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This review first appeared in the March 2011 issue of hi-end hifi magazine of Germany. You can also read this review of the MasterSound Evolution 845 in its original German version. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with the publishers. As is customary for our own reviews, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of fairaudio or MasterSound - Ed.

Reviewer: Ralph Werner
Sources: Analog – decks - Acoustic Solid MPX, VPI Scout II; tone arms - Phonotools Vivid Two, SME M2 12-inch, VPI JMW-9; pickups - Denon DL-103, Ortofon MC Rondo Bronce, ZU Audio DL-103; phono pre - SAC Gamma Sym; digital - SACD/CD Player - HIFIAkademie cdPlayer, Luxman D-05; Computer & Co - Logitech Squeezebox 3, Readynas Duo NAS-Server, HP Notebook; DAC- Benchmark DAC1 USB
Amplification: Pre - Octave HP300; power - Electrocompaniet AW180; integrated - Denon PMA-2010AE
Loudspeakers: Ascendo System F, Thiel SCS4
Various accessories, cables, racks and sundry
Review component retail
: starting from €10.550

Many may view Mastersound’s top integrated as poster child
for the passionate but irrational behavior which is common currency in certain high-end circles: To set up the amp requires more space than a standard rack offers. To move its 53 kilos will likely require a helping hand. Once you power it up, 540 watts of idle dissipation substitute for central heating. The Evolution 845 Reference is hot stuff on numerous levels including literally.

We’ve previously reviewed amps from Italian valve specialist Mastersound—two 300B machines, one EL34 and one KT88 variant—but something this colossal was news. Including its dark Walnut cheeks the Evolution 845 takes up 55cm in width and with knobs and connectors another half meter in depth for quite the footprint. To minimize domestic reactions German importer Rainer Israel thoughtfully arrived with BassoContinuo’s Italian amp stand in tow. Two backs also worked better than one.

That this beast doesn’t cause cosmetic shock is probably due the special Italian flair for style and the open architecture with valves on deck. A fully enclosed 50kg+ amp usually looks even fatter in the rack but those who need to protect toddler, dog and cat can always go with Mastersound’s optional tube cover. This I reckon will occur more rarely since the eye listens as well.

In casual slang one could call the Evolution 845 a SET amp on steroids since it does properly belong into this class of amps but puts rather more fighting watts on the scale than usual. The 845 transmitter triode is usually said to be good for roughly 20 watts so two per side in Italian math nets 50 watts RMS. Regardless of whether that’s a bit optimistic, it’s clearly more potent than what a lonely sweating 300Bs pushes out through its pores. The Evolution 845 is thus a SET which should manhandle more normal speakers and not just highly efficient ones.

The heavy Italian runs dual mono as already the bird’s eye view suggests. Here the two inner power transformer pots are simply spaced behind each other rather than side by side to save space. Input glass are two ECC802S, drivers for the paralleled 845s are octal 6SN7s. The review loaner was fitted with a somewhat unusual €380 upcharge 845. This is called Psvane 845K and characterized by a bigger glass envelope for better thermal behavior and claimed longer life. Psvane tubes are Shuguang’s 60th anniversary issue.