The Audiolab X7 is a genuine one-box, seven channel power amplifier, capable of handling even difficult loudspeaker loads – it will cleanly deliver 7 x. The Audiolab X7 gives you home cinema sound so powerful you will think you at the movies, matched with the Audiolab AV Pre-Amplifier you can. If ever a brand typified the most conservative values of reliable, performance- driven British hi-fi, then Audiolab alongside its IAG stablemate, Quad, would be.
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The multichannel features are impressive and the proliferation of digital inputs could be useful.
The welcome surprise, though, is that this combo does music with real panache. The Audiolab AP has five line stereo inputs and one 5. It also has seven digital inputs three electrical, four optical and two HDMI inputs, plus one optical digital output and one HDMI to feed a projector or plasma screen.
Not surprisingly, all the signal switching and volume control stuff is done digitally, but Audiolab has gone one step further and digitised the analogue inputs, as is evident from their frequency response. The X7 is a much less high-tech affair.
Audiolab 8000AP/8000X7 (£1000/£1500)
Its story begins with a monstrous toroidal transformer, which is obviously going to be needed for seven channels of watts, and ends with a pair per channel of bipolar power transistors mounted on the heatsinks which make up the sides of the unit. Eight of these four channels’-worth are on the left side, mounted so that they actually touch each other.
Between the transformer and the output stages are seven channels of driver stages, implemented with a mixture of through-hole auidolab surface-mount parts, mostly discrete transistors and decent-quality passive parts. It seems that a multichannel system like this can indeed give musical satisfaction. Indeed – and this may ruffle some feathers – it was felt to be one of the most ‘musical’ systems in the test.
Starting on the rock’n’roll, the bass was audiolav to be big, bold and clear, though just a little loose compared with some of the others. The same applied in the jazz track, where the bass seemed somehow slower than the melody. All the same, the higher frequencies in this track were clear and natural and the overall presentation encouraged musical, rather than technical thoughts in the listeners. Classical music also showed off the Audiolabs to good advantage, with the relationship between instruments sudiolab admired.
Against that, one listener pointed out that the clarity with which the individual voices in the opera chorus could be discerned was some way short of perfect and the depth of the stereo image fell short of that projected by the other amps. Such limitations as this duo has are to do with resolution and analysis and in these areas it is not a match for the Bryston.
But the latter is twice the price and doesn’t include seven channels! The DAC performance is impressive too, with notably fine high treble and very clear decay of notes into silence. Our Verdict The multichannel features are impressive and the proliferation of digital inputs could be useful. For Energetic and bold performance Fair price.
Audiolab AP/X7 | TechRadar
Against Vocal clarity can be hit and miss. Simple design The X7 is a much less high-tech affair.
Audiolab has been aaudiolab with real estate planning and it’s not a mad squeeze. Bold audio It seems that a multichannel system like this can indeed give musical satisfaction. Impressive clarity Classical music also showed off the Audiolabs to good advantage, with the relationship between instruments particularly admired.