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January 2014
Best Audiohpile Product Of 2013 Blue Note Award
Superior Audio Equipment Review

Follow-Up: The Wells Audio Innamorata Amplifier
Configured in a passive vertically bi-amp'ed system.
Review By Wayne Donnelly

See Enjoy the Music.com's initial review at this link.


Wells Audio Innamorata Stereo Amplifier    I reviewed this amplifier September 2013 (link), and awarded it a Blue Note Award as an exceptionally fine-sounding product. In that review I noted that my primary reservation upon first receiving this amplifier was its modest power output, 120 Watt per channel. Previously I had been using bridged Spectron Musician III Mk. 2 amplifiers which could produce more than 2000 Watts. The Spectrons had been a great match for my not-very-sensitive Analysis Amphitryon planar/ribbon dipoles, and I had worried that the Wells amplifier would have trouble driving them to satisfactory volume levels. Fortunately, the new amplifier confounded my expectations. Although I could drive it to clipping at very high volumes, this gutsy medium-powered amplifier was so sonically rewarding that I felt little need for very high volume levels.

However, I still felt that a bi-amp'ed system with the Innamoratas could be even more satisfying. Was thinking primarily of having extra headroom, always useful especially in the classical music I listen to most of the time. Thus was hoping also for additional gains in soundscaping and dynamics. I was expecting perhaps a 10% overall improvement in sound. When the new amplifier arrived, my first decision was how to configure the system. There was fortunately no need for an electronic crossover. The outboard crossovers and speaker input terminals of my loudspeakers are set up for bi-wiring, and since I was using two identical amplifiers, there was no need to match output levels. The main decision was horizontal or vertical bi-amp'ing. A horizontal setup would have one amplifier for low frequencies and the other amplifier for highs. Since the two-way Analysis speakers cross over to the ribbon at a relatively low 650 Hz, the power demands would be relatively equal for bass and treble.

Vertical bi-amp'ing uses one amplifier per speaker, with one channel driving the lows and the other channel driving the highs. An advantage of this configuration in some systems is that one can use shorter speaker cables. I was not worried about that, as my Waveform Fidelity speaker cables could accommodate either configuration. But Jeff Wells and other technically knowledgeable audiophiles I spoke to generally agreed that the vertical bi-amp system was the way to go. And since my preamplifier has two sets of Main Out jacks, there was no need for cable splitters. (For details on associated equipment, see my Waveform Fidelity review in this issue.)


Listening To Bi-Amped Innamoratas
I mentioned earlier that I had expected at least a 10% overall sonic improvement from bi-amp'ing. But the experience of listening to the bi-amp'ed system was almost impossible to quantify. The improvements were beyond any expectation. Of course having double the power improved the dynamics and increased the ability to play higher volume without strain. But that was only the beginning. I think there is an audible benefit to having each amplifier channel driving a more limited frequency range. Now the sound of the system has a more relaxed quality, even at moderate volumes, than I had previously heard. The sound is simply more natural, more musical. Dynamic gradations are easier to hear. Imaging is more three-dimensional, instrumental and vocal locations within the soundscape more "locked in place." Inner voices within the orchestra emerge clearly. These changes are hard to quantify, but it seems much as if I suddenly have a new, and previously undreamed of, access to the core of the music.

Just a couple of examples to illustrate what I mean. The years-old recording of my favorite Rachmaninoff composition, the Symphonic Dances, by the great recording engineer Tony Faulkner, had always offered an extraordinary presentation of the woodwind solos in the first movement, even to the key clicks of the oboe and clarinet. Later recordings of this piece, even the wonderful Gergiev/ILSO that I so admire, have never quite equaled that detail. With the bi-amp'ed system I feel almost as if I am sitting in the orchestra, surrounded by those woodwinds. Another great old recording, Otto Klemperer's 1962 Mahler "Resurrection" Symphony on EMI LP, features a bass drum strike throughout the Scherzo that for me no other recording has equaled. Now the drum strike is virtually subterranean; felt as much as heard.

These listening "epiphanies" are now happening to me every time I sit down to listen to music. In all my decades of seeking audio nirvana, nothing has brought me closer than this change, except perhaps years ago when I moved from box speakers to my beloved Analysis dipoles. That change and this one both fundamentally transformed the listening experience for me. The many other upgrades I have heard over the years have been rewarding and sometimes startling, but not to such a fundamental degree.


The Innamorata amplifier retails for $6500. That is certainly not cheap, but compared to other amplifiers that approach its sonic performance, it's a bargain. Last spring at the Chicago AXPONA show, I heard a bi-amp'ed pair of Innamoratas against a pair of over $20,000 monoblocks driving $80,000 TAD loudspeakers. Against those superb monoblocks, I preferred the bi-amp'ed Innamoratas. My point is that there is now a way to obtain reference-quality sound for $13,000. Given the price of other competitive amplifiers, this is one of the least expensive options available today to achieve state-of-the-art amplification.



Type: Stereo solid-state power amplifier
Power Output: 120 wpc at 8 Ohms, 200 wpc at 4 Ohms
Frequency Response: +/-0.25dB from 10 Hz to 50 kHz
Signal-to-Noise Ratio: -103 dB, reference level: full power output
Total Harmonic Distortion (THD): <0.025% at 1 kHz, at 100 W, 8 Ohms
Gain 30 dB
Input Impedance: 50 kOhms
Damping Factor: 200, reference 8 Ohms nominal
Power Consumption: 350 Watts idle, 1000 Watts maximum
Inputs: One pair RCA unbalanced
Outputs: One pair WBT five-way binding posts per channel
Dimensions: 19" x 6" x 17" (WxHxD)
Warranty: 3 years parts & labor
Price: $6000


Company Information
Wells Audio
412 E Campbell Avenue
Campbell, CA 95008

Voice: (408) 376-0861
Fax: (408) 376-0862
E-mail: jeff@wellsaudio.com
Website: www.WellsAudio.com












































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