Last year Audio Analogue celebrated its twentieth birthday with a new, contemporary edition of the company’s first ever product, the Puccini integrated amplifier. Now, the Italian brand has given the Maestro the ‘Anniversary’ treatment.
The original Maestro integrated amplifier was created in 2001, a hefty amp at 52kg. The Maestro range was later expanded to include a linestage, monoblocks and 24/192 CD player, while the original integrated amp enjoyed two subsequent upgrades in the form of the Maestro Settanta and Maestro Settanta Rev 2.0. So what prompted an ‘Anniversary’ edition?
“The new Maestro Anniversary was a natural and logical progression following on from, and building upon, the experience we gained in developing the Puccini Anniversary,” says Audio Analogue. The company’s design team spent months on R&D for the latter, conducting intense exploration and experimentation around the concept of zero feedback. The elimination of global feedback is not an easy thing to achieve, and so certain technical aspects of the design had to be uniquely created to achieve performance within a zero feedback topology. Therefore it made sense, following the success of the Puccini Anniversary, to apply that same learning to the Maestro. The basic design of the Maestro Anniversary is very similar to that of the Puccini but with two important differences. First, the amplification chain is fully balanced from input to the output stage, only becoming unbalanced to connect to the speakers. Second, while the Puccini does use feedback in the preamp stage, in the Maestro all stages are without global feedback.
The Maestro Anniversary extends the ‘dual-mono’ design further to include the power supply: left and right channels not only have their own separate grounds but also their own dedicated 600 watt mains transformers. The separate output stages use four pairs of power transistors per channel, enabling the amp to deliver 150 watts into 8 ohms, rising to a 500 watts into 2 ohms. The amp’s circuitry has been refined, with as much attention having been given to the selection of materials as to its design, Audio Analogue have used military-standard resistors, custom-made polypropylene audio grade capacitors, 7N OCC copper internal wiring and pure copper output connectors. At the same time, the routing of the PCB was studied to optimise the signal paths and to maintain the symmetry of the stages, and heavy pure copper tracks (double the standard thickness) have been used.
As with the power amp’s circuits, the preamplifier is also fully ‘dual-mono’. Immediately behind the input connectors, switching relays route the signal to a discrete components buffer to isolate the amplifier from the source. The volume control, like that of the Puccini, is a resistor ladder. Following the volume control stage, the preamp amplifies up to about 12dB. Each of the Maestro Anniversary’s three key elements – power supply, preamplifier and power amp – is physically housed on three separate boards.
|Power on 8Ω load||150W @ 1% THD + N|
|Power on 4Ω load||300W @ 1% THD + N|
|Power on 2Ω load||500W @ 1% THD + N|
|Signal/noise ratio||=100 dB|
|Standby power consumption (230VAC)||0.7W|
|Dimensions (H x W x D)||168 x 450 x 550 mm|
Pricing & availability
Audio Analogue’s Maestro Anniversary amplifier is available now, in black or silver, priced at £6,499 (inc. VAT).