AGD Productions Andante Streamer/preamplifier and The Audion mono power amplifiers
If ever the phrase ‘looks can be deceptive’ holds true, it’s regarding this duet of devices from the relatively little-known Californian audio brand AGD Productions. At first glance, you could easily be forgiven for thinking this is a valve pre-power combination, possibly a low-power single-ended triode mono amp, or at most a hybrid. The orange-glowing glass bottle in the centre of each power amp is a bit of a giveaway. In fact, the Adante and The Audion are almost exactly none of these things.
Let’s start with the Andante. It’s a highly configurable, UPnP streaming preamplifier that can turn its hand to a surprisingly wide range of PCM and DSD-shaped digital sound files, and all the main flavours of file format, as well as line level sources and can even run a natty line in software-driven MM/MC phono stage. It’s controlled from a simple Apple remote and has the sort of display that you can see across a room… the size of Lichtenstein. This can be set very dim, however, and that can make basic operation a little bit “is it on?” not helped by a slightly slow response time to Apple remote commands. Two rows of multi-function click-stop push buttons can drive all the functions of the Andante, but the Apple remote makes like a lot easier.
I’m always a little concerned about streaming solutions made by smaller companies. While streaming is no longer a hole in the company budget that can only be filled with engineers, getting a robust and easy to use streaming platform is usually beyond most small-to-medium brands. It seems, from the outside at least, that unless you devote a significant percentage of the company’s total R&D budget on streaming, you can either have something that looks nice, or something that works. AGD has gone more for the latter option, relying on third-party command & control. The Andante’s functionality is driven by Bubble UPnP if you are planning some local music serving, but it also supports Tidal, Deezer and Qobuz for online streaming and AirPlay for general music management. Note that none of these options are a UPnP/DLNA music server platform, and home networked audio systems will need to make provision for that (in my system, I tried both Melco and Naim solutions successfully).
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