Back in March '98, I reviewed an Italian integrated valve amp I'd been lusting for at many a hi-fi show. My lust was, of course, driven by my Italophilia, but that was only a small part of it: the amplifier beguiled me with its near-kitsch styling, straight out of the guide which inspired the Triumph TR-3 and the Parker 51 fountain pen. It didn't disappoint, but I suppose that £2900 for Nightingale's luscious ADM-30 was enough to put off those who craved what sounded to me like a latter-day Radford STA-25.
So what would you say to £1300 instead?
Not only has the lira plummeted since '98*, Nightingale has also made a concerted effort to grace a lower-priced integrated with as much of the ADM-30's charms as possible...including the positively sybaritic wood which marks the brand. What they've done is clever indeed, for the Armonia - the amp which featured in the controversial ads with the Q-tip - is still Class A, still fitted with a phono section and still dressed to kill. Alas, the review sample arrived in gold, instead of the lilac I saw a year back in Milan and Las Vegas, but enough of being in touch with my feminine side: whatever colour you opt for (and lilac
So what's changed? For starters, the 6L6s which gave the ADM-30 its 30W/ch output have been replaced with eight EL84s, with two E88CCs for the preamp and two E82CCs as the phase inverters. No complaints here, as the '84 is my favourite 'economy' tube, a sweet little beauty which I think of as being to an EL34 what Baby Spice is to Pamela Anderson. Gone, too, is the front-accessed phono socketry and flip-up; on the Armonia, the sockets are placed at the back. The tactile, black Bakelite knobs with finger notches have been replaced with more conventional black domes with a tiny dot to indicate position. Er, that's it.
Read more about the Armonia amp on Page 2.