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It's clear that these amps are much more highly characterised than any others in the group and as such it's no surprise that they divided opinion among our listeners.
At best, they sound lifelike and energetic, with good midrange tonality extending up to a clear and sparkling treble. That suits them well to voices and music for smaller ensembles and indeed they play such stuff very convincingly and with a real sense of verve and enjoyment.
What they don't do quite so well is bass, be it transient (percussion, plucked bass) or sustained (heavy orchestral brass). It's not so much that the level is curtailed, but there's rather limited impact and not nearly as much precision as we heard from some others in the group.
It all seems rather splashy and approximate, and rhythm – when it depends mostly on the bass, which of course it often does – feels rather sluggish.
Detail is something of a mixed bag, too. Ultimately it is limited, but there's a saving grace in that such detail as comes through is cleanly presented so the lack is not as keenly felt as it might be. All the same, side-by-side comparison soon enough shows that some of the resolution of, say, the Cyrus and Rotel combinations is missing and familiar recordings seem to lack the occasional little touch here and there.
In fact, we felt that ultimately the variations in performance with dynamic level are the biggest failing of these amps. Quiet music is lovely, but we can't recommend £2,900- worth of hi-fi just for that!
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