Recommended Components 2012: Part 3

Part 3 of this series of Stereophile recommended components is all about amplifers: preamps, power amps and integrated ones. All highly recommended and desirable!

2 Channel Preamplifiers: Class A

Aesthetix Saturn Calypso/Calypso Signature – “A beautifully built, smartly designed, crisply functioning, versatile, and sonically brilliant preamplifier,” the Saturn Calypso is a single-box, tubed unit that… offer “an attractive combination of couch-potato convenience without compromising its tweaky audiophilic performance potential,” thought MF. Compared to the original, the Signature version created a wider soundstage and offered more low-level resolution, longer decays, and richer bass, found WP.










Two-Channel Power Amplifiers: Class A (solid state)

Aesthetix Atlas – the Atlas has a tubed input stage, a solid-state output stage, and a second pair of inputs with a 6dB/octave high-pass crossover that can be set to 16 different corner frequencies from 40 to 200Hz. Build quality is top-notch and rugged, with the amp’s body wrapped in an aluminium enclosure that surrounds the circuits and heat sinks in a cage-in-cage construction. The Atlas was characterized by a control, ease, and dynamic command that allowed music to jump to life, said WP.










Integrated Amplifiers: Class A

Audio Note Jinro – Though its midrange was a bit soft, the Jinro showcased powerful bass, unsurpassed flow and momentum, and an overall sound that was very subtly sweet. AD concluded: “The Jinro exists as an appealing alternative for those who can appreciate and afford such a thing: a wonderful, wonderful amplifier.”













Leben CS600 – JM: “The Leben CS600 had a certain, almost indefinable sweetness about it, and a beguiling presentation of inner detail that made me overlook its limitations in dynamics and bass.” Partnered with the Harbeth P3ESR loudspeakers, the Leben sounded “simply glorious.”









Leben CS300 – Construction quality was superb throughout. The Leben distinguished itself as a punchy and realistically textured amp with an especially deep, tight bottom end. It measured “about as well as can be expected from its retro design,” commented JA.


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