Electrocompaniet AW250R Stereo Power Amplifier Review
For this review I am working with Elite Audio UK who are the UK distributor and exclusive retailer for Electrocompaniet products please contact them for more details.
A beautiful “Beast” of an Amplifier
Power amplifiers are probably one of the hardest products to review, besides their specs there is often very little to talk about as power amplifiers are pretty simple devices, you turn them on and they just do their thing. At least with the AW250R I can mention the lovely unmistakeable Electrocompaniet front panel, those black and gold colours.
The AW250R is a dual mono stereo class A/B power amplifier that delivers 250w per channel into 8 ohms, 380watts per channel into 4 ohms and 625w into 2 ohms and you can use them bridged mono for up to 4 x times that power, holy smokes! The amplifier uses 2 650 VA toroidal transformers with FTT Floating Transformer Technology Electrocompaniet say to deliver twice the current using 120,000 microfarads of filter capacitance.
This is all packaged into a big chassis, its normal size for overall footprint but it’s a tall and a heavy amplifier at nearly 40kg. The amplifier is made even taller as it sits on some isolation type feet I think are there to help with ventilation and there is a lot of ventilation on the top too. Its July here in the UK so its reasonably warm and I didn’t notice the amplifier raising the rooms temperature as much as some other designs might do, it does get warm so I think you will want to give the amplifier plenty of space for ventilation.
On the rear is the usual set of connections you would expect or is it? There are 2 sets of speaker cable outputs which is rare to see and will be a nice addition for some audiophiles but there is also something missing, no single ended RCA connections only balanced, yes the AW250R is a balanced amplifier but you will also need to feed it a balanced signal.
Do you really need this much power?
In real world HiFi situations when would you ever need 250watts into 8 ohms or 380watts into 4 ohms, outside of driving maybe huge speakers which is not really a real world situation. I was using the aw250R with THE Audio Physic Avanti 35 speakers for this review which are 4 ohms speakers rated to 180w. Therefore on paper we have double that available from the AW250R which initially seems excessive, surely the rest is just being wasted as I wont be able to turn the volume up much to use it.
That is how I started this review, I felt very conscious that I would need access to some speakers to make real use of the AW250R’s power otherwise how could I possibly review it if I cant push it to test it, interestingly I feel very differently about this now.
Why would you have all this amplifier power well the first thing I noticed was headroom, I was able to ask more and more of the amplifier by keep turning the volume up and it just kept delivering more of the same without the slightest change in its sound, no hardening or tension nothing. I started to realise it does make sense to have more and use it less and I assume this helps keep distortion down and this amplifier definitely feels and sounds over specified like its always working well within its capability limits, this could be different with different speakers but still.
I think the second obvious sound characteristic is scale and bass, the Avanti 35 speakers have an invisible passive subwoofer built into them and with the Leema Acoustics Tucana II Anniversary Integrated amplifier I have here also they sounded like speakers of their modest size, however being powered from the AW250R they sounded like much larger more accomplished speakers, I can only assume its because they were being driven with more power and this was likely getting more out of that built in passive subwoofer.
I am now looking at this overall situation a little differently I am now not questioning whether we need a big power amplifier like the AW250R, I am questioning how we can listen without one because the sonic benefits really were very clear to me.
Brilliant to listen to
The AW250R is a very impressive and just nice sounding amplifier to listen to, large in part because its effortless in its delivery but also because it present music in a big, full and tonally saturated way. It’s a very gratifying amplifier to listen to in all facets treble, vocals and bass. Its hard to pick one of these key areas of performance as being star of the show, bass is always important to me so I could say the bass delivery from the AW250R was very standout for being big and in control and totally pleasing. But I could also say vocals are delivered with an organic tonality that is equally as inviting smooth as it is pleasing. The treble is again smooth and precise without any glare or hardness.
Other amplifiers will sound sharper and crisper, the AW250R is more easy going in its musical delivery and I think its been designed to be a musical sounding amplifier rather than an overly honest one. This is something to bear in mind for system or preamplifier matching. I think besides a few very fussy Audiophiles, most Audiophiles will really enjoy listening to the AW250R, it’s in the right sweet spot of sound delivery and it reminded me of a mixture of a Luxman for its fullness and musically pleasing sound combined with some McIntosh sound staging which is a very nice place to be.
Electrompaniet are famous in high end HiFi circles for their amplifiers that have been filling large spaces on Audiophiles racks for decades and it doesn’t take you long listening to one to see why. Its hard for me to think of any significant negatives besides being mindful of the size, weight and ventilation requirements and also I noticed a tiny bit more transformer hum than with other amplifiers I have looked at recently but it really was a small amount more.
To me the Electrocompaniet AW250R is a power amplifier that when you put it into your system and listen to it you are not going to want to take it out, that’s not just because its back pain heavy but because it makes music quite a bit more special to listen to. I definitely don’t want to give it back it could quite happily stay here for the foreseeable
Special Performer Award is Pursuit Perfect Systems highest accolade and is in recognition of exceptional product performance regardless of price
For the full Specification of the Electrocompaniet AW250R
See the website here