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EAM Lab HA 300 power amp

15.07.2012..
..

Holding in your hands a good Italian object is always a good sight, in this case also a good hearing. I am referring to the new power amp of the recently born EAM Lab.

 

The company is based in Parabiago, close to Milan and the Olona river. The name Parabiago is composed by the prefix -para, equal to “close” and by the Celtic suffix –blagus, equal to “soft”. The rooster in its coat of arms seems to arouse the city dwellers. The founders of the company are two brothers: Emanuele Pizzi, electronic engineer, and Alessandro, personal designer. Two enterprising young men with a twenty-years of experience in pro, that has brought them to design High-End amplifying systems for domestic use, whose features are resilience and time reliability, but most of all, they are made with the best components available on the audio market.

 

A great union of ideas and elegance, attested by the mighty brand new HA 300 power amp, anticipated only by its famous big brother HA 600.

In the catalogue, we also find the famous and powerful PA 2600 and the HA 600, less performing as for manufacture and quality, but nevertheless an excellent product.

Then we find the PA 2300 and the PA 2150, with different powers although capable of configuring the amplifier in mono bridge: not bad indeed. They give you the possibility of getting two power amps with a perfect balanced dual mono configuration and high powers.

Finally yet importantly, the HA1k2 mono power amp that will be introduced very soon. You can imagine its power from the abbreviation and if it turns to be also musically pleasant… well, the fight among the giants of the High-End will be epic!

I was almost forgotten the TO 3.08 and TO 3.16 series, which relate to the old circuitry of the past that employs a TO 3 metal case. Of course they are revised in the output stage.

 

Now back to the HA 300.

 

Technical test

The EAM LAB is soberly elegant but fancy at the same time. The faceplate is designed with curved lines that remind the butterfly wings and make the proportions lighter without betraying the weight and the real dimensions of this object.

EAM Lab’s logo is a nice big snake with on top of its tail a kind of plug and with the jaws emitting sound waves instead of flames.

The heat sinks on the sides are rounded and designed to avoid whatever injuries may occur when the device has to be moved.

On the rear, at a certain distance, are the balanced and unbalanced outputs and WBT connectors of good quality.

The full metal feet assure the best support in terms of stability and vibration, and keep away any interferences and spurious resonances.

After having lifted the heavy top panel, we can immediately notice the extreme neatness of the whole, with not much air wiring. This means a good design and a great layout.

I look at the huge capacitors: four ITELCOND made on the company specs with a capacity of about 50.000 µF.

In the middle, near the filter section, we also find several GoodSky 30A/240VAC GU-SH -112DM relays, and on the sides are huge boards, similar to those of the big brother HA 600, where are lodged preamp drivers and final stages.

Below the capacitors is a big resin transformer with 1.000 Va closed in a metal case suitable to handle the powers at stake.

Fourteen are the power output devices, six the ISC Semiconductor 2SA1295 transistors polarized by a ISC Semiconductor 2SA1943, which works in push-pull configuration with six 2SC3264 driven by a ISC 2SC5200, with a power of 8 Ohms and 180 W. Rms, 4 Ohms and 350 W. Rms, up to the amazing power of 2 Ohms (0,4% thd ) and 600 + 600 W. Rms.

The HA 300 operates in class AB, with the first 19 watts in class A delivering 35 A of current with loads up to 2 ohms. The frequency response is (+0/-3db, 1W/ 8 ohm) - 15 Hz - 60 KHz/-6db a 135 Khz, THD + noise (a 4 ohm 1Khz) < 0,01%.

Well, you have got an idea about the fact that this power amp can assure high dynamic qualities and needs just to be supplied and connected to the best floorstanding or bookshelf loudspeakers, even with low impedances and sensitivity, hence hard to be driven.

 

Listening session

How does the HA 300 perform? After so many technical data, we need some music, don’t we? I connect it to my McIntosh C28 preamp, old but very good machine, with DIY RAMM cables, Sony X559ES CD player with a very good transport, Infinity 9KA loudspeakers, which I use as a reference and know very well merits and faults, in particular their difficult load that qualifies them as amplifications killers.

