World Premiere Review!
Wells Audio Majestic Integrated Amplifier With MM Phono Stage
Delivering tonality, staging and harmonic correctness to your fave music.
Review By Ron Nagle
do you tell the story of the Majestic integrated amplifier? Webster's Dictionary
tells us the term Majestic denotes a quality of Majesty that encompasses the
qualities of Stateliness and Grandeur. So let us investigate if those qualities
reside in the sound it sings.
The Wells Audio Ethic
Owner Jeff Wells has more than four decades
experience. As a high-end dealer and owner of Audible Arts, Since 2011, Jeff has
been using his experience along with the talents of a few brilliant friends
striving to develop the best audio equipment in the world. Since the day
Jeff started Wells Audio with $2600 worth of parts, this family business has
grown steadily into a brand that is known for innovative designs, and a pursuit
of the best sound.
Just happens to be dressed like a West Point Plebe.
That is its appearance is in the very distinctive West Point colors of gray and
black. The amplifier design will be eminently suitable for any guys man cave. It
measures 19" wide x 18.5" deep x 6.5" high. The manufactures base price is
$3599. But if we include the optional phono amplifier the price goes up to
$4399. Even housed within an all-aluminum enclosure it weighs in at 30 pounds.
The rated power specification is 150 Watts per side With the exception of a
round gold framed Volumeter it is without any additional bright work.
This meter does exactly what the name implies; it displays the setting / level
of the volume control. About that Volumeter, it is about 3.375" across and
resides in the center of a 19" gray aluminum front panel. The power on/off
switch is located on the bottom of the Majestic front panel just to the left
side of the meter. The Volumeter will light up in white when the Majestic is in
The meter is lit up in blue when the Majestic is
in standby or in mute. When the Majestic is first turned on the integrated will
come on in the standby mode and the Volumeter will be illuminated in blue.
Pressing the standby button once on the remote will remove the integrated from
standby and the meter will glow white. Pressing the mute button once again will
put the Majestic in mute mode and the Volumeter will be illuminated in blue.
Pressing the mute button once again will remove the Majestic from the mute mode
and the meter will once again glow white. (Either way switched into the Muted
condition or the Standby state the meter lights up blue). Directly to the left
side of the meter is the volume control and remote control sensor. Flanking it
on the right side is a 6 position source select switch. The positions that are
numbered 1 to 5 are for unbalanced RCA line inputs. But the 6th
source switch position is a XLR line input. Note: this XLR connection is wired
internally as an unbalanced line source.
Rear Panel Input Connections
While facing the rear panel of the Majestic on the left side are the inputs.
Reading from far left to right there are the XLR connections and then RCA inputs
2 to 5. These will be followed by a pair of fixed output RCA connections for
subwoofers, headphone amplifiers, etc. The left channel connections are on the
top row and the right channel connections are on the bottom row of connectors.
To the right of the input connectors are two pairs of high quality five-way
binding posts for output to the speakers. Left channels are on the top and right
channel is on the bottom. On the far right of the back panel will be located the
IEC connector for 120 Volt AC power. The Wells people provide a nice standard
power cord, however. You can chose to connect your favorite (expensive) power
cord to this connector to power the Majestic amplifier.
Last be not least there is a nice black anodized
hand held remote control milled out of a solid piece of aluminum. But this
remote control only serves three functions. That involves four buttons, a
Standby and a Mute button then two more buttons for up/down volume. You will
find out that after a while the Majestic runs fairly uncomfortably warm but not
hot enough to cause any damage. The reason is that the left and right side
heatsinks are inside the chassis under the vent holes in the top cover. There
was enough heat for me to call and ask the manufacturer about the amplifiers
class of operation. I thought it might be running warm because it was biased in
Class A. I was told the amplifier was classified as A/B but it ran in Class A
for the first five Watts (in my case that is most of the time).
Cut To The Chase
What does it sound like? Well my very first right out
of the card board box and not burned in preliminary impression was, "not much
bass extension". The owner's manual tells me that this Solid State 150 Watts per
channel amplifier would probably sound best after 200 or more hours of use. If
you divide that number by 24 hours it works out to 8.3333 days. A bit much I
should think, but let's see how this story unfolds. The first weekend of
November I was at the Capital Audiofest 2017 in Rockville Maryland. At that show
there was three separate Demo rooms powered by Jeff Wells Majestic Power
Amplifiers. One in particular stands out. It was the Zu Audio loudspeakers
demonstration. It was being conducted in the very large Eisenhower room. Zu
showing two different pairs of large floor standing speakers. This demo was
different because there was two separate Majestic amplifiers powering each of
the two pairs of Zu speakers. In fact they were switching back and forth between
these two speakers and the Majestic Integrated amplifiers. In this large room I
heard a sound that was very detailed and dimensional. The demonstration clearly
illustrated the differences between those two big speakers. But more importantly
I left the Eisenhower / Zu Audio Demo room with a new mind set. It made me rethink the
performance that I heard in my smaller 11'.8" by 23 foot room with my Aurum
Cantus V30 speakers.
Aurum Cantus are two driver monitors on stands.
