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A jewel of an amp
The Sugden A21a has been in production, handbuilt in Yorkshire, for more than 30 years, with just evolutionary
changes to its basic design of a low-power (25Wpc), class-A-biased solid-state integrated amplifier. Although I'd
read about them over the years in British hi-fi magazines, this was my first experience with a Sugden product
(footnote 4).
The A21a is a jewel of an amp, a real sweetheart. What it may lack in mod cons (modern conveniences), such as
a remote control or headphone jack, it more than makes up for in musical purity, and in throwing dynamic
punches far above its weight class.
The A21a is a conventional black (also available in silver) horizontal box, reminiscent of Creek designs of a
decade ago, with the exception that the Sugden has cooling fins running horizontally along the sides front to
back, which seems to make a lot more sense than vertically. The A21a measures 17" wide by 3" high by 12"
deep and weighs about 20 lbs.
The front panel has a source-selector knob (phono card is optional), pushbuttons for tape loop and mono, knobs
for balance and volume, and a power pushbutton and indicator light. The indicator light is amber, and the script
for the function designations is pale gold. Each knob has a small hole drilled a short distance into its faces to
indicate its position, or the source selected. The balance knob is detented; the volume knob is not.
The rear panel has conventional RCA inputs and speaker binding posts. These items are not exactly
overwhelming as works of applied engineering, and are spaced a bit closely, but, given the A21a's price—well
under $2000—and excellent sound, one should not complain.
What the A21a succeeds marvelously at doing is presenting a crisp, lively, but very continuous and quite
nonfatiguing musical experience. I attribute the lack of fatigue to class-A's avoidance of switching distortion. I
never had the sense that I was listening to a 25Wpc amp, or that it ever was in danger of running out of power.
Dynamics were crisp. The A21a seemed to work very well with the Reynaud Arpeggiones, and was just as happy
driving Shahinian's Compasses.
I think that, at its probable $1500 price (footnote 5), the A21a would be an ideal step up from a receiver or an
integrated amp in the $500-$800 price range.
My favorite all-things-considered integrated amp, the Plinius 8200, is being replaced by a new model I have not
yet heard, the 9200, for $3500 (a $500 increase over the 8200). But, based on memory, the A21a has little to
apologize for—only incremental shortcomings in midrange palpability, treble refinement, and ultimate oomph into
difficult loads. Indeed, like the Plinius, the Sugden uses only NPN transistors in its output stage. Fancy that!
The only characteristics the A21a has that I can envision as being negatives in certain situations are, first: it runs
hot, even at idle. The metal knobs themselves grow quite warm to the touch, and this was in a rack that is open
on all four sides. Second, it is not a "forgiving" or "analog-like" amplifier. Like FedEx, it just delivers the goods.
Despite its comparatively low price, the Sugden A21a made quite apparent the sonic differences between a $299
DVD player and a $6000 upconverting CD player. And that is a good thing. Highly recommended.
2
by KEN KESSLER
C
ertain
manufacturers
have promoted
Class-A operation
as if they invented
the technology, so
it's easy to forget
that nearlyforgotten British
brands went to
market with ClassA designs 30
years ago. As this isn't our Classic Hi-Fi supplement and I'm not at present in a position to
determine exactly which brand was the first in the world to issue a shop-ready Class-A amplifier,
it's enough to point out that the Sugden (or, more precisely, Richard Allan) nameplate graced a
commercially-available product nearly a decade-and-a-half before any of the current practitioners.
This very magazine published James E Sugden's seminal articles as far back as November
1967, and his 10W/ch Richard Allan A21 appeared that year, at £52. By 1969, for a princely £56
(about £630 in today's money), one could purchase an updated, renamed version called the
Sugden A21 Series Two, one of which the current Sugden firm loaned me for the purpose of
putting the latest version into context. Rated at l0W/ch and running as hot as you'd expect, the
A21 Series Two provided a prescient taste of high-end audio in the 1980s and 1990s.
