There’s only one word that springs to mind when you first encounter the Hi-Fi Rose RA180, and that’s ‘bonkers’.
The amplifier has a seemingly mad jumble of control shapes and types across its front panel, from sliders to knobs and strange hooky things, while even the volume control is a strange skeletal thing with cogs turning behind it to adjust the level of each channel in some kind of steampunk tribute.
The idea, the designers say, is to show the flow of signal through the inside of the amp: we’ll take their word for it, but what’s beyond doubt is the way music flows from this amplifier, with its huge power – up to 400W per channel, depending on how you set it up – and fabulous levels of detail.
You can bi-amp speakers with it, filter frequencies for semi-active drive, and fiddle about with masses of adjustments, from the set-up of the built-in phono stage for a record player to balance – on an old-school sliding fader – and tone controls.
Built like a truck in its heavyweight aluminium casework, this is resolutely an all-analogue, purist design, and yet it offers control over Wi-Fi using a dedicated Rose app. It’s all very odd, but absolutely wonderful.
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Andrew Everard's choice for 2022: A steampunk tribute with an 'individual' design, the HiFi Rose RA180 amplifier