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This review first appeared in the April 2011 issue of hi-end hifi magazine of Germany. You can also read this review of the B.M.C. Audio AMP C1 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 B.M.C. Audio- Ed.

Reviewer: Martin Mertens
Sources: Analog - Thorens TD 160 HD with TP250 arm and Benz Micro MC Gold cart; digital - Creek CD 43 Mk II, Logitech Transporter
Amplification: Phono - Lehmann Black Cube SE II; integrated - Jadis Orchestra, Exposure 2010 S
Loudspeakers: Gaithain ME150
Cables: Low-level - Vampire CC; high-level - Fast Audio Compact 6M biwire
Review component retail: €3.898

Bull's Eye.
Now it stood there. When I first saw a photo of it I confess that I thought its central bull’s eye pretty swell. Behind B.M.C.’s AMP C1’s round window sit two power output indicators, between those a numerical volume readout and above that a confirmation of the selected input. This type of display I’d not come across before. Slick?

Staring at it in the flesh I was somewhat ambivalent. It did look a bit - er, macho. On the other hand it also reminded me of test gear, say a vintage oscilloscope with a central cathode ray gun monitor. Or perhaps an old-fashioned volt or ampere meter with scale adjustments on either side.

The two grand trim wheels here serve different purposes. The left one is the power mains. A short twist and things turn on with a fat plop. The numerical display begins a 10-second count down during which all supply voltages are ramped up. Then the amp is ready to go. The volume is automatically adjusted to ‘10’ for very modest output with standard efficiency speakers. A propos volume - that’s handled with the right control. But it doesn’t connect with a standard potentiometer's axle. The AMP C1’s attenuation occurs electronically via an array of transistors and resistors. The knob itself merely triggers selection impulses.

Between the central display as bracketed by the two sizable rotary switches sit two more small push buttons. The left one adjusts display brightness, the right clicks sequentially through three RCA and two XLR inputs. Input switching is accompanied by an elegant auto fade which attenuates the old source, then ramps up the new. This occurs rapidly enough to notice the effect but without becoming intrusive whilst flipping through multiple inputs in a row.

Noteworthy too is a quite massive remote wand of whose many controls only five are applicable – two to navigate the inputs in either direction, two for volume up/down and one for mute. The remainder controls the matching B.M.C. CD player and D/A converter. Around back one finds the expected six RCA sockets for the unbalanced inputs and four XLRs for the symmetrical ones. Aside from the speaker terminals and power inlet that’s it. I was nearly disappointed, not that more would be required in most cases. The real deal would be between the heat sinks of the aluminium enclosure.

Which won’t prevent a little criticism. The contrast between the red power needle and white scale is so weak as to become illegible from a short distance. And the display glass is actually plastic. Granted I’d not insist on sapphire glass but a scratch-resistant Lexan or equivalent would be nice. When the owner’s manual under the maintenance chapter warns us to pay particular attention to not scratch the window, my confidence takes a hit. Given the otherwise massive construction a more substantial display cover seems mandatory.