I start to assay the dynamic skills of this Italian power amp with a track of Marcus Miller from his last work Renaissance, breathless fusion music that plants the bass on your face and in your stomach. The eccentric American bass player, as always, let himself go in solos and guitar sleeps: the velocity and the power of the artist come out with a great expressive ability.

The EAM Lab HA 300 shows a great determination in the grave passages, sometimes delicate sometimes impetuous, but you can get its brawns and the lack of fear in reading the heavy load at the connectors of my American loudspeakers. It is hard for me not going on the stage too… I wish I could!

 

Get on to the voices starting from the beautiful voice of Tierney Sutton. For eleven years, she taught in the Jazz Studies Department at the University of Southern California. In her last work - American Road – she is physically present. Her voice is very clean in phrasings, maybe a bit too sparkling along the higher excursions of the tonal scale but with the fundamentals at the right place. The piano is reproduced in a good way and stands out in all its length and width occupying the space with decision and reproducing the recording studio in the harmonious build-up. The pizzicato of the double bass is slightly rearward but gives the rhythm going along with the percussions. My right foot beats time and this means I like what I hear.

 

A fine power amp this HA 300. However, I notice something: the volume notch of my preamp is well beyond the normal fruition I have with other power amps. Probably the input sensitivity is too low and this determines a removal of the noise floor produced by the preamp. I remind you that the potentiometer is an attenuator. Please refer to Michael Mardis’ article on the gain structure.

 

I try to mitigate the session by changing the set-up. I choose a DIY tube preamplifier (Schiavon’s design) and I change music, some finger style that I do appreciate.

This preamp gains a lot and can ideally interface itself with the Lombard power amp, which, one more time, proves its low sensitivity.

Alex De Grassi, who better than he? The EAM power amp gives back all the dynamic power and the artistic energy of the guitarist who moves the strings of his instrument as few others are able to. The musical stage is full of harmonic contour that draws, with natural colours and with a wealth of details, all the instruments. The listening sensation is very pleasant and emotionally involving, mostly thanks to the mid-high dynamic built-up that does not suffer of any dynamic compression.

 

I love rock music and, to put the HA 300it against the ropes, I choose a really tough track. To second the dynamic peaks of this kind of music I opt, as a preamp, for a solid state Carver C11. Who does not know Carver? Besides, Carver made a comeback with remarkable tube power amps. I warn ReMusic's Executive Editors and I am looking forward to testing them!

Dave Matthews Band. Tremendous! Music drags me and sweeps me away. I feel the urge to push the potentiometer and I pump the volume up to almost live levels: I am close to the stage. The energy of the HA300 is remarkable and I do not notice any breakdown, not even in the most demanding and paroxysmal passages. The bass is deep, deeper than ever and I fear for the keeping of the four 32 cm Infinity woofers! The singer’s voice is controlled and precise with slight hints of sharpness.

Back to normality. I turn down the volume with regret cause’ I liked what I was listening to.

 

Serious music: Cantate Domino, Proprius label. The rendering of the organ is very realistic. I am sorry, I turn up the volume again. The presence of the mighty pipes reverberating in the room is clear. Again, loudspeakers and amplifications are strained to the limit, but this time I am very relaxed and I do not fear for any breakdown or clipping. The voices are open and this means a good making of the scenic perspective and a naturalness in the rendering.

My ears and my body have benefited from this experience that has positively signed also my soul. The last CD is Italian jazz, a live recording of 2006 by Roberto Gatto.

A tribute to Miles Davis, Seven steps to Heaven, the right steps to get into the night. Gatto’s drums brush on the snare drums, Flavio Boltro drafts the melody with his delicate and pressing trumpet. The EAM Lab HA 300 has been a good fellow traveller, a gentle and strong friend during this long and very enjoyable listening session; the two blue leds are still there, a lot of music and…no victims at all.

 

Conclusions

At the end of the evening, the HA 300 reflects on its front fascia the light of the moon. Tomorrow is another day, but what a day in music I had!

