Magnum Audio IA170 Integrated Amplifiers

IA170

70-wpc integrated amplifier with phono stage

User Reviews (7)

Showing 1-7 of 7  
bobn8tor2   Audio Enthusiast [Feb 25, 2005]
Strength:

Everything, no flaws or weakness that I could even think of.

Weakness:

I wish it had a remote. (I need the exercise anyway, at least that is what my wife keeps telling me).

I just got this unit the other day. I purchased this from eBay through an authorized Magnum Audio rep. It was a demo model so no break in was required. Let me tell you, right out of the box this unit was amazing. I read all the reviews before I pulled the trigger and bought this unit. The reviews were all great as are all these. I have heard and owned units that cost many times this amp but none were as tonally balanced. Every aspect of this amp impresses me. The phono section that comes in it is better than the $500.00 phono preamp I used to own. I am thinking about buying another to put a system in the bedroom. When compared to the Krell it did not have the bass impact of the Krell (but the Krell was $2k compared to $320). What it has though is a rightness to the bass. The mids and highs are perfect not to forward not to laid back just perfect. I am sorry if I say that word to many times, but it is the best word I can use to discribe the sound. When it comes to looks, it is definetly wife approved. Its' polished front and slim profile make it a great center piece. Don't take my word on this, if you are in the market for a 2 channel integrated amp and you were in the $500.00 plus range do not pass this piece up. Buy this and save a couple hundred dollars and get more listening material because you won't want to leave the room.

Similar Products Used: Krell KAV 300I Sherwood S-5000 (tube integrated)
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
tc4all   AudioPhile [Apr 23, 2003]
Strength:

features, richness of sound, phono stage quality, smoothness of controlls, looks etc.

Weakness:

no remote, but I can easily live with that to get the rest of the package at this price and not pay extra for a remote

This is a review of the new IA.170 Special Edition, 70 wpc integrated amp. First let me say that if you got here you are one of the lucky ones that knows of this brand. It is very well known and well regarded in England, but unfortunately, at least in the US, most people don’t and are missing out on one of the true audio bargains to be had in the integrated amp group. The unit, comes in black or chrome face plate, mine is chrome, and sells for $850 with built in switchable moving magnet / moving coil phono pre-amp, headphone input, mono switch which definitely helps with mono recordings, a mute switch, a balance knob, a tape monitor switch, an input selector knob, and 2 sets of speaker output posts. Even basic chain store stock rarely if ever comes with these items for similar price, and they can’t match this for sound quality. Its build quality is very good being quite solid with silky smooth operating knobs, and the sound is exceptionally rich. This new version has punch when called for but never gives up a wonderfully smooth character. I think this new version has much better detail and is tighter than the old, non-Special Edition model. The phono section has to be heard to be believed. It is smoother and richer sounding then external phono pre-amps costing as much as this entire integrated amp and I have use it with $1500 turntables and $500 cartridges. This model compares very favorably with integrated amps costing nearly twice as much and must be heard and compared to be believed. I urge you to search out a dealer and give it a long listen with your chosen speakers and decent quality cables before buying anything in the $500 - $1400 range. It is just one of those finds that you want other people to know about. (By the way, somebody, I think, said they purchased the old model at Best Buys. I don’t know of any Best Buys that has ever carried Magnum. I got mine at a small high-end audio store.) As somebody suggested, it can rock and it can lay you back, but always sounds great.

Similar Products Used: from cheap Panasonic, Marantz, Sony chain store brands to the begining high end lines of the better stand alone stores
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
hifi   Audio Enthusiast [Jun 04, 2002]
Strength:

Body. Rhythm and speed. Power. Vitality. Lively performance of music.

Weakness:

No remote (moving my bottom from the sofa might prove useful though). A bit too much coherent. A bit pricey for the greek market.

Great speed, great body. Good soundstage. Pretty neutral. But most important, very sweet sounding, not tiring at all, though it does not flatter recordings. For me, amps are rather a matter of taste than a subject for scientific analysis. Though the technical part would prove very strong for this amp, the greatest part is its relation to music. I am a musician as well and I do not esteem audiophiles which tend to become nerds with the whole thing. The most important value of this amp? It's musical and performs with great vitality. Pretty good, unless you love equippment more than music itself. In my case, I love this amp because it loves music. Please note that I use the Tannoy Reveal nearfields, which are pretty difficult partners

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
Jim Chadbourne   Audiophile [Apr 18, 2001]
Strength:

Musical, Musical, Musical!!!! Did I say this amp is musical? This amp is tube sounding musical but has solid state bass extension and control.

