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Amplifier Audiogram MB1 review

From Italy, land of pasta and opera, comes the ?500 Audiogram MB1, manufactured by Archidee. This is an intriguing integrated amplifier, with a completely barren fascia apart from a headphone socket and power switch. The available facilities are ail located on an unnecessarily bulky remote control handset. An 8-bit processor within the MB1 handles volume while separate multiplexers switch between the MM phono, three line and tape inputs. Very neat.

The internal design is equally impressive with low noise NE5532 op-amps in both the phono and line stages, while the discrete power amp is served by a thumping great mains toroid and pairs of high-current HEXFET power transistors.

Sound quality

Inspired by the very weighty, subtly tailored sound that flooded from the MB1 (regardless of input), the panel described it as ‘compelling and naturally inviting’. There are no sibilant nasties to taint the strongest of vocals, but at the same time the sense of atmosphere and sparkle conjured by the very best is also lacking.

Although its large but soft-of-focus soundstaging is not always terribly realistic, the music itself remains beguiling. The quieter interludes from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, for example, which can sound rather flat and uninteresting, retained the scale and body that ensured its various crescendos were so very engaging.

The MB1 provides plenty of detail but it’s not thrown in your face. Voices are very clear and integrated within the musical whole, rather than spotlit. The Kate Bush contribution was especially sensual on this occasion, even though the image of her voice was neither particularly solid nor distinct. Bass, and especially string bass, was described by our panel as ‘rather loose, full but bloomy’.

In many respects the pleasing sound of the Audiogram MB1 makes any cold hearted criticism quite difficult. It has the ability to draw you into the music while leaving you oblivious to and mindless of its relatively mild indiscretions.

Conclusion

Auditioned not long after AMC’s best shot, one member of the panel suggested he wouldn’t feel robbed If he had to pay ?460 for this musical alternative. Well, ?500 is close enough.

It’s perhaps something of a Christmas amplifier by all accounts, a model that conjures up rosy and comfortable images of chestnuts roasting over an open fire. All in all, and despite a degree of idiosyncrasy here and there, the Audiogram MB1 is very pleasant indeed and worthy of our heartiest recommendation.

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