The only innovation in amplifiers
has been the rise of Class D. It's cheap and it can be made to work well, as
NuForce and Hypex show. One of the problems facing Class D is old-fashioned
Class A. Spend time with a good Class A and you'll realise that all others
are losing something. And that's what we found yet again with Sugden's
quietly impressive FPA-4 Class A amplifier, reviewed by Jon Myles (see p10)
this month. Like earlier Sugdens, notably the A21SE we used as a reference
until it was sold from under us (!), the FPA-4 needs a little understanding.
It didn't suit Tannoy DC10As, Martin Logan Electromotion hybrid
electrostatics or Usher N-6311s, all good loudspeakers – but it flew with
Quadral Wotan VIIIs.
Their ribbon tweeter revealed the FPA-4's superb treble,
whilst slightly underdamped bass suited the Sugden's reticent bottom end.
OK, we couldn't party with it, there wasn't enough volume, but we were
impressed by a Class A that has been developed over the years to stay ahead of
the whizziest latest technologies.
A fascinating press release arrived at our Editorial in-box
the other day. Yet again, Russ Andrews has had a complaint made over claims
that his cables – in this case mains cables – improve sound quality. A
persistent anonymous complainant, obviously an engineer of the fundamentalist
sort, persuaded the Advertising Standards Authority to investigate. The ASA
“told Russ Andrews not to imply that RFI from mains electricity was a
perceptible problem or that their products could reduce mains-borne RFI,
unless they held robust substantiation to show that was the case”.
In response Russ Andrews got 3C Test Ltd., an independent
UKAS Accredited EMC certified test facility, to test the cables and they found
they did suppress RF noise. Consequently, the ASA threw out the complaint.
Similarly, What Hi-Fi have suffered two ASA investigations about
‘misleading' reviews of cable sound quality and successfully defended
Cables clearly do affect sound quality and readers usually
report the effect significant. Happily, dealers commonly allow home demo of
cables, so try before you buy. I hope we can cover this controversial subject
in more detail in a forthcoming issue.
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