|"The A205A is an inexpensive 4.8 watt SEP integrated that is solidly and attractively built using high-quality rather than exotic parts. Its performance on my Duos is the equal of any of the great SET amps I have heard at any price. It is somewhat dark overall and sweet-sounding. It reproduces a vast sense of space with a wide and deep soundstage and solid imaging. It's a little grainy compared to an ultra-refined amplifier like the Art Audio PX-25 but not in any way that bothers or annoys me. It recovers almost as much detail as my Fi 2A3 monos but less than the superb Yamamoto Sound Craft 45. It's voiced cannily to become a music lover's amplifier that sounds good enough to captivate the attention of even sound-focused diehards. It plays music extraordinarily well and always delivered an intensely musical experience of emotive power.
|"This is the easiest audio recommendation I've yet encountered for those wishing to explore the world of single-ended amplifiers and high-sensitivity loudspeakers. Whether you are just starting and want a superior but affordable SET integrated to build a high performance system around; or you already own an ultra high-performance system and would like to explore what's possible on modestly priced single ended pentodes, I can't imagine anyone being disappointed with this Almarro - it's a peach!" - Jeff Day, 6moons.com
|"The Almarro A205A MkII integrated amplifier combines a passive volume
control with a 12AX7/5751) input/driver stage and an EL84 output stage
for about 5wpc. The MkII's addition of better transformers, an additional
input, better connectors and a headphone output make it an even better
value and more versatile performer than the original. When the stock valves
are replaced by quality NOS valves, the sonic and musical performance is
truly something to behold and displays the same sort of virtues as boutique
SET amplifiers costing considerably more." - Jeff Day, 6moons.com
"As mentioned earlier, transient response with the Almarro A318A integrated amplifier is fast. Bass had an abundance of strength and power while the midrange is smooth and clean. The slightly recessed highs could be a blessing for those with systems that are a touch tilted upward. As for inner resolution, within this price range i have not heard anything coming close. The high quality construction with point to point wiring in concert with clean layout surely aids in this respect. There is little to dislike and much to admire. Given the $1,500 price, excellent build quality, and stunning wood chassis, in my mind a high bar has been set for others within the under $2,000 price range to overcome. The included five year warranty is a show of confidence in the unit's reliability. Feeling how solidly constructed plus sheer heft (over 30 lbs) of this unit, you can truly see, feel, and (most important of all) hear your investment in musical bliss." - Steve Rochlin, EnjoyTheMusic.com
"Beautiful in appearance, Almarro's A318B tube integrated amplifier represents a sonic miracle of sorts. Possessing the finely hewn texture and burnished midrange that is the purview of SET designs, the Almarro amp transcends their power and current delivery limitations. By exhibiting dynamic tracking and power delivery reminiscent of a push-pull design, the A318B allows its owner to choose from a much wider range of loudspeakers while maintaining the rich midrange reproduction of an SET design. While not the ultimate in focus, precision, or detail retrieval, the A318B speaks more to the heart than to the intellect. It represents the perfect amplifier for listeners who wish to connect emotionally with their favorite music. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Almarro A318B, and highly recommend it to anyone looking for a reasonably priced SET amplifier, especially if their choice of loudspeaker has precluded the use of an SET design." - John Acton, Positive Feedback Online
"Composure remained no matter what even though composure is far too staid a term. This amp sings freely and let's go with a flourish. My musical speaker chairs suggest that most 88dB 2-way jobs without bizarre load behavior should be game. So don't let the power spec fool you. Think 50 watts. In conclusion, let me reiterate something that only those who've heard a superior 6C33C SET before won't get upset about. I've got top Western Electric 300Bs, Emission Labs 45s, JJ 2A3-40s and own amps and had other through to stick all of them in to. For my listening tastes and over the somewhat warmish speakers I fancy, none of them match the far cheaper 6C33C in this amp. Perhaps some of Wavac's giant 833s do (as better they should for the money they command). That's a different discussion though. In the here and now on Planet Everyman, the Almarro does everything premium 300B, 2A3, 45 or 845 amps do I've heard or own - except better and more so. And with significantly more audible power and drive. This translates across the board, not just in the bass where you'd expect it though you'll still be dumbfounded. So that's why Vladimir Lamm is so stuck on the 6C33C?" - Srajan Ebaen, 6moons.com
