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May 2003
Enjoy the Music.com Review Magazine
SAP (Strumenti Acustici di Precisione)
KT66-Based New Anniversary Integrated Amplifier
(Amplificatore Integrato)
Review by Steven R. Rochlin
Click here to e-mail reviewer

(In Salerno where music is king
When boy meets New Anniversary here's what they say)

When the amplifier hits you eye like a big pizza pie
That's amoré
When the music seems to shine like you've had too much wine
That's amoré

 

SAP KT66-Based New Anniversary Integrated Amplifier (Amplificatore Integrato)  It is no secret i cherish many things Italian in my humble abode. Great food, carefully chosen wines, Ferrari cars, Pininfarina-designed home furnishings, my newly completed Armani wardrobe... So what better way to continue this highly enjoyable lifestyle than to include great music reproduction gear made by SAP (Strumenti Acustici di Precisione). Specifically, their New Anniversary integrated amplifier that is also said (by SAP) to be the only production tube product employing the longstanding KT66 output tube. In typical Italian fashion, when asking for specification for this article i was provided the following:

"The amplifier in your hand is the S.A.P. New Anniversary integrated amplifier.

1.- On the purpose we do not disclose many technical information. For instance we do not declare the output power (!). This is because we do not believe it is of technical relevance for the user. In any case the amplifier has high output current and the spec is that "it can drive the most of existing loudspeakers systems at sensible level of SPL without matching (or impedance) problem".

2.- It is important to report that the output transformer has 3 output tabs optimized for 4, 8 or 16 ohm loudspeaker load. The output transformer is a Japan made Tamura manufactured upon our spec.

3.- The output tubes are selected and matched quartet of KT-66. At the moment we use Golden Dragon retro tubes but we keep the right to select other brands if they will ever be more suitable (or better) to our use. To our knowledge it is the only "production amplifier" using the KT-66 at the moment.

4.- The output stage is in push-pull, pure "Class A" (up to the max power), zero feedback.

5.- The rest of the tube complement is: input tube ECC-82 (one per channel); output stage drive tube ECC-99 (one per channel).

6.- We do not use a traditional "balance" pot but 2 levels pots which can adjust the level of each channel of about 6dB

7.- The amplifier has a mono-stereo-reverse switch.

8.- We like to specify that all the connectors, both for the loudspeakers and the RCA for inputs and outputs are German made WBT.

9.- We like to specify that the chassis is is 15/10 of mm thickness stainless steel with a front panel made in anodized aluminum 12mm thick (0.5 inch). The unit reviewed here is electrically full production, visually it is in prototype (same sound, slightly different visuals due to front panel).

 

What i find most endearing is how the Italians find so many joys in life. They simply state "Hey, here is our amplifier and we do not really care about stating output wattage as it should be enough for you. We use top quality parts chosen through careful listening so simply enjoy the music." No techno-babble, no snake oil, no Super-Hyper Ultra-Pure Unobtanium only made at nights during a full moon by Vestal virgins. Longtime audiophools have had enough Marketing Hyperbole thrust upon us to last three lifetimes! Some of it may be true, some of it is laden with half-truths, and some of it is (frankly) male cow anal excrement.

 

When the looks make you drool just like a pasta fagiole
That's amoré
When you drive down the street with a Ferrari at your feet
You're in love

SAP KT66-Based New Anniversary Integrated Amplifier (Amplificatore Integrato)Amazing how many lovely ladies have entered into my home and they nearly always seem to take a shine to the audio gear that comes from Italy while all the other exotica goes virtually unnoticed. The above photo details the external parts layout while the knobs, from left to right on my unit, are labeled in Italian and are as follows: Ingressi (inputs - RIAA, Line 1 and Line 2), Monitor (tape monitor), Sinistra (left channel, for balance control), Destro (right channel, for balance), Modo (mode - mono, stereo, or reverse left/right), and Volume. The WBT loudspeaker jacks are extremely sturdy while the RCA jacks are of the very high-end, gold-plated variety. The volume knob has a very luxurious feel. One does not need to be ham-fisted with the SAP New Anniversary as all knobs operate smoothly.

 

The music will ring ting-a-ling-a-ling, ting-a-ling-a-ling
And you'll sing "Vita bella"
Hearts will play tippy-tippy-tay, tippy-tippy-tay
Like a gay tarantella

While my initial impression of the SAP New Anniversary was very positive, after a bit more than 70 hours break in she really was coming into her own. Like a Ferrari after 20 minutes of warm up driving as all fluids, mechanical parts, and tire temperate reached optimum. This is the very first time a KT66-based tube amplifier has been in my home so i was very curious to see what made this tube so legendary in some circles.

