Audio Innovations Alto 35 Integrated Amplifiers

Audio Innovations Alto 35 Integrated Amplifiers 

DESCRIPTION

35 watts

USER REVIEWS

Showing 1-10 of 11  
[Dec 30, 2013]
MGS
Audio Enthusiast


This review is for the Black (Crinkle effect MK1 version) Audio Innovations Alto - Not to be confused with the silver version which was inferior & has different internals and sound characteristics.

I bought this amp from new back in the 90's after listening to some Nad's Arcam's, Denon's and a host of others I cant remember. It really stood out within the first 15-20 seconds of music and I knew I had to have it even though I wasn't sure of the strange style at the time.

I am going to say it right from the start -There is something very special about this little amplifier! simple words cannot describe the sound, you have to hear one fully warmed up with the correctly matched speakers and CD player/source to believe it. The sound this thing makes is truly hypnotic when properly warmed up. It sucks you in to an incredible 3D sound stage that no other amp Iv'e ever heard before can (and I've heard a lot trust me) it is also smooth sweet and punchy. As for it's claimed 35w output forget it, this thing can shake the glasses out of my kitchen cupboard when asked to with a bit of Steel Pulse and my Monitor audio speakers. I foolishly sold it to a friend a few years ago after trying the upgrade path but realized they were actually downgrades; None had the characteristics of this little Alto amp, it just made music and totally immerses you (once I found myself staring into space five minutes after the music stopped) I eventually bought it back from my mate again at a loss as he didn't want to let it go either. It was worth every penny though and I still use it today (2013) I would also disagree with those that say it does not have a grip on the low bass, I find the bass to be very punchy and tight and quite deep, yes it could do a little more but if paired well it's not a problem. Just Keep away from heavy metal and thrash. There is one thing I'll say that is a MUST with this amp and that is - it MUST be warmed up properly! -for at least half an hour as that's when it really sings and comes alive. However when cold it sounds anaemic and nothing special at all; as some past reviewers have found to their loss unfortunately.
If you see a GOOD second hand one for sale, don’t hesitate to rip the sellers arms off. Good examples are becoming hard to find now and prices reflect that.

Re: Buying second hand: Common faults to look for:
1. One/both channels cutting in and out at low volume (A hard tap on the case brings sound back) = Replace speaker protection relay.
2. Sound cutting in and out when using source selector knob. =remove & clean source selector switch or swap for Record sw as parts are scarce.
3. Check volume pot for wear as difficult to replace due to design.
4. No sound on one channel or blown output, check/replace Bias pots and Output Transistors.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Sep 10, 2005]
Secondsight
Casual Listener

Strength:

Looks Sound Clarity Plent of low end with the right speakers

Weakness:

None found as yet

WOW - bought this amp as a gamble - hadn't listened to it - just read the reviews and liked the look of it. I took it home and hooked it up to my sub-standard DVD player with cheap (the cheapest) interconnects. The differance was instant - it made even the crap I had sound good. I am running a pair of Monitor Audio Bronze 3 floor standing speakers which provide plenty of bass - a little too much on some recordings, but maintain a crystal clear top end. Great sound for the money and cannot fault the amp - now off to buy a CD player and some decent interconnects - can't wait to hear it all together.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
[Dec 08, 2003]
punit_b
Audio Enthusiast

Strength:

* Looks * Sound * Value * Soundstaging * Neutral character

Weakness:

* Chrome finish needs constant cleaning THAT'S IT

I can't justify replacing it - it's probably the best piece of hi-fi I ever bought. I think it's totally wrong to suggest there might be something wrong with this amp because it doesn't pair well with certain sources. No amp will pair well with all sources. I have a Marantz CD63 and it did sound a little harsh. However, changing interconnects to a slightly warmer set (Cambridge Audio Studio Ref) cured it perfectly. Since then, I've also added a Cambridge Audio DACmagic 2i and Muscial Fidelity x-10D. Although this amp is a little bass light, in this set-up, I get all the bass I want through my TDL RTL 2s. A lovely, neutral amp with incredible soundstaging. I've tried many current amps as I have the upgrading bug -- but nothing has convinced me to change the amp.

Similar Products Used:

Marant PM7200 Cambridge Audio Azur 640A NAD amps ARCAM amps

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
[Jan 17, 2000]
Leon Hermans
Audiophile

Strength:

invalving,smooth,soundstage,imaging,looks.capable off grab attension and avoke emotion.

Weakness:

