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Product Review
 

Edge Electronics G8 Two-Channel Power Amplifier

August, 2004

Jason Victor Serinus

 

Specifications:

  • RMS Power Output: 175 Watts
        Per Channel into 8 Ohms

  • Transformers: One 1000 VA

  • Power Supply Filtration: 60,000
        µF Per Channel

  • Output Impedance: 0.35 Ohms

  • Input Impedance: 33 kOhms

  • Constant Current Capability: 18
        Amps

  • Input Connection Type: RCA

  • Dimensions (H x W x D): 4 7/8" H
        x 16 3/4" W x 15" D

  • Weight: 52 Pounds

  • MSRP: $5995

    Edge Electronics

    www.edgeamp.com

Introduction

I first ran into Stephen Norber, co-designer with Tom Maker of many of Edge Electronics’ preamplifiers and power amplifiers, at my first Consumer Electronics Show over four and a half years ago. Though what I heard in the small Edge demo room did not immediately attract me, Stephen’s vibrant, positive energy and sheer intelligence suggested that my dissatisfaction probably arose from speakers and set-up rather than electronics.

A second listen at HE 2003, this time with very different speakers, left a totally different and much more positive impression. And sharing time with Stephen was again a trip and a half. The man’s mind and personality are assuredly wired to some very high current. I left the room telling Stephen that I had to review at least one Edge product.

My eagerness was reinforced by three or four extended visits to the Edge Showroom at T.H.E. SHOW 2004, where Edge Electronics were paired with Ephiphany Speakers. I must have spent more time in the Edge and Joule rooms than anywhere else. Although I was most impressed by Edge’s costly NL series, I was greatly intrigued by their new line of more affordable G8 amplifiers.

Cut to the present. Fresh from the Parasound Halo JC 1 monoblock reviewing experience - amplifiers I intend to revisit in the next month or two when I have additional equipment on hand - I had hoped to review the G8 monoblocks ($7995/pair). With review samples unavailable at this time, however, Secrets was instead offered the stereo G8. While this 175 watt amp lists for virtually the same price as the 400W JC 1 monoblocks, the sound is very different.

A few caveats. Before the amp was shipped, Stephen told me that it needed 1000 hours of break-in time before it would sound its best. When I told him that I was neither equipped nor willing to run music or white noise through the amp full blast for 42 days and 42 nights, he explained that neither was Edge equipped to do the break-in beforehand.

As you will read in my Aural Audition headphone amp review, I do find that solid-state break-in can make a major difference in sound quality. We ultimately decided to send the G8 to John Johnson first for bench tests. John, who has a separate, detached listening lab where he can play music constantly without upsetting family equilibrium, broke in the amp for a good week.

Before John forwarded the G8 to me, I requested that he play music through it non-stop for another seven days. As far as I’m concerned, two weeks of amplifier break-in is more than a manufacturer can reasonably expect from a review team.

Stephen also told me that solid-state sounds its best after warming up for 48 hours. That sure is many hours longer than most buyers warm up their gear. Since the amp uses relatively little power when no music plays through it, I left it on well over 48 hours before taking a first listen, and kept it on constantly throughout the review process. (I also engaged in a similar process when reviewing the Parasound JC 1s.) Though I have yet to evaluate if this makes a noticeable difference, I felt that doing so would certainly assure Edge that short of demanding payment for my highly inflated California electric bill, I was taking whatever steps within my means to fairly evaluate their amp.

The associated equipment and set-up procedure used for this review is identical to that employed when playing my reference system – that includes cleaning connections with Pro Gold, playing demagnetizing and break-in tones, carefully isolating equipment from vibration using Ganymedes, plus assorted bells and whistles.

Listening

The first disc I played was an advance copy of Malian vocalist Rokia Traore’s sensational Bowmboi (Nonesuch). Though the disc was first released in the US August 24, 2004, it became available in Europe in the fall of 2003. Backed by acoustic instruments, Traore’s triumph has already sold well over 100,000 copies in France and sparked the highest possible critical reaction.

As soon as I heard the G8’s bass, I said to myself that the amp was a keeper. The remainder of my listening experience only reinforced awareness of the G8’s excellent, fast bass response. It is a tight little amp with a good sense of dynamic contrast.

The next day, however, questions arose. With speakers now located 12 feet apart, I expected a spacious presentation with lots of depth. I was not familiar with the sound of Bowmboi, but I noted that its soundstage was narrower than I was accustomed to hearing. Sounds seemed confined between my speakers, and lacked significant height and depth. The music was also bright, even glaring.

Since I was in the midst of exploring female vocalists, I next turned to Renée Olstead’s self-titled whopper of a disc (Reprise). The woman is a bombshell, which is all the scarier because she recorded the album when she was fourteen. We’re not talking teeny bopper juvenilia here; we’re talking major talent with grown-up sensibilities.

Again I experienced bright sound. It was hard to tell what was at fault, since this was a commercial release featuring Broadway/jazz arrangements of classics and standards. But I did know for sure that what I heard did not encourage repeated listening.

It was time to pull out my “regulars.” First to Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances (Reference Recordings), hands down one of the best orchestral recordings available in non-SACD format. Instead of air, space, a huge soundstage and the fabled sound of the hall that I’ve been hearing ever since installing Nordost Valhalla power cables, I experienced a congested, noisy, and overly bright image where instrumentalists seemed so crowded onto the stage that their instruments were competing for limited space. Not good.

