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Amplifiers – A Baker’s Dozen from Munich High End 2016

Amplifiers – A Baker’s Dozen from Munich High End 2016

Munich High-End is a hot-bed of amplifier activity, and that is reflected in the sheer diversity of products on display each year. Not all are in demonstration – many appear in the main halls and atria of the M.O.C., but all vie for a place at audio’s top table.

With Munich now the main place for brands to meet the public, and dealers, distributors, other manufacturers, and the press, it can be a bewildering ride through audio electronics, and no two people will come up with the same list of must-see products at the show. Nevertheless, here are some of the best we saw in early May.

Audio Research Foundation Series

The new DAC9 converter, PH9 phono stage, and LS28 line pre form Audio Research’s new Foundation range, and are expected to cost $7,500 per unit. Power amps and integrated amps are expected to follow.

Cyrus Audio One integrated amplifier

It’s not all astronomical prices at Munich. British electronics expert Cyrus Audio went back to its ‘singing shoebox’ roots with the new £699 One integrated amplifier, a deceptively powerful Class D design that punches above its weight.

Dan D'Agostino Audio Progression mono amp

First seen in prototype form at CES this year, Dan D’Agostino Audio’s $45,000 per pair Progression series monoblock amplifiers deliver 800 watts into eight ohms and a massive 3.2kW into a two ohm load. They feature the same venture heatsink seen in D’Agostino’s earlier amplifiers, but the heatsinks are solid aluminium (rather than copper) billet.

Dynaco ST-70x and Hafler HA750 headphone amplifier

This year saw the reboot of two famous names on the old audio scene: Hafler – in the shape of a range of small, power packed boxes including the HA750 headphone amp – and Dynaco, with its 2016 recreation of the classic ST-70x stereo valve power amp. The power behind the throne is Canadian pro audio power experts Radial Engineering.


Edwards Audio Apprentice MC phono stage

Edwards Audio is one of those brands that flies very much under the radar, yet makes some of the best value for money turntables, lpoudspeaker, and electronics (not much) money can buy. Within a slew of new products, the new MC from the company’s super-budget Apprentice range caught our eye. This adds a moving coil option to the existing Apprentice MM phono stage. Given the latter costs less than £100, don’t expect to pay a fortune for this clever little phono stage.

Hegel Röst integrated amplifier

Alongside its deliciously named last ‘Mohican’ €4,500 CD player, Hegel announced its €2,500 Röst integrated amplifier. The 2x 75W, white only amplifier owes a lot to the brand’s H360 integrated amplifier, but features unparalleled control flexibility for installations. The Röst talks Control 4 command codes, AirPlay, UPnP, and can be used with online streaming services like Tidal.

Luxman MQ-300 stereo power amplifier

Luxman’s long awaited £15,000 MQ-300 stereo valve amplifier is finally set to arrive in Europe. This sumptuous eight-watt single-ended triode design is the kind of device normally delivered by more left-field brands than Luxman (outside of Japan, at least) and it’s therefore great that Luxman has remained true to its roots.

Mark Levinson announced two preamplifiers (one with, one without digital audio), a complete digital front-end, and a dual-mono (stereo in other words) power amplifier, all made to the company’s uncompromising standards.

Built using technology from its top HD range, Nagra’s showed a prototype of its one box valve Classic Preamp, which joins the Classic DAC and integrated amp in September this year. A one-box chassis design, building on lessons learned in previous preamps like the Jazz and new models like the HD, this looks set to be a bumper year for the Swiss audio experts.


Soulution 511 integrated amplifier

Soulution’s new CHF 24,500 511 integrated amplifier was producing some of the best sounds at the show, so good we couldn’t get close to the system. The display model shows the size of this 140W integrated design capable of unleashing 3kW of impulse power when it launches in October

T+A E-Series integrated amplifier

T+A was showing its latest E Series models, a complete rebuild and reboot of the existing range. While externally the models look similar to their predecessors, every aspect of the studio-grade amplifier, flexible Linux-based upgradable Roon ready DAC/streamer/amp, CD transport/player/preamp, and integrated amplifier have been redesigned from the ground up. The €3,200 amplifier includes plug in phono stages (the MC stage offers up to 256 different settings to match any cartridge) and the proprietary Class D ‘Power Plant’ design puts out 140W per channel into eight ohms.  

Trilogy 903 preamplifier and 993 power amplifier

UK hybrid amp experts Trilogy launched the £4,995 903 preamplifier with the matching 125W £4,995 993 power amp. The 903 can be fitted with a top-class phono stage for £1,450.

Vitus SS-103 integrated amplifiier

Vitus Audio launched its stunning SS-103 amplifier, a part of its Signature series. Delivering 50W in Class A or 150W in Class AB, the amplifier is deceptively powerful, and in 150W beast-mode, it can drive almost anything. The SS-103 is notionally a power amplifier with a single RCA and XLR input but such things – as with all parts Vitus – have a degree of flexibility to them. As to the price… no one knows yet, but the 90kg amp won’t come cheap!


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