Sinfonia Preamp and Amp Reviewed

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To extract this of-a-piece, almost luxurious sound (which flatters vocals in particular), it was necessary to experiment with cables, the Sinfonia proving to be quite fastidious about the choice. Those which offered the greatest transparency and least constriction tended to be thick, multi-strand types such as the Pro 100 speaker cables from XLO and the latest Symo wire. The matching of the pre-amp to the power amp was less of a chore and the performance was altered less by interconnect changes, but XLO and NBS leads were both quiter and cleaner sounding than most cheaper interconnects. The two units are well-shielded enough to allow stacking, but at the expense of absolute background silences. Separating the two so they sit on the same shelf a couple of inches apart, or in a rack with four or five inches between them is all that's required for the best isolation.

And you will want to exploit the silent running. Aside from some very low level residual noise in the phono section in m-c mode, ameliorated by the move to a higher output cartridge, the Sinfonia pairing is supremely quiet and well behaved. And they units grow even more quiet after an initial run-in period of 48 hours. Once burned-in, they need less than 20 minutes to reach optimum operating conditions, so it isn't necessary to leave them on at all times.

The ideal set-up, then, included cables slightly dearer than you might expect to use with components in this price sector, with sensible attention paid to positioning. Here is a case of audiophile performance available through only common sense rather than unbridled tweakery. While the units do respond to various accessories, including isolation feet or equipment platforms, the construction is robust enough to minimise the effects of vibration without needing to resort to accessories while the internal layout prevents any unwanted interaction between the various stages.

Amusingly, this could be another reason why the British wouldn't understand the Synfonia products. It's rare for an affordable pre/power combination to offer superb performance as well as high perceived value, terrific styling, sane ergonomics AND ease of use. But everything about the Sinfonia is subtle, or tasteful. It simply doesn't shout about its strengths. The performance isn't of the grab-you-by-the-throat variety and the listener finds that the Sinfonia reveals its virtues slowly, after some time is spent listening casually. The sound grows on you, as if the amp isn't out to impress so much as seduce.

What this means is that the Sinfonia combination is perfect for extended listening sessions, ideal for the music lover who thinks nothing of playing five or six CDs in a row. The low coloration, free and easy dynamics (provided the correct speaker has been selected), lack of grain and openness combine for a vice-free sound which I didn't think was available at this price point. If only we could buy Sinfonia in Great Britain... 

Additional Resources
• Read more reviews of video projectors on
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