The end of lockdown may be just around the corner, but if you’re craving some contact, Audiozen has you covered with its latest product: the Alchemy Embrace, an amp designed to hug you. Kind of.
Based at the foot of Mount Etna in Sicily, the boutique brand has been making high-end amps since 2009 with the mantra ‘let your ears be your guide’. The Embrace, a replacement for the company's best selling Alchemy ‘hybrid’ integrated amplifier, uses separate tube preamp and power stages – a decision the company describes as being derived from the isolation most people have experienced over the past year, with the hope that the amp will "embrace" both music and the listener.
Audiozen says its choice of components is meticulous, with the preamp containing two NOS tubes, ClarityCap ESA series polypropylene capacitors and a transistor power stage.
The power supply section houses three toroidal transformers: a50 VA pair dedicated to the preamplifier section and a larger 300 VA unit connected to the power stage. On the front panel, the power switch has been labelled ‘hug power’ and features a stand-by setting to gently heat the core of the tubes before switching on.
The volume knob has been re-dubbed ‘hug intensity’; the VU-meters are ‘hug meters’ (with the level of backlighting controlled by a ‘hug meters light’ dial), and when selecting between the four RCA stereo inputs, you can use the amenably named ‘your choice’ switch. But rest assured, it also comes with a remote.
The sleek aluminium front panel is contrasted by wooden sides made from sustainable Asian doussié wood and a transparent perspex cover on the top letting you view all the inner workings.
The Embrace is available in black or silver and costs £2830 ($3890, about AU$5500).