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Amplifier Albarry PP1 review

Any company that launches a new ?430 amplifier these days needs to have a card or two tucked up its corporate sleeve. In Albarry’s case that card is flexibility: by offering the PP1 in four different guises one, at least, will be tailor-made for the value-conscious enthusiast!

Aimed at CD-based systems there is the ?400 line-only PP1 while, for just ?30 more, you can add an ‘economy’ MM phono stage. An optional MM + MC board brings the total to ?500, the same price as a ‘special’ MC-only phono section. This is called hedging your bets.

We’ve the economy MM version, selected on Albarry’s traditional red perspex fascia via a rotary control that also caters for the four line inputs. Alongside there’s a source/tape monitor plus a facility for extra gain to accommodate tuners or tape decks with a low (ie 100-200mV) output. Never, and I mean never connect a CD player to the PP1 with this extra gain engaged, because the amp is instantly plunged into clipping, regardless of the volume position.

Sound quality

In spite of my trepidation, the bold, solid and authoritative sound of this amp proved a welcome relief from a run of so many ‘small-scale’ amplifiers. The disc input was a rather dark in tone, the panel suggested, lacking a little ‘snap’ at times and influencing the brilliance of classical strings if not the solidity and impact of the tympani. By way of compensation our jazz LP sounded springy and ambient, possessed of a ‘bouncy quality’ that was both full, rich and warm. Hardly a model of neutrality, but no-one seemed to mind.

Nevertheless the listeners still considered its line input (passive, I might add) to be better balanced, Certainly, the interplay between Julia Fordham’s voice and the various backing instruments was now delightfully obvious, each note feeding off the other within a deep and, once again, ambient soundstage.

Furthermore, despite its additional colour, the Albarry PP1 succeeded in revealing the naturally raw and husky tone of Christy Moore’s voice, elaborate detail that did not smother the harder timbre of steel guitar.

Conclusion

A good ‘un, this. Not without its technical foibles I’ll agree, but it’ll only honk if you make the mistake of mixing CD with the + 16dB facility. Stick to the passive setting and you’ll not go far wrong. It’s coloured, certainly, but it struck a responsive chord with our listeners after a hard day’s toil. Engaging enough, with hindsight, to earn Albarry PP1 a recommendation.

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