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Amp/Preamp Asylum: REVIEW: Mapleshade Scott LK-48-B Integrated Amplifier (Tube) by AnalogJ

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REVIEW: Mapleshade Scott LK-48-B Integrated Amplifier (Tube)

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Model: Scott LK-48-B
Category: Integrated Amplifier (Tube)
Suggested Retail Price: $850
Description: Mapleshade modded Scott integrated
Manufacturer URL: Mapleshade
Manufacturer URL: Mapleshade

Review by AnalogJ ( A ) on July 25, 2004 at 05:05:27
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for the Scott LK-48-B

I have been listening to an Mapleshade-modified LK-48-B Scott tube integrated for the last couple of weeks. Given the hype from Mapleshade that it "smokes" $5000 solid-state amps, I have to have a critical eye.

I broke it in using my CD player. Unfortunately, after the breaking-in period, my CD player, er, broke and I have been left listening to my LPs and my Sherwood tubed tuner (not a bad thing, of course). My speakers are large Castle Eden monitors which are 8 ohms and have an efficiency of 87dB.

My comparison is to my Unison Research Unico, which has upgraded tubes in the input stage. In comparison, the Scott does go deeper in the bass, but seems rolled off on top. Cymbals lack that air and shimmer. While the bass going deeper adds some significant musical weight to orchestral music, the lower end doesn't nearly have the thwack of the Unico. Drum solos come out tepid as does rhythmic music. The Unico swings much better. It's not that the Scott is lumpy. It isn't. It's just that it doesn't drive the music the way the Unico does. It's clear to me that the Scott doesn't push the air like the Unico does. And I have heard amps that can drive music with the Edens much better than the Unico (a recent Plinius 8200 audition comes to mind.).

The mid-range from the Scott, while beguilingly lovely, does not reveal inner detail of instruments and vocalists quite as much as the Unico. There is a more texture to a sax or a voice through the Unico (and I'm not talking about the top end harmonics.). It's almost like the mid-range texture has been smeared with a bit of creamy butter.

The Scott's greatest strength is its transparency. You can hear low-level details and in and around instruments beautifully. However, because of the lack of great transient response, this amp is best demonstrated with either orchestral or folk music.

Overall, this is a great value for $850! It is very musical, but it has trade-offs. I'm not sure that this is up with $5000 solid-state amps. For example, knowing what I know about the YBA Integre DT, I can only imagine how good the YBA Passion is (I haven't heard it yet, but would love to.) and it retails for about $4500. On the other hand, the Audio Refinement Complete goes for the same price and the Scott will beat IT hands down. The Audio Refinement also lacks great harmonic detail, but the Scott is SO much more lyrically communicative that it should make the AR at the price obsolete. I would no doubt snap up the Scott over the AR.

Compared to the Unico, however, the Scott isn't better in every area and in some areas is inferior (for my situation).

Product Weakness: Not quite as quick as other amps I have heard. Doesn't have the "oomph" required to give music great rhythmic impact with my speakers. Rolled off on top. Not quite as revealing of mid-range harmonic textures as I would like.
Product Strengths: Transparency. Liquidity. Ability to communicate a lyrical line. Deep bass.

Associated Equipment for this Review:
Amplifier: Unison Research Unico (comparison)
Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): Acoustech PH1
Sources (CDP/Turntable): VPI Scout/JMW-9//Grado Statement Master/VPI Discovery phono cable
Speakers: Castle Edens (87db)
Cables/Interconnects: Audioquest Emerald/Type 4 speaker cable
Music Used (Genre/Selections): Classical, Jazz, Musical Theater, Rock
Room Size (LxWxH): 13' x 14' x 10'
Room Comments/Treatments: Corner Tunes used
Time Period/Length of Audition: 2 weeks. 25 hours.
Other (Power Conditioner etc.): Monster Cable 2500
Type of Audition/Review: Home Audition

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Topic - REVIEW: Mapleshade Scott LK-48-B Integrated Amplifier (Tube) - AnalogJ 05:05:27 07/25/04 ( 4)