While the Forces of Darkness preferred Class-B or Class-AB, Sugden defended Class-A
operation and its total avoidance of switching distortion. As we now know, after a decade-plus of
high-end pure Class-A solid-state amplifiers from the USA and elsewhere, Class-A costs more, is
less efficient and generates copious amounts of heat, but sounds a helluva lot better.
As it was succinctly described by Gordon King in the now-defunct Hi-Fi Sound, 'Class-A working
is achieved by biasing the push-pull output transistors to the middle of their working
characteristics, so that the collector current remains virtually the same whether signal is being
handled or not.' King points out that the development of the A21 was made possible because
germanium transistors, which couldn't handle the heat, were being replaced by far more suitable
silicon types.
If the anachrophilic tone of this piece is starting to grate, note that it is appropriate. What I have
before me is a made-in-1998 J E Sugden A2la integrated amplifier, a direct descendant of the
A21 Series Two, still manufactured in West Yorkshire and still as unrelentingly British as you
would want it to be. Better yet, I just learned that this amplifier has been
around virtually unchanged for nine years. Which just might be (1) the
longest we've waited between launch and review (although fellow
HFN/RR contributor Eric Braithwaite reviewed it seven or eight years
ago for another magazine), and (2) it's enough to mark the A21a as
probably the 'oldest' integrated amplifier in continuous production. But it
sure doesn't sound that way.
Unlike its large, funky, trad predecessor, the A2la is a svelte 430x72x360mm (whd), including
knobs, terminals and substantial heat-sinkety. Those dimensions are what you'd allow for a
conventional, cool-running, minimalist solid-state integrated, and yet the A2la lacks no functions;
it offers four line inputs and a proper phono stage. Across its front are a rotary source selector,
buttons for tape monitoring and mono operation (yippee!), and a pair of rotaries for balance and
volume. At the far right are a yellow LED and power-on button. My only ergonomic grumble? No
centre detent for the balance setting. At the back are an IEC mains inlet, multi-way binding posts
for a single pair of speakers, gold-plated phono sockets and an earthing post.
Inside, it's dual-mono for the amp sections, each channel residing on a vertically-mounted PCB
fixed directly to the heat-sinks. The preamp stage has its own PCB running the depth of the
cabinet, with the optional phono section consisting of a daughter-board factory- firted at the rear
of the main PCB. And smack in the middle, accounting for the units substantial weight of 9kg, is
the heart of the power supply, a massive toroidal with separate windings for each channel. Parts
quality is top-rate, the A2la filled with capacitors, resistors and switches I've seen in far-costlier
designs, and the finish and build are confidence-inspiring.
A word of caution: an ostensibly clean and handsome design, the A21a is available in silver
black, but J E Sugden will finish it in other colours if your taste is of the non- existent variety.
Whatever your own proclivities, try to resist the temptation to opt for what the company calls
'gold', the finish as seen on the review sample and one conceived for shops, hi-fl shows and, as
Sugden's Tony Miller put it, 'Christmas.' Gold? I think not. Rather, it calls to mind the words'vial'
and 'specimen'.
Rated at a modest 25Wich, the A2la acts like a 75-watter - hardly what I expected of an amplifier
with the built-in power restrictions caused by opting for Class-A circuitry. Any experience with
other 'baby' Class-A amps will not prepare you for the sheer driving force the A21a possess...
within reason, that is. But the A21a is merely reflecting a couple of decades' worth of transistor
evolution since the A21 Series Two, which it substantially outperforms as far as sheer grunt is
concerned. Sugden has employed what it describes as 'the latest multi-emitter bi-polar devices
with low internal resistance, high gain and speed characteristics.' Other changes from old to new
include gain stages in cascode configuration, increasing the bandwidth and minimising phase
shift. And as much as the antique collector in me wants to play Luddite and claim that the old A21
is the one to own, the A21a is faster, more detailed, smoother and much more transparent. Hell,
the only arguments I can still produce in favour of the oldie are almost entirely based on the look
of the faceplate.
