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Amplifier Nakamichi IA-3 review

Despite ‘UK-orientated’ amplifiers establishing themselves as the norm these days, the launch of Nakamichi’s ‘less-is-more’ IA-3 still comes as something of a surprise, After all, the line-only IA-3 has received no input from these shores. Instead, this elegant looking amplifier with its essential volume, input and rec-out selectors is the brainchild of Nakamichi’s own designers.

It’s tempting to portray the IA-3 as an audiophile amp yet, in reality, it’s best described as minimalist. Sure enough, there are key features like all-discrete circuitry, isolated L/R ground lines, chunky 4mm binding posts and black ‘Almite’ heatsinks to its credit. Nevertheless, the standard componentry, the complementary Sanken power amp (C4468/A1695), over-ambitious relay protection and fiercesome RF filtering may well have succeeded in knocking the soul from a well-meaning effort.

Sound quality

The IA-3 made its sonic debut with some confidence, controlling the high energy percussion on the Fourth World track and presenting it in an orderly but lively fashion. The jazz piece sounded more forward than usual, but the reedy tone of the clarinet was resolved most effectively, and the band’s strong rhythmic qualities made a better showing than usual.

Joni Mitchell’s dulcet tones were reproduced with assurance, and the counter play between the guitar and bass was well highlighted. Overall, the track sounded open and pleasant, the rhythm being maintained rather than emphasised and the dynamic contrasts restrained.

It maintained this style through the orchestral piece which, though unusually seamless, was found to be wanting as far as high frequency extension was concerned, Inner detail from the various instruments was well preserved, but harmonics seemed to be suppressed.


The Nakamichi IA-3 put in a relaxed and articulate performance. As the test results predicted, a little more dynamic variety wouldn’t have gone amiss, but it was certainly one of the better models in the review group and deserves recommendation.

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