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Wyred 4 Sound STI-500 v2 Integrated Amplifier James Duncan – Product Reviewer The Wyred 4 Sound STI-500 v2 (RRP £2,499.00 at time of review) is a dual mono designed integrated amplifier with enough power on tap to drive just about any loudspeaker out there. Reading the ‘About’ section from the manufacturer’s website; “…...a passion for great sound, an obsession for quality and a willingness to work long hours to get the job done right” I much prefer reading narratives like this, that just get straight to the point and tell you exactly what the company is about at a level we can all relate to. As an enthusiast and avid listener of music, this is the sort of thing I want to hear. Does it translate in reality; do we have great sound? Read on… First Impressions and Setup Out of the box, I won’t skip over the elephant in the room. This amplifier will not at an aesthetic level please everyone. Like marmite, I suspect, you will likely either love it, or hate it. It is however well built and does feel solid enough as you position it on the equipment rack. There is also a nifty little remote control in a matt black finish. While not a luxury remote, it does cover off the basic controls you’d expect to find. Setting up the amplifier is straight forward enough with good quality binding posts and inputs for RCA/XLR. The layout on the front is basic with a very small digital display, so small that from even a relatively close distance is hard to read and from my sitting position impossible, rendering it a bit pointless. You can however alter the brightness and even have it completely off which is where I left it. This is a dual mono designed amplifier providing 250w into 8 ohms and 430w into 4 ohms, so it should drive most loudspeakers out there with ease Moving on to some of the design features of this amp, the volume control is a true-resistive ladder type that offers truer linearity and according to the instructions manual offers superior sonic quality. The line-stage within doubles as an unbalanced to balanced converter which will give you a balanced signal from an unbalanced input. User interface is clear when close to the unit with VFD display and optical rotary encoder. Allowing input naming and HT Bypass for use within a Home Cinema set up, a feature I have used in the past when combing 2ch with Multi-Channel. For more on the technical side you can wing your way over to the manufacturers site here; https://wyred4sound.com/products/integrated-amps/sti-v2-series Sound According to the manufacturer this unit takes some 300 hours to run in. I have to say I read this with some delight as my first impressions were not that great out of the box, sounding harsh in the upper frequencies especially when driven hard. So I left it playing some Electronica for a few days before I sat down and really started to listen. Staying with Electronica then, I started my critical listening with Jon Hopkins – Immunity and track ‘Open Eye Signal’ and I have to say the amp handled the bass and complexity of the track very well indeed. I’ve used this track a lot to test bass performance, mostly with headphones as I tend to listen to this type of music on the move rather than at home in front of my main system. This amplifier reminded me of my previous amps by Plinius, really taking a grip of the track and delivering a powerful and very much in your face presentation. Moving on to