T-amp, Primare A30.1, Audiolab 8000A

Sony6million

Wammer
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Jul 20, 2005
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While my Bel Canto amp isaway onanever ending repair saga, I've tried out some amps that some guys kindly lent me.

I'm not sure of the specs of the T-amp, Hifiwigwam will fill me in. I'd heard some bold claims about the Sonic T amp and contemplated getting on as a quick fix. James kindly obliged and gave me his T amp, though not the Sonic variety. I should say that Mr Coherant had beefedthis particular oneup a bit

Its silver,about the size of a regular brick, but weighs less. Has a crowded back panel for speaker cables, interconnects and power lead. There is a solitary knob on the front for volume. No r/c.

To me it sounds pretty good straight out the box. Try to imagine taking away your amp and replacing it with a small object with the dimesions of a brick. Is it going to produce much of a sound. Yes it does...

I shouldn't have been suprised, I was pre-judging it. The sound in my room was tall, wide and full. This is big thing for me. I like to be enveloped in sound as much as possible. It managed to reproduce anough bass, and the integration with the treble was very smooth. The mid range is commendable too. It picked some small detail that impressed me, but its forte seemed to be voices. I think it was a David Bowie song on Reality that blew me away. The voice had an edge, a quality that was 3-dimensional, rounded, warm and soft, a human quality. Hard to put into words, but impressive to me.

Back to earth. Its not the best amp ever made. It can sound harsh, it can sound thin, it can lack a little dynamics and presence. Having said that, it costs what, 50 quid? I'm not sure, but certainly under £100 even after Tony's tinkering? On a return for the money, its good, its excellent.

Audiolab 8000A

This is currently on loan from Cloth-Ears who doesn't use it. Its not had much use recently but he's owned it a while. It seems to a have a bit of a rep, Audiolab gear. It folded before I got into hifi so I'm not so familiar with it. I did own some Tag McLaren amps and as everyone and their dog loves to tell you, they're just re-badged Audiolabs! But the Tag's failed and didn't really cut the mustard, how can that be if they're near enough the same?

I'd like to be neutral about this, but its hard having the T-amp around. I don't want to make comparisons as they're completely different. My girlfriend described the sound of the 8000A as hollow. I think this pretty much sums it up for me.It has similar qualities to the Tag amps I had, a plain, dry presentation becuase I don't get feeling and emotion from it. The 8000a can seem a bit heavy footed; a kind of heeeaaave-ho, heeeave ho sound. It doesn't seem nimble and there is a what I can only descibe as a veil of fog smuthering the sound. Is it just showing its age?

If there had been no digital amp to play with I woulda been happy. I just can't get over what it would cost to pick one of these up on eBay...£250ish? Compare that to closer to 50 for the T amp and its a no contest. I don't want to label the 8000A as a bad amp, its not. I feel things have moved on, thats all. It still does things better than the T-amp, 'weight' for example and perhaps a wider bandwith. The problem is, it doesn't make enough of that so called bandwith. The real issue, a personal one maybe, is that today it represents poor value for money.

So a disappointment of sorts as it failed to show what it can do that has given it a cult following.

Primare A30.1

Lurker Crimson_Squee gave me a shot of this amp. I hope I got the model right, its about 2-3 years old, retailed for around 1500. If could have any of the three for free it would be this one. Bloody right, it easily the most expensive, so it should be! Why else? The sound is considerably more seductive. It is fuller, fatter, solid. Supersize me

Its a bit of a statement product, its big, heavy, and beautifully styled. Its also got a fair bit of oomph. Things motor along nicely and when the music gets heavy, loud and complicated (read dense?) the A30.1 copes very well, something both T-Amp and 8000A couldn't really get a grip of. Grip, there's another good adjective. It doesn't sound like the Primare is ever out of control. It dictates the pace and rythm, both of which are slightly on the faster side of neeutral.

Any faults with it? Not really. The remote is disappointing for something of that cost and build. Ocasionally it can be a bit lean sounding, not exactly cold, but kind of clinical. Overall very good and I'd be happy to buy it with my own money. Yeah, it would cost a lot more, and the returns sure do diminish. But for outright sound quality it has to be my choice.

Thanks to all who have loaned me their amps. Cheers

 

JamPal

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Jul 19, 2005
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James
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Nice write up Phil. That little T amp does a lot for the dosh eh! Mr Coherent tuned it from a fun, engaging little amp that was amazing for £50.00 into a competitive tool. I thik Tony's mods would have been £150.00 (he may correct me here) even at £200 or £300 it made serious differece.

not a Primare beater. Or even a Rega mira beater, but something worth owning. It'll give a Rega Brio or entry level Rotel a spanking.:dude:

 

SSM

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Nice review S6M. The Primare would be my pick of the three too.

I heard the new Audiolab 8000S in action whilst buying some bookshelf speakers recently andwas rather unimpressed with its performance. "Hollow", as your gfhad described.:nup:This kind of sound would be considered class-leading a decade ago but amplification standards have moved significantly during Audiolab/TAG's looong restructuring phase.
biggrin.png


SS

 

Sony6million

Wammer
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Jul 20, 2005
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I dont think of 1995 as long ago, but I do of 10 years, strange eh? A bit like speakers, I sometimes assume sound improvements in amps aren't made in great strides but this proved otherwise. My cd player is coming up for 8-9 years old, so phew, its not quite at the big 'one-o'...yet :?lol

 
U

Umberto

Guest
I had a Primare 30.1 for a short while. Really wanted to like it but it made my ears bleed. Pretty sure it was faulty though so not really its fault.

I am not known as the fatal hifi fashionista for nothing. Two faulty amps and counting.

 

Sony6million

Wammer
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Jul 20, 2005
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Oh yeah, couldn't agree more about it being unfair but hey...

It would be more interesting to compare the current audiolab stuff with that ancient beast. What makes you think its not working as well as it did? Having had it on for a few weeks the sound is not that bad. But push the volume or musical complexity and it sounds mince.

I wish they'd updated the looks of the new one. And for the AV stuff, weren't they over engineered and under priced? Probably why Dr Zudo and his gang failed.

 

Boxer

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Nov 2, 2005
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Even when they were new Audiolabs were grey, boring, etc, etc, IMHO of course.

Heard them destroy several pairs of good speakers (Tannoy Westminster Royals or Ruark Solus, from opposite ends of the size spectrum).

Don't do it!!!! Please....

Boxer

 

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