Got your eye on new speakers but don’t know how to match them? Fair enough. Amp matching is an art, and it’s not always the easiest to get right. But with a swag of top reviews, a ton of power, and a balanced approach to resolution, could the Audiolab 6000A integrated amplifier be the perfect match for your new loudspeakers? Lets find out.
The who what and how of it all
Audiolab’s 6000A is a class A/B integrated amplifier with a ton of power on tap. Rather modestly-rated at 2 x 50W into 8ohms or 2 x 75W into 4ohms, the 6000A will comfortably drive almost anything you plug it into. And with four digital inputs (2 x Coaxial, 2 x Optical), three analogue inputs (3 x Aux), a moving magnet phono stage, onboard ESS Sabre32 Reference DAC, and aptX Bluetooth, it’s not short on entertainment either.
In fact, it’s a highly prized piece of kit that’s received multiple five star reviews, as well as both Golden Ear and Editor’s Choice Awards. And with good reason, too. Because the 6000A comes from the same brain that built the highly acclaimed Audiolab 8300A. Building upon the incredible 8300 series, Jan Ertner further refined and improved upon his winning blueprint to deliver a class-leading integrated amplifier at only $1,699. And from its success has spawned an entire series of accompanying audio components.
Form follows function.
Since the 80s, Audiolab has maintained an iconic and rather much loved design aesthetic. Nothing flashy or over the top. Instead, form follows function in a minimal, no-nonsense approach to high fidelity style.
In the case of 6000A, Audiolab delivers a slim metal chassis with rolled edges and an aluminium front panel featuring three independent rotary dials bordering a digital display. These dials, which are wonderfully smooth and satisfyingly responsive, allow the listener to attenuate volume, switch between inputs, and in a move uncharacteristic of its price, change between integrated, pre, and power modes.
So, the Audiolab 6000A can be used as an integrated amplifier, a pre amplifier to pair with a power amp, or a power amplifier to pair with a pre. It’s highly uncommon for an amplifier at this price and makes the 6000A highly versatile. Because as your system demands grow, the 6000A can grow with you. Available in matte silver and black finishes, the 6000A presents itself precisely for what it is: a solid, serious two-channel amplifier for the audio connoisseur.
Something old. Something new. Something Blue.
Included in the 6000A is a moving magnet phono stage with JFET-based circuit topology and RIAA equalisation. Sounds fancy. But in essence (MM) cartridges are the most common, so it’s compatible with the widest range of turntables. JFET circuitry produces low noise output, which is ideal for analog signals. And RIAA is a standard equalisation curve across vinyl records that allows deep lows and extended high frequencies to be cut into the same disc. The 6000A’s phono stage accurately corrects for this curve by dramatically boosting low end and attenuating high frequencies, ensuring your records sound rich and detailed rather than flat and lifeless.
Onboard is an ES9018 Sabre32 Reference DAC, first implemented in the award-winning Audiolab M-DAC. This enjoys 32bit HyperStream architecture and Time Domain Jitter Eliminator, meaning loads of resolution and greatly reduced clock jitter.
Between its four digital inputs (2 x Optical, 2 x Coax), the 6000A will handle up to 24bit/192kHz, which is the ceiling for most HiRes streaming providers like Apple Music or Qobuz. And you can further fine-tune your listening preferences via three digital filters (Fast Roll-Off, Slow Roll-Off, and Minimum Phase).
While Bluetooth might at first sound like an audio faux pas, its convenience is undeniable. Not everyone knows how to work an amp in the modern age, but Bluetooth makes playing music a breeze. It’s perfect for parties and general play. And so with quick, effortless connection anyone can enjoy the stunning quality of your HiFi system. And thanks to aptX Bluetooth, you needn’t sacrifice your sound quality to do it. In fact, according to What Hifi?, through Bluetooth the 6000As ‘sonic character remains the same.’
Sounds like a winner
6000A delivers a clean, articulate sound. And while it’s been widely described as both neutral and organic, the 6000A is anything but boring. It’s balanced. In fact, according to The Audiophile Man, ‘you could ally tonal balance as its killer feature.’ And that balance extends from delicate instrumental pieces to hard rock and everything in between.
It’s bass is well damped, controlled, and firm. Piano notes are given their proper weight and measure. And that weight extends well into the midrange so that there’s no thinning throughout the transition. Instead, mid-range is highly detailed to ensure stringed instruments are bowed with conviction.
With the foundations of every track beautifully attended to, high frequency performance soars. Far from extended or forward, 6000A delivers balanced but confident high frequency so that it’s a great fit for the widest range of potential loudspeakers. And this might just be its most important feature, because according to The Recovering Audiophile, Audiolab can ‘slot into the signal chain and make every speaker sound its absolute best without fail.’
A winning combination
So, with a ton of power on tap, more source inputs than you can poke a stick at, and a skillset the praise of audio connoisseurs the world over, you’ll easily match the Audiolab 6000A to almost any loudspeakers you like.