"The Almarro Audio A50125A integrated amplifier was fun to listen to. Its tube heritage is quite obvious in a pleasant way and its midrange can be addictive. It does not reach far into the deep bass, but the bass that is there is tuneful and has enough heft to it to give the music good foundation. Let's just say that bass performance is going to be more speaker and room dependent. The A50125A had plenty of gain for any input I wanted to feed into it including the output from my Thor TA-3000 phono preamp. I felt its best performance was with Dynamic Design and Blue Marble Audio cables and interconnects. Bass performance was slightly improved with a delightful new cable Dave Thomas introduced me to, the KAS Audio Primus speaker cable. The competition for integrated amplifiers is increasing at this price point, but I must say that there are not very many vacuum tube integrated available of this size and sound quality. If you like tube equipment and are looking for an integrated amplifier, the A50125A is a good value and a must listen. Recommended." - Michael Wright, StereoTimes
"Comparing the Almarro to my Manley Labs Stingray or even Manley's seafood combo aka Shrimp preamp and Mahi monoblocks was fascinating. Both lines could not have sounded more different. Music via the Manley gear was swift, dynamic and incisive. With the Almarro, playback was big, weighty, powerful yet also a trifle sluggish - but man when the hammer came down, it hit hard. Perhaps the sonic differences were more a result of different output tubes than circuit topologies? The small EL84 is valued for its speed and sparkling extended highs rather than power or bass extension while the big 6550 is all about weight, punch and bottom-end grunt. Apart from my quibble regarding the volume control, the Almarro A50125A was a delightful amp that offered considerable power and weight while just missing out on inner detail and ultimate transparency. However, it will be a balm to those tired of dimensionally flat, bright and glary solid-state amps. Together, the M2A and A50125A combo offered a large, powerful, rich Technicolor performance a trifle soft and woolly in the bottom end yet always smooth and easy-going sans distress or glare. The A50125A's propensity to thrust music forward helped to offset the M2A's laid back vibe. There definitely is some inbuilt synergy of complementary opposites going on. The word that crept up most often during my time with this system was musical. I realize this is a commonly used reviewer term and one that readers invariably interpret as a code word for thoroughly enjoyable if not the last word in low-level resolution. In this case, that would be an accurate assessment." - Paul Candy, 6moons.com
"The single disc that brought the key characteristics of the Almarro together was the André Previn recording of Messiaen's Turangalîla Symphony (LP, EMI SLS 5119). The transients of the piano were delicate, articulate, and uncolored throughout the instrument's range. The upper registers of the piano and percussion were relaxed and sweet, though perhaps lacked a bit of top-end air. This recording's dynamics were very convincing, especially the bombastic bass drum at the finale. As this recording combines high-level drama with extensive use of pianissimo passages and open space, any dynamic compression was not as noticeable as with some high-energy rock recordings I tried... Almarro Products has done a superb job of producing an attractive, engaging speaker that's a superb value and performs well with a wide range of musical programming. Moreover, fans of SET sound will appreciate similar qualities in the M0A, even if a solid-state amplifier is used. To this newcomer to American shores, I say, "Well done." I look forward to auditioning other Almarro products in the future." - Robert Reina, Stereophile
"Despite these differences, the two speakers were quite similar. Both are musical communicators, and both can create that tenuous emotional connection between the listener and the music. The two speakers diverge the most in their top end performance. Both sound airy and extended, but the ProAcs have a distinctly stronger treble than the more polite Almarros. The M2As are softer and mellower, with less focus on sibilants. On bright sounding recordings, this was actually preferable, as it allowed me to focus more on the musical message, but on softer sounding recordings, I sometimes wished for just a little more vividness to the top end.
