What Hi Fi Sound and Vision Tue, 31 May 2011, 11:32am

Audiolab 8200A

Tested at £750
80100
4

Capable with an impressive range of abilities. It needs more subtlety, though

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For

  • Fast, punchy sound
  • good level of detail
  • flexible and easy to use

Against

  • Sounds too clinical
  • needs careful system matching if forceful treble isn’t to annoy

The original Audiolab 8000A integrated amp was a landmark product when it was introduced in the early 1980s.

It single-handedly established the Audiolab brand, and set new standards in build, features and sound quality at the time.

There’s something reassuringly familiar about the new 8200A, too: It mirrors the original’s clean-cut functional appearance and retains a fair chunk of its electronic engineering principles.

This is no retro reissue, though: it’s clearly a modern unit with the component quality and circuit refinements any top quality contender needs.

Sound brims with detail
There’s a plentiful supply of line ins and outs, a headphone output and, usefully,
the option to split the internal pre and power sections and use them in just about any configuration you can think of.

In use, the 8200A has a bright sound that brims with detail; the words ‘clean and crisp’ keep coming to mind.

And despite the conservative 60W per channel power rating, it manages to drive everything – from KEF’s Q300s to our reference ATC SCM 50s – to commendably high levels.

You can add a wide, open soundstage and an impressive combination of speed and punch to the list of plus points, too.

Fails to stir the soul
However, play something low-key such as Allison Krauss and Union Station’s Paper Airplane and there’s something missing.

It’s the kind of natural warmth and subtlety class leaders such as Roksan’s Kandy K2 have in abundance. A little more rhythmic integrity wouldn’t go amiss, either.

The 8200A is impressive, and can inform excellently, but it doesn’t stir the soul enough. Some rivals manage both.

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