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Perreaux Audiant 80i integrated amp

28.01.2013..

ReMusic Spark Award

Some years have passed since when I had the chance to hear a Perraux amplification. The memory is still clear, though: the amazing match of a SM2 preamp and a 2159 power amp driving a pair of Rogers LS3/5A loudspeakers. I also remember great performances with the match SM3 preamp and 3150 power amp. Yet I must say that, unexplainably, the New Zealander company has not arrived in Italy, as it would have deserved if we consider the quality of absolute level.

Therefore, you can understand my curiosity and my desire of verify, after all these years, how Perreaux has changed. Well, it has not changed at all. There was and there is still a great quality.

 

Today we are reviewing the Audiant 80i, an eighty watts integrated amplifier that includes, as common use for the noteworthy amplifiers, an internal digital converter in addition to a MM phono stage of great value. The cost of 2,900.00 euro places it in a market segment that is very crowded and with strong competition. The fact is, that the sound features of the Perreaux Audiant 80i are so exceptional that we could easily talk of hi-end, namely that given top quality range as far as the audio gears are concerned. It takes just few seconds to realize that you are in front of a machine that elevates itself a span over the expected quality for a typology of apparatus within this price. With the Perreaux Audiant 80i, you can enter in the hi-end Olympus both for the most complete equipment you can imagine and for the very interesting technical features. In this case, the price of the Audiant is competitive and its quality/price ratio very high.

 

The power of this Perreaux, as I said, is of 80 watts into 8 ohms that become 130 into 4 ohms. However, it is the combination between the signal/noise ratio, equal to 105 dB at 80 W and the damping factor equal to 400, that determines and realizes the sound soul of this good integrated amp: a great inter-transient silence and an extreme rise time. The apparatus has five digital and four line inputs, included a HT loop input dedicated to an audio/video preamp and a MM phono input with a gain of 40 dB. The five digital inputs, among which an asynchronous USB port, reveal the presence of a 24 bit 96 kHz internal converter that uses a ESS Technology Reference Sabre ES9006 DAC.

 

Having said that, do not be surprise if the Perreaux Audiant 80i, notwithstanding its slim dimensions, weighs almost twelve kilos (25.3lb). Besides, the lines of its front panel are very slim too, thanks to a refined design that sees a horizontal division of the frontal itself. One half is in brushed aluminium, while the black panel at the bottom of the facade is a touch-screen where are hidden the backlit writings of the controls. What remains physically visible is the big knob of the volume, with the same size of the front panel. The remote control allows any kind of control from the listening point. But there is not only the design, though. There is also the substance. Try to linger on the particulars of the chassis and let yourselves be charmed by the top aluminium part, perfectly satinized and by the peculiar system to access the amplifier inside. Once open, is the heavy toroidal transformer to steal the scene and the most part of the space at disposal! Not to mention the two pair of Toshiba 2SJ201 - 2SK1530 high-power dual silicon mosfet transistors and the two noiseless relays for the input selection.

Another nice thing of the Perreaux Audiant 80i is its logo. Printed in the front panel and deeply engraved in the top side: a signal impulse of phase similar to ReMusic logo that is a signal impulse in counterphase.

 

Being so slim, it is very simple to insert the Perreaux in the audio system and in the rack. Truthfully, the amp disappears and the big voice coming out from the speakers is even more surprising. Furthermore, it does not heat very much also after a prolonged time, so that you can place it on a quite low shelf. I just want to suggest putting the Audiant on a damper base because the huge transformer vibrates although, actually, you can hear it only when you turn on the system. There is no noise on the loudspeakers also at the maximum volume and not even on the MM phono stage.

 

I start the listening test by using the complete series of the White Gold Reference Professional Stradivari cables, which have resulted faithful and reliable companions. The Audiant 80i has been able to display all its performing skills taking advantage of the great quality of these Italian cables.

I was just neaten some CDs by Sheffield Lab, so I decide to play Pat Coil, a fusion of high artistic value with the use of the acoustic piano. I could speak of the excellent dynamics energetically emitted. I could speak of the detail that paints a soundstage rich of particulars. I could speak of the tone colour of the instruments that is very close to a live performance. I could speak of the delicacy of the harmonic overtones, I could... but the fact is that the New Zealander amp, which gives a listening pleasure rarely possible to create and notice elsewhere, expresses all these features all together. Also the female voices in Amanda McBroom's recording offer the sensation of living the representation directly. The vertical division of the musical stage involves the listener who is sharing the recording event. The pleasure in listening is at high levels and the depth of the image projects the actors beyond the wall behind the system, picturing a built whose unequivocally feature is a natural three-dimensionality.

