AM Audio A 50 Reference - class A power amp
Product: AM Audio A50 Reference - 50 watt class A power amp
Manufacturer: AM Audio - Italy
AM Audio - C.so Milano 102 Vigevano (PV)
Phone. ++39 381-347161 - Fax. ++39 381-346469
Approx. price (in Italy): 2,500 Euro/ 2,500 US $
Hey, what's up? Weren't Italians famous for fine and delicate tube amps and wood handcrafted loudspeakers? Sure, but not only: introducing you the AM Audio A50 Reference power amplifier.
AM Audio is certainly one of the best known HiFi Companies in Italy, at least among solid state fanatics. This Company, located at Vigevano, in the cold North of Italy, has been making hi-end electronics for years and now they also make loudspeakers and, hear hear!, CD players (actually Teac VRDS 25 mods).
Anyway, as soon as you mention AM Audio any Italian audiophile worth his weight in silver cables will definitely shout: massive class A amplifiers!.
Yup! AM Audio makes some of the finest pure class A power amplifiers around: think, just to have an idea, at the best Krell or Mark Levinson amps.
Under test is a well-known best-seller: the A 50, now available as a "Reference" edition. This classic 50 watts pure class A power amp has been around for years: firstly as a simple A 50, then as mkII, now as "Reference".
Not just a marketing move, this A 50 Reference is a very different beast from his predecessor A 50 mkII: total negative feedback has been eliminated and the signal path has been made as short as possible, thanks to a completely new layout of the circuits.
As you may argue from the pictures here, the A 50 Reference is a MASSIVE 50 watts real dual mono power amplifier: 40 kgs (approx. 90 lbs!) of toroidal transformers, larger than life capacitors (see the golden pillars in the pictures) and output devices.
It is able to deliver 50 amperes (peak) of current to your loudspeakers while continuous power rating is claimed to be 50 watts @ 8 Ohms (all in Pure class A).
Because of the Pure class A operating condition, everything needs to be overbuilt and oversized: if you have never experienced how much heat can produce a REAL class A unit...well, I guess you are wondering why both sides of this amp are entirely covered with massive heat sinks....Hey, I told you Vigevano is located in the COLD North of Italy...
Joe, this is probably the biggest and heaviest 50 watts power amp in the market!
If you are a tube nut, a die-hard triode maniac...well you should test drive this amp, probably you'll discover that not all big solid state amps were created equal.
This A 50 Reference is very, very refined and utterly transparent, despite its looks can make think at a brutal, rude, louder-than-life performer.
Don't let the looks fool you! This power amp is so delicate that you immediately forget you're actually listening to such an obtrusive and heavy beast.
With respect to its tonal balance, I'd say it is extremely neutral, perhaps a bit on the "clear" side (as opposite to "dark") though definitely not bright. Its sound is grainless, introspective, detailed and elegant as one would expect from any hi-end tube amplifier worth its weight in vacuum tubes...but this is solid state, dudes and dudettes!
And you realize this as soon as the mid-bass and the bass range require some extra "kick" and "drive": the amount of energy this amp makes flow through your cables is outstanding, especially if you consider it is, after all, just a mere 50 watts amp.
The bass range is deep till its lowest end, powerful and floor-shaking. Take some electric bass recording and you'll experience the careless whisper of this beast: the bass notes will make your chest resonate, literally! Don't think it is the kind of "overinflated" bass you sometimes can hear from small audiohile integrated amps...NOPE! This is a clean, neutral and tight bass range, aggressive only when needed.
You won't find nothing particularly "spectacular" in the performance of this amp: its inner neutrality and control will let the Music flow through it effortlessly, no frequency range being particularly "ahead" of the rest. Coherent, precise and transparent...with plenty of good bass.
What would you expect from a solid state power amp with a 50 amperes claimed current output? You bet! PLENTY OF PUNCH and lively dynamics, ready to give the needed energy to your favourite crescendo's and fortissimo's. Give in, not give up!!! seems to be the A 50 Reference own credo and so you (and your friendly neighbourhoods) will experience listening to those symphonic pieces at levels louder than usual.
No, it won't make your walls shake but you'll be able to hear the Music with your body instead (chest and feet, via the floor...). It never shouts, even when the terrible finale of the Berlioz's Sinfonia Fantastica (Ref. Rec. edition) seems a neverending explosion, where many amps simply GIVE UP way before the end.
Just to make things clearer, at the risk of being trivial, forget those audiophile 50 watts amps, because this is an entirely new experience: it is not a matter of POWER...rather it is the amount of pure energy your amp can trasmit to your loudspeakers.
But don't get me wrong, the A 50 Reference is plenty of savoir faire and never appears to be rude or brutal. Conversely, if a fault has to be investigated, I'd say it lacks a bit of the brutality and pure violence needed for some rock recordings, for example. If it was a car it would be a big high-torque sedan instead of a nervous Corvette or Lamborghini.
It sounds fast with a good sense of "pace" though it never gives the sensation of being always in the pursuit of the next note, if you know what I mean.
Thanks to its transparency, the tiny details and the minimal energy variations (microdynamics, that is) of the musical program are carefully respected and reproduced.
In other words, the A 50 Reference is very special amplifier, with a very high quality/price ratio, something one should seriously consider if a neutral, lively and detailed solid state power amp is needed.
A warm (as pure Class A) thanks you to Attilio Conti by AM Audio for having sent us this amp for reviewing.
© Copyright 1999 Lucio Cadeddu - http://www.tnt-audio.com
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