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Audio Refinement Complete Integrated Amplifier (SS) Review by darkmoebius

Model: Complete
Category: Integrated Amplifier (SS)
Suggested Retail Price: $995
Description: SS integrated amp,50/40W into 8/4ohms
Manufacturer URL: Audio Refinement

Review by darkmoebius on April 05, 2001 at 03:52:17
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for the Complete

Audio Refinement is actually the affordable "mid-fi" wing of world famous YBA Electronics from France. This is amplifier sets a new standard for design, function, and performance in the sub-$1,000 category. It is rated at a conservative 50 watts per channel and includes a remote control. YBA blessed the whole Complete line of components a with simple, elegant, no-frills appearance - brushed aluminum faceplate with a Power/Standby button, two sizeable, rounded volume and Record Out dials, also six small Input selection buttons with corresponding green "on" lights. That's it!

The Record out dial can be used to select any of the six inputs - Tuner, CD, AUX, Tape 1, Tape 2, and Video. YBA also included the feature of the volume automatically being turned down to "0" when the power is turned off, which protects the absent-minded from accidentally blowing their speakers.

The remote control is the same one used with their far more expensive YBA gear, and it also is made of brushed aluminum instead of the usual plastic. It features up and down buttons for volume and input selector, power/standby, and CD, AMP, Tuner input buttons. The input up/down selector has to be used to access the other three inputs. Using the remote control to change volume, the dial action extremely smooth, allowing unusually fine adjustment of the volume. One of the best I've ever used.

Now for the sound.

For a few weeks I had the benefit of keeping my formerly loved Rotel RB-980bx (120W x 2) amplifier and Rotel RC-972 pre-amp while getting used to the Complete. I spent long hours switching between the two setups, replaying the same songs and passages over and over. I soon came to realize that the Rotel was unnervingly bright and forward in comparison. And the 50 watt Complete did just as good, or better of a job at filling my living room with music.

The Complete, in comparison, delivers smooth, detailed and beautifully balanced music, almost warm in a tubelike sense. It is utterly breathtaking! Forget any preconceptions about solid state amplifiers, the Complete bears no relation to any other "mid-fi" design. There isn't the slightest hint of edge or grain. Vocals are deep and rich, woods and horns are full, and percussion is powerful. It's delivery is so smooth and warm that I initally thought high frequencies were being rolled off and that it lacked detail. Well, I was dead wrong! The more I listened, the more I realized that the Complete is an incredibly accurate, finely detailed, amplifier. What I was actually hearing was something my Rotel lacked, true BALANCE, no individual part of the sonic landscape out of proportion. And it's low frequency resolution is absolutely stunning. Bass tones are much more refined than with the Rotels.

Are there any downsides?

Yes, but only two, and they so are minor in comparison to this amp's value and performance, that it seems nit-picky:

First, there is an annoying "pop!" when the amp is turned on. Not loud or speaker damaging, but definetly noticable. It is exactly the thing that the automatic volume "off" is supposed to take care of. Couldn't they have added some kind of slow start diode?

Second, when using the remote control to change inputs, the actual input selector in the amplifier makes a fairly loud "click" sound as it switches between inputs. With the volume turned down, it can clearly be heard all the way across my twenty foot living room. But, it doesn't sound like something that is going to break, just a very sturdy selector being moved.

Other than that, I have been unable to find any other flaws with this absolutley amazing amp. I suggest that everyone that has a chance go experience this wonderful integrated amplifier.

Product Weakness: Two (very) minor - noticable "pop" on startup, and slightly loud input selector
Product Strengths: Warm, smooth, finely detailed music. Simple, elegant appearance. Excellent remote control.

Associated Equipment for this Review:
Amplifier: Audio refinement Complete Integrated
Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): None
Sources (CDP/Turntable): Denon DCM-460
Speakers: Jean marie Reynaud Twins mkII
Cables/Interconnects: Chris Venhaus DIY teflon Cat 5 braided speaker cables, Jon Risch DIY Belden 89259 IC's, TNT-Audio DIY X1.5 IC's
Music Used (Genre/Selections): Jazz, Rock, Hard Rock, Alternative
Room Size (LxWxH): 20' x 16' x 8'
Time Period/Length of Audition: 1 month
Type of Audition/Review: Home Audition

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