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Audiolab M-PWR review

The M-PWR is a good, solid performer. It might not be the last word in finesse or fluidity, but would still work well in the right system Tested at £500

Our Verdict

The M-PWR is a good, solid performer. It might not be the last word in finesse or fluidity, but would still work well in the right system

For

  • Small dimensions, large sound
  • Delivers larger dynamics, higher volume and more punch than size suggests
  • Clean presentation

Against

  • Sounds a touch mechanical
  • Lacks a little rhythmic drive

The Audiolab M-PWR power amp makes perfect sense for Audiolab. The company also makes two DACs – the Q-DAC and M-DAC – and a CD player/preamp, all with variable outputs, so the addition of a stand-alone power amplifier at a sensible price provides an obvious partner.

But don’t discount the M-PWR if you don’t have an Audiolab system: it’s quite happy working with a wide range of preamps and partnering kit.

Audiolab M-PWR: design

The M-PWR is a 40W-per-channel chunky half-width design, which visually matches the two DACs perfectly. It has both balanced and single-ended inputs, and works well through both.

Build quality is solid enough for the money, but there’s not quite the slickness of finish that we’ve found in Audiolab’s M-DAC, integrated amps or CD players.

Audiolab M-PWR

Audiolab M-PWR

Audiolab M-PWR: performance

We used the M-PWR with both its natural Audiolab partners and our Bryston BP26 preamp with good results.

Despite a modest power rating this is a powerful sounding amplifier. Using our reference ATC SCM50 speakers along with KEF’s LS50 stand-mounters the amplifier had no trouble delivering high volume levels.

It coped with the dynamic swings of John Williams’ Theme from Jurassic Park with ease, delivering crisp detail and clean, punchy transients. The amplifier’s stereo imaging is pleasingly stable too, even as volume levels rise, and the M-PWR’s bass is delivered with pleasing authority.

Audiolab M-PWR

Audiolab M-PWR

On the downside, the sonic delivery sounds a little mechanical, and Audiolab doesn’t charge along with quite the rhythmic determination we’d like either. This dulls the impact of hard-driving tracks such as The Dead Weather’s 60 Feet Tall.

Audiolab M-PWR: verdict

This is a good, clean-sounding and detailed amplifier: it might not be the last word in entertainment, but the Audiolab M-PWR is capable all the same.

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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 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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