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
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
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
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.