Synthesis A50 Taurus Integrated Amplifier
Review by MusicMan76
I’m going to start this review, by doing what I tend to do with every review that I read myself, and that is to find the short conclusion. In our busy lives, sometimes we just want to cut to the chase, does it sound good, function well, and is it built to last? And I can confirm right off the bat that all three boxes get a dark inky tick in the box, leaving no doubts whatsoever. I know you should never judge a product by its weight and certainly not associate heft with quality, however, if you are spending this kind of money (£6,199) on an amplifier, you need it to hold down some paper!
Ok more cutting to the chase, how does it sound? I did my usual, powered it on, made sure it sounded right, and then left the room for a few hours. On my return, I went straight to some of my favourite tracks, tracks that I know from experience evoke a good emotional response. First up Angus and Julie Stone – Draw Your Swords. After the gentle acoustic guitar and piano intro, you should be welcomed by a lovely richness in Angus Stone's voice with a nice airiness between the notes. In the wrong set-up, I’ve heard this track sound very flat and uninspiring. Not so in this case. I looked up from multi-tasking on my phone, and that was the first big and important box ticked for this amp. As the track progresses and Julia’s voice comes in as backing vocals and later the nice bass lines add up to me as a rounding success, all as it should be.
Next up, Sparklehorse and track Apple Bed from It’s a Wonderful Life. Again, nice bass extension from the off, followed by some nice soft vocals and later backing vocals, a track I love to close my eyes and soak in the full track. I don’t know if it’s a trick with the brain to associate valves with warmth, but it certainly came across in abundance here. Lastly of note is the entire album by Shearwater – The Great Awakening. Another go-to album to be enjoyed later in the evening with some nice red wine. I was able to enjoy all the soft vocal sections to the big bass, and louder sections, all delivered extremely well here. Hard to fault this amp for musical engagement.
A bit about the company
Synthesis is another company of Hi-Fi gear I’ve grown to love and include in my own system (Aqua, Audia Flight, HiDiamond….) that comes from Italy. Synthesis was founded by Luigi Lorenzon in 1992 in a place called Morrovalle and yes, I did Google Map it! Why does all of Italy look so tempting for a food and wine holiday?
Form and function
I found it very straightforward to set up, no need to refer to the included instructions and I was up and running in a few minutes. Visually a very pleasing amp to look at, nice simple design with silver front trim revealing a large volume knob in the centre. The unit comes with a suitably chunky remote that makes its intention known, this is a serious amp for serious music lovers!
Under the protective hood, you’ll find 2 x KT88s, a 12BH7 and 12AX7 per channel and while I understand the functional use of a protective cover, I much prefer the naked amplifier! Most of us sit opposite our systems after all.
My speakers (Audio Physic Codex 2) are not that difficult to run anyway, and the 50W on offer here never struggled with anything I threw at this mighty beast of an amplifier. I always judge amps for their ability to deliver on bass extension, because for me often times it’s the bass that gets the engagement, but of course not the only thing. There is plenty of authority and grip to be had here, and I was not left feeling like anything was left on the table. Control is another word that springs to mind also. For me being able to handle delicate sections of a good recording is just as important as the bass delivery and here you will not be disappointed.
More on the Bass notes, I had to play a favourite electronica track of mine lately – Afraid of Seeing Stars? (Heimische Gefilde Edit) from Dominik Eulberg and wow, when that deep rich bass kicks in, it really holds the attention. So, we know electronica fans won’t be left short.
Personally, I dislike long and very long (you know the ones) reviews on products. This simply put is a stunning amplifier that packs a lot of punch for the money being asked here.
While I do classify myself as a music first audiophile, I do sit directly opposite my system, so it does need to be visually appealing. This unit looks gorgeous in my lounge in low light with the hood firmly left to one side.
If you are in the market for something unique, that won’t break the bank too much, then do yourself a favour and add this one to your shortlist.
Could I live with this amplifier in my system? Absolutely! My only disclaimer is that I am a purist, so I don’t like DACs being integrated into amps (do one thing and do it well), and I don’t tend to test them in amps that do include them. I have based this review in my system with a separate dedicated DAC (Metrum Acoustics Adagio at the time of review).