With the two Sugdens sandwiched in turns in-between a pair of New
Audio Frontiers Reference speakers and sources including the Krell
KAV-3OOcd and a Basis 2000 turntable with Rega arm and Grado
Prestige cartridge, I set about assessing old-vs-new before
attempting to position the A2la in the current market. Anachrophiles
will be both pleased and dismayed, the latter response being elicited
by the aforementioned list of gains. But pleasure comes when you
discover just how commanding the oldster remains, even
surrounded by modern ancillaries and digital sources. Yes, the
A2la's extra headroom, courtesy of another 15W/ch is substantial, but the oldie still drives some
ornery speakers like Quad ESLs and LS3/5As with ease; the New Audio Frontiers speakers are so
sensitive that the elder amp's volume control never strayed past 11 o'clock. So 'loud' just ain't an
issue. But what the Sugden A21 Series Two had, which will keep lucky owners from ever letting go
of this thirtysomething is a sort of gentility, a breeding, a type of politesse which isn't just a part of
the original 1967 design; it's redolent of the era.
Not to say that the A21a could ever be brash or rude or vulgar. Quite simply, it's modern. Which is a
couple of characters too long to be a four-letter word. In this sense it means 'analytical', 'matter-offact' - almost cold-blooded. And that's as it should be, if we're true to the goals of accuracy, lowcoloration and an absence of distortion. The A2la, nostalgia and valve prejudices and high-end
leanings be damned, is absolutely faithful to its cause celebre. At the risk of incurring a wave of
wrath from across the pond from which I might never recover, I have to say that the A21a made me
think continually of... Krell.
It possesses, on a far smaller scale, of course, the kind of virtues which make Krells the choice for a
large number of high-end customers of the solid-state persuasion. The Sugden's sound is detailed,
coherent, top-to-bottom consistent and cut into the air with a precision that suggests keyhole
surgery. Even with bass-heavy recordings, and while driving massive towers like the References,
the bass never flubbed, never exhibited a teensy trace of overhang. Treble attack was ideal for
listening to flurries of fast trumpet and guitar work, especially if coming from a system which made it
impossible to separate the notes. And the A2la understands three-dimensional soundstages.
Of course, the Sugden lacks the slam of a £3000-plus powerhouse. It will not crack plaster, though
it will produce levels to earn you a place on Neighbours From Hell if you own high-sensitivity
speakers. Sorry, but serious headbanging costs loadsamoney. The Sugden is like Goldilocks'
preferred porridge. Oops, there's that subliminal gold message...
Sonically, then, there's no downside unless you swear by single-ended triodes or push- pull EL34s,
in which case any Class-A solid state amp would prove to be ananathema Rather, the A21a is a
delightful stepping-stone toward Krell and the like, for those wa-a-ay short of the requisite dosh. At
£749 in line level form, its adjustedfor-1998 pricing means that inflation
has touched Sugden only a bit; the
company says that working
backwards, £749 is the equivalent of
£72.50 circa 1967.
Then there's the m-m/m-c phono
stage for another £70. Alas, I preferred the smoother, quieter NAD PP-l at £39.95, but that lacks
moving-coil suitability. A Sugden dealer, however, should allow you to hear a phono-equipped A21a
against an A2la with an outboard phono section of your own choice.
But don't let the question of the phono stage distract you. The Sugden A21a is the only choice if you
want affordable Class-A. Phrased that way, you might think I'm describing a victoty by default. Not
so: the Sugden has few rivals at or near its price; my personal shortlist adds only Audio Analogue's
Puccini SE and the Musical Fidelity X-A1.
Remember: we're talking about an amp made by salt-of-the-earth Yorkshiremen who can't be
bothered with the nonsense attached to 'specialty audio'. They'll never shout about the A21a, any
more than they boasted about their own pioneering efforts in making Class-A technology available
to the masses. And this is behaviour which makes the Sugden A21a amplifier the best-kept secret
in British hi-fl.
July 1998 HI-FI NEWS & RECORD REVIEW
SPECIAL
FEATURE
A Duet of Integrated Amplifiers:
Sugden A21aL and Primare I20
Neil Gader
here are plenty of easy ways
to blow scads of cash in the
high end. Believe me—I
know. But there are ways to
economize as well, without
feeling or “hearing” the pinch.
