SUGDEN: A21ai Series 2 integrated amplifier test review

Art Dudley (Stereophile magazine)

Winter has returned to Cherry Valley, New York, and I'm reminded of a bad habit that I used to conceal: On cold mornings I started my car well before driving off, then actually weighted down the accelerator pedal—with the heavy socket tray from my toolbox—in an effort to keep the idle high, and thus more quickly warm the windshield and the interior. Whether my lazy trick had the desired effect is a matter of some debate, but I wish now that I hadn't been so wasteful and so casually fouled the air.
Now I'm happy just to stay at home, listening to music through my favorite class-A amplifiers: just as wasteful, I suppose, but on a small enough scale that I can squint and pretend I don't see it. In a pure class-A amplifier, output devices are biased at a high enough negative voltage that current never ceases to flow across them, even when one device in a complementary pair hands off the signal to the other. This preserves the integrity of the waveform continuum and banishes so-called switching distortion. The amps stay nice and warm, too.

So it goes with the audio amplifiers designed and manufactured by J.E. Sugden & Co., Ltd., the English firm named for a founder who has long since retired. "Sugden's," in fact, suggests that they were the first company to produce a solid-state class-A amplifier for domestic use their original A21 model, introduced in the 1960s. Today, alongside various preamplifiers and CD players, J.E. Sugden & Co. offers .....

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