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Amplifier Orelle SA-020.2 review

The SA-020.2 comes in line-only guise with the option of either MM or MC disc stages at extra cost.

Flush-mounted controls for volume and input selection lie on the right of its slate-grey facia, while a series of obscure hieroglyphics are provided to indentify its seven separate inputs. Fine so far, except the underside of the SA-020.2 will run very hot indeed if the amp is pushed with ‘difficult’ speakers. To be perfectly fair, Orelle does point out that its amp ‘will work best with speakers rated at 8ohms‘. Indeed, Orelle does not even publish a figure for power into 4ohms.

Sound quality

The Orelle turned in a spritely, if not particularly well received, performance in the listening tests. It inspired a wide range of comments from the panel, which was not entirely in agreement about this amp. Body was described as both full and lacking, though not on the same track, and there was a degree of contention over the Orelle’s ability to reproduce bass.

The high energy Fourth World track sounded lively, forward and exciting, almost to the point of brashness, particularly when things got busy. But there was also some body to the sound, even if the tonal balance was on the light side. The jazz musicians sounded more hurried than usual, which had the effect of robbing tonal colour from the usually rich saxophones, and the soundstage lacked depth.

A degree of flatness was noted with the Joni Mitchell track as well. It could, at times, sound quite detailed, but this was largely a result of a high frequency emphasis that also created the impression of speed. The same character lent extra ‘air’ to the Mahler track, which sounded reasonably dynamic.

Conclusion

A bit more consistency all round would not go amiss with the attractive Orelle SA-020.2. The combination of occasionally inspiring but often unbalanced sound and limited output into lower impedances make it hard to endorse.

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