Integrated amplifiers are prime examples. Sure, separates are cool and a necessity for certain applications, but in
recent years the “one-box” solution has
proven itself fully competitive. And
these integrated amplifiers from
Scandinavia’s Primare and England’s
Sugden are perfect proof.
T
Sugden A21aL
ugden—an electronics company
founded by J. E. Sugden, formerly a
manufacturer of scientific instruments,
S
and based in West Yorkshire,
England—began pioneering and refining pure Class A solid-state amplifiers
over 30 years ago.1 Its first product, the
original 10Wpc A21, debuted in 1969.
Thanks to improved parts quality, the
A21 has evolved into the current
25Wpc A21a, with fifteen more watts to
better serve today’s loudspeakers
All of you must remember the story
of the ugly duckling. If not, just look at
the Sugden A21a.With its retro profile
it certainly won’t win any beauty contests. A large volume and balance knob
and mono and tape buttons dominate
the front panel, available in black or silver. Four line-level inputs (plus optional
phono stage), a preamp out and tape
loop, and a single set of loudspeaker outputs fill in the back panel. Deep aluminum heat sinks along the sides of the
heavy steel case help dissipate the substantial heat build-up typical of Class A
operation. The power cord is removable.
Once warmed up—and I mean
warmed!—the A21a was tube-like in its
across-the-band sweetness. Its rounded,
relaxed character and grain-free treble
might translate to “dark” and “attenuated” at first listen, but the A21 is, in fact,
highly extended. It merely lacks bristle
or edginess. It has an almost Zen-like
tranquility, though it doesn’t sound tranquilized. It’s also a very quiet amplifier
with no perceivable hum at any level.
To a small degree the A21a lays back
on the beat. Its polished, polite character
moderates the aggressive attack and
drive of rock/pop sources and seems
more at ease in the refined world of classical and jazz. Here, the A21a navigates
the extended harmonic and dynamic
complexities of these predominantly
acoustic genres with fluidity and
finesse. It reproduced the piano solo
from Mary Stallings’ “Sunday Kind of
Love” [Live at the Village Vanguard;
MaxxJazz] with almost preternatural
ease—suggesting a great deal of air
movement in and around the solo
piano. The delicate brushwork on the
snare, the bloom of the cymbals, and
the ripple of Stallings’ vibrato were
also highly persuasive.
The Sugden excels with female
vocalists, the presence of whom it
reproduces with an almost buttery
smoothness. The on-stage dimensionality of a singer like Norah Jones [Come
Away With Me; Bluenote] was palpable. When Laurel Massé sings
“Mountainy Singer” [Feather And Bone;
1 Class A means that the output devices, transistors in this case, are always conducting current even when the signal level is zero. It’s a full-throttle approach that’s highly inefficient
but sonically desirable. Class B uses a complementary pair of transistors to split the waveform into negative and positive parts. Since each device conducts only half the current at
any one moment, Class B is vastly more efficient, producing less heat, although it is also subject to crossover distortions at lower levels. Class AB splits the difference, operating like
a Class A amp at low levels and like Class B at higher levels. [Glenn White, The Audio Dictionary, p. 257; Robert Harley, The Complete Guide to High End Audio, pp. 406–407.]
WWW.THEABSOLUTESOUND.COM
53
integrated
amplifiers
Premonition Records], accompanied
only by violin, the vocalist and instrumentalist seemed to exist together within a wider soundspace and yet were each
fully fixed within their own acoustic
envelopes. Both players seemed to
emerge from exceptionally dark and velvety backgrounds. The Sugden demonstrated a credible sense of any venue with
a front-to-back dimensionality that even
bettered its lateral soundstaging by a
slight margin. Even at higher levels
music remained unfatiguing, without
the sting of elevated sibilance.
Transient information possessed the
requisite snap but missed that initial
flick of immediacy. The flatpick off the
steel strings of an acoustic guitar or the
crackle off a snare had a softer character
and a little less intensity than they do in
life. Electric bass and kick drum combinations were smooth and relatively
tight, but at moments also suggested a
wooly thickness. This will strike some as
optimal, while others might consider it
a little too bloomy.
