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Test Accuphase E-270 Integrated Amplifier
Accuphase E-270 – Fixed-size
Do you also find that anything that can quickly be “out” never really had the right to be “in”? Then you are a typical Accuphase customer.
Probably there is no such (in the best possible sense) conservative company as Accuphase in the German hi-fi market. Because Accuphase goes with its local branch P.I.A. HiFi for 42 years now the way together. Which other manufacturer can look back on such a long relationship with a sales force?
Of course, this fits perfectly with the products, which at first glance seem to have never been approached by a product designer. However, if one looks at the meticulously dimensioned chamfers, the precisely dimensioned switches or the seamlessly integrated heat sink, one notices: the exact opposite is the case. Only one would never come up with the idea at Accuphase to make design care so obviously that it immediately catches the eye. Just like the technical innovations, which, although highly present, are more evolutionary than revolutionary in the series.
I like this restraint, the rejection of any fast fashion, so you do not look at an Accuphase device at first glance year or even generation and must first research more closely to get to the bottom of the matter. Another particularly beautiful example of this conservatism is that the prospectus information is always slightly below the actual measured values. So they represent sizes that are always guaranteed and not desired by the marketing department.
The attitude behind all this, along with unquestionably very skilful business calculation, also shows a great respect for the music, which should always remain the main thing, not this or that circuit, the new design gimmick. Therefore, even with no Accuphase amplifier on a tone control or a loudness circuit, accelerates a certain adaptation to sound not ideal living space, the enjoyment but far more than a hollow ideology of the direct signal paths, which runs in some living room acoustics in vain.
Accuphase has been a big name for me since I’ve been working on hi-fi for the past 30 years, but I did not quite understand that. So my little amplifier had to go one day because I drew the wrong conclusions from his neutrality and incidentally was also advised wrong. Because the unbalanced sound of my system, hardly that the Accuphase played at home, was not his fault – he was rather on what was in front of and behind him in trouble. I know that now. At that time, a trader scented his opportunity and used it, gradually bringing me to a complete conversion of the plant. With a result that you can imagine: It did not stop. If only I had stayed with the Accuphase.
Many years later, the current incarnation of the smallest amplifier is played and plays – no, not warm. Accuphase you connect and listen to music. Of course, in the first few minutes, the sound changes a bit here and there, but first, you have to be danced to sound good, you need other amplifiers.
The E-270 looks down to details as many of the brand’s full amplifiers before him, distinguishing him from his big brothers only the height and the lack of a flap that covers all control options. Here everything can be switched and regulated, which one could need to listen to music. All knobs and knobs run full and give a good feeling of seemingly unlimited life. On the back there are various unbalanced inputs and outputs and a balanced input, also a slot to accommodate the Accuphase typical option boards and two pairs of thick pole terminals, which are directly connected to the power amp board inside from this generation.
Inside, some genetic material from the larger series has arrived. The most important point for me is the volume control, baptized by its inventors AAVA (“Accuphase Analog Vari-Gain”). This is a circuit that provides 65 536 volume levels in a purely analogue way via the combination of 16 voltage / current converters, and completely without level differences between the channels, level changes in the output resistance or crosstalk interference. I know of no other solution that is so finely graded and technically clean. Also with the final stage was compared to its predecessor thoroughly renovated. A current feedback (previously voltage negative feedback), a more stable power supply and new transistors help the E-270 to a doubled damping factor and also to increase the phase stability.
Since the P.I.A. Of course, when it comes to supplying the reporting authors very well, the integrated amplifier does not end up with me without accompaniment. To make it possible for me to get the most differentiated impression in the best possible conditions, the E-270 also has the option boards for directly connecting a turntable or various digital sources, as well as a matching CD player, which, by the way, is really first-class DP 560th First, however, the E-270 has to prove itself all alone and is connected to a Mark Levinson ML 390s and a pair of Spendor speakers. And already there is a special quality of this amplifier: From the speakers, you can hear at idle even at a high volume – nothing. That may not be so important to many listeners, but for me, that is a crucial criterion. That’s the only way I can be sure that no such fine swinging of a reverb tail is swept under the (noise) carpet. Finally supplied with music, the quality of the company shows itself after the first notes, to stay out of everything – even from possible mistakes.
If something is not sonically correct, one will seldom get the idea that it could on the Accuphase component in the chain. But since Spendor and Mark Levinson bring similar qualities, it comes, as it should be: The software (music) moves into the centre of interest, although I really want to deal with the hardware (amplification). And so the attempt at a sonic description of the E-270 more or less goes nowhere and is exhausted in a description of the music heard. However, all sound samples have in common a tonal sovereignty, which guarantees the best overview and a completely stress-free sound even at higher volumes and more complex material. Again and again the space varying from CD to CD and always extremely precise. Certainly a merit of the volume control in conjunction with the good speaker control.
An acquaintance does not want to rate what he has heard quite so positively. For him, there is a kind of “house sound” behind this sovereignty, a stamp that is imprinted here on the music. To clarify this, the Accuphase moves with us into the studio and is connected to the Merging DAC. Even a few seemingly detailed components had to leave a lot of feathers when it came to presenting minimal intervention via a compressor or equalizer. In these cases, it was easy to hear that the richness of detail was only a presumed one, and rather presented itself as a sonic signature to the music. From coarse curve changes, we work in the recording studio to ever finer modifications, and the small Accuphase-amplifier does not owe an answer.
For the music listener at home, this simply means that the E-270 is really very clean, which is delivered to him on musical signals. He assigns nothing to a house sound but gives largely without comment, what he receives about his inputs. For some hobbyists, this might not be a nice idea, but for most of them (including me) this fine honesty is very reassuring.
The optional phono board AD-30 fits perfectly into the picture, with very solid qualities on. That here too technically everything is right, must not be mentioned separately. Sonically, the AD-30 is inconspicuously inconspicuous, even a bit more discreet than the other features of the amplifier. Since an analogue setup is always an equation with many variables, the – on the front switchable – MC / MM slot with a decidedly neutral approach holds back confidently, giving the analogue setup a lot of room for sound design. Anyone looking for a coherent collaboration with the upstream components will appreciate this honesty and may regard the AD-30 as a really high-quality recommendation.
If you prefer digital suppliers, the equally optional digital board will fill your heart. The DAC-40 option beats soundwise into the same (non-existent) notch of the E-270, resolving fine and without harshness. And so well that even well-known and well-mouthed stand-alone DACs can go up to well 2000 euros after a comparison. Considering that with the triple-assignable DAC board even a shelf space and a network and a pair of signal cables can be saved, the digital board for the E-270 is almost a special offer.
After my recent experiences with the E-270, I have to ask myself again, which deaf person has the rumour of allegedly boring and undynamic-sounding Accuphase devices in the world. Rise times (and thus “real” speed of the amplifier), distortion values, performance data and other values such as channel equalization or separation document on paper, what can be easily understood with open ears: It certainly works differently, but hardly better than the Accuphase E -270. As with a good cook, the natural flavour of the ingredients is delivered here – flavour enhancers have no access to this kitchen. Good music does not need that anyway.