AUDIOMAT Arpége Référence

TR11.10.2008

Integrated amplifiers

The Arpége front is covered by a black perspex panel through which the glow of tubes inside can be seen. Other than that it is a minimalistic device: two knobs - Alps potentiometer and input selector and a little cute ON-OFF toggle switch with a tiny blue LED light. That's basically it.

Function and form

80%
Ease of use
63%
Sound
88%
Appearance

The rear panel features four RCA inputs (no balanced input), two tape-loops, and two pairs of speaker binding posts that differ in nominal impedance (4 or 8 ohms). To facilitate a turntable connection there is a grounding nut.

The most of the Arpege's substantial weight (22kg) comes on the account of three power transformers. Audiomat only makes tube amplfiers - in preamplfier section of the Arpege there are three 12AX7, in power section two Sovtek EL34 per channel. Bias setting is automated.

Audiomat provides small spike supports for the Arpege which is indispensagle - the amplifier has only three spiked feet which is - combined with its weight - quite dangerous for domestic surfaces.

Bass management

Weight
79
Slam
73
Articulation
73

From the moment the Arpege is powered up it takes between 40-60 minutes before the amplifier is ready to sing. You do not have to wait of course, but the patience helps the internal components thermally stabilize and sonics improve. I never heard any hum or noise from any Audiomat amplfier - Clarisse brothers know how to properly design a tubed device.

The bass of the Arpége is not infra-deep or hyper-articulated but this is not expected from such an amp. The bass is however very successfully integrated and when asked it can take a firm grip on speakers. The wide frequency range instruments - like a piano or a harp - have nice 3D outline with just right touch of warmth and body.

Clarity & delicacy

Detail
64
Air
66
Transparency
68

Though the piano sound is less open and a tad softer than I am used to, it is very emotional and very intimate, in an impressionistic way. The main term that kept jumping at me during my auditioning was musicality and flow.

Tonal accuracy

Timbre
64
Dynamics
69
Temporal resolution
68

The Arpége Référence can convey orchestral colours with rich timbres but without traces of coloration. I also appreciated total absence of any edge of grain. The dark black canvas on which the Arepge paints the pictures does the trick - the dynamics are seemingly greater than the modest power reservoir of the amplifier may suggest.

Spatial resolution

Holography
80
Soundstage width
80
Soundstage depth
80

The Arpege is not throwing the music at you, rather it invites you to participate at the performance. The images are conjured up within a holographic soundstage that stretches wide and deep. Recently I have reviewed the Audio Research HD 220 hybrid amplifier which sounded quite one-dimensional compared to the soundstaging magic of the Audiomat.

Price as reviewed:62 000,- Kč

Recommended resellers

AudioRanny, Praha, tel. +420 777 003 134

Associated components

  • Sources: Sony SACD NS9100ES (with analog section modified)
  • Loudspeakers: Vecteur Tierce
  • Interconnects and speaker cables: Wireworld Eclipse, Cardas Crosslink

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