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2014 Midwest Audiofest Tent Sale & Vintage Audio Swap
Abrahamsen V2.0 UP Integrated Amplifier Review
2 x 70 watt in 8 ohm 2 x140 watt in 4 ohm
1000VA Ring core transformer
100,000uF Capacitance. 16A Relays 12 Output Devices
Signal/noise: >100 dBTHD: 0,005 % Frequency response: 0-70.000 Hz +/-3 dB
3 Line inputs (RCA)1 Balanced (XLR) input Tape output (RCA)
Digital volume control LCD-display Bespoke Metal Remote control
Width 43 cm – Height 10.5 cm – Depth 32 cm – Weight 16 kg
The delivery man arrives with the package. Once it’s signed for I scurry upstairs with it to the mancave. I am a little surprised that it isn’t a little heavier (16kg) but it’s certainly no lightweight. Unpacked, it’s an attractive beast! The first thing that struck me was how it even looks like it should be part of the Electrocompaniet family.
It isn’t of course, but the Abrahamsen in the title may be a clue to more than a few people here. It is indeed designed by Per Abrahamsen – the main man in Electrocompaniet’s earlier days and the head honcho here too. All black but for the two solid brass dials, the gold lettering and the 4 gold screws holding the glass front in place. All very “Electrocompaniet” in looks then although thankfully the width is a standard 430mm and not a rack-busting 19” like the older models.
There is a relatively heavy remote (no plastic here) which I notice has a couple of Allen screws holding the battery compartment on but at least the correct sized Allen key is also provided. Believe me, this thing looks like it is really made to last. Around the back there is provision for 3 line level inputs plus one balanced (XLR) connection. Once powered up you see how clear and easily readable the LCD display is. All good so far.
I had decided before it’s arrival that I would give it a gentle introduction and immediately hooked it up to my Acoustic Precision Eikos CD player (via Transparent Audio Music Link Ultra interconnects) and my Cyrus CLS70 bookshelf speakers ( via Cable Talk Concert 2.1 cables). The difficult task of driving my PMC FB1+’s would have to wait a little longer.
The Eikos has been with me for many years and delivers a well- balanced full range sound that can be relied upon to tell me what is happening with the rest of the system. It is also one of the most analogue sounding CD players that I have ever heard. Boy was I in for a giant surprise when I sat down to listen to my first disc. The sound wasn’t great. It was as though the mid band was being sucked out of the mix. I rushed to check my connections but found no mistakes.
At this point I correctly surmised that a warm up may be necessary. I left it playing and I carried on listening but with far less intent. The sound gradually improved until it sounded different again after maybe 20 minutes. It was now sounding more like I had expected, in fact it was actually responsible for putting a pleasant smile on my face. Time to start listening with some intent again.
First I loaded up a track I’ve been listening to a lot lately -Ballad by New Model Army. Within the track is a mouth organ that I love to hear how resonant the sound is, as it seems to vary on every system I listen to it on and with the Abrahamsen it resonated wonderfully. Quickly moving on to another recent favourite CD – Push The Sky Away – the most recent studio release by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Everything was so natural, the tonality was fabulous and voices made you want to reach out and touch the singer. I couldn’t feed the tray of the Eikos quick enough. I wanted more and more!
From the thunderous bass of Leftfield’s debut album to the shimmering highs of Shadowplay by Joy Division this amp had the answers every time and could not be wrong-footed. I’m not much of a classical guy but I do love Sinead O’Connor’s Am I Not Your Girl which would give me the feel of how a big band sounds and the Abrahamsen did not disappoint. Her voice was portrayed with real emotion and inflection with the band creating a wide and balanced sound stage although perhaps not as deep as some I have heard although all these other amps would cost several times what the cost of the Abrahamsen is. In fact, rating this amplifier is the easiest thing in the world when you consider it costs £900. It’s a downright steal! I would be happy to recommend it against amplifiers costing twice the price – it is that good!
Earlier I mentioned I had one last trick up my sleeve which may upset the apple cart. This was my transmission line PMC FB1+’s which are known for needing plenty of current to get the best out of them. I can’t claim that they were the best amp/speaker combination as perhaps the Abrahamsen did fall a little short in creating the deepest of bass with ease but in every other respect they came through with flying colours. They grabbed the PMC’s with a vice-like grip for all but that last piece of bottom end but the mid-band and top end were beguiling. I’m not, for a minute, suggesting that the overall sound is bass-light.
Infact the bass region is a strong point with normal speakers and to try and sum up the overall sound of the amplifier is, I would say it stays on the slightly warm side of neutral, particularly in the upper mid-band which makes for a most pleasant and non-fatiguing sound.
In conclusion, I was taken aback by the synergy between my Eikos CD player and this amplifier. The combination was terrific. If you are considering a purchase of the V2.0 UP Integrated Amplifier I can heartily suggest your choice is a very good one. However, an amplifier of this quality demands the best ancillaries you can provide. You will then be enjoying a system which will keep you satisfied for an extremely long time.
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