I immediately thought of WireWorld Gold Eclipse 5 interconnects and speaker cable and Gold Starlight 5 digital interconnects. I quote from the conclusion of my review of those products:

“ . . . the cables’ excellent midrange and strong bass response make it a natural for solid-state amplification and/or digital equipment that tends to reproduce highs in an overly etched, brittle, harsh, or classically “digital” manner. In such cases, I would greatly prefer it to the even more neutral, transparent, and truthful Nordost Valhalla.”

This was an opportunity to put my perceptions to the test.

Without changing my reference Nordost Valhalla speaker cable, I variously replaced first the Valhalla digital interconnect between transport and Theta Gen. VIII DAC/preamp, then the Valhalla analog interconnect between Theta and Edge G8 with their WireWorld top-of-the-line equivalents. Much experimentation led to the conclusion that simply by changing the interconnects between the Theta and Edge from Nordost Valhalla to Wireworld Gold Eclipse 5 (and retaining Nordost Valhalla as the digital interconnect), highs mellowed out without becoming dull, bass remained firm, and a semblance of midrange appeared on the scene. The transformation made the G8 more than listenable. There is always the argument that a bright sound of an amplifier can be in part due to the amplifier simply delivering a more accurate transmission of the brightness that is inherent in some 16/44 CDs, and that cannot be ruled out here. Down the road, with SACD and DVD-A, which use a much higher bit-rate, that argument can be put to examination.

The conclusive test of the amp’s abilities came when I returned to the Rachmaninoff. This time, I experienced a far more acceptable presentation. Detail was excellent, even more-so than from my reference Jadis Defy 7 tube amp. And while I still wished for a wider soundstage, greater depth, and the sense of boundlessness I am accustomed to hearing, a strong element of musicality emerged which made for satisfying listening.

As I went through piles of recently arrived discs, I found myself wanting to sit and listen to multiple tracks rather than just take notes on a portion of one track and move on. I loved Haitian ex-patriate Marlene Dorcena’s Mèsy (Contre-Jour), and admired the smoothness of a vocal presentation that with the ultra-transparent, neutral Nordost Valhalla in the entire chain would have seemed glaring. At the end of the session, I sat with rapt attention while playing the entire advance copy of soprano Dawn Upshaw’s beautiful Voices of Light (Nonesuch) recital with pianist Gilbert Kalish.

This is not to suggest that I found myself transported by the sound per se. I wished for more resonance in Kalish’s piano, more of a sense of the hall, a wider soundstage and greater depth. But what I did hear was lovely. Despite wanting more, the essence of the musical message came through loud and clear. In the end, what more can one ask for?

On the Bench (JEJ)

THD at 1 kHz appears to be good, and in my experience, typical of a high performance product that probably does not use much negative feedback.

IMD is also low.

Using higher frequencies, IMD is a bit higher, but still good.

THD at 10 kHz is about where I would expect it to be.

IMD is still low at 10 kHz and 11 kHz input signals.

The measured frequency response is ± 0.5 dB 20 Hz to 40 kHz

Conclusions

In a forthcoming revisit to Wireworld and Harmonic Tech interconnects, I shall address in some detail the influence of cables on sound and overall presentation. What is important to say now is that the Edge G8 is an amp for which choice of cabling is a crucial and decisive factor.

When paired with the right cables, the Edge G8 emerges as a fast, powerful amp with excellent bass control, significant detail, and striking highs. Though not a statement product, it offers an enviable degree of musicality that makes it a definite contender for anyone considering power amplifiers in this price range.




- Jason Victor Serinus -

Associated Equipment:

Digital Front End
Sony 707ES transport modified by Alexander Peychev of APL Hi-Fi
Theta Gen VIII DAC/Preamp

Amplification
Jadis Defy 7 Mk III or IV modified with a Siltech silver harness

Loudspeakers
Talon Khorus X speakers MK. II (with latest modifications and Bybee filters)

Cabling
Nordost Valhalla single-ended and balanced interconnects and balanced digital interconnects
Nordost Valhalla bi-wired speaker cable
Acoustic Zen Silver Reference II balanced interconnects
Either Harmonic Tech Magic One, Nordost Silver Shadow, or Nirvana digital interconnect for DVD-V
Power cables: Nordost Valhalla and Nordost Vishnu; Elrod EPS Signature 2 and 3 plus EPS 1, 2, and 3; WireWorld Silver Electra 5, PS Audio X-treme Statement, Harmonic Tech, and AudioPrism SuperNatural S2.

Accessories
PS Audio P600 Power Plant power synthesizer with MultiWave II
PS Audio Ultimate Outlet; PS Audio Power Ports
Michael Green Deluxe Ultrarack, Basic Racks and room treatment
Ganymede supports in main digital chain and under speakers
Michael Green Audiopoints, and Black Diamond Racing Cones elsewhere
Shakti stones for Amp and Theta
Stillpoints ERS EMI/RFI sheets on some components
Bedini Dual Beam Ultraclarifier
Audioprism CD Stoplight
Marigo as yet unreleased Signature Mat for use atop CDs
Ayre demagnetising CD and the original Sheffield/XLO degmagnetising and break-in CD.

 

 

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