Audiolab 8000AP review

Lacks the ability to decode high-definition audio soundtracks, which is unacceptable at this price level Tested at £1000.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

If an involving all-round sound is your priority, give these a listen pronto. However, the mean spec seems too much of a compromise


  • +

    Big, bold and immersive sound

  • +

    cast-iron build


  • -

    Short of the audio and video facilities you might expect at this price

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.

We tested the forerunner to Audiolab 8000AP/8000X7 processor/power amplifier combination in our Awards 2006 issue, and found it to be a seductive listen hamstrung by a lack of modern audio- and picture-processing facilities.

Some 18 months later, Audiolab has tried to address some of our concerns, but that long a timespan is an eternity in modern home cinema terms – just ask HD DVD manufacturers. So are the changes timely, or too little, too late?

It's the 8000AP processor that's got the new toys here. The arrival of audio-capable HDMI switching (two in, one out) is obviously the most welcome improvement over the outgoing 8000AV. That, however, is your lot – and that's an issue in the modern market.

First, there's the simple issue of numbers. We've looked at less expensive integrated receivers recently that sport four HDMI inputs and two outs. Two HDMI ins just seems a little mean...

Found wanting for features
More crucially, though, the 8000AV lacks HD audio decoding. Sure, it'll take PCM audio from your Blu-ray or HD DVD player, and yes, you can instruct said player to convert every form of sound stored on your discs into a PCM signal that the Audiolab can understand – but wouldn't you rather be able to listen to your discs' soundtracks in their unconverted form?

We're also aghast that, no matter which player we teamed it with, it wasn't able to to switch a 1080p/24fps high-def picture to our reference Pioneer screen.

This Audiolab kit still has its appeal if you've room for only one system. However, if you buy this processor with the matching 8000X7 multichannel power amp, then we can't help thinking £2500 should buy more modernity than it can muster.

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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