Weakness:

No remote control. What-a-you want....everything????

This review is for the IA-170 SE. This version has a beefed up power supply and upgraded amplification path parts. Additionally, it has a phono preamp built in. My system consists of an Arcam 7 CD player, Wharfdale PI-20's all connected to the IA-170 SE via MIT interconnects and Kimber cable. With the IA-170 SE at the heart of this system, the sound can best be described as musical and tube-like. It has that "hear in there" thing goin' on. The IA-170 SE produces exceptional bass control for a tube-like sounding amplifier. Not artificially tight like Krell, but like real music (my frame of reference is as a former drummer for 13 years and playing at a professional level for a while...but that was another life time ago and I digress). After the burn-in period of no less than 48 hours, you will find this amplifier transformed. So don't form any opinions until 48 hours elapses of contiuous playback (active signal in the amplification path). Cymbals have a lusty shimmer i.e., they splash, they don't crash. There is a big difference. When they splash, you find yourself listening for hours, not minutes. For me cymbals are the true measure of a good amplifier. No matter how good everything else is, if the amp dosen't do cymbals right, you just can't listen for any extended period of time. This amp does cymbals the way they really sound. Vocals have a slightly recessed presentation. Nothing worse than an "in your face" presentation. This amp grabs you by the ears and says listen to the music I'm making for you. You will find your foot a tappin' and your head a boppin' and be thinking, "man this is fun". The sound stage presentation is deep and extends wider than the speakers. Like an elongated "U" that wraps around the back and sides of the speakers. Music sources have there own individual volumes. This amplifier has me listening for hours on end and that is a first, with all the different equipment I've ownned and heard over the years. I find myself concentrating on the music instead of the equipment...and isn't that what it's all about? If you want to get back to the reason you got into this hobby in the first place, the love of music, the IA-170 SE will bring you home. You can purchase an IA-170 SE from magnum audio direct for $950.00 at www.magnumaudio.com. Ask them about their excellent trade-up policy. Hope you enjoy your IA-170 SE as much as I am.

Similar Products Used: Moscode 150; AR D-76A; CJ PV-4; B&K ST-140,202 pro 10; Superphon dual mono preamp; Dyna pas3x, MKIII's; Arcam 8
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Mike Johnston   [Oct 22, 1998]

I discovered this unit by accident. I bought a LEMON of a tube amp from Melos and couldn't even get rid of it--how could I sell an amp I knew was bad to an individual in good conscience? So I found a Melos dealer in Chicago and, after hearing the whole story, he agreed to take it for 1/3rd the price I paid for it--but in credit. That amount was just about $750.
Meaning only to buy a stop-gap set-and-forget piece and casually interested in returning to vinyl, I picked this little British integrated from his shelves, only because it looks so cool. (Magnum makes a MAJOR mistake by not having any pictures on their website, because the products really do look great--especially the new, more powerful IA200. Get their brochure.) It has a polished stainless-steel faceplate and knobs.

Magnum was founded by 1/2 of the founders of Rega, of Planar turntable and Planet CD player fame. Rega = RElph and GAndy; Roy Gandy still runs Rega, and Tony Relph now owns and operates Magnum Audio.

Well, what do you know--this little amp is *really* nice. It puts out about 90 watts per side (rated at 70) and has a decent amount of power. But its distinguishing characteristic is its delightful musical abilities--the sound is what I would call "dancey," very dynamic and tuneful. In some ways it beat the $3,400 SS linestage-poweramp combo I had at home at the time. The much more expensive combo had better slam and weight in the bass, but compared to the integrated sounded a little dull and plodding. The only way I would say the Magnum is lacking is in that it is just very slightly lightweight and very slightly thin, but neither of these faults is egregious or at all intrusive considering all it does right.

And the phono section is GREAT for such a cheap integrated. I know there is better out there, but believe me, at this price you won't care. Heck, you can spend $750 just for a "budget" phono section these days.

