When it comes to pulling in the punters, we're in no doubt that Advance Acoustic knows about shop-floor appeal. The French company's MAP305 II stereo amplifier is packed with more of it than any other similarly priced amplifier we can think of.
For starters, the amplifier is both big and extremely heavy. It will fill most equipment rack shelves to overflowing and probably bend a few too, due to its hefty 15.5 kg weight.
The overall impression you get is that you're getting an awful lot for your money – and that is reinforced by the brightly lit and unnecessarily large power meters, the metal remote-control handset and a power output that doubles to 200 watts per channel into a 4ohm load.
All very impressive. And it's designed to make you think that. It's only once you take a closer look at the product that doubts start to creep in. The MAP 305 II is generally well made, but the lid gives off a tinny rattle when knocked. The volume control and remote have a cheap finish, too.
Loud but in no way proud
These initial doubts become certainties once listening starts. On the plus side, this amplifier sounds all its power and then some. It goes loud, has plenty of authority and doesn't skimp on top-end refinement. You can add decent bass weight to the list of plus points, too.
That, though, is the good news done. In most other areas, whether it's latching onto the hard-charging rhythm track of Rihanna's Don't Stop the Music or revealing the subtleties of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, the MAP305 II falls short.
It simply doesn't have the insight, subtlety or articulation an amplifier at this price deserves. Indeed, a Rotel RA-04 gives better detail resolution and dynamic expression at half the money. There's a fair amount to be impressed with in this amplifier; sadly, little of it is due to its sound.