This last performance push me to test what the Perraux can offer with the classical music. Mozart, Divertissement in D major K.136, xrcd24 Fim Super Sound II, a recording so pitiless rich in detail that if a system is just a bit unbalanced, it could reduce your years like a colander. Instead, the Perraux has the naturalness and the control of a champion. It is hard to believe that from this "little thing" you can get such an output! The small dimensions of the Audiant 80i make an amazing contrast with a big, opulent and luxury sound. The low frequencies are offered with excellent sound pressure also at low volumes showing a balance in the frequency response that confirms a linear homogeneity.

In order to verify the quality of the internal converter of this splendid Perreaux, I chose a track recorded in digital at 24bit/kHz. It is a Velut Luna realization, Patrizia Laquidara & Massimo Salvagnini Quintet, Goldfinger. The first test is with my DIY digital source, with Philips CD PRO2 transport, four Wolfson WM 8740 converters preceded by an asynchronous 192 kHz sample rate, connected to the transport with I2S protocol. As transport, I use my Teac X25 with the famous VRDS and a good quality cable to connect the ESS internal DAC of the Perreaux.

 

Well, it does not reach the sound levels of my CDP, mostly in giving back body and detail. So I make a comparison with an external DAC of good quality like the Arcam rDAC which allows me to evaluate with more balance the quality of the Perreaux internal DAC. The EES internal converter stands out for its ability of giving back a more natural sound, without any asperity. Let us say therefore that the internal DAC of the Perreaux can satisfy the aesthetic taste of the shrewder audiophile, mainly if the source used for the streaming music is the computer.

 

I could not exempt to test also the MM phono stage with the Denon DL301 cartridge (yes, the 301 not the 103) connected to the 300 step-up. The first thing I notice is the extreme noiseless of the Audiant phono stage which, also at a very high volume, blows very little and only if you put your ear close to the speaker, you hear a very light blow. The listening is very pleasant, a mix of dynamics and refinement that does not favour any parameter, giving an idea of a well designed and engineered stage. In sum, in my opinion you have to pay at least eight hundred - one thousand euro for a phono preamp of better quality.

 

Considering the two accessories, that are the DAC and the phono preamp, and their intrinsic value that goes beyond one thousand euro, I think that the Audiant 80i should be considered a good deal. The quality is very high and the object is very interesting for aesthetics and functionality. Its sound is rich, full and harmonic and of superior quality. It allows the Perreaux to enter in the high-end golden world from the main door. This integrated amplifier, manufactured with pride in New Zealand, offers audiophile performances capable of bowl over also the most cunning enthusiast critic. In conclusion, the Perreaux Audiant 80i is definitely a Spark in the Dark!

 

 

Official technical specifications

Power output: 80W into 8ohm - 130W into 4ohm

Total Harmonic Distortion: 0,002% at 1kHz

Signal to Noise: 105dB ref. 80W into 8ohm

Damping Factor: 400 at 1kHz ref. 8ohm

Gain: 28dB

Analogue Inputs: 3 Line Level (RCA),1 Phono (RCA)

Home Theatre Input: Yes (selectable)

Analogue Input Impedance: 47kohm

Phono stage gain: 40dB

Phono stage Input Capacitance: 100pf

Volume Control Range: -90dB a +6dB

Analogue Outputs: 1 Pre Out (RCA), 1 Line Out (RCA)

Analogue Output Impedance: pre out: 540ohm, line out: 270ohm

Digital Inputs: 1 USB (asynchronous 24/96), 1 Coaxial (RCA), 2 Optical (Toslink)

Digital Input Impedance: 75ohm

Digital to Analogue Converter: ESS Technology Sabre Reference ES9006 DAC 24bit/96kHz

DAC Output Voltage: 1,95V

Power Consumption: standby 1W, maximum 640W

Dimensions: 431x67x309mm (WxHxD)

Weight:11.5kg (25.3lb)

 

Official Italian dealer: Art of Music, Via Dal Lino, 23/2 - 40134 - Bologna, tel. +39 347.2532215

Official current price in Italy: 2,900.00 EUR

Associated equipment: to Roberto “The Rock” Rocchi's system

by Roberto Rocchi
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