John Scott is a fan of integrated amplifiers and so when Hungarian manufacturer Etalon asked Hifi Pig if we would be interested in reviewing their new SuprA integrated amp he was the obvious man for the job. The SuprA is a dual mono class A/B design outputting a nominal 70 watts per channel Into 4 ohms and retails at €1980.

UNBOXING AND APPEARANCE 

The Supra was delivered in an ordinary cardboard box, well- protected internally by slabs of polystyrene and with a smattering of those little packing “peanuts” to fill any gaps.  Seasoned Hifi Pig readers will no doubt recall the occasion on which my illustrious colleague Dominic Marsh carelessly impaled himself on the supporting spikes of an Etalon DAC while unboxing it.  This was, unsurprisingly, at the forefront of my mind as I reached inside the box to remove the unit from its snug surroundings.  I need not have worried though; rather than spikes, the amp rests on a trio of rubber feet – two at the front and one at the rear – and so no blood was shed.

The first thing that struck me about the SuprA was its build quality; its metal casing exudes solidity and at 12kg it is a weighty beast. My second impression was that it is deeper than the typical shelf mounted amplifier. Measuring 360 x 100 x 470 mm, it is deeper than it is wide and the front and rear feet only just fitted on my shelf, slightly overhanging at front and back.  If it is at all possible for Etalon to move the feet even slightly inwards then this might be worth considering.supra_integrated_online_3

The amplifier is faced in a rather lovely slab of solid wood.  This will not be to everyone’s taste but in my opinion it adds a touch of class and sophistication and very much enhances the feeling that this is a quality product.  The wood facing is available in a range of colours and Etalon can produce additional colours on request.  The review model came in Walnut and, luckily, fitted perfectly with the furnishings in my listening room.

Accompanying the amplifier is a good quality power cord and a rather generic remote control.  I need to say a quick word about this.  The remote is perfectly serviceable and is certainly far from the worst I have seen bundled with a bit of kit.  It is a pity though that the remote does not mirror the quality of the amp.  László Sallay, Etalon MD, told me that he was keen that purchasers to get the best sounding  amplifier for the money and that providing a more expensive remote control would simply increase the cost to the customer with no corresponding audible benefit.  While this is understandable, and admirable, I do feel that potential purchasers would consider a remote that reflects the SuprA’s own aesthetics to be added value and would probably be prepared to pay a premium.  I have to stress, however, that the supplied remote is definitely not a deal breaker.  In fact, if you can control volume through your DAC via a tablet or smartphone as I did, then you will hardly ever use it. It’s also worth mentioning that the SuprA has no controls on the unit itself so if the dog buries the remote in the garden you will have to buy another one to replace it – another remote, not another dog – although if a dog interfered with my hifi it probably would find itself getting replaced.

SETUP 

You wouldn’t expect an integrated amplifier to present any difficulties in setting up and so it proved with the Supra.  It was simply a matter of connecting the power cord, the speaker cables to the high quality binding posts and my DAC to one of the four sets of inputs, powering up and we were good to go.  The Supra has no phono stage so turntable users will have to provide their own. supra_integrated_online_1

SOUND 

I was advised to give the SuprA at least 100 hours of burn in time, which I did.   Naturally, though, I couldn’t resist having a quick listen straight away and my initial impressions were extremely favourable.  Following burn in, the serious listening begun.  And went on, and on, and on.  The SuprA is so involving and engaging that whenever I sat down to listen I simply didn’t want to stop.  In fact after a few weeks when László emailed me to check if I was having any problems I had to confess that I had done loads of listening but very little writing.  I partnered the Supra with a variety of DACs and streamers and the basic qualities of the amp remained unchanged.  The sound is warm when warmth is required but never unfocused, almost a valve-like quality.  The soundstage deep, open and solid.  This is important because the Supra has been designed to be as simple as possible, any elements that might interfere with the signal have been removed so there is no balance control and no tone controls.  The sound of the amp, therefore, needs to be intrinsically right, and the Supra is.

In the wrong hands Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks album can be muddled and a little shrill.  On Madame George, the Supra placed the backing instruments into their own positions with Van taking centre stage in front of them and it was clear to hear that Van’s vocals had been recorded in a different acoustic environment to the backing musicians.

In France They Kiss On Main Street from Joni Mitchell’s Hissing Of Summer Lawns Album is a track I know really well but I felt that the SuprA revealed more texture in Max Bennet’s bass and the whole song just hung together and made more musical sense than in previous listenings.  This ability to get to grips with the various element of the music and then present them cohesively is the SuprA’s key strength.supra_integrated_online_2

With almost every track I threw at it I came away with some fresh insight, whether it be in the details of the recording or the complexity of the interplay between the musicians. From the swaggering rock of Led Zeppelin’s Since I’ve Been Loving You through the laid back country soul of Amy Speace’s Nothing Good Can Come Of This to the delicacies of Khatia Buniatishvili’s solo piano rendition of Mussorgsky’s Pictures At An Exhibition, the SuprA lays the music out in front of you as it was recorded.

CONCLUSION 

The Etalon Supra gives you everything you need from an integrated amp.  Well, everything except a phono stage. Oh, and tone and balance controls, but you really shouldn’t need those anyway. Its classy, elegant appearance is more than matched by its revealing, euphoric sound and I would highly recommend that if you are looking for an integrated amplifier then the SuprA should be added to your shopping list.

AT A GLANCE HIGHLYRECOMMENDEDLARGE300DPIONLINE

Sound Quality: Transparent, open and detailed.

Build Quality:  Solid, stylish and elegant.  Perhaps a little old fashioned for some tastes. 

Value For Money: A great sounding amp for the money but if you are looking for bells and whistles, this isn’t the amp for you.

Pros:

Great sound

Good looks and build quality

Cons:

The remote control lets the side down a bit

No phono stage

 

Price – From €1980.00 depending on finish 

John Scott

 

SPECIFICATION 

4 line inputs, RC volume control, DC output protection, metal cabinet, wood front

Channel balance: 0,2dB

Nominal output power: 70W at 4 ohms load

Frequency response: 20 Hz – 20 kHz +/- 0,2dB at 30W output

Input sensitivity: 0,7 Vrms at 30W output

Input impedance: 10 kohm

Remote control code: 155

Cabinet size:  360 x 100 x 470 mm (W x H x D)

Mass: 12 kg net, 13 kg packed in standard paper-box

 

 

 

You must be logged in to leave a reply.