An amplifier remains the beating heart of any high-performance audio system, but in this age a truly versatile integrated amp needs to cover many bases – digital and analogue sources, wireless connectivity for portable devices, a phono stage to cater for vinyl playback, amplification for headphones as well as speakers… That’s a lot to pack in, whilst keeping performance high and the price tag affordable – and yet, that’s exactly what the 6000A delivers.
Outwardly, the 6000A bears strong resemblance to the 8300A with its rotary controls and large, central OLED display. Unlike its costlier, analogue-only sibling, it incorporates high-quality D/A conversion, enabling digital sources to be connected directly without an external DAC. It supplies four digital inputs, three line-level analogue inputs, an input for a turntable, wireless connectivity via Bluetooth and a dedicated headphone amp, in addition to its ability when driving loudspeakers.
Much effort has been made to ensure the 6000A’s digital circuitry delivers the level of quality one might expect of a high-performance standalone DAC. As ever, Audiolab has turned to the ES9018 Sabre32 Reference chip family to perform D/A conversion, utilising ESS Technology’s 32-bit HyperStream architecture and Time Domain Jitter Eliminator to deliver ultra-low noise and high dynamic range.
No company knows more about making the most of this technically excellent, but challenging, DAC technology than Audiolab. If the circuitry that surrounds the ES9018 is not of sufficient standard, the resulting sound can seem a little cold and hard; treat it right, however, and the level of musical expression that this chip digs from the digital signal is captivating. Audiolab’s original, universally acclaimed M-DAC was one of the first home audio components to incorporate an ES9018 chip back in 2011, and the company has been honing its implementation ever since.
"The Audiolab’s clean, crisp presentation comes through across the analogue and digital inputs alike. The DAC inside the 6000A is of a good standard, and it’s impressive to hear such a capable and composed sound at this price."
- Read the review from What Hi-Fi here.