Great job for the new born EAM Lab company that has shown professional and manufacturing skills which can put themselves in the sector of the extreme audio, by making an Italian product of great quality and manufacturing solidity. The HA 300 is in the high rank of the catalogue, just below its big brother, the HA600.

We know that by the end of the year the company will present two monoblocks: EAM Lab 1K2, 1.150 W of power into 4 ohm. We are going to see something incredible.

A power amp that I suggest to the audiophile who has important loudspeakers difficult to drive, or to whom is looking for that Italian freshness, that vivid spirit and that control that only a good product like the EAM Lab HA 300 can offer, without being too warm and mellow nor drastically algid.

 

The price of just a bit more than forty thousand euro is inviting and competitive. A valid alternative if you want to purchase a power amp of good quality.

Good set-up to everybody and compliments to this young company.

 

Official technical specifications:

Power 8 ohm: 180+180W rms

Power 4 ohm: 350+350W rms

Power 2 ohm: (0,4% thd ) 600+600W rms

Rated Voltage Output: RMS -35V

Rated Voltage MAX output: RMS -60V

Frequency Response: (+0/-3db, 1W/8ohm) -15Hz-60kHz/-6db at 135khz

THD+noise: (at 4ohm 1khz) <0,01%

Damping Factor: (10-400Hz at 4ohm) >300

CMRR (1khz): >70db

Input Sensivity: 1,1Vrms (at full power 4ohm)

Z in unbalanced: 25Kohm

Z in balanced: 10Kohm

Hum and noise: >95db

Crosstalk: >70db

Type of Class: AB High Polarized

Filter Storage: 50.000 µF

Max Current out: (full power at 2ohm) 35A

Dimensions in mm: 470x240x320 (WxHxD)

Weight: 25kg

Safety Guard Protection Type: Active CC in Out, Short wiring cable, thermal, +/- rail down

Safety Guard Protection Type Passive: Fuse on power rail, fuse on power AC

Anti Shunt Power On: 5sec.

Official Italian dealer: to EAM Lab website

Official current price in Italy: 4,160.00 EUR



DIRECTOR’S CUT | INQUIRY SUPPLEMENT

I must admit that the high rank power amps have always fascinated me. So many watts at disposal and so much sound quality have never hurt anybody. The big and important power amps have always been in one of my reference systems.

I know pretty well the class A as I owned for a long time gears of AM Audio, another Lombard company like EAM Lab.

I know very well merits and faults of the class A, which joints together what is improperly defined “valve warmth” and the pushed dynamics that is typical of the transistors.

However, this HA 300 EAM Lab power amp pushes without distortion 300 watts, that are quite a lot.

Only the first ten are in class A, practically those utilized more often, mostly in night sessions with low volumes. This EAM Lab can generate fresh and open mid frequencies together with a great control and a bold dynamic push in the low frequencies range. These features are usually missing in the pure class A. The HA 300 has a clean and transparent sound. In comparison, my reference seems to have a “sepia toning” tone, even if there are only eighty watts: a quarter of the power of our HA 300.

Lately we have also tested a north European integrated amp but it has seemed lacking in the reproduction of the harmonic tones. The Lab HA 300 seems very attentive in chiselling the harmonic contour that irrefutably draws the right tone of the recorded instrument.

A fine power amp and an interesting and pleasant listening session, which, beyond any lab technical test, justifies the presence of the EAM Lab HA 300 among the audio systems that need lots of power and tonal balance.

The lot without spending a fortune!

R.R.

 

As we will add depth to our reviews, I would like to indicate in extreme synthesis, as usual, the soul, the essence, the last quality of certain devices. The word that in my opinion better defines this HA300 is most probably “exuberance”. Its instinct is generous, explosive, and it will not make you feel indifferent. With this aggressive behaviour, a mix of initial control and great enthusiasm, it puts the music viscerality, more than its interpretation, to the fore.

And this thing, if you remind the emission characteristic in initial class A and then AB to follow, seems to be the precise result that has been anticipated since the beginning.

G.C.

 

 
by Mauro Simolo
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