While we would always hesitate to bet on a product’s fate before we had spent time with it, the odds are stacked in favour of the Audiolab 600A Play's success. That's because the streaming amplifier essentially combines the company’s five-star 6000A integrated amp (£599 / AU$1,599) and Award-winning 6000N Play (£449 / AU$1,099) network streamer in a single chassis.
A recipe for success on the face of it, the 6000A Play borrows the 6000A’s amplifier circuitry and marries it with the 6000N Play’s wi-fi streaming technology, which is based on the established DTS Play-Fi platform.
The result: a just-add-speakers system that can stream music from services like Tidal, Spotify, Amazon Music, Deezer and Qobuz, a DLNA-compatible networked server or, via Bluetooth, a smartphone, as well as accommodate external sources such as a CD player, TV or turntable thanks to its digital, phono and line-level analogue inputs.
The DTS platform on which the 6000A Play’s streaming experienced is based allows for hi-res playback up to 24-bit/192kHz, in a wireless multiroom capacity that allows the connection of up to 32 Play-Fi-equipped devices. All you need is the DTS Play-Fi control app. By linking the amplifier with any Alexa-supporting smart speaker in the app, it can also be voice-controlled.
Audiolab has worked hard to squeeze the absolute best performance out of the 6000A Play’s Sabre32 DAC chips, carefully choosing op-amps for the post-DAC active filter circuitry that work particularly well with the chips. For all digital audio signals, users can choose between three digital filters - ‘Fast Roll-Off’, ‘Slow Roll-Off’ and ‘Minimum Phase’ – to optimise performance according to the source and partnering equipment.
Similar care has been taken in the analogue stages: the protected preamp section has been kept as simple as possible, with line input signals passing straight to an analogue volume stage, while independent low-noise power supplies for each critical stage have been used to reduce interference and enhance performance.
The 6000A Play’s phono stage has also been upgraded over the 6000A’s to deliver even better sound quality. And joining the 50-watt-per-channel Class AB power amp stage is a dedicated headphone amplifier for listening through cans, too.
The Audiolab 6000A Play is available from July in a choice of silver or black, at an RRP of £799 (Australian pricing yet to be announced). We look forward to seeing how it stacks up against the current class leader in the sub-£1000 just-add-speakers system category, the Marantz PM7000N.