Audiolab 8000Q / Audiolab 8000P – The Perfect Budget pre/power
A pre amplifier and power amplifier combo has always been something to aspire to in hi-fi. Pre/power combos generally offer much better performance than a single box amplifier as the separate components have been built to perform their function perfectly without cutting corners – as is often the case in single box models.
In a pre/power set-up, each unit has a dedicated power supply, dedicated circuitry and dedicated chassis (avoiding vibrations or noise caused by the other circuitry) allowing each to perform its function perfectly. Put simply, a pre amplifier prepares the “line level” signal from your source component (CD player, PC, tuner, etc) for further amplification, providing voltage gain (e.g. from 20 millivolts to 1 volt). The power amplifier takes this signal and provides the current needed to drive your speakers. A pre/power combo not only sounds better – it allows you the option of upgrading either the pre amplifier or power amplifier in future if desired, without changing the entire set-up.
Pre/power combos have traditionally been the preserve of the high end, with few budget alternatives to choose from and often budget options cut corners just to be a pre/power combo. In stark contrast, the Audiolab 8000Q pre amplifier and Audiolab 8000P power amplifier were designed by Audiolab utilising years of experience in making award winning amplifiers. These aren’t “budget” components – they come firmly from the mid-end stable, but because they are “end of line” and to make way for Audiolab’s new 8200 range (in which the pre and power are £699.95 each), the 8000Q and 8000P are now available at budget prices.
The Audiolab 8000Q is a simple, high quality, remote control pre amplifier, offering 6 inputs (including 3 tape loops – which can also be used for CD recorders or other recording devices). The 8000Q manages to achieve something rare in pre amplifiers under £1000 – neutrality. All signals are switched with audiophile signal relays and the volume control is a motorised potentiometer. The low impedance line amplifier is a miniature class A power amplifier with current mirror bias – which is also ideal for use with long interconnects to multiple power amplifiers. All things considered, the 8000Q is one of the finest pre amplifiers we’ve heard and this was at its original RRP of £600. Its now available for only £395 whilst stocks last (a pinch on the price of the new model Audiolab 8200Q at £699.95)
The Audiolab 8000P matches the 8000Q cosmetically, with identical width and height unit, simply devoid of the volume control and buttons. It delivers a massive 100W per channel (and a peak output of over 40 amps). This is of course a perfect match for the 8000P but can also be used to upgrade your existing integrated amplifier if it has “pre out” sockets, which bypass the power amplifier sections in your integrated amplifier and allow you to use it as a pre amplifier – although this will not offer the pure approach of matching the 8000P to the dedicated 8000P pre. With such power on tap, the 8000P is comfortably driving most speakers. It was a best selling stereo power amplifier at its RRP of £400 and is now a steal at £275.
Put together, the 8000P and 8000Q are a formidable combination that put most pre/power combos to shame and offer unbeatable value at only £670 for the pair