At a mere 25Wpc the Sugden does
have its power limits. It performed effectively in a smaller room with a mediumhigh-efficiency (91dB) loudspeaker like
the Focal-JMlab Cobalt S 816. In fact, at
lower volumes it sounded awfully sweet
with the 83dB-sensitive ATC SCM20SL.
But the Sugden will thin out and lose
bass definition and dynamic snap if not
mated with a sufficiently sensitive loudspeaker. Despite this proviso, the
Sugden A21a is a prime example of the
old adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix
it”—or perhaps, just as appropriately,
“Life begins at 30.”
Primare I20
he modern understated elegance of
current Primare products dates back
to the late 1980s, with the eye-popping
900 Series and 200 Series products of
Danish industrial designer Bo
Christensen. Later, Primare began an
association with Zena Audio of Sweden,
known for its Copeland and QLN
brands. More recently, former Threshold
T
54
and Pass Labs engineer Mike Bladelius
has been orchestrating a new series of
Primare analog and digital designs for
the audio and video market.
The I20 outputs a healthy 70Wpc
from a Class AB circuit. It’s a dual-mono
configuration, incorporating independent transformers for each channel. The
low-profile front panel is dominated by
microprocessor input buttons, a brushed
aluminum volume knob (a marvelously
precise and finely graduated one), and a
fluorescent display that reads out input
sources and volume and balance increments. The remote control allows onthe-fly adjustments of these parameters,
as well as control of other Primare products. The I20 has four line-level inputs
and a preamp output. It includes a
removable power cord.
If the Sugden A21a leaned to the
warmer, more romantic side of neutrality, the Primare tilted slightly the other
way. It’s a dryer, cooler and more intellectual performer, vivid and highly
focused. Instrumental and vocal images
were not only stable in and of themselves but in their relationship with others instruments on the soundstage. This
analytic character could be observed
during Iberia [Telarc] where the I20
reproduced low-level details like the
complex rattle of maracas with consummate ease, yet made the vibrant violin
section sound slightly wiry and forward.
Male and female vocals were clean,
defined, and free from over-accented
sibilance, though deep baritones like
Mark Knopfler’s didn’t quite have the
rumbling chestiness I associate with his
recordings (but this was a subtle flaw).
During Laurel Massé’s “Mountainy
Singer,” the I20 was better at reproducing the immediacy of violin and vocal
than at developing the fully formed
ambience of the famed Troy Savings
Bank Hall. This same trait, however,
gave the Primare a more outgoing,
dynamic personality that energized rock
’n’ roll recordings.
The Primare was superb at resolving
complicated bass passages like Stewart
Copeland’s triplet kick drum groove
during the last verse of the Police’s
“King of Pain” [Synchronicity; A&M
S P E C I F I C AT I O N S
Sugden A21a
Power Output: 25Wpc into 8 ohms, 10Hz–20kHz
Frequency Response: 6Hz–200kHz ±3dB
Signal to noise: -90dB
Weight: 18 lbs.
Dimensions: 3.15" x 16.93" x 13.78"
Price: $1495 (A21aI; $1695 with mm/mc
phono section)
Primare I20
Power Output: 70Wpc into 8 ohms
Frequency response: <10Hz–100kHz ±3dB
Signal to noise: -98dB
Weight: 24 lbs.
Dimensions 4" x 17" x 12"
Price: $1250
A S S O C I AT E D E Q U I P M E N T
Sota Cosmos Series III turntable; SME V
pick-up arm; Shure V15VxMR cartridge; Sony
C222ES SACD Multi-Channel, Sony DVP9000ES; Plinius 8200 Mk2 integrated amp;
Placette Volume Control preamp; Nordost
Valhalla & Blue Heaven cabling; Kimber
Kable BiFocal XL, Wireworld Equinox III,
Wireworld Silver Electra power cords; Richard
Gray line conditioners
THE ABSOLUTE SOUND ■ AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2003
integrated
SACD]. Unlike the woollier Sugden, the
I20’s bottom end was tight and controlled. Similarly the opening Fender
pulse during “Wrapped Around Your
Finger” and the clarity of the exchange
between electric bass and kick drum
during “Every Breath You Take” were
pristine. What was lacking to a degree
was extension, the final shudder of deep
bass at the close of “Sands of Nevada”
[Sailing to Philadelphia; Warner Bros.].