They are highly accurate, equipped with ribbon tweeters they are fast and
capable of revealing the smallest musical nuance. However they do not go much
below 40 Hertz. To make a point let me go back to 1973 and my very first pair of
quality loudspeakers. They were made by Acoustic Research, the model 2 AX. I
remember to get them to produce decent bass I had to go past the 11 O'clock
point on the volume control, they were power hungry suckers. Well getting back
to my humble hangout I let the Majestic burn in a bit more by adding another
hundred hours on them. And things changed for the better. Once again to get the
bass balance I wanted I needed to crank up the Volumeter to 11 O'clock. (This
must be the characteristics of a gradual resistive taper of the volume
control). But even at this setting the sound is still not very loud, in my
room; it gives me just enough of the low bass to lend a sense of drive and
power. I'm not into very low bass it tends to drive my small room.
Even though Wells Audio's Majestic has appeared in
print elsewhere, up until now never has the full story of this amplifier been
evaluated with the optional Moving Magnet (MM) phono stage. The vinyl evaluation
that follows is the product of an Ortofon Silver 2M cartridge on a Grado
Laboratory Tonearm mounted on my SOTA Sapphire table. My review sample with the
optional Moving Magnet Phono Amplifier was hard wired to the number 2 RCA input.
Unusually there was no provision made for a phono grounding lug on the rear
chassis. The quick start instructions in the owner's manual cautions the user to
never connect a line level source to the phono amplifier input as severe
damage may occur. As received the number 2 RCA connection was not labeled as
the phono amplifier input. This did add some confusion to my efforts to install
the amplifier. There is a provision available for Moving Magnet phono cartridge
capacitive loading. But it can be accessed only when the top of the amplifier
cover is removed. That involves removing 14 counter sunk hex head screws.
Supplied with the Majestic are two small additional Wima brand capacitors rated
at 50 and 150 pico Farads. These are options provided by Wells Audio for
swapping out the Moving Magnet 100 pF load capacitor that came with the
As you may assume, the MM cartridge input
resistive load is the standard 47kOhms. The manufacturer provides an interior
photograph of the chassis showing the location of the cartridge loading
capacitor. I did removed the top cover and I swapped all three cartridge loading
capacitors. I listened by playing the same track of a reference recording for
each of the three supplied loading capacitors. There was a slight but noticeable
change in the overall tonal balance of the sound. The 150 pF capacitor increased
the bass presence while the smaller 50 pF capacitor shifted the (apparent)
frequency balance more to the higher frequencies. I decided to reinstall the
factory 100 pF load that the amplifier came with. That is how I auditioned the
Vinyl front end.
Words Don't Fail Me Now!
As our British cousins would say, I was "Gob Smacked"
by the sound of vinyl. The Majestic phono stage generates an unusual tonal
cohesiveness in the sound-space between my speakers. It was the most natural and
balanced presentation I have ever heard from anything solid state. Impossible to
adequately convey that there is a sense that everything is just right and
natural, but at the same time you are hearing things differently. The Staging
between my speakers is now much deeper at the center and you get a sense that
you are looking into the performance. Nothing dominates and everything
just seems to flow like liquid. If Harry Person was still with us he would say
the sound is "continuous". I'm afraid to say anything more, additional
descriptive adjectives could only be repetitive. The harmonic structure is rich
and subtle it speaks truth on a subliminal level, listen for a while it sounds
like music. This is definitely something you will have to experience first
Did we hear the sounds of stateliness and grandeur?
Err, well not very much, but in this instance those terms are not strictly sonic
descriptions. However there was definitely a whole lot of good things going on.
To cut to the conclusions this solid state amplifier has the bearing staging and
tonality of a hollow state tube amplifier. If you are into head banging sound
and razor sharp transients please look elsewhere. So how the hell did Jeff Wells
get so much tonality, staging and harmonic correctness from this collection of
solid-state parts? In the brief meeting I had with Jeff Wells at the Capital
Audiofest 2017 he related his design philosophy, and at the same time I believe
he provided the answer to my question. Jeff Wells... "What I have done is
hand select each and every internal component by the way it effects the sound.
The end result is my idea of what music should sound like". Jeff Wells has
managed to place his signature on a unique amplifier that has the power to draw
you into the music. Wonderful accomplishment!
to enjoy the music and from yours truly, Semper Hi-Fi.
SOTA Sapphire turntable with Grado laboratory reference tone arm, Ortofon Silver MM cartridge.
Sony UHP-U1 Universal digital disc player.
Music Hall upsampling DAC 25.3 with headphone amplifier, Yamaha WXC-5 Wi-Fi Blue tooth receiver.
Sanders ESL power Amplifier
Aurum Cantus V30M, Mark Daniels Omni Harmonizer tweeters.
Kimber Kable 12tc 11ft. And a Kimber Kable 8TC 18" to tweeter speaker.
Monster Reference 4 pairs, 2.5 meter, 1 meter and 1.5 meters, Nordost Red Dawn
1meter, Audioquest Cinnamon XLR 1 meter.
Chord Silver Siren 1 meter, Homemade Teflon RCA 1 meter, Autobahn 0.5 meter digital
Wire World 10 gauge IEC line cord, Power Cords: Kaplan Cables 12 gauge IEC
Islatrol Industrial 20 Ampere AC line conditioner, Richard Gray 20 Ampere Sub Station
Alpha Core Balanced Transformer Power Supply, Audio Power PE-1 power enhancer,
APC Power Block, Triad 2 Ampere isolation transformer.
Alpha Core Balanced Transformer Power Supply, Triad 2 Ampere isolation transformer.