Read on for the Dynamic Headroom review of the Abrahamsen V2.0 UP integrated amplifier.
A heritage to be proud of
In 1973, two chaps called Per Abrahamsen and Svein Erik Borja founded a hi-fi company called Electrocompaniet. They created a product called the “Otala” which was a 25 watt power amplifier designed to provide a much better sound than what was available elsewhere at the time. Electrocompaniet went on to produce more amplifier products which got rave reviews and were used in the production of Dangerous, Invincible and History by none other than Michael Jackson.
Unfortunately the company went bankrupt in 2004 and was subsequently acquired by another company called West Control. The brand survived, prices went up and more products were released. To this day Electrocompaniet build their products in Stavanger, Norway and they remain one of the most desirable brands in hi-fi around.
Per Abrahamsen went on to found his own company, Abrahamsen, which he now runs with his son Thomas. Per took with him his knowledge and expertise from Electrocompaniet and carried it forward to the new company. After the bankruptcy of Electrocompaniet, the original product developers all moved to Abrahamsen, so the “new” Electrocompaniet had to start all over again.
Abrahamsen manufacture their products in Sweden and they can be contacted via their website.
Here we are reviewing an integrated amplifier called the Abrahamsen V2.0 UP.
Unboxing the Abrahamsen V2.0 UP
Woah! This thing weighs a ton! As I have said before, when it comes to amplifiers, there is something very reassuring about them being so heavy. Mine made the journey from Norway (purchased before the deal with iQ) and arrived intact – this is despite the packaging being a little flimsy for something so heavy.
This integrated amplifier has one pair of speaker binding posts which are chunky and durable. The amp has 1 balanced XLR input, 3 unbalanced RCA inputs and 1 unbalanced output (for recording). The build quality is outstanding for this price: everything is so solid. There is no flimsy plastic to be seen.
Included in the box is a heavy metal remote control, power lead and instruction manual. The remote can control the matching Abrahamsen V1.0 CD player too.
The Abrahamsen has interesting styling that some people like and some people hate. The large brass knobs, smokey black glass effect facia and gold lettering certainly make a statement. Personally I think it looks really smart. The whole effect speaks quality.
Listening to the Abrahamsen V2.0 UP
This is the UP (upgraded) version of the V2.0 integrated amplifier. The upgrade adds a doubling of electrolytes in the power supply, better emitter resister card, improved LED display, better remote control and improved software. The upgrade credentials are proven by the plaque screwed to the top of the amplifier. I have never heard the standard version, but having discussed this amplifier with other people, it seems the UP version makes a big difference and is worth the slightly higher cost.
Onto the listening test… Now this amplifier has some power! It is rated at (only) 70 watts into 8 ohms, but it’s performance is much better than those numbers would suggest. This is thanks to the muscular power supply that is flexing under the black hood.
The sound can best be described as warm, perhaps even a little dark. It is smooth, powerful and relaxed in its presentation. The way it plays music is just so effortless, able to handle all kinds of different musical styles. This is one of those amplifiers that really takes control of your speakers to output powerful deep bass without breaking a sweat. When people first listen to this amplifier they are always surprised by the difference it makes to their speakers.
Midrange performance is very good too. Vocals sound realistic and hang right there in the room. The treble is perhaps a little rounded off – not necessarily a band thing as this means you can listen to the Abrahamsen for hours without getting fatigued. You could safely pair this amplifier with speakers that are a touch on the bright side (like many Tannoy or Monitor Audio).
The Abrahamsen doesn’t quite have the same rhythmic drive as something like a Naim SuperNait or Roksan Caspian but comfortably holds its own against those amplifiers which cost more than twice what it does. Detail levels are also slightly lower than the aforementioned amplifiers but again, consider the price – you are getting 90% of the performance for 50% of the price. Right there you have the hi-fi law of diminishing returns!
Value for money
What you get here is an amplifier that is great value for money. I bought this direct from Abrahamsen for around £650. Sadly due to the fall of the British pound this will have gone up in price. Furthermore, if you are buying in the UK then you need to go through iQ Speakers who add in their percentage. This means the Abrahamsen is not a huge bargain like it used to be, but can still be considered good value. Plus you get the advantage of UK based service and support; shipping this thing back to Norway would be a real pain.
I am a big fan of the Abrahamsen V2.0 UP. It has quirky looks, which I like, some might not. Put that to one side and what you have here is a real powerhouse of an amplifier with a great easy going sound. Its easy to live with and will happily serve you for years to come. What are you waiting for? Go and buy one!