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What you do get is a tuned and upgraded AP, which we liked a lot, now with v1. Still not bothered? Audiolab says this processor eschews frivolous bells and whistles, but is that taking it a step too far?
Actually, probably not. You might regard duplicating that functionality in the processor as a waste of money. Most Saturday nights I am frantically trying to re-connect and setup my own heinously complex AV system, striving to work out why I am getting no dialogue from a height channel, while my wife sits on the sofa tapping her fingers impatiently.
The Audiolab is a beautiful tonic to that. You can do this via basic onscreen menus if you have a composite video connection in place — the AP does not overlay the menu on the HDMI picture. Thankfully, it is just as easy to use the front menu Q Quick Set function, which runs through all the basic speaker parameters and delays in sequence. And note that you will need a phono connection to a display device for input renaming, setting up triggers, switching AC filters, etc.
Hardly massive issues, I think you will agree. Clean sound I fondly remember the old AP. Clearly the AP is an evolution of that design as these very same characteristics impress from the outset.
The AP delivers a uniformly polished sound that is crisp and quick yet lacking nothing in sheer weight. This is the sort of performance that leaves you forgetting about the system itself and enjoying your music and movies — smooth and refined at the top end with a fabulous dynamic range that begs you to go large with the volume control. While I would not chuck any of the aforementioned setup combinations out on a rainy night, the Oppo and Audiolab seem to work a real magic together.
Running multichannel over LPCM and stereo over analogue, the AP offers serious high-end fidelity at a relatively affordable price.
One glitch did rear its head, though — despite having set all channels with a dB meter during setup, the subwoofer still proved to be about 10dB too hot in reality.
Audiophile bargain If you are familiar with current-spec AV receivers then the AP takes a little while to get your head around. Married to high-quality power amplification, the Audiolab is a fabulous performer, and its refreshing simplicity is an absolute joy.
Rather like the high-end Bryston SP3 , I could easily live with the AP for its exceptional sound quality and an altogether less complex life. As the Audiolab achieves this heady combination at a tenth of the price of the Bryston it can only be considered an audiophile bargain.
Audiolab 8000X7 review
And deal with it well. Audiolab CD A good buy, then, for someone who complements their CD collection with a vast computer library. We remember its primary purpose, though, and load up some CDs, hoping to be reminded of a similarly impressive quality. We jumped straight in with the Lord Of The Rings: The Return of the King soundtrack and the varied compositions sounded fluid, neat and organised with a duly calculated drama. Even in the most elaborate and chaotic sections, the CD remained poised and never succumbed to sounding erratic or artificially atmospheric.
Audiolab 8200AP & X7