SAP KT66-Based New Anniversary Integrated Amplifier (Amplificatore Integrato)Old-timers will recall how legendary audio company Leak made their first KT-66 based amplifier, the "Type 15", back in 1945. It was heralded as one of the world's first ultra-low distortion amplifiers (0.2%) that produced 15 watts in "Class A" triode and had a frequency response from 20Hz to 20kHz (+-0.25dB). It is interesting to note Leak's Type 15 was a four-stage circuit, unlike the three-stage circuits found in their later designs. If you are a history buff, the Type 15 directly preceded the legendary TL/12 that was introduced in 1948. History lesson is now over as we explore the sound of the New Anniversary as reviewed here in 2003, nearly 6 decades later that the Leak!

Will keep this review brief and to the point. What i find most endearing about the SAP New Anniversary integrated amplifier is the sheer ease and flow of the music it reproduces. While not the most hyper-accurate ultra-transparent unit ever to make an appearance within my home, this unit unraveled some of the most complex passages within the music. This is exactly as i would describe the New Anniversary: It reproduces the music that true music lovers find so endearing. Personally, i find that hyper-accurate systems tend to strip away the soul of the music. Think of it as the different in musicians who play the notes versus the truly talented that play the music. It could be argued this is also akin to newly produced high-end violins (accurate and nice) versus the legendary Stradivarius (pure musical ecstasy).

For those seeking a more detailed and itemized list, the bass was deep and powerful with impressive definition. The magical midrange sang gloriously while the highs were very clean, if a slight tad bit diminished in extension. Tried a few cables and found my fave Kimber Select 1030 silver interconnect with Nirvana Audio loudspeaker cabling. Tried others, yet found this combination to be harmonically the most correct with great midrange, which is where most of acoustic music resides. Both male and female jazz/blues vocals were rendered with fantastic delicacy/authority as necessary while operatic vocals had a powerful and majestic character. If there was ever any doubt, Puccini's "O MioBabbino Coro", "Quandome'n vo'" or "Donna non vidi mai" should suffice, though they are simply the proverbial tip of the iceberg.

As for overall soundscaping, there were plenty of layers with an appropriately rendered width and depth that were evenly portrayed. Some units have good depth though lack width, or vice versa. There is a reason for separate right and left balance controls on the SAP New Anniversary as this keeps each channel's signal as separate as possible. Imaging was very good with good indication of the natural acoustic presence that surround acoustic instruments within a performance hall.

 

When you're listening to a dream
But you know you're not dreaming signore
Scuzza me, but you see, back in old Salerno
That's amoré

As virtually every avid reader of my articles knows, my closing tag line truly says it all... and this is what the SAP New Anniversary unit produced time and time again. That is, musical enjoyment as one finds in the world's better halls with truly accomplished musicians pouring forth their heart and soul. While this unit may not be the last word in resolution and those seeking hyper-accuracy (usually at the expense of musicality) will be less than satisfied, those who enjoy the music should be extremely pleased. Perhaps due to the Italians' zest for all the great joys and expressing the deep emotions found within life, their products are simply a natural extension to these circumstances. Could it be their food, glorious automobiles, the virtually never-ending achievements of visual styling? No matter what the cause, it is the outcome that matters. And in that regard the SAP New Anniversary integrated amplifier is a most welcome guest into my humble home joined by the products of Giorgio Armani, Battista "Pinin" Farina, and Enzo Ferrari. As always, in the end what really matters is that you...

     Enjoy the Music,

    Steven R. Rochlin

 

Tonality

92

Sub-bass (10 Hz - 60 Hz)

92

Mid-bass (80 Hz - 200 Hz)

92

Midrange (200 Hz - 3,000 Hz)

92

High-frequencies (3,000 Hz on up)

92

Attack

95

Decay

95

Inner Resolution

92

Soundscape width front

95

Soundscape width rear

95

Soundscape depth behind speakers

95

Soundscape extension into the room

95

Imaging

95

Fit and Finish

95

Self Noise

100

Value for the Money

93

 

Specifications

Said like my Italian friends "If you need specifications try some other magazine. If you want to enjoy the music... Ah my friend, then you have found the right place". This is usually followed by a great meal -- three hours and five courses later -- and great wine with a finely aged cigar. Me amoré! Italy, ché posto bello!

Price: €7,500 (Euro)

 

Company Information

SAP (Strumenti Acustici di Precisione)
Largo Plebiscito 6
84125 Salerno
Italy

Voice: +39 089 250979
E-mail: info@sap-audio.it
Website: www.sap-audio.it

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
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