Power amplifiers

The AW 800 M is Electrocompaniet’s new flagship power amplifier. Now hold tight: it replaces the AW 600 NEMO power amp, that has held the top-of-the-catalogue position in the company’s catalogue for incredible 25 years. Which other high-end audio component can claim such longevity? I believe just one, Bowers & Wilkins Nautilus loudspeakers.

Function and form

Ease of use

The AW 800 M is a Class AB amplifier, delivering first 10W in the Class-A. It is built around what Electrocompaniet calls a “direct coupled high open loop bandwidth topology”, and the output stage with bipolar devices. The specifications of the amplifier are impressive, be it 0.0006% of THD+N, 1000+ damping factor into 8-ohm loads, and respectable S/N ratio of 95dB (1W/8 ohms). Also, the AW 800 M provides better than average voltage gain: 29dB in stereo, 35dB in mono mode.

The casework is typical Electrocompaniet, a metal chassis with a transparent-on-black Perspex fascia with an embedded company logo. The logo and the circumference of the power button light up in blue when the amp is powered up. Fortunately, you can defeat the lights with a button under the front panel. Another button under the front panel selects the automatic shutdown function after 30 minutes with no signal.

There are two advantages and one disadvantage in how the AW 800 M is designed. Under the panel above its IEC inlet, there are voltage switches that allow the amplifier to be configured for European voltage grid (200-240VAC) or for 100-120VAC. This may come in handy of you need to buy (or sell) the unit from/to overseas.  

The AW 800 M features an RF filter intended to remove filter out HF noise from the power line. The transformers include an electrostatic shield that blocks noise from coupling as it moves between the primary and secondary wirings. An internal DC filter reduces asymmetric main AC voltage and prevents DC voltage from saturating the transformers and causing mechanical noise. Electrocompaniet recommends not using power conditioners and amps should be plugged directly into the power socket in the wall.

The disadvantage will not please audiophiles with a source (or a preamp) that only provides single-ended RCA outputs. The AW 800 M only has XLR inputs.

Bass management


Electrompaniet is one of the few companies that admits that their amplifiers have a ‘house sound’. They describe their sonic signature as warm, natural, and organic, and a little bit soft, so that listeners could enjoy listening to music without fatigue. I do not find the AW 800 M significantly warmer or more natural or more organic than other amplifiers. In other words, if some manufacturers claim their products to be neutral, and then you can hear the warmth or any other sort of signature, it discredits the manufacturer’s claim. Electrocompaniet honestly admits it, so you should not complain. Still, I know much warmer neutral amps then the AW 800 M is. The last attribute, a certain softness of the sound, is where the house sound is felt the most, especially on bass. The AW 800 M is not a hard-hitting amp, its bass induces the sense of big size, power, and fullness, with some roundness to it. Not unlike a ported speaker differs from a closed enclosure speaker. This little out-of-phasiness slightly blurs the midbass and contributes to the analogue feel. The full-bodied presentation extends to midrange and treble, so the sounds are fatter and sweeter, but they are beautifully resolved at the same time.

Clarity & delicacy


Internally, the AW 800 M is a dual-monoblock configuration with two amplifiers inside that are bridged. Electrocompaniet decided to give a user ample flexibility in how he configures the unit, or two of them, or even four of them. As a stereo power amplifier, one AW 800 M drives two loudspeakers. The mono operation mode requires one AW 800 M to drive one speaker, so you will need two in the system. You will also need two monos for the bi-amp mode that requires one AW 800 M to drive one speaker with two sets of speaker cables. For double mono operation, you will need two AW 800 Ms per channel, linked via LINK output. Mono bi-wiring and stereo bi-wiring requires two or one AW 800 M, and a bi-wire speaker cable or a set of four speaker cables.

In the stereo mode, the amplifier delivers 300W per channel into 8 ohms, 600W into 4 ohms, and 1000W into 2 ohms. In the monoblock mode, the power output rises to 800W into 8 ohms, 1500W into 4 ohms, and 2200W into 2 ohms. This way, the AW 800 M is a powerhouse that will never lose steam. If you think this is overkill, then Electrocompaniet offers more modestly specified AW 180 (180W into 8 ohms in mono mode) at half the price.

Tonal accuracy

Temporal resolution

One can expect that the power reserves, signal to noise ratios, and damping factor would correlate with great dynamic capabilities. They do. The AW 800 M provides very good micro- and macro- dynamics handling, when soft sounds are softer, and loud sounds louder than with many similarly priced amplifiers. It provides lots of enjoyment especially on classical pieces (I mean symphonies), that – combined with the aforementioned sense for the low-end scale – make the experience expansive and filled with massive dynamic shifts, yet the amplifier is also nuanced in painting subtle dynamic grading of individual instruments.

Spatial resolution

Soundstage width
Soundstage depth

I have to attest there is quite a remarkable difference between using one AW 800 M or two AW 800 Ms. That is the difference between Electrocompaniet’s monoblock and stereo power amp performance. It is not perhaps surprising that the mono mode offers more control and authority, but I am taken aback by how more distinguished and luxurious the sound gets. Going back to the stereo mode is a significant trading off on all fronts, except the buyer’s wallet. This is the high-end audio biggest trap. If you consider buying the AM 800 M and you only have budget for one unit, please do not listen to it in the monoblock configuration. Conversely, if you only have budget for one unit and you may be in the situation of allowing to buy another in near future, then buy one and expand later by another one. I believe that the versatility of the Electrocompaniet AW 800 M makes it a sort of future-proof device. Remember – its predecessor lasted 25 years before it has been upgraded. Till 2050 you should be covered, then.

Note: The final score relates to the stereo mode. In mono mode, please add 3-4% more.

Price as reviewed:499 000,- Kč

Recommended resellers

HI-FI studio TYKON, Ostrava, tel. +420 723 449 894

Associated components

  • Sources: emmLabs Meitner DV2 DAC, Electrocompaniet EMC 1 MKV
  • Amplifiers: Audia Flight Strumento No.4 MkII
  • Interconnects and speaker cables: Shunyata Research Sigma V2, Shunyata Omega S/PDIF
  • Loudspeakers: MOFI Sourcepoint 10, Gauder Akustik DARC 80, Gauder Akustik Berlina RC 7 Black Edition Diamond Double Vision
  • Power conditioning: Shunyata Research Everest, Shunyata Research Omega XC a Alpha NR



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