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Amplifier Aiwa XA-006 review

‘British Made’ declares the Union Jack stuck on the fascia of this distinctly un-British looking amplifier. Sure, the new XA-006 is assembled in this country, but it is a Far Eastern design at heart – packed to the hilt with twiddly-bits and all for an amazingly low ?130. The satin-black alloy fascia is dotted with volume, balance and tone controls, independent A/B speaker selectors and a loudness contour. If none of this strikes a chord, then a ‘Direct’ input facility enables you to bypass tone and balance controls but not loudness.

Of potentially greater use is the independent rec-out and input switching, a flexible but uncommon option at this price point. Full control is thereby offered over a total of five line inputs and the single MM phono input. It’s even possible to split the XA-006 into either a dedicated preamp or power amp, simply by removing two links on the rear of the case.

Still, much of this versatility is wrought at the expense of crucial electronics. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the design you understand, it’s just that costs have been saved by integrating the tone and line circuitry as well as the driver for the power amp. Discrete Toshiba power transistors are used as are decent Nichicon electroly tics in the power supply, so not all is lost. In line with many other manufacturers nowadays, Aiwa claims favourable differences in component selection and earthing for the UK spec of the XA-006.

Sound Quality

As if on cue, the XA-006 was almost universally praised via MM but was thought to be significantly rougher, leaner and brighter in tone via CD. Our Watanabe saxophone recording was portrayed with an unnaturally raw and brassy timbre, yet despite this raggedness the amp still managed to deliver plenty of confident, solid bass.

It can certainly sound very big and gutsy with the right sort of music and, likely as not, you’ll also get the impression of plenty of welly in reserve. But, once again, it was the smoother-sounding disc input that won the day, despite there being some additional muddling between instruments. At the end of our listening session, the panel identified the XA-006 as a ‘run-of-the-mill Far Eastern amp’. I didn’t have the heart to tell them it was made in Britain!

Conclusion

This is a value-oriented product, flexible and lusty enough to form the heart of a comprehensive budget system but without the sonic merit to tackle the best at this price. If good build and features are important then give the Aiwa a whirl, but sound quality settles high on our list of priorities and so the XA-006 escapes recommendation.

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