Border Patrol S20 Amplifiers

Border Patrol S20 Amplifiers 


  • 20 watts per channel from the parallel single-ended 300B output valves.
  • Separate power supply for each channel.
  • Recommended loudspeaker efficiency 90dB/watt.


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    [Mar 17, 2005]


    Delivers music with full emotional power.


    None that I have encountered.

    This is not a technical review, I am not a technician. My interest if hi-fi stems from a love of music and a desire to hear music reproduced to the highest possible standard, something I have striven to achieve for more years than I care to recount. My system might be described as minimalist, comprising a CD/SACD player fed directly into the S20 via an Audience AU24 interconnect, in turn driving a pair of Sonus Faber Amati Homage speakers via Audience Au24 cables. The equipment is mounted on a Townshend Seismic Sink rack. The S20 is equipped with a Danish Audio Connect step attenuator and Western Electric 300B valves. The recommended loudspeaker specifications for the S20 are >87dB/W sensitivity with a minimum 3 ohms impedance, the Amati specifications are 92dB/W and 4 ohms. It has been suggested that an amplifier with a power output of 18W per channel cannot adequately drive a pair of Amati speakers. My previous amplifier had a power output of 300W per channel and I can detect no degradation of performance between the two in terms of power. Prior to purchasing the S20 I ran a trial with the Border Patrol SE300B which convinced me of the virtues of the amplifier but there was a suggestion of a lack of headroom on the loudest, most dense orchestral passages on a few recordings (eg the finale of the 1812 Overture with full orchestra, choir, multiple carrilons of bells, and cannons; Telarc SACD-60541), a suggestion completely removed by the S20. However, by comparison with my previous amplifier, there are significant differences in other areas. Firstly dynamics; the attack and contrast of the S20 is quite startling for a valve amplifier. I attribute this aspect of performance to the two separate power units, one for each channel, each unit containing three independent valve rectified choke input filter power supplies. Secondly sound quality; a smoothness at the top end, a depth to the bass, and what another reviewer has described as richness as opposed to warmth. I have been using the S20 for two years now and I frequently listen to recordings simply to wallow in the beauty of the sound my system produces as opposed to a desire to hear a particular piece of music. The resonant sonority of the solo cello in the Bach suites, the glorious euphony of the tenor saxophone of Stan Getz or Ben Webster, and the magical interplay of the piano and orchestra in the Mozart piano concertos are all delivered as if touched by some wondrous sorcery. Hi-fi reviews frequently highlight the fact that the equipment is a carrier whose function is to communicate music to the listener as accurately as possible, but rarely refer to the fact that music is also a carrier whose purpose is to communicate the emotions of the musician or musicians to the listener. Thus, the ultimate test of a piece of hi-fi equipment is that it shall communicate music in a manner which allows the musician to communicate his/her emotions to the listener. The S20 meets this test without qualification. The build quality and finish are impeccable. Two large heavy anonymous metal boxes house the power supplies and a beautifully finished wood encased chassis displays the gentle glow of the four 300Bs. An audiophile's visual delight. It is also worth mentioning that the support and back-up provided by Border Patrol's Gary Dews matches the quality of the product. Downside; I can't think of one, but I never listen to the noises made by rock and pop bands. Perhaps those who do may not share my view of the S20. The price is irrelevant. If you can afford it buy it, if not start saving.

    Similar Products Used:

    Musical Fidelity NuVista 300

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