"Because of their polite, non-aggressive treble, detail aficionados may not find them to be their cup of tea. The M2As are capable of genuine deep bass, and while this is not a drawback, it does warrant care in placement. These speakers require some room to breathe. Almarro recommends at least 20 inches between the rear of the M2As and the wall behind. I would recommend more. Even then, listeners with small rooms may have to do a lot of experimenting with placement. Lastly, the M2As have a definite preference for tubes. This, too, is hardly a drawback, but seems to be a deliberate choice made by the designer.
"Almarro is making quite a name for itself with its tube amplifiers and speakers. The beautifully finished M2A loudspeakers deserve to be added to their list of lauded products. Not the last word in resolution, the M2As instead provide a warm and musical sound that rewards the listener with a relaxed and immersive experience. Properly set up, the M2As are terrific performers that acquit themselves well with all types of music. Their spacious soundstaging and realistic dynamics ably serve pop, rock, and other bombastic fare, while their warm and liquid midrange highlights voices and acoustic instruments. At their price, the Almarro M2As perform better than the norm." - John Acton, Positive Feedback Online
"So, what did I really think? For me, these speakers seem to do it all. They have a sense of openness and detail with airy extension and wonderfully musical midrange. The bass performance was very good. Not quite up to the Von Schweikert VR4jr performance in this area but I liked the M2A's high frequency performance, coherence and midrange a tad better. These speakers with the Grommes 360 monoblock amplifiers really did it for me. That could easily be a reference system I could live with for a long time. These speakers performed exceptionally well with the Stello M200s and the Soaring Audio SLC-A300 as well. Another amp of note that I spent hours listening to was with Almarro's own A50125A integrated. This unit has been improved over the one I reviewed last fall with a more robust power supply and better power delivery. The Almarro integrated and M2As work well together and can see why listeners would want to couple them together. That's a lot of performance for the dollar that you'll be getting. As for me? These speakers did it for me with their musical performance. All I wanted to do was listen to music when these were in the listening position. I had to keep reminding myself to take notes and to listen for certain things so that I could share them with you. It was hard to go from music lover to the audio reviewer when I was listening to the M2As. I liked the speakers well enough to buy them. I can't think of any higher recommendation to give them than that. Good listening." - Michael Wright, StereoTimes
"I was curious to know why Yoshi Muramatsu would make two speakers that are so similarly priced, being only $200 difference between the M2A ($2,900) and the M3A ($2,700), and found the reasons, mentioned above, to be eerily similar to my findings. Here are what my observations are of the two Almarro speakers. The M2A, with it's very revealing tweeter and high frequency performance requires more effort and setup to get the best out of. It's a high effort/high reward type of experience. The M3A on the other hand is easier to setup and optimally place in your listening room. The M3A has very good high frequency performance. The upper ranges are sweeter with good ambiance retrieval. The upper frequencies played through the M2As were more detailed and airier. The M3A is the more musical speaker but the M2A draws you more into the musical experience and is slightly more detailed. Bass performance on both speakers is good and depends on what you like. The M3A's bass performance is fuller and warmer, but not quite as tight as the M2A. The M2A's bass performance, while being tighter, is also a tad bit deeper and has more bass detail. Where the M3A better the M2A is in the midrange and has a slight edge when it comes to vocals and acoustic guitar and bass.
"If I had to choose between the M2A and M3A, I would take the rewards offered by putting in the time and effort to setup the M2As. The M3As also are an excellent speaker and a lot easier to get the best sound out of in the majority of rooms that you would find it in. The M3As sounded good with solid state and tube gear. They are not a hard load for tube amplifiers and seemed slightly easier to drive than the M2As. Tonally, as I said earlier, the speakers tend to be slightly on the warm side of neutral. When I used speaker cables and interconnects that are fairly detailed, such as the Klyne Dragonfly Wings and the Sunny Cable Technology, the speakers character became more detailed and the bass became tighter. Cables such as those from Mood Acoustics and DCCA Audio gave the sound more dimensionality and a warmer, natural sound. In terms of CD players, the Esoteric DV50S sounded good being played through the M3As, but the Accuphase DP-67, with it's natural sounding midrange helped make the M3As performance closer to that of a $4-5K speaker." -- Michael Wright, StereoTimes
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