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Amplifier Audiolab 8000A review

Flavour of the month products will come and go yet old stalwarts like the Audlolab 8000A seem to live on indefinately. Such longevity is not achieved by complacency, however. Instead, the 8000A amplifier is continually reassessed and any improvements, no matter how subtle they may be, are regularly implemented in order to maintain the amplifier’s competitive edge.

Naturally, little of this is evident from the familiar black alloy facia, the gentle bass/treble controls, or the rotary input and rec-out facilities that cater for MM/MC disc, CD, tuner and three tape sources, In fact, 1994’s ?450 version of the 8000A looks identical to the model that was reviewed.

But inside the refinements are apparent. Modifications that include revisions to the PCB layout, new ELNA Starget signal-coupling capacitors and a new toroidal mains transformer. Furthermore, an optional muting relay can now be fitted for ?25, preventing switch-on thumps when the 8000A is used as a preamplifier together with an external power amplifier.

Sound quality

Cool and thoroughly self-assured, this latest version of Audiolab’s 8000A performed in a very confident manner throughout the listening session — as had its predecessors — despite the musical diversity. Regardless of input, this amplifier produced a slightly dry but very clean and measured sound that reflected the rasp of horns as clearly as the deep rumble of kettle drums. In practice, vinyl LPs sounded just as vivid and rumbustious as CD, conveying all the power and dynamics of classical material without ever tripping up,

Several listeners applauded the 8000A for the sheer depth, extension and detail of its bass, achieved without any soft or boomy overhang. The amplifier certainly revealed a hidden texture from the drumline of Sting’s latest CD. It managed to draw out a natural colour from an instrument that can so often sound like an amorphous splodge. Neither did the complexities of multi-tracked recordings present too great a problem. The 8000A managed to pick its way through the liveliest of tracks without ever losing its grip.

Conclusion

This evergreen design has the ability to sound exciting without becoming tiring, relying on a peculiar but highly successful mix of energy with sobriety. What’s more, it’s a genuinely wideband amplifier capable of dragging oodles of detail from every corner of the musical spectrum without ever seeming to lose its cool. Discipline is the cornerstone of every performance heard via the 8000A, and guarantees its continued recommendation.

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