Sugden A21SE Signature Edition Class - A Amplifier - Black
The Sugden A21SE Signature Series Class - A Integrated Amlifier
This is an amp that even if you move on to a more grandiose system, you should keep. Forever
The special edition A21SE integrated amplifier builds on the strengths of the classic A21. Offering pure class A single ended voltage rail operation, the sound remains distinctively ‘Sugden’. Upgraded with a fifty percent larger power supply and increased power output, dynamics are even more impressive. A sophisticated pre-amplifier stage is another improvement on the A21. This provides greater clarity without added brightness producing crystal clear highs. The larger power supply provides greater control over a wider range of loudspeakers and improved micro dynamics for low level listening.
If you don’t need more than 30 watts per channel, or balanced inputs, buy a Sudgen A21SE Signature. Get off the anxiety train and just dig it. A big part of the magic that this amplifier possesses is because of its class-A operation. But Sugden takes this a step further – this amplifier is single-endedclass-A. If you’ve ever heard one of the early Pass Aleph amplifiers, they use a somewhat similar approach.
Running the output transistors in single ended mode gives this amplifier an added amount of liquidity that even the best class-A amps can’t achieve. Darewe say, they sound tube like. If you love the sound of an SET but need more than a few watts per channel, with some serious bass control to boot, this amplifier is going to quickly become your holy grail.
If you’ve got a turntable and a DAC, do you really need a zillion inputs, all those blinking lights, meters and such? If you do – that’s ok, this amplifier will not make you happy. But if you just love to drive, I mean listen, and all that matters is sheer performance without all the frills, few things will do the job like the A21 does.
The A21SE Sig features five, single ended, RCA inputs. We used the dCS Vivaldi ONE as our digital source and the Artisan Fidelity Garrard 301 with Boulder 508 phono (via XLR adapters) for analog duties besidesiIt has more than enough resolution to hear the difference between a gamut of phono stages.
Perhaps the biggest surprise was connecting the A21SE Sig up to the Focal Stella Utopia Ems. These massive three ways, with their 13” field coil woofers enjoy a sensitivity rating of 94db/1-watt and they thrive on low power, high quality amplification. Again, the A21SE Sig delivers a stunning, three dimensional presentation with these flagship speakers.
The Sugden doesn’t really need any “break in” beyond being powered up for 24 hours, like every other class-A amplifier we’ve used, it does need to warm up. Even though there are no vacuum tubes here, class-A amplifiers usually run fairly warm and it takes about 90 minutes to fully stabilize thermally.
Glued to the listening chair
Record after record proves that this is an amplifier completely free of fatigue. There’s a level of inner detail present, that will have you scratching your head (or reaching for the screwdriver to take the top cover off) to find the vacuum tubes inside. While you won’t find them, this is the result of decades of engineering refinement.
Regardless of the music you love, the A21SE Sig allows an incredibly musical experience. Bass is powerful, controlled, and anything but one-note. As the Focals go down to 16hz, the sheer amount of control and texture that this little amplifier delivers might be lost on a listener with a pair of LS3/5as, but through the mighty Focals, it was dramatic and impressive.
Inner detail is equally fantastic. Especially when listening to music with densely packed, similarly voiced harmonies, like Crosby, Stills and Nash, Utopia, or Crowded House. Where lesser amplifiers would leave these tunes sounding like a fat, or maybe slightly overdubbed vocal, the A21SE Sig gives each vocalist and individual space within the recording.
Acoustic music lovers will be equally, if not more enthralled. The sheer amount of texture this amplifier reveals when listening to violins and pianos of different kinds is amazing. Everyone who’s ever claimed that “solid-state doesn’t/can’t sound as good as tubes” needs to hear this amplifier.
Seriously the Sugden A21SE Signature is an amplifier that every audiophile and music lover should own. For some it will be a destination product – it’s certainly good enough in that capacity. For others it will be a bookmark, but either way, this is an amplifier that shouldn’t be missed.
We guarantee that this is an amplifier, that once you hear it, you will never forget it. Very enthusiastically recommended, especially in a world where we mistakenly think that “high end sound” requires a six figure budget.
The A21 Signature like all Sugden integrated amplifiers is dual mono construction with separate right channel,
left channel and pre-amplifier stage. The three separate circuit boards are connected with silver aviation grade cable.
Inputs Five line level operated by relays
Outputs One pre-out (variable), one tape out
One pair of stereo multi-way binding posts
Volume Control Remote control (RC5 handset included)
Line Input Sensitivity 110mV @ zero attenuation for full output
Power Output 30 Watts into 8 Ohms both channels working
40 Watts into 4 Ohms both channels working
Frequency Response +/-1dB 12Hz-141kHz
Signal to Noise >90dB
Gross Weight (packed) 15kgs
Dimensions 115 x 430 x 360mm (hwd)
J E Sugden & Co Ltd, Heckmondwike, West Yorkshire.
The manufacturer reserves the right to change specifications without notice.
© 2020 J E Sugden & Co Ltd.