Electrocompaniet EMC - Sound Quality

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If you're buying a solid state monoblock of this size and price, then you're not going to be the sort of person who'd otherwise enjoy a 3W single-ended tube amplifier. As such, you want a big, powerful and ultra clean sound - without so much as a flaw from bottom to top - and that's precisely what the Nemos give. Their delivery is dry and concise, with everything kept under an iron grip and supported by the ability to deliver seismic power, the sort that moves buildings.

That they work down to d.c. didn't surprise me. All-direct-coupled amplifiers are nothing new and the ones I have heard in the past did have a wide open door to a peculiarly earth shaking sound that forces its way into the room with the unstoppable force of a bulldozer. The massive bass line in Sly and Robbie's 'Make 'Em Move' took on this form of unstoppable force, as if it could rearrange the room physically. Our Spendor S8e benchmark loudspeakers are underdamped and can sound plummy if not used with an amplifier possessing grip, but the Nemos grabbed them - and various other loudspeakers I used - by the neck as expected. They kept the bass cones in perfect control no matter what I threw at them. My preferred Angelique Kidjo test disc is a commercial recording, rather than a demo disc, with strong energy right down to 30Hz from the emphasised walking bass lines and the Nemos made the subsonic power of a track like 'Fifa' frighteningly obvious in a way I am not acquainted with. They appear to possess no constraint. Of course, the simple truth is that with 600 Watts and huge peak current available, claimed to be 150A, the AW 600s can in truth drive anything...

Across the midband the Nemos sound detailed and concise. They are crisp and fresh in presentation, quite evenly lit, with an ability to push out a mass of fine detail. With so much force at their disposal there was a lively dynamic right across the sound stage. Even fairly mild pans across it, from The Stranglers 'Ghost Train' for example, made stage width and movement across it plainly obvious. The Nemos strength of delivery was attention grabbing.

There was of course infinite quantities of power available, and the Nemos remained clean at all levels, no matter where I set the volume control. Giant power amplifiers like these know no limits whatever is asked of them, and the Nemo is no exception. Another key feature is this easy display of power whilst remaining relatively neutral and easy going in presentation. They are crisp and clear certainly, but without the sort of high frequency sharpness that makes cymbals sizzle for example.

In fact, the Nemos were remarkably even mannered and balanced in their handling of vocals and metallic percussion, bringing to cymbals a pleasantly bright ring from which tizz was thankfully absent. The rasp of synthesiser in Goldfrapp's 'Lovely 2CU' had a fierce strength and the pulsating bass of this track had conspicuously more power than usual; it was quite strange that other amplifiers subjectively lack power against the Nemos when  comprehensive measurement shows that technically they do not. Yet there you are: subjectively these monoblocks make other amplifiers sound wanting at low frequencies, weak kneed, of mediocre grip and of no great resolution either.

Anyone wanting to drive serious loudspeakers in a large space would need amplifiers as forceful as these, although this doesn't include high sensitivity Tannoys and such like which are best not used with high power amplifiers - for those you must use valves. The Nemos have far more power than a valve amplifier and brutishly powerful bass, but they don't have the same stage depth nor their sense of easy flow, but then neither do solid-state amplifiers of any persuasion, no matter what claims are made!

With classical, orchestras took on an extra sense of scale and the horns in Wagner's Lohengrin blared a bit louder than usual, or perhaps I was being a bit too enthusiastic with the volume control. Thunderous rolls on the kettle drum were more seismic than usual, going down further to better disturb the underworld I mused, as the settee quivered. And the inevitable crash of the cymbals at climaxes was delivered with searing power. Generally, from the strings of the Emerson Trio playing Grieg to the sonic antics within large scale works like those from Wagner, the Nemos deliver with almighty gusto and a raw insight that is very revealing.



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