Once upon a time, there was an amplifier called the Audiolab 8000A. It took no nonsense engineering and a useful selection of inputs and become one of the most well regarded and popular amplifiers you could buy at the price point. Fast forward to the present and a newly revitalised Audiolab has built the 6000A to take those solid principles its forebear adhered to to go about delivering the same premise.
This means that the 6000A reflects the requirements of the present rather than being a rose tinted view of the past. Three line inputs are supported by a moving magnet phono stage and a power amp in, making it easier to incorporate the Audiolab into an existing AV system. These are augmented by a quartet of digital inputs and Bluetooth, ensuring that there isn’t very much that you can’t connect to it. It also means that the matching CD player simply connects to one of the digital inputs and has no decoding of its own.
All these connections are coupled to an amplifier that offers 50 watts into 8 ohms and 75 into 4. These aren’t huge numbers but they’re more than enough to handle commensurately priced speakers and Audiolab has paid close attention to the 6000A’s electrical current delivery to further help with this. There’s also a headphone output with its own dedicated headphone amplifier to ensure that you can keep listening whatever is happening around you.
All this comes encased in a chassis that is slim and elegant. The 6000A pays tribute to the original 8000A in terms of its shape and overall layout; not least the power button on the right hand side but, thanks to the presence of a display, logical controls and a full function remote control, it is thoroughly modern in terms of operation.
In one very important regard, the 6000A doesn’t emulate its ancestor. Where the 8000A could be a little on the dry side, this latest model is a much more ebullient performer. What the 6000A does very effectively is balance an accurate and believable presentation with a level of fun and emotional engagement that means you want to keep listening to it. One area where it is exceptional is the manner in which it handles lively and uptempo material. It never fails to engage you and there’s nothing too fast or too complex for it to handle effortlessly.
This is partnered with a refinement and sweetness across the midrange and upper registers that means the 6000A will take on compressed or aggressive recordings and deliver them in a way that finds their positives without revealing too much in the way of weaknesses. Give it a good recording and the Audiolab is capable of delivering a performance that truly warrants the use of the word ‘audiophile.’ It takes whatever you throw at it and ensures it sounds absolutely believable but never so matter of fact that it ceases to be enjoyable.
There’s also no issues with that 50 watt output being tested either. Sure, you can connect something enormous (and almost certainly considerably more expensive) to the Audiolab it will eventually run out of puff but it is more than up to the job of generating a room filling sound. There are rivals that can hit a little harder at the bottom end but very few of those can go on to offer the articulation that the Audiolab can and fewer still that can do so that across the range of connections that it can.
The really clever bit about the Audiolab is that what it does is maintained across both the analogue and the digital connections in a manner that is impressively consistent. You can genuinely have; for the sake of argument, a turntable connected to the phono stage, streamer going to an analogue input, the matching CD transport on coaxial and your TV going to optical and it will deliver the good across all of them. It’s a great hub for any system.
The 6000A is everything an affordable amplifier should be. It’s well made, easy to use, has all the connections you could reasonably expect and proceeds to deliver a performance across all of them that is unfailingly enjoyable. It is a worthy successor to the original.
Feeder Echo Park
The Audiolab is able to take this musically great but indifferently recorded album and find the joy, emotion and endless fun it has in spades without showing up the many limitations in how it was mastered.
Hayley Williams Petals for Armour
There are a bewildering array of time signatures, presentational styles and genres at work in this album but the 6000A is up to the job of delighting with all of them.
Tangerine Dream Sorcerer
This is a deceptively simple album that can sound thin and muddled on the wrong hardware. The Audiolab ensures it sounds as creepy and atmospheric as it should, with a warmth and body it can sometimes lack.
With amplification and decoding on board, the Audiolab makes constructing a system simpler as it can take on some of the functions that normally rely on completely separate source equipment and it does so while sounding brilliant