faceplate in an attractive matte black finish (i believe a
 matte red finish is also offered). The knobs and switches
 are a cut above average with firm feel and no looseness or
 play.  The chassis itself is average - nothing bad, but
 nothing much better than what you’d find in your average
 medium-priced British integrated amp.  I don’t know much
 about circuitry, but it appears that most of the value of
 this amp was put into the inside componentry.  It has a
 very nice layout with the EL34 output tubes and the input
 tubes mounted laterally on a circuit board.

Now to the important part - the sound!  In my system which
 utilizes Alta Audio Lelantos speakers, a Cambridge Audio CD
 transport and a PS Audio Directstream Jr DAC, wired mainly
 with Acoustic Zen cable, and all components plugged into the
 outstanding Shunyata Denali power conditioner, the sound was
 really excellent.  I had some concern about the Audolici
 adequately driving the Lelantos speakers, but at 91 db
 efficiency and utilizing a smallish 13' x 17’ room, I
 need not have worried.  Power was never an issue.  Other
 than the smallest amount of umph lacking in the very low
 bass region, I never would have guessed this amp only
 outputted some 20 watts per channel.  In that respect, it
 reminded me of my first serious amp - a Naim Nait 2 with its
 12 watts which was able to belt out beautiful music that
 defied its power output.

Much like in the Axpona room, I got a beautiful, rich sound
 that reproduced music in an un-electronic manner, as if a
 haze had been removed.  Clarity and details in the music
 poured out from the Alta Audio speakers unlike my previous
 solid state amp.  The soundstage took on a larger scale and
 the music was more immersive.  Hard to believe from a small
 tube amp!

I got an even further improvement, mostly in the opening-up
 of the soundstage, when I removed the cover and feet of the
 amp, and placed it on Michael Green’s wood audio tuning
 blocks per Harold’s recommendation.  The sound seemed
 even less confined to the speakers, and the soundstage
 expanded further.

The output power might be small, but no aspect of the sound
 , other than the ability to power out the very lowest bass
 mentioned above, was in any way compromised.  This amp can
 compete with excellent separates, which I have had in my
 system.  Unlike some other integrated amps, it does not
 shrink the soundstage, it does not obscure details in the
 music, and it will not sound strident.  The music sounds as
 real as I have ever experienced, bringing the listener one
 step closer to the performance!  This amp deserves more
 acclaim, that’s for sure.  Who knew a world class amp
 hails from Portugal?  Now I know!

 Tom Haleas
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