I've only demoed this in a full 47 Labs system feeding Living Voice OBX speakers (94 dB sensitivity), but in that context it's serious FUN.
Despite its somewhat austere minimalist appearance the sound is warm and lively with a surprsingly big and controlled bass, great for electronic music. It's punchy and fast enough to do justice to rock and metal too.
However it doesn't match the likes of Levinson or Naim in the slam stakes, and it has a dryness that can render music a little feathery at the edges.
I prefer a lusher sound, but can't deny that this is quality stuff.
This is an ASTONISHING product, one that may turn the audio world on its ear. (See prior reviews for technical details.) I use them with Lowther speakers, with inputs coming directly from my CD player (Audio Note CD3) or phono (Linn LP12 into AHT phono pre-amp). Since the amp has volume attenuators, I no longer need a pre-amp in the system.
What does it sound like? It itself sounds like nothing! It sounds like there is no amplifier in the signal path. It sounds like pure music, coming unimpeded and unobstructed from performer to listener. It is powerful, seamless, bouncy, expressive, pristine, emotional -- don't those descriptors apply equally well to...music? There may be a uniquely wonderful synergy between the Gaincard and Lowther speakers; this is the first system I've ever had (and I've had a fair number) in which the music comes to me as a direct experience, seemingly unmediated by an assemblage of electronics. Maybe it should be mandatory that all Lowther owners must use the Gaincard and nothing else, just like the law that says all Americans over 65 are required to live in Florida or Arizona. What? You don't have that law in your state?
And how about those li'l spaghetti-strap speaker wires that 47 Laboratory uses? You'll laugh at them until you put them into your rig. The entire harmonic spectrum is fully and completely there from top to bottom. What gives? What happens now to all them firehose-thick X-thousand-dollar hawsers elbowing each other for market position? I've got the tiny copper dental-floss size 47 Lab strings in my system, and they aren't coming out.
Run -- don't walk! -- to the phone and call 47 Laboratories. Try it in your system. Find out if you like music, or just electrons.
This amplifier is the best in it's class! I'm Belgian audiodesigner / loudspeakerbuilder and once I've heard the 25 Watts Gaincard on my AQUARIUS I knew that was where I was looking for for a long time. The Gaincard has it all. Very detailed mid and highs, a perfect soundstage and a bass you wouldn't expect from a 25 Watt amp. 100 %
Saw the ads many moons ago in Listener magazine IMO, the best mag out there). Called the US distributor, found it was too expensive for me at the time. Heard it in Japan, fell in love, worked my way to get it here....
This small unit is dual mono. It's about the size of a VHS tape, has a single set of (RCA) inputs, and the above-mentioned small terminals for speakers. Espousing a 'less-is-more' attitude in design, small numbers of parts and a VERY short signal path are used. The external power supply is a hefty cylinder; two can be used for true dual mono.
I read the review of this in Listener when they got it; the ex-importer of Audio Note said it reminded him of his beloved Ongaku integrated amp (at $89,000 and counting !). I've never heard the Ongaku, but this little amp is perhaps the best I've ever heard ! Putting out 25wpc (a new power supply is due around 3/00 or 4/00, which will allow 50wpc), it trashes so much other mega-buck, mega-watt amps I've heard.
Soem history (sorry, this is getting long): when I moved from separates to integrateds, I tried the Bryston B60R, the YBA Integre DT, the Aronov 960i, and the Audio Analogue Puccini SE. The AA did it for me, even though it was the cheapest. It was a bit colored, but it brought the soul and emotion of the music closest to me.
I then upgraded to a Plinius 8150, getting more power and a cleaner, yet still very involving result.
I finally was forced to sell the Plinius, but recovered financially enough and found the 47 Lab's system at a demo price. It was worth every penny. After about 2 days of burn-in, this thing brought more music to my ears than anything I've heard. The bass is AMAZING in it's detail, though it lacks the last little bit of oomph and air-driving power than the biggest amps. But, I constantly found myself just getting lost in the music. I found a few songs that used to bring me to tears, or send chills up my spine (with separates); I got the same reaction again !
This thing does so much right, but it's hard to pick the sound apart. This product just brings the music to you, whole and alive !
Associated equipment: inexpensive TEAC turntable, Pioneer DVD 414, MSB Link DAC with upgraded power supply, 47 Lab's and Goertz interconnects, Gallo Micro and Gallo Nuceus Solo speakers, 47 Lab's or Analysis Plus speaker cable. Preferred music: folk/acoustic/world, especially with female vox; "alternative"; some jazz, mix of old and new.
An astonishing device. Combines much of the design principles used in the Welsh amplifiers made by DNM, and would seem to take advantage of Lavardin Technologie's 'memory effect in silicon' ideas simply by having an incredibly short signal path (1.25"/channel!!). Totally rigid construction with absolutely no damping anywhere (much like Goldmunds CD tansports), in an effort to transmit extraneous vibrations and disturbances away from the sensitive circuitry as fast as possible.
Sound is wonderfully DIRECT and IMMEDIATE, in the manner of a well designed Single-ended, single stage amplifier, butwithout the excess (or severe shortfalls) of some tube technologies. It also displays a VIVACITY and rhythmic DYNAMISM of some noteworthy OTL designs (Graaf and Atma-sphere); however, it does all this without there attendant colourations and with nary a trace of solid state glare or 'bleaching'. The sound is rich and fulsome, and is highly communicative of the tiniest nuances, and thus is a champion of music.
I listened to this amp via my Marantz CD7, and also 47 Labs own CD system (Flatfish transport and Progression dac - no oversampling, no digital OR analogue filtering and a vanishingly short signal path), via Audio Note (Snell) AN-Es, but I understand that there is good compatibility with my own Audio Physic Virgos; apart from anything else, 47 Labs cabling system is similar to the internal wiring found in Audio Physic loudspeakers through their use of 22 gauge wiring or thinner!
Never have I arrived so quickly at the music: all the hifi niceties are there - solid, deep tall and wide imaging, beautifully accurate tonal colours and timbres, state of the art reproduction right across the frequency range. The difference is that this device is the most emotionally involving amp I've ever auditioned; more than say a Pass Aleph 3, or the above-mentioned DNM or Lavardin products; more than Cary Single-ended (I've heard them all), Pathos Twin Towers, Atma-sphere M60 Mk2s, Graaf Gm 20 OTLs, E.A.R. amplifiers, Naim, Linn, Densen. Yet it benefits from the poise and authority displayed in systems such as Goldmund, Sirius, Conrad Johnson, Accuphase, and Mark Levinson - and YOU CAN PROBABLY AFFORD IT. Its not just a question of the Gaincard protraying the musicians with startling realism in your room (many hifi products can do this surprisingly well); its more to do with its ability to transport you into the composer's mind. You can feel as if you're part of the musical event itself. You'll want to dance with joy, at least I did!
Give me a buzz or email me if you want more detail about the incredible dem. I had last week, or see the website.
The Gaincard makes you want to instantly rush out and buy heaps more music. What better accolade do you need?