We know French Elipson for their loudspeakers. We’ve tested a few of them, from the cheap Prestige Facet 6B to the more luxurious Legacy 3210, but the company, which has more than 80 years of hi-fi experience, also makes electronics.
The Elipson A2700 is a power amplifier of no-nonsense design. Although it never gets completely minimalist when it comes from Elipson. The amplifier is a relatively low unit in 43 cm standard width. The front is in grey metal – and one centimetre thick. But for a price at the top end of the premium segment, you can also afford to expect a little luxury. In fact, it wouldn’t matter if the design had been a bit more gaudy!
There is only one button on the front, to turn on the amplifier. And to make sure you can find it even in the dark, the button is recessed in a large “funnel” on the front panel. Whether that’s cheeky or cheesy is a matter of taste – but it certainly looks very French!
One thousand four hundred
The amplifier is surprisingly compact and lightweight. The power, however, is in the absolute heavyweight class: 2 x 400 watts into 8 ohms, 710 watts into 4 ohms. And a fearsome 1400 watts into 8 ohms if bridged as a mono amp. That sort of thing can only be done in Class D, when it has to be done in a cabinet as small as a mid-range CD player!
On the back you’ll find balanced XLR inputs alongside a set of RCA sockets. Two tiny DIP switches allow you to select between the inputs as well as bridge the amplifier. If you prefer to mount your equipment in a professional 19-inch rack, mounting brackets in matching design are available.
As a pure power amp, the setup is super-simple, consisting of connecting the A2700 to the preamp and speakers respectively. Elipson has a matching preamp, the P1, which we have also reviewed. But the amp can of course be used with any preamp or DAC with volume control.
With over 700 watts per channel available into 4 ohms, which is the impedance of my SB Acoustics ARA, it seems like total overkill. Especially since the speakers can only handle 60 watts. However, it’s more about control than playing thunderously loud.
The sound of the Elipson A2700
When I put the first tracks on during the test of the Elipson A2700, I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed. True to tradition, I started with the test classic “I’m Confessin'” from Jazz at the Pawnshop. And it certainly sounded pleasant and atmospheric. And there was no problem keeping up with the small talk at the tables and the clinking of glasses in the jazz bar. But it was no better than I’m used to from the half-priced NAD C 298.
As the listening progressed and newer recordings came onto the player, however, it became apparent that the problem might not be the amplifier, but the source material. Indeed, the Elipson manages to grow with the job. But it adds nothing to the recordings, nor does it embellish them.
A track like “Three Wishes” from Rogers Waters’ Amused to Death reveals more of what the Elipson A2700 is capable of. I’ve rarely experienced the track’s manipulated soundscapes move so far out beyond the speakers. The same happens on “Fishing Junks at Sunset” from Jean-Michel Jarre’s Concerts in China. The live recording of a large Chinese orchestra suddenly opens up a space that is both loud and wide, and that extends far beyond the walls of the room.
Excess and overview
But music isn’t all acoustic quirks. With slightly heavier material, such as Disturbed’s cover version of “The Sound of Silence,” Elipson shows it can maintain an overview when the dynamics are unleashed. I’ve long used this track as a stress test, because the combination of vocals and orchestral crescendo is demanding enough to make most amps and speakers lose their breath. And even on better equipment, the Spanish guitar tends to drown in the sea of sound. But that doesn’t happen here.
The most impressive thing about the Elipson A2700, however, is the dynamics in the bass range. The amplifier manages to kick life into the speakers in a completely different way than the NAD C 298, which with its 2 x 340 watts into 4 ohms is by no means weak.
The drumbeats in Sorten Muld’s “Balladen om Iver og Bushke” hit with a physical power that I didn’t think was possible from a 6.5-inch bass/midrange unit in a compact cabinet. And it’s not just about power, but about control. And whether the amplifier can deliver five or ten times more, respectively, than the speaker can handle should in principle be irrelevant. But it has power – and that makes a difference.
In fact, I haven’t had anything this violent attached to my speakers since I tested the Emotiva XPA-DR2. The two sound very different, and the Elipson A2700 plays with more finesse and a bigger soundstage. But the American class AB giant has a somewhat warmer sound.
If you’re on the lookout for a capable power amp at the top end of the premium class, the Elipson A2700 is a really relevant proposition. It’s decidedly neutral and won’t do anything to embellish your favourite tracks. But if the recording quality is top notch, they’ll be conveyed with brilliance.
The fierce output power means that you can drive even the heaviest speakers effortlessly. And it’ll do so with dramatic dynamics. That sort of thing costs, but the price is fully justified.