CES & THE Show 2010 • Best of Show

Nagra's 300i integrated amp won't be available until later in the year, and its price hasn't been determined, but at CES such a soon-to-be product remains newsworthy. The 300i is a 300B-based 20Wpc push-pull integrated amp whose unique convection air-flow scheme keeps the output tubes cool. You feel very little heat when you put your hand above one of them. The 300i uses Nagra-wound output and power transformers. As is Nagra's way, there will also be a power-amp-only version.

The important information is how the 300i sounded driving Verity Audio Leonore speakers ($15,995/pair), with a Nagra CDC CD player ($16,750) as source and Nordost Valhalla cables connecting everything. Rather un-300B-like. There was no rich-but-syrupy midrange, no weak, flabby bass. The soundstage was filled with light and air, and vocals were firmly rooted in the middle of it all. There was treble and bass authority -- the interplay between the space portrayed and the musicians that occupied it having an uncanny realism. Verity touts the Leonore's 93dB sensitivity, and it seemed to pay off here, as sheer output was never an issue, even as we cranked the volume.

A simple gem of an audio system.

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