How to get good sound from low priced products? Including Consonance a100
In LYD & BILDE 9/2000

How to get good sound from low priced products?

Loudspeakers: Audio Pro Black Diamond NOK 5,790
Amplifyer: Consonance a100 NOK 5,500
CD/DVD: Harman Kardon DVD1 NOK 4,998
Signal Cables: Silver Sonic BL-1 NOK 750
Speaker cables: Silver Sonic T-14 NOK 600
Consonance a100

Maybe we have to look to the Far East if we want to start a new movement: Hi-Fi equipment for everyone?
The amplifyer plays, as always, a central role in the system. What we are looking for is maximum good sound from a powerful amplifyer. It does not help with a smooth and refined amplifyer if it lacks a powerful enough "engine" to run the loudspeakers in an unrestrained manner in the space it is meant for. Talking about characteristics such as space and size it is my experience that this largely depend on the amplifyer. The space becomes in better focus and larger the better amplifyer we put to drive the speakers. But is is quite evident that the limit has to be set somewhere, or we spend too much on the amplifyer. I have been told that the Electrocompaniet 120W amplifyer is a very good partner for these speakers, but then we end up in another league as far as price is concerned.

When trying to put together a budget system it is difficult. What amplifyer on the market gives both finesse and power? It sounds expensive, and often ends up to be expensive.

If the music reportoire is limited it is possible to make certain strategic measures so that the compromises will not be too evident. But what do you do if you want to play all types of music? Then we need to get hold of a new kind of amplifyer__one that is able to combine power with beautiful singing; a universal amplifyer which does not cost an arm and a leg. Where might this come from?

The answer is China: this amplifyer has been hand built in Beijing by the Chinese company Opera Audio. In the Consonance series of high end amplifyers we find an integrated amplifyer known as a100, costing not more than NOK 5,500. For this price it is sensational.

The amplfiyer is not completely new to Lyd & Bilde magazine. In February 2000 it presented itself favourably among amplifyers costing less than NOK 7,000. Lasse Svendsen proclaimed that this was one of the most refined amplifyers he had listened to in a long time. The definition of space is credible, and it plays all types of music in a lively manner.

Furthermore he noticed its open and airy performance, which really belongs to much more expensive amplifyers.

I had the same impression when I hooked up the amplifyer to my system in the basement. I nearly got a shock. After having heard what this amplifyer could get out of the Black Diamond speakers I knew I had found the right one.

The only Lasse could criticize was that it could appear a little "slender around the hips". But this was not the case with my system.

After having tested the Consonance a100 on my favourite system for some time, I felt confident that it was possible to save a lot of money here. This amplifyer does not only come close to the better known amplifyers; it has something to offer regardless of what you compare it with. I have never earlier heard such a low price amplifyer with such a potential. In my ears this amplifyer sounds as the best combination of a tube amplifyer and a transistor amplifyer. Imagine if the early solid state amplifyers of the early 60s had had such musical characterstics? Then the history of Hi-Fi might have been different. This is an amplifyer nearly as simple as that time's tube amplifyers, and equipped with a beautiful, but small power supply.

The only problem I can see with this amplifyer is that it is not expensive enough. It is difficult to believe that such a cheap amplifyer can be any good. After all, we have many experiences telling us that there normally is a connection between the price and the sound quality.

But if you don' t comprehend what this modest amplifyer possesses and hook it up to too cheap equipment, you will not experience what it can give. It is pure-bred. You will very seldom experience such a pure sounding amplifyer. This is an amplifyer which has to be treated more like a high-end amplifyer than a low budget one. It particularly reveals itself in the high frequency registers.

As all pure-bred amplifyers it needs thorough breaking in before it yields really good sound. You will not be dissatisfied after a few days, but it is best after 100-150 hours. Even after such a period it should not be listened to immediately after switching on. The best is possibly to leave it on the whole day, so that it always is ready to perform at its best. It should not present a problem, since the amplifyer only gets slightly warm from being on all the time.

Other amplifyers can seduce you with a velvety voice and make the music very beautiful. Consonance is very sober in its performance, but it can reveal the innermost of what the music hides. It will not let you down in clarifying the various facets of music, and present it ina coherent and organic manner. Consonance is not a boring music servant__the amplifyer is suprisingly nimble-footed, working unrestrained and with ease.

Copyright© The Opera audio Co.,Ltd