The whole thing is just a great package for the price, nearly unbeatable for anyone who wants to spin vinyl records especially. For dorm rooms--WOW. Wish I'd had something this good at school. Decent power, great looks, handy small size, very fine phono section, and moreover a great way with music--tuneful, articulate, dynamic, ALIVE. Beats the pants off a lot of the crap I've heard in the under $1K budget category--Creeks, NADs, Musical Fidelities (which I like, but they sound thick and slow compared to the Magnum). Highly recommended for anyone its specs would suit. Fours stars for sound in absolute terms and five for the whole everlovin' shebang.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
Tony Michalopoulos   Audio Enthusiast [Apr 20, 2000]
Strength:

power, accurate bass extention, revealing nature, excellent stereo image

Weakness:

difficult to system match, long run-in period needed

I came across the Magnum IA 170 amplifier at a high-end dealer in Atthens, Greece. I was curious to audition the product because I saw it connected to some really exotic loudspeakers, like the Paradigm Studio/20's and Tannoy 635's.
At that time, I was in the market for a new amplifier and was just about to walk away with an Aura Evolution II under my arm. My dealer recommended the Magnum and I haven't regretted the purchase since.
The first thing that strikes you about the Magnum is it's looks. It's slim and shinny appearance makes it look the business than the usual back boxes that are overflowing the market. You feel the quality of the amp the moment that you unpack it from it's box.
Compared to the Marantz PM-66SE KI-S, which is similiarly priced in Greece, the Magnum has the edge in many respects. First of all, the Magnum has the ability to drive many dificult loads easily. I have tried it with demanding speakers like Jamo's Concert 8 and Dynaudio's Audience 50 with great effect. The Marantz seemed to struggle a bit in the frequency extremes, especially with beart driven music.

Similar Products Used: Marantz PM-66SE KI-S amplifier, Alchemist Nemisis, Audiolab 8000A
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
Tony Michalopoulos   Audio Enthusiast [Jun 14, 2000]
Strength:

robust build, speaker terminials, detailed sound, natural sounding phono stage, accurate bass response, able to drive difficult speaker loads, and excellent soundstaging.

Weakness:

long run-in period, careful system matching is required, placement and cables affect sound.

Magnum amplifiers have a huge following in European countries because they offer alternatives, and in my opinion better value than companies such as Niam, Marantz and Musical Fidelity.
Compared to another British amplifier such as the Deva 250, the Magnum had better grip and control with complex, heavy handed music, such as that of Portished. It is apparent that the Magnum is more truthful to how it plays music. If the music is warm, that is what you hear. If it is a tad bright, that is what you hear also. It also doesn't swamp treble detail like the Deva.
Even the rather excellent and popular Marantz PM-66SE KI-S shows some weaknesses compared to the Magnum. These amplifiers are similiar in terms of resolution retrieval, but the Magnum has a much more expressive midband and weightier bass extention. The low registers of a piano are preserved without sounding coloured, like the Marantz.
I have used the Magnum with all sorts of equipment in the past two years. I love the way that it doesn't seem to trip up with demanding music or run out of reserved power with difficult speaker loads. It is extremely fuss free and has a sound that will easily have you listening to music that you have never given much attention to. It is as if you have aquired a new hobby!
On the downside, the run-in period is very long, three months at least with daily playing. Some patience is in order. In addition, the extremely revealing nature of the amplifier means careful matching is a must. Harsh of forward sources sound terrible. Smooth sounding CD players such as those from Arcam, Technics or Yamaha sound excellent with the Magnum. Moreover, cable selection is tedious. Interconnects or speaker cables that are the budget kind make the music sound unexciting and flat.
I believe that the best way to characterize the Magnum IA 170, is as a real world amplifier. It is an excellent product for those that listen to many types of music. It is highly recommended to the classical music fan especially. An intimate chamber music piece is virtually laid out before you for inspection, without compromising any emotion or enjoyment.
It is hard to fault the Magnum in any area, but I think that those that like to have wild parties at home may feel a little disappointed. The Magnum does go load without any stress, but it is about dynamic ability and control as apposed to sheer grunt and power.
I remember when I first came across the Magnum in a high-end dealer in Athens, Greece. I was amazed that such an affortable amp was partnered with exotic sources and speakers. This amp simply geeled with B+W's P4 floorstanders and Marant's CD-17. It is no wonder that it has been on the market for over 4 years and continues to perform better than some new competition.

Similar Products Used: Deva 250, Marantz PM-66SE KI-S, Arcam Alpha 8, Alchemist Nemisis.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
Showing 1-7 of 7  

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