The Audiophiliac finds bliss with a 25-watt amplifier

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The Move Labs XA25 stereo energy amplifier.

Move Labs

I do know a lot of audiophiles who get weak within the knees fantasizing about large, highly effective amplifiers. Not me — I am drawn to smaller extremely top quality amps. A few of you may recall that simply final yr I raved about First Watt’s sweet-sounding 20-watt-per-channel F7 amp. The Move Labs XA25 is even higher.

The corporate makes a variety of energy amps, and whereas it is best recognized for its heavyweight brutes, the XA25 obtained an outsize share of consideration within the high-end audio scene main as much as its launch. Designer Nelson Move’ simpler-is-better strategy is in full play on this 25-watt-per-channel (into eight ohms) amp. It is hardly little — the XA25 weighs 45 kilos (20.four kg) and may ship 50 watts per channel to four ohm audio system and safely drive 1 ohm hundreds! That is a unprecedented achievement, nevertheless it’s the sound that makes the XA25 particular.

Connectivity is as easy because it will get. There’s top quality stereo RCA inputs and binding posts for speaker cables, and that is it. The XA25 measures 17 by 6 by 17.three inches (432 by 152 by 439mm). It is superbly hand-crafted within the Move Labs manufacturing facility in Auburn, California.

Move commonly performs blind listening checks to substantiate he is entering into the best route as new designs take form in his workshop. Ears are, in any case, the most effective judges of what good sound feels like, and he notes that some amps that measure the identical do not sound the identical. Listening is an important a part of the Move design ethos.

That stated, Move modified his sound with the XA25. “We all know that the client’s style in audio evolves,” he instructed me by way of electronic mail, “and we choose to drive the adjustments in our little section quite than comply with others, so we maintain engaged on design. Every new product alters the ‘home sound’ a bit, however we make some extent of balancing enhancements and product stability.”

The XA25 is a Class A amplifier, and that is a part of the explanation it sounds good, however Class A amps generate numerous warmth. That’s, the complete chassis runs scorching to the contact. Not so scorching you’d burn your self, however you would not need to relaxation your hand on the XA25 for very lengthy.

New sounds

I spent a while evaluating the XA25 with my 7-year-old Move Labs XA100.5 100-watt-per-channel amps. They felt extra highly effective and I used to be anticipating that, however past the facility variations the XA100.5 and XA25 sound very totally different. The XA25 is clearer, with superior soundstage depth and determination. The XA100.5 sound was much less vivid. Acoustic devices’ tonality and naturalness appeared extra appropriate over the XA25. Even so, the XA100.5 nonetheless sounds awfully good to me. That amp is now not in manufacturing, having been changed with the XA100.eight a couple of years in the past (which I’ve by no means heard).

I really like the way in which the XA25 separates the sound of the devices from the reverberation bouncing round “Pink Up” from Spoon’s “Sizzling Ideas” album. The soundstage was close to holographic, with a bunch of audio system together with the Harbeth 30.2, KEF R300, Magnepan .7 and TAD ME1. For all of those listening checks I teamed the XA25 with a Move Labs XP-30 preamp, Parasound JC three+ phono preamp, SME Mannequin 15 turntable with a Koetsu Sky Blue phono cartridge, Mytek Brooklyn digital converter and an Oppo UDP-203 Blu-ray participant.

The Move Labs XA25.

Move Labs

With my audiophile ears standing at full consideration I famous that every instrument sounds prefer it’s in its personal “house” on my favourite recordings. That’s, the devices aren’t merely flat representations of themselves, they have been extra totally shaped throughout the soundstage than I get from different amps. With Brian Eno’s “Ambient four: On Land” CD the .7s sound was so enveloping it seemed like a encompass recording. The soundstage crammed the complete width of my listening room, with ambient clouds of music floating freed from the audio system.

The Magnepan .7 was certainly one of my favourite audio system of the yr in 2015, and over the previous two years my respect for this unbelievable speaker has solely grown. With the XA25, the .7’s low finish was extra muscular. Transparency and transient velocity enhancements have been evident with the XA25 driving the .7s.

As for the midrange with the Harbeth 30.2 audio system, singers from Frank Sinatra to Amy Winehouse to Johnny Money all sounded fleshed out and actual. All three have been on the high of their craft, due to their connection to the lyrics of their songs — they introduced them to life. What extra can I ask than that?

Then I had an opportunity to attempt the XA25 with a set of previous Quad ESL electrostatic audio system and the amp was a transparency champ. It sounded higher, clearer and extra neutrally balanced than the opposite, rather more costly amp I had readily available, an previous ASR Emitter II. That one had a darker, fuller sound and it was veiled by comparability.

Priced at $four,900 or £four,000, the XA25 is probably the most inexpensive of Move Labs’ energy amps. If you happen to’re an audiophile searching for your subsequent amp, is 25 watts sufficient? Certain, it is simple to err on the facet of extra watts, however what’s going to you be lacking by way of readability? Typically much less seems to be extra.  

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