At the back we see 4 analog inputs (of which 1 phono) followed by a power-in and pre-out. The same flexibility can be found on our own reference amplifier. The fact that Audiolab applies this in this price range is admirable. But we’re far from there. In contrast to the more expensive 8300a, the 6000a has no less than 4 digital inputs (2xcoax, 2xoptical). And as if that wasn’t enough, Bluetooth is also a possibility.
That can’t go well. So much for so little, that’s asking for trouble. But if we unscrew the top and take a look, we see that each compartment is very well separated from each other. A large power supply from the 8300 series provides 50 watts in class A/B and the dac we know from the unsurpassed M-DAC. It is clear that there is sufficient digital know-how in the company. Very clever that they put a lot of those quality materials in the 6000 series.
The Audiolab 6000a takes the place of a Bryston B60r. As source we use a NAD M50 which sends balanced signals to a Metrum Acoustics Onyx. Speakers of service are a pair of Audio vector QR1 monitor speakers that turn out to be the ideal partner of the 6000a. We also played for a while with the small but fine Cabasse Surf speakers and this also went great. We also connected the NAD M50 directly to the dac of the Audiolab 6000a.
In our room and in this set especially the analog inputs reach a bizarre high level. The Audiolab 6000a combines the best of its rivals into a very special mix of power, nuance and detail. Very special. Also the digital inputs are good and come with a choice between three filters: Fast roll-off, slow roll-off and Minimum Phase. We streamed Tidal, recorded CDs and played hi-res files. We also tested the phono stage with a Rega Planar 2 but it’s not that special. It is better to connect a separate phono stage if you want to play vinyl at a serious level.
This is a great amplifier to start your hi-fi adventure with, but it might stay for a long time. He’s really good. We’re involved in every piece of music and that’s special. No, the Audiolab 6000a does not replace a top pre/power combination but it does much more than you would expect from a budget amplifier. He lets every genre come through well and does so with flair. “Maggie Said” never sounded so enchanting, “Unfinished Sympathy” sounds just right and “Wakin on a pretty day” babbles on. You know what we mean.