Does Audiolab mean anything to you? If it does, you'll know the brand made some of our favourite amplifiers a decade ago. If it doesn't, then it's just another British name owned by the Chinese company IAG, joining the Quad, Mission and Wharfedale marques.
The 8000S is a faithful remake of a mid-1990s design, and it stands up well today. This integrated's feature set is competitive, showing what a well-conceived package the original was. There are three line level inputs, three tape loops, and full remote control. Only two things date this amp: the sharp click through the speakers every time an input is changed, and the old-fashioned remote handset.
Play Outkast's Speakerboxxx, and the 8000S throws out a vivid sound. There's little richness, so if you want an easy listen, best look elsewhere, but the rest of us can enjoy a punchy, clear presentation that has no trouble making sense of Big Boi's rapid-fire lyrics. The specs say only a modest 60 watts per channel, but in practice the Audiolab readily drives price-compatible speakers to decent volumes.
Listen elsewhere for rhythm
Flaws? This is no rhythm machine. It fails to cohere like Roksan's Kandy does, and the 8000S also lacks authority at the lowest frequencies, sounding overly crisp in the wrong system.
Take some effort to get things right, and this is still a competitive amp – and the fact it sells for less than the original says much for Audiolab's determination to be competitive. Yet, decent as this amplifier is, you can do better.