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Sugden A21 Signature / A21SE Signature - Opinions?


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Afternoon all!!

I have been mulling over a Sugden amplifier to partner with my Harbeth Super HL5 Plus 40th's.

The 23 / 30 watts Sugden A21 is a rather different beast when compared to my current 150 watts Krell S300i and I am hoping there may be some users out there that can give an opinion as to whether the partnership with my Harbeths would be a good one and whether the A21SE Signature is worth the substantial uplift in price over the standard A21 Signature?

I rate the Krell highly, it has amazing drive with the current dumping design and I am sure it could drive pretty much any loudspeaker it was partnered with. However, I do feel it is missing a little refinement, a little light and shade that some music requires to relay the feeling. 

Has anyone used either of the Sugden amps, or possibly both?

All comments and opinions welcome.

Edited by robbie010
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8 minutes ago, robbie010 said:

All comments and opinions welcome.

Don't bother, they're both shite, you'd be better of with one of the Nobsound Tone amps. 

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Just now, Lurch said:

Don't bother, they're both shite, you'd be better of with one of the Nobsound Tone amps. 

😂 I did say all opinions! 
 

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Simon ....jon ...radiant red is your man ...hes using sugden and fives......when i had my harbie fives 40th i used a unico 90 hybrid and it was lovely .......but the suggie may be a tad sweeter .......

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I was also about to say that they are rubbish just because I know that @radiant red loves them!!! I have never heard one though.  Maybe Mr Red will be along some time soon.  He loves the Sugden with Harbeth.

As a Harbeth SHL5 user I would also add a Marantz class a/b to your list; I have used this combination for 7 years.  I have a PM11S2 and did a big home demo vs the Luxman L505 mk2.  The Luxman was interesting but not as neutral as the Marantz.  I previously had a Marantz PM-KI Pearl for 3 years (concurrently) but they are very very rare.  A PM14 may be similar but I am unsure of which model was similar.  The Pearl had a more fleshed out midrange but didn't have the bass depth, definition and punch that the PM11 had.

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I have the A21 Signature. It is imo a fantastic amplifier, it just does things right. Others will describe far more eloquently than I can, but my best description is that it paints beautiful musical pictures in my living room. 

I've lost all interest in tinkering. My box swapping is gone. This is going nowhere. I happily sit for hours (and sometimes dance wildly round the living room 😀) listening to music. Not ever thinking about hifi, or kit, just with a massive grin on my face. Musical, hell yeah! Best piece of "kit" I've bought. 

As for power. Obvs it needs partnering correctly, but the 23w sounds huge on the end of my PMC's and bigger than my Arcam A39 which was 120w.

@radiant red can describe the marriage with Harbs, as he has this combo.

I love mine. Deffo worth a listen.

Edited by Amormusic
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I had a Sugden FPA-4 from their Masterclass Series for a couple of weeks in my system - powering Avantgarde speakers.  I was most unimpressed.  It was pretty lifeless.  Later I bought an Accuphase A-36, another Class A amp.  This was hugely superior to the Sugden, both in sound quality and features offered.  The gain could be adjusted, 2 sets of independent speaker outputs, switchable RCA and XLR inputs, VU meters, etc.

If you really must go for Class A (they really should be banned from an environmental point of view!), go for a better one than Sugden offers.  I know a lot of people love their ancient (or modern) A21s, but the FPA-4 is supposedly better, but it’s still not good.  Definitely not shite though!  I reluctantly sold the Accuphase in favour of even better sounding amps – ones that add rather than reduce the excitement factor when listening to music.

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Well, I’m having a bit of a play this afternoon fixing a Systemdek before I pack the Hifi bits so just testing a few things.. bloody mess in the house 😊

given you have the 40 anniversary model, these are slightly more forward in presentation (not a bad thing) but just need to be mindful of it. The A21a is more than capable of driving the Harbeths in a controlled fashion and over 90dB although 50-70dB is more than enough. The A21a Signature is excellent at dynamics and low end welly and at low volumes, it does not sound flat which is what you want. Midrange is hard to beat with this amp at any price if you have the synergy. The SE is a harder hitting amp, it retains many of the A21a’s traits but looses out at the top end when it becomes brighter in presentation. Both however have brilliant texture especially with Harbeth. I told @Amormusic exactly as the A21a is and that’s what he is getting from his PMC’s. 
if you want to try a Sugden first, pm me and I’ll put you on to the right contact.

516A44FA-76F8-4801-994C-A812F4A48357.jpeg

Edited by radiant red
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Well simon ............thats wamming for you ..............:goodone:..Jon..

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had the a21se here , sensational with tannoys , detail , slam wow !! popped on with harbeth p3esr [ not the same as hl5plus but its a harbeth ] and i just found it did not gel at all . most surprised , cant put my finger on it but it was not pleasant to listen to . popped another british amp on with them and it was magic . you might like the sugden with them but i dont 

i think radient red might have put his finger on it 

the SE is a harder hitting amp, it retains many of the A21a’s traits but looses out at the top end when it becomes brighter in presentation

Edited by hifinutt
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34 minutes ago, radiant red said:

A64CDA6E-9ECB-4D69-BAE3-B5182029514A.jpeg

Sorry OP, off topic, but loving the lava lamp Jon 👍 

I've recently bought a salt lamp and have been thinking about picking one of these up for other side of room. They look awesome.

Anyway, back on topic all. 🤣

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27 minutes ago, hifinutt said:

had the a21se here , sensational with tannoys , detail , slam wow !! popped on with harbeth p3esr [ not the same as hl5plus but its a harbeth ] and i just found it did not gel at all . most surprised , cant put my finger on it but it was not pleasant to listen to . popped another british amp on with them and it was magic . you might like the sugden with them but i dont 

i think radient red might have put his finger on it 

the SE is a harder hitting amp, it retains many of the A21a’s traits but looses out at the top end when it becomes brighter in presentation

Also the baby Harbeths are 83dB sensitivity. The amp like all amps will be working harder 

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I love the A21. Detailed, musical, open  and a nice balance top to bottom. I really like Class A in general though and the apparent lack of power, with the right speakers, doesn't bear out in reality. 

My only slight criticism is that it's on the slightly warm side; as though Sugden wanted SS to sound as close to valves as possible. Which may just suit you of course. 

The A21SE / Spendor D7 combo I heard on a demo once was one of the nicest combos I've heard for sensible(?!) money

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What is the Sig ? Both the 23w A21 mk 2 and the 30w A21SE have the Signature surname. Signature, apart from a face lick, refers to a supposed change in the impedance of certain components, perhaps spurred by a output cap supplier change from Eurocap to Shamwha to start with, as far as I can see in photos, which is not saying much,  that is the main visible change.

 I have never heard Harbeth but for what it’s worth, my non- signature A21SE is much better behaved into my not particularly efficient WD25TEx speaker if used with some Rothwell attenuators. They allow the vol.pot. to work much more around its mid-point rather than delivering 60% of its wallop in the first 10 minutes of its dial range and everything sounds a tad less hectic, thus helping my mindset when listening to a bit of music.

Edited by Alvolake
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