PERREAUX 250i

MJ01.08.2015

Integrated amplifiers

The internal wiring, the layout, the casework – everything is top notch, well thought and made with attention to detail. That’s why I am a bit surprised by how ‘cheap’ the façade of the amp looks. Yes, I know it is not easy to locate a professional CNC factory in neighborhood but for the sake of the proper look of the statement product (and the 250i is a sort of statement product) I would not hesitate to outsource from China or elsewhere.  Perhaps I am too critical here but I have to be – the 250i sounds beautiful so it should look beautiful.

 

Function and form

90%
Ease of use
80%
Sound
75%
Appearance

Since the very beginning Perreaux had made MOSFETS their design priority as the company was not happy neither with tubed sound nor with early bi-polar transistors. As Perraux puts it „MOSFET could, if used correctly, go a long way towards achieving the sonic warmth, sweetness and realism of valves combined with the physical practicalities of transistors“. Also the 250i - which is a part of Perreaux’s Eloquence series - is built around MOSFETs in strictly dual mono architecture. The 250i is capable of continuously delivering 360W into an 8Ω load (530W into 4Ω respectively) and as such it is among the most powerful integrated amps on market. It has 3 separate transformers feeding 4 independent power supplies plus high damping factor of 800, which combined with its power should easily drive any imaginable speakers.

The unit is controlled by a microprocessor chip which makes custom-setting of all user’s parameters possible: assigning names to inputs, setting the start-up volumes, display feature, power off options, you name it. The settings can be done easily with the help of simple blue display. Personally I do not like its style and illumination but some other astronomically priced devices like DCS use it too so I assume it is just the matter of preference. The operating safety is also guarded by a microprocessor to protect against over-current, over-temperature, DC offset, internal AC supply and DC fuse protection. The protection is said to be non-invasive and does not degrade the signal path. The main power switch is from behind the unit – a nice feature that is less and less seen.

An integrated headphone amplifier is built-in (with two types of output cinches) and as an add-on one may receive a slots for digital inputs and MM/MC phono preamplifier. If your speakers are bi-wirable then you will make a use of dual speaker terminals of the 250i.

Bass management

Weight
90
Slam
85
Articulation
82

My impression from listening to the 250i´s sound was that of great control over the speakers. No matter how loud I played I was always getting firm and cohesive performance with tons of resolution and no compression.

Eckhardt’s electric bass guitar in John McLaughlin’s Trio (Live At The Royal Festival Hall) exhibited the exciting combination of grave-deep depth, dynamic contrasts and fine definition that I usually hear at live performances. I did not have time enough for a proper review, just five hours which is in contradiction to Audiodrom’ s preferred scenario of sharing a room with components for weeks. The short timeframe listening makes you select only limited amount of tracks which is not fair towards the components neither towards the reviewer – there is suddenly no fun anymore, just the chore. The Perreaux 250i made my auditioning even more complicated for it was constantly pushing me to listen to whole songs, sometimes even the whole albums. When I touched the remote controller to stop a track (a very capable C.E.C. CD5 player was used during this review) the Perreaux protested. Hey, wait, do not stop it! One more song, I want you to hear this! And then it played another piece for me, another sonic marvel.

Clarity & delicacy

Detail
87
Air
86
Transparency
85

I listened to my favorite East of The Sun, West of The Moon.The dialogue between Ben Wolfe’s bass and Diana Krall’s piano was a real dialogue through the Perreaux. Both instruments  - and all instruments, in fact – were glued together by an invisible connection that made the track sound very organic. The music was not recorder live in studio, this CD is a production job, yet I had the feeling as if it was spontaneous jamming of musicians, giving winks to each other, in one room together. A real feel of enjoyment.

The very same vibe I got from the singing of the guy from Nirvana in Where Did You Sleep Last Night (Unplugged in New York). Curt Cobain’s charisma poured into the listening room, with all the passion and sadness, a beautiful experience.

Tonal accuracy

Timbre
84
Dynamics
86
Temporal resolution
85

With some recordings the organic feeling is welcome, with others it is a must. The Persuasions are far from my musical taste yet I have to admit that the vocal skills of this a cappella quartet are impeccable. In the world’s most famous group reinterpretations (The Persuasions Sing The Beatles, Chesky Records) there is one special track: Octopus´s Garden. Why special? It is Ringo Starr’s song, originally sung by Ringo – as Ringo was neither good writer nor interpreter such a combination is far from winning. With The Persuasions, and through the Perreaux 250i, I heard nicely arranged and sonically polished piece with deep resolution and again fantastically cohesive. I wish all amplfiers could play so involving.

Spatial resolution

Holography
88
Soundstage width
89
Soundstage depth
89

For the extra of 1,000 € the Perreaux 250i is available in its Anniversary version. This modification was made to celebrate Perreaux’s 40th anniversary and comes with carefully selected parts though the essential construction remains the same. The positive cumulative effect on sound should be expected. The Anniversary model is limited by 50 numbered units so in case you are hunting for a good amplifier then hurry up.

Price as reviewed:240 000,- Kč

Recommended resellers

High-End Audio Studio, Praha, tel. +420 224 256 844

Associated components

  • Sources: C.E.C. CD5
  • Amplifier: Pathos Ethos
  • Loudspeakers: Audio Physic Avantera
  • Interconnects and speaker cables: many different models of Van den Hul
  • Power conditioning: Torus Power

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