power,speakerbindings.A bit warm for some recordings and settups

The Alto is a remarcable piece of hifi,it has for its price true audiophill scills and lacks on the otherhand some. I drove it in the past with a pair of Elipson floorstanders,not the easiest load there is,butit worked well together,iff you know that i drove them bevore with an old pear of Accuphase amps. ( c200 -p250 ) The Alto sounded more controled and more invalving,but had naturely less power when played loud,and lacked some low register.Actualy this is a rare comparisation,seen pricepoint and philosophy.When i compared it to the Camridge A3i, it sounded more tight and cloudy. The Cambridge had more power and was a bit brighter at times it dipended on the record.The A3 sounded With some more ease,but sometimes less invalving. The Alto is capable of breathtaking performance in the right settup but sounds dull and dark in the wrong ,simple is that.You can also hear sometimes that it is an old disign,but this was the meaning of the factory,ithink, to give it a bit of tube sound.I still have it in juse except now with a pair of Sonus Faber speakers,wich deserve in my opinion a beter amp but sometimes this combination sounds superb and sometimes it needs more power ,that the Alto lacks.Often with good recordings it realy thrills with a 3dimentional stage and touchable instruments,the speakers letteraly dissapear.Do i am looking for a new amp now in the high-end range, maybe tube or solid state,but the Alto gave me alot of pleasure and emotion in the time i was able to listen to it.And i wanted to say this by the way,the AI is very sensitive for powercord and clean powersignal from the net,it makes the diverence between just good sound and realy music and invalvement,a diverence between night and day.The Alto is not availlble anymore,but its well worth buy one second hand iff possible for perhaps halfprice,maybe less.

Similar Products Used:

cambridge a3i Mission cyrus 1 Accuphase c200-p250

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
[Aug 25, 2000]
Gary McCloskey
Casual Listener

Strength:

Imaging/staging, clarity, shows up quality recordings, unforgiving for poorly engineered stuff. Did I mention the seriously sexy shape?

Weakness:

If you accept it's a 35W unit with no frills (tone control, headphone socket, etc.) then there's very little to fault it on. Actually - nothing.

Bought this in a clearance sale - paired with a TEAC Reference 500 CD player, and Tannoy M2 speakers - also bought at the same sale.

When listening to music, you can just close your eyes and /be there/. Vocals, instrumentals, strings all come to life - e.g. Bjork, The Cardigans, classical.

Unsuitd to techno, hard rock and music of that ilk - not for the bass freaks out there.

Plays to its 35W limit with no noticeable distortion. Bass, mid-range and treble are all great - though I reckon that a more demanding pair of speakers might just reveal new depth to this baby.

There are newer, louder, more whiz-bang amps out there, but you ave to pay serious bucks for such a natural sound. I love it.

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
[Dec 17, 1999]
William
Casual Listener

An amplifier with soul. Priced a little above the mass market Kenwoods et al. but offering a big difference in performance. It does _not_ however, work well with bright budget players like the marantz 63se; it deserves better.
Buyers should also beware of floor-standers, as the alto does not appear to have much grip over the bass.

The musical fidelity x-ray cdp, avi nuneutron speaker (and specially-adapted stands) with chord chameleon and qed qudos silver speaker cable works well with it. As an added bonus they'll look a lot nicer than any boom&hiss racked mini-separates system.

However, this system would suit a small room only as the alto would run out of grunt when asked to play louder. For such a small speaker, it makes a remarkable stab at reproducing yo-yo ma's bach suites, conversely fans of stadium rock should look elsewhere.








Similar Products Used:

Pioneer A400

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
[Feb 13, 1998]
Yuval Goldstein
an Audiophile

The Alto is a minimalist design, which features only a volume knob, a source selector for 6 line inputs (including 2 tape inputs), and a record selector. 2 tape loops are provided, and 1>2 or 2>1 dubbing is supported. Outputs are provided for one pair of speakers. There's nither remote control, nor headpones socket.
I compared the 320 pounds (in England) Alto to my Rega Elicit (730 pounds).

The alto was a bit more shut-in, and obviously less detailed - it "smeared" the music in comparison with the Elicit. There was also a slight coloration, when compared with the Elicit. The sound was also somewhat "harder", this being most noticeable on solo voices. Bass performance was par with the Elicit, and the Alto managed to escape being harsh or over-bright, demonstrating basically fine musical abilities. Timing and rhytem were also fine. The modest 35wpc rating did not prevent the amp from sounding dynamic when called upon. All in all, a very capable amp for 320 pounds.


OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
[Nov 20, 1998]
Dave
a Casual Listener

I really like this integrated amp. I have heard many integrated amps,and at this price level ($500 and less), the Alto is the finest yet.
The sound is incredibly sweet, dynamic and musically involving. It
doesn't have some of the features of the NAD 304, and so I would
say they are evenly matched overall. The NAD has preamp outs, headphone
jack, more dynamic power, etc. But the sound is definitely better on
the Alto. I highly recommend this integrated to anyone looking for a
used integrated in the $250 range, and who doesn't need the features that
it lacks.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
[Dec 15, 1998]
Christopher Lee
an Audiophile

I bought the Alto after reviewing other amps, such as Arcam Alpha 7, Audiolab 8000A, and Marantz 66SE. However, I found that the soundstaging and imaging of the Alto better than the rest. I played "Apache" by the Shadows, the distribution of the instruments was fantastic, I could easily hear all the instruments from different part of the room. I listened to Tracy Chapman "Revolution", the vocal was amazing.I never regretted buying the Alto.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
[Aug 30, 2001]
daniel hur
Audiophile

Strength:

open and pure sound

Weakness:

low power

This is the best amp i ever heard (apart from big krells o mark lenvinsons,this amp drives very well my celestions A1 speakers (4ohms) givin 55 watts in this load.It work together with a california audio labs DX-1 and they all gives an articulate and deep soundstage,apart of the natural sound.Even it drove sometime a pair of magnepans MG-2.6(my anterior speakers)with good resoults.

Similar Products Used:

carver tfm75,sony ta222ES

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Showing 1-10 of 11  

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