Mark Knopfler typically pours on low
bass like so much hot fudge, but the full
effect in this instance was a ladle short.
The Primare like the Sugden came
close but couldn’t quite take complete
control of Frank Foster’s Big Band
blowfest “Go On And Git It” [Loud
Minority Big Band; Mapleshade
Records]—a recording that has probably
already torched its fair share of amplifiers.
These game little integrateds grew short
WWW.THEABSOLUTESOUND.COM
of breath as amplitude and dynamics
neared their peaks, glossing over some of
the finer inner details and growing a little sinewy when faced with the blazing
treble energy of a hard-charging brass and
percussion section. Unlike a true reference integrated like the Plinius 8200,
neither amp could fully reveal the complex textures of soundfields or paint the
soundstage as a single continuous canvas.
Conclusion
Identifying key differences between
these components was no slam-dunk.
Tonally, they straddle the fence of neutrality, leaning subtly in contrasting
directions. In a practical sense, any associated loudspeaker will have more colorations than either of these amplifiers.
That said, the Primare I20 is a balanced
amplifiers
combination of power and features.
Beautifully constructed, it’s a good
match for a large number of systems.
The Sugden A21a is a more restricted
performer; careful system matching is a
must rather than an option. Both amps
embody honest value, and I enjoyed
them enormously.
&
M A N U FA C T U R E R I N F O R M AT I O N
Stanalog Audio Imports
P.O. Box 671
Hagaman, New York 12086
(518) 843-3070
www.stanalogaudio.com
SUMIKO, INC.
P.O. Box 5046
Berkeley, CA 94705
510-843-4500
www.sumikoaudio.net
55
MANUFACTURER COMMENTS
Aesthetix Io and Callisto
Plinius SA102 Integrated Amplifier
Sugden A21a Integrated Amplifier
Editor,
I wish to express my sincere gratitude to Mr. Valin for his incredibly thorough review. His consideration of the Io
and Callisto as “landmark designs” like
the ARC SP10 MkII or SP3A-1 was the
most poignant for me, as I have long
been a fan of those legendary designs.
The Io and Callisto were originally
designed in 1994. The circuit design
remains identical to this day, although
huge sonic improvements have been
attained in the Signature versions
through carefully selected capacitor,
resistor, and wire upgrades. The earlier
versions have been reviewed in TAS, and
received awards and recommendations;
the Signature versions reviewed are truly
improved. Upgrades to earlier versions
are available, with no difference between
a newly manufactured one and one that
has been upgraded. We can also add a
second power supply to any version of
the Io or Callisto.
The Io and Callisto are not for every
consumer, because of their size and
price. We have endeavored to bring their
performance to a more accessible level
with our new Saturn Series. Consisting
of the Rhea phono, Calypso line and
Janus all-in-one preamps, these are single chassis components that are direct
descendents of the Io and Callisto. They
use fewer tubes, solid-state discrete regulation, full remote control (even phono
gain and loading), consume less power,
and produce less heat. Their cost is
roughly half of the Io and Callisto.
Mr. Valin’s comment about “having
to get off one’s fat ass” to adjust the
Callisto is true. I have been working on
a motorized remote control system for
the Callisto that will adjust volume, balance, phase and allow direct muting. It
should be available by fall. Lastly, while
Mr. Valin preferred single-ended connections in his system, it should be
understood that a preference for either is
highly system dependent.
Editor,
Further to our investigations of the
SA102 reviewed by Wayne Garcia we
have found that some incorrect resistor
values were inserted into pre-driver section in both channels of the amplifier.
Under certain circumstances this
would cause a small burst of high-frequency oscillation that may have been
the smearing that Wayne reported.
Although this is of a very low level it is
conceivable that this could be detected
in a high-resolution system. Our factory records showed that five SA102s
manufactured on that day were affected
and all were delivered to the U.S. Our
U.S. Distributor, Advanced Audio, has
located and modified these amplifiers
and our factory test routine has been
updated to prevent this happening in
the future.
We sincerely apologize for the
inconvenience and hope that another
look at the SA102 by TAS will show its
Peter Thomson
true capabilities.
Editor:
We’d like to focus on three elements we found particularly noteworthy
in Neil Gader’s thoughtful review.
1.Temptation. Neil experienced a
phenomenon common among listeners
of the Sugden A21a—the temptation
to turn up the volume to hear even
more of the natural presentation our
Class A “full-throttle approach” can
offer, until the amp runs out of steam as
all amps eventually do. Other types of
designs of higher power rating can
exhibit more audible distortion well
before the onset of clipping. The more
subtle dimensionality and ambience
Neil notes also reflect the absence of
distortion and noise in the A21a. For
these reasons you may just end up listening to it more comfortably for
longer sessions. One thing the A21a
will not sustain is head-banging at a
rave. As much as we’d like it to happen,
it can’t be done. Sorry, mate!
2. Caveat. “Careful system-matching is a must rather than an option.”
However, this may be as much a matter of the inherent quality of the speaker design itself as its efficiency. NG
writes “at lower volumes it sounded
awfully sweet [by implication microdynamic] on the [inefficient] ATC
SCM20SL.” This is largely due to our
Class A design which offers splendid
late-night/apartment
listening—
rare among amp designs with lower
current.
3. Philosophy. J. E. Sugden and
Co. indeed follows the adage NG
invokes: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
A pioneering and classic design handmade in West Yorkshire by a familyowned company still speaks strong
value and validity 30 years on—even if
the A21a profile is retro and the siren
call of its bells and whistles is inaudible. What better hi-fi investment and
experience can one offer?
Philip Swift
George Stanwick
Jim White, Aesthetix
Managing Director, Spendor Audio Systems Ltd
Stanalog Audio Imports
WWW.THEABSOLUTESOUND.COM
Spendor S3/5se Loudspeaker
Dear Editor:
There was always something magical about the sound of the Spendor
S3/5 mini-monitor and its predecessor,
the legendary LS3/5a. When we
designed the new S3/5se, we were
determined not to lose the captivating
sound that has always characterized
these ‘BBC inspired’ reference class
loudspeakers. We also wanted to
demonstrate that under its new ownership Spendor is in safe and caring
hands. So we were very pleased to read
your accurate review of the Spendor
S3/5se loudspeaker in which Paul
Seydor has examined its full capabilities with amplifiers ranging from normal to exotic. We were delighted that
Paul felt able to assure your readers
that “Spendor is still Spendor.”
115
Wilson Audio WATT/Puppy System 7
Editor:
Our thanks to Robert Harley for his
concise, yet insightful assessment of the
Wilson Audio WATT/Puppy System 7.
We especially appreciated Mr. Harley’s
complete understanding of the performance capabilities of the system in spite of
his relative lack of prior in-depth experience with our products. In some
respects, this is the situation experienced
by many new purchasers of our products,
so Mr. Harley’s comments are quite relevant to the prospective consumer. Two
aspects of the review were particularly
gratifying to me, personally.
The first is the clean, unambiguous,
and efficient language of the text. The
review lucidly presented the merits of
the WP-7 and the reviewer’s response to
them. Refreshingly absent were any
hints of self-aggrandizing elitism (which
is offensive to the target party and boring to everyone else) or sophomoric specious conjecture. Every detail was well
researched and accurately portrayed.
The second satisfying aspect was the
116
realization that when you are investing
in any high-end work of industrial art,
you are acquiring more than the hardware. Parts of the “product” include elements as practical as customer service
and as profound as the depth of the quality of execution of the concepts embodied
in the hardware. Those elements should
be part of every high-end product assessment as they were so clearly in this fine
review of our Wilson Audio
WATT/Puppy System 7!
David Wilson
Wilson Audio Specialties
Plinius
Editor:
THE ABSOLUTE SOUND ■ AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2003
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