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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 Audiomat Arpège Reference 10 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 Audiomat- Ed.

Reviewer: Jochen Reinecke
Source: Digital - Marantz SA 7001 CD/SACD, Yamaha CD-S 1000 – analog - Pro-Ject Xpression III with Ortofon OM 30 Super
Amplification: Funk LAP-2 preamp, Myryad MXA 2150 power amp, Yamaha A-S2000, Harman Kardon hk670, Trends Audio TA-10.2 SE, Yarland FV-34C III, Miniwatt M1
Loudspeakers: Nubert nuBox 681, Nubert nuBox 101 with AW 441 subwoofer, PSB Synchrony One, DIY widebander in transmission line (F120A)
Cables: AVI Deep Blue interconnect, Kimber 4 VS LS speaker cable
Review component retail: €2.950

From a good house
: First, congratulations are in order. This year the Gallic electronics firm Audiomat celebrates their 25th year in business, with Denis and Norbert Clarisse having founded the operation in 1986 by launching an OTL valve amp, i.e. one without output transformer. At a leisurely clip subsequent years saw the development and production of three different component categories – amplification, phono stages and D/A converters. Time in the South of France must flow more slowly as Audiomat practices the luxury of not flooding the market twice a year with only faux-novel Mark whatevers. Instead their press statement declares proudly that each of their amps is assembled front to back by just one person’s hand. Despite such low-volume production their machines start at moderate pricing. The French portfolio currently offers four valve integrateds, one pre- and power amp each, four DACs and two phono stages. With their integrateds today’s Arpège Reference 10 constitutes the entry model. Above it sit the Aria (five inputs, 30wpc in class A, €4.650); the Opera Reference (5969 driver, biwire option, €6.100) and the Recital MkII which offers 80 watts per side in class A but also leaves a fat €10.900 wad with your bookie so back to the Arpège.

Look & feel: Right after unpacking it’s clear that the Audiomat Arpège is real eye candy. It had been a while that my rack would host so attractive an amp. With valve variants one usually encounters one of two basic concepts – bling or understatement. Bling parks the glowing bits on deck like phallus symbols, the more, thicker and longer the better. Understatement parks them underground to sweat out of sight. Audiomat opted for a fetching compromise between these options.

Though the amp is a closed box it arrives with a dark-tinted translucent front panel. The black box of daytime use turns glow worm during twilight when the metacrylate lets valve emissions pass. That fascia is nicely orderly with merely a hard power mains, a—sigh—blue power LED, a smooth Alps pot and a confidence-inspiring source clicker. Fini.

Similar minimalism occurs around back with four gold-plated RCA inputs, two fixed outputs and 4/8Ω speaker terminals. A color-coded screw marks proper power polarity of the IEC. The Arpège dumps 25kg of fighting weight on the scale and instead of the usual four plastic footers the French opted for three pointy ones. To prevent scratches three receiver discs are included. I really fancied this solution for aesthetics and bomb-proof stability.