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Amplifier YBA Integre review

Some amplifiers are born to be eccentric and so it is with YBA’s Integre. There’s nothing too disturbing about its facia, just an elegant combination of record and input selectors for its MM phono and five supplementary line inputs. The rear is decorated with a row of substantial gold-plated phonos plus a parallel series of L/R 4mm sockets.

But lift the lid and YBA’s traits stand out in bold relief Everything from the damped mains tranformer, symmetrical board layout, single-core OHFC cabling, custom-made metal-film resistors and polypropylene capacitors mark this out as an audiophile product. Yet the charming ‘extras’, which include conductive paint on the phono op-amps plus mica shims that separate its power transistors (TIP35C/TIP36C) from their heatsinks, are the true hallmarks of YBA.

Sound quality

The Integre split the panel somewhat. Reactions ranged from considerable enthusiasm to mild criticism, but everyone was surprised when they found out how much it cost. It put in a reasonably well balanced performance, adding muscle that several of its predecessors had lacked and resolving low level detail with some aplomb. Which meant that the Fourth World track retained its energy but had a bit more power and body than usual.

As the various selections progressed, the YBA revealed quite a lot of fine detail, not to the degree one might hope for with an amp of this price, but enough to suggest that this wasn’t just another budget amp. It seemed to fare better with some pieces than others; the Joni Mitchell stimulating comments such as ‘a slight electronic edge or energy’ and ‘so much force’, both suggesting that something in the amp’s character was making its mark on the music.

Using vinyl as a source resulted in a distinct improvement, and probably the best analogue sound in the bunch. It made good use of the extra sense of openness some vinyl recordings possess.

Conclusion

Being the most expensive model in the group was never going to be easy, but the YBA Integre made a fair stab at making up for its price-tag. The sound had many good qualities, but wasn’t superior enough to warrant the extra cost.

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