|The PA300 is a fully balanced dual-mono stereo power amplifier with twin 300-watt toroidal power transformers and no single-ended inputs, from a company that now operates out of Quincy, Massachusetts but originally hails from Europe where its principals designed and built high-power pro gear for more than a decade before which they were in the regulation and service business of nuclear reactors. Can you say "playing with fire"?
The amp's most vital specs include output power of 110/170wpc into 8/4ohms, bandwidth of 1.2Hz to 450kHz, channel separation and S/N ratio of 105dB, input sensitivity of 1 volt, net weight of 31 lbs and dimensions of 17.5" x 3.5" x 14.25'
WxHxD. It retails for $1,690 and carries a 5-year warranty.
Does this abrupt opening sound a mite business-like? That's in character. There is the amp's stolidly functional, no-bigger-than-necessary packaging with its comprehensively pro-arena features: Balanced inputs, balanced outputs for bi-amping or daisy-chaining, rear-mounted attenuators to optimally exploit preamp gain, manual/remote switch and con jack to use for sync'd power-up with the firm's P1 preamp, twin pairs of speaker terminals for discrete biwiring, front-facing peak and protect indicators for each channel. There's the equally no-nonsense nomenclature and square front panel lights. All spell getting down to business with a minimum of fuss, glitz or other extraneous and potentially expensive distractions. The company's online mission statement confirms this focus on the unvarnished essentials. Tell it as it is, for a fair price. One detects a faint undercurrent of disdain, for Hi-End's fascination with steep tariffs tied to personalized interpretations of aural truth.
This back-to-basics raison d'être also manifests in the way the PA300 handles music - exceedingly competent and matter-of-fact honest. One intuits that its particular design brief views the harmonically ripe image density of tubes as distortion. Accounting for this perspective, I banished my valve amps from sight and -- hopefully -- memory. I needed to assess the 300's performance on its own merits. My Bel Canto eVo 200.4 in 120-watt non-bridged mode would serve as my resident solid-state reference.
But first, a quick appeal to the visual sense, by taking the amp's physical measure front, aft and inside.
|The central square power indictor upfront is a pale shade of yellow-green, with the slightly beveled faceplate painted a matte silver to offset against the black silkscreen logo, nomenclature and indicator labels. The bent black sheet metal cover encloses the heatsinks with matching vents.
The business end sports the XLR i/o ports, a white rocker switch for manual/remote power-on (the latter available only with the matching preamp), another -- fused -- rocker mains switch with IEC inlet, the 1/4" communications port for BVaudio's P1, the two continuously variable trim pots above the line-level inputs and the four pairs of 5-way speaker terminals.
A look at the dual-mono guts reveals partitions that shield the toroids from the two vertical quad-fused motherboards that parallel the heatsinks to which are affixed four transistor output devices per channel. All flying leads hookup wires are neatly routed and tied off, mirroring the clean but not overdressed business attire of the exterior.
Comprehensive on-board safety includes activation delay, soft start, DC output protection and auto-disconnect during malfunctions, short-circuits or overheating - further indicators that the design team at BVaudio has worked in the professional sector where such low-maintenance features are de rigeur and High-end-typical fussiness ends up in a roadside dumpster.
This no-nonsense attitude even extends to power-up - the internal relays which confirm ready-to-rock status click on within just over one second. The red protect pilots extinguish and green for go lights up in the center. Vroom vroom. What aural neighborhood should my first serious stint take me into once a few weeks of cooking in the guest bedroom had paid proper obeisance to the break-in lords?
While the case on performance was still open, I did a quick pseudo Van Gogh on the trannies meaning no knife - the head followed. No hum whatever. The proverbial tombstone. I absolutely despise transformer hum which, as amps and power supplies get larger and more expensive, often ends up growing more obnoxious rather than fainter or non-existent altogether. Apparently I'm not the only one with little patience for lame excuses in this regard - from a noise perspective, the PA300 lives in a deep vacuum. Bravo. Time to grab the steering wheel in earnest.