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Amplifier Sherwood AI-2210 review

Richer Sounds has a reputation for cultivating knock-down hi-fi bargains of one sort or another. And how else would you describe an ?80 amplifier equipped with five line and MM phono inputs plus bass, treble and balance controls? Quite frankly, the fact that the AI-2210 comes in a neat cardboard box and lights up when plugged-in is something of a miracle at this price!

Nevertheless, Sherwood’s budget amplifier not only lights up, but also squeezes some 40W from its spring-clip speaker terminals. Return to the facia and there’s a couple of extra push-buttons for loudness and direct (tone defeat) facilities, All this plus a headphone socket too.

Richer’s bulk-buying power and slick distribution network keeps costs low, yet the Sherwood AI-2210 is no audiophile’s dream. Its guts are utilitarian, sufficient to achieve a designated specification and no more.

Sound quality

This, the least expensive amplifier in the group, made its debut near the end of the listening session and put up a brave fight. However, the panel wasn’t slow in picking it out as being in a somewhat different league to its predecessors that day.

It started off sounding lively and crisp but devoid of the solid platform that music requires in order to be reproduced with any real depth. Still, it wasn’t too messy and retained a sprightly if rather weak balance. The next track revealed the lean balance in full, the midrange and treble standing head and shoulders above the rest of the band. The fairly complex interplay of instruments on the jazz tracks was not very well followed. The balance made them sound clear but failed to resolve their sense of cohesion.

Joni Mitchell’s voice lost some of its smoothness but the woodwind and acoustic guitar retained their life and clarity.

With a vinyl source things got worse, the Sherwood giving LPs that shellac quality so beloved of 78 collectors, but not entirely appropriate to Julia Fordham.

Conclusion

Lightweight in all respects, the Sherwood AI-2210 is a bit of a slave to its diminutive price-tag. Still, it’s better than most amplifiers supplied with midi-systems, and, unlike more expensive alternatives, is pretty painless.

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