Sunday, June 05, 2005

Some interesting European tube amps

Source: Haute Fidelite June 2005, Hi-Fi News September 2004

The Tchek tube specialist KR Audio's VA-340 hybrid integarated uses MOSFET transistors and manufacturer's famous 300BXLS tubes in output stage, producing 20wpc. Design involves pure Class A, tube auto biasing and includes remote control (ALPS' motorised potentiometer). Associated pictures in review illustrated very neat and high quality internal contruction, external appearance is typical somber KR Audio design. The review mentioned the regular audiophilia minutia akin super 3D imaging, natural timbre of each instruments and so forth. "A winning combination in musicality", summed up HE, and presented its Reference award to the VA-340. See also the VR-340 review in, in where it received their BlueMoon Award.

Viewpoint: At €6.500 KR Audio faces like any other European tube specialist a tough competition from China origin products. The KR Audio might be in better position than some others as it does enjoy relatively low labour costs, being located in Tchek Republic. However, compared with typical Chinese products this one have high-quality 300B tubes as standard (a spare pair goes for $500). Other interesting European tube amp is Italian Graaf's GM50. Ken Kessler noted in Hi-Fi News September 2004: "...perceived value so far beyond what most traditional high-end brands offer that it's almost painful." Furthermore, "Where the GRAAF really scores, though, especially related to its price, are the sense of power it imparts within the anticipated performance of a 50-watter, and the scale it produces."

Copland announced in Salon HiFi Home-Cinema 2005 in Paris its latest integrated, model CTA405. Specs are similar to Graaf GM50: 50wpc, 4 KT88 tubes, although whereas the GM50 has balanced connections the CTA405 seems to be single-ended only. I wonder how both of these amps would sound with EAT's KT88 tubes.

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