Country of origin : UK
Integrated amplifiers ● power amplifiers ● DAC
The community of solid-state amplifier designers is heavily populated by men in white coats. (Valve amp designers generally favour brown).
The objective academic and technical benefits of solid-state appeal strongly to the right cerebral hemisphere. This is all well and good until it comes to using the left cerebral hemisphere whilst listening to music.
Capturing the things which make music magic is about more than just technicalities.
This refreshingly old school and endearingly bloody-minded company have ploughed their own furrow for over 50 successful years; an enduring success that is testament to the sanity of putting musical virtues ahead of technical considerations. Their marketing strapline ’Rescuing Music From Technology’ is apposite and well-chosen.
We have represented Sugden for over 20 years and it remains one of a very select group of solid-state amplifiers we find to be valued companions. It takes a mighty fine valve amplifier to trump the balance of virtues embodied in Sugden’s best designs.
Our two enduring favourites are the A21 – Sugden’s classic 25 watt Class A integrated amplifier and the Masterclass IA-4 integrated – a no holds barred grown-up iteration of the A21 with 32 watts of pure Class A on tap. The luxury!
Both have outstanding MM phono stages and at their respective price points, to my way of thinking both amplifiers are a no-brainer choice for the focussed music enthusiast.
Another enduring favourite is the Masterclass DAC4 – a classic example of Sugden’s stubbornness when confronted with newer technologies they consider inferior to what’s gone before.
Newer, definitely; better, very often not. Sugden designer Patrick Miller built several prototypes using contemporary chipset architecture, rejecting each in turn at the crucial listening test stage.
So the DAC4 remains belligerently ‘old school,’ utilising an ‘outdated’ 16-bit non-over-sampling chipset – an approach a lot of music centred designers have come around to appreciating. This DAC, unlike pretty much all of the high sampling rate ‘high resolution’ alternatives, has a direct, believable musical intelligibility that simply gets out of the way – a veritable breath of fresh air.
Manufacturer’s website: Sugden Audio