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Judging the sound of the A30 in my resident system, one could easily reach the conclusion that the gravity point of the timbre was placed a bit higher and similar in fact to the Luxman L-550 II mentioned earlier. Hence the midrange and transition to the treble were emphasized. This resulted in a fresh and for a tube amp quite open sound. To some extent it was similar also to the Fountek Altitute 3500. While completely different designs—and in absolute terms the Pure Sound was superior—it still was a similar approach and the A30 amplifier did not reach very deep into the bass. The lowest sounds were more suggested than fully reproduced. This really was no blame when all tube amps in this price range perform like it. To the end of its reach, the bass was dynamic and quick however.

There were some traces of warmth but only in triode mode. Ultralinear had better bass control, more differentiated timbre but some of the midrange velvet disappeared. Everyone has to listen personally to ascertain which mode better suits their requirements. I was surprised to prefer UL. It gave me a more resolved sound without the pleasant smudging of triode which overlaid space with a kind of film. To me, UL was more natural and neutral, more dynamic and open. It also was more linear but had one more important asset – a well-maintained rhythm. Although this machine won’t surprise us with outstanding resolution or incredible timbre—though it assuredly isn't bad—we surely won’t fall asleep while listening. Large big band dynamics on Free Spirits with Chris Connor as vocalist were reproduced really well in fact. The amplifier drove my Harpia Acoustics Dobermann speakers with ease and only the lack of lower bass conveyed that this wasn't a very powerful amplifier.

Strong beats from Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Kings of Leon’s Only By The Night confirming good dynamics and significant current reserves. Dynamic interludes of snare drums and kettle drums from the Avatar soundtrack or the incredibly demanding voices on Scherzi Musicali performed by La Veneziana under Claudio Monteverdi were sustained until almost the very where most solid-state amplifiers capitulate into unidentified pulp. The A30 still sounded clean and nice, compressing dynamics a little—in the end it is only 30 watts—but without larger consequences relative to the musical experience.

The timbre of the A30 was well balanced. In general the gravity point shifted upwards a bit but not to the extent of brightness. To be clear, this is still a tube amplifier with the characteristic varnish generally generated by low-power triodes but here disciplined by the speed and dynamics of the 6550C tetrodes.

This was nicely shown on the Kazumi Watanabe disc which mostly just features the guitar amplifier of the leader and Hiruyoki Noritake on upright bass. This is a contemporary recording with microphones quite close on the instruments, in a dry room with superimposed reverb and a full-range spectrum slightly boosted in the lower midrange. Although the Pure Sound did not get into the subtleties of showing the ideal positions of both instruments—-this I did not expect as it is the domain of far more expensive machines—the important thing was that the lesser handling of the bass did not influence the midrange where Watanabe’s guitar remained warm, close and intimate. The cymbals retained good attacks and strong and dynamic follow through. They weren’t ultimately saturated or resolved but we have to remember the low price of the A30. So this should not disturb much especially when aided and abetted by a source with a full analog sound or a real turntable.

One could carry on in style for a long time without catching this amplifier up with any missteps. You won’t hear anything wrong that wouldn’t be commensurate with the sticker. This is a very even sound. The amplifier will drive most loudspeakers in its price range and above especially in ultralinear mode and not show signs of strain. Perhaps this is not a device for chasers and newbies but audio combines a very broad range of needs and expectations. With a quality source and decent loudspeakers, all will be fine. Again, the A30 won’t surprise us with stunts and performs just as it should. This I value very highly. While it does not supply us with a shot of high adrenaline, it grounds us in reality with a true description of the real world. I can thus recommend the A30 with a clean conscience.

Description: The Pure Sound A30 is a Chinese tube integrated amplifier made for a British company. It looks like a classic integrated with exposed tubes on deck and encased transformers in the back. But some elements stand out from the crowd. There are the octal tubes in the input and driver stages—6N9P and 6N8P respectively—and sufficient space between them on a metal base. There also is tube rectification in dual mono via Chinese 5Z3P. The circuit itself isn’t fully dual-mono with only one power transformer whose separate windings supply each channel. The profile is very attractive. Finally we have a product from the country of the Great Wall with nice knobs in satin silver which we usually don’t associate. The chassis itself is black which nicely sets off the three silver controls (power, volume, inputs) on their thick aluminum fascia with a blue power LED. Around back there are only three inputs—hence no pre out or tape out to use with a headphone amp or subwoofer—and 4/8Ω speaker outputs on quality gold-plated sockets as also used by Rotel, Audiomatus and Canor.

The entire circuit is mounted on one solid PCB. From the inputs on the back the signal travels on a long flying lead to a very good mechanical selector placed near the front panel,  then to a Blue Velvet Alps potentiometer and then to the input tubes on the circuit board. The potentiometer has no motor, hence no remote control. The passive parts are quality, with high-power carbon resistors, polypropylene SRC coupling caps and such. The ceramic tube sockets with gold contacts are soldered straight to the PCB where we also encounter a large choke for the input tubes where rectification is handled by common solid-state diodes. The output and mains transformers are of the classic EI type. The power transformer has separate channel windings for the preamplifier and output stage, tube heaters and driver tubes. The whole thing looks well assembled and strong.

The  British company Border Patrol offers an upgrade for the A30, which places the power supply in a separate chassis. The rectifier tubes disappear from the main unit and are transferred to the power supply enclosure. A test of such a set can be found here.

Technical data according to the manufacturer:

Output power: UL - 2 x 30W, T – 2 x 18W (8Ω)
Output terminals: 4 & 8Ω
Damping factor: UL=7, T=5.7 (8Ω)
Frequency response: 13Hz – 60kHz (-1dB)
THD: 0.1%
S/N: 89dB
Input impedance: 100kΩ
Input sensitivity: 500mV (for full power)
Dimensions (WxDxH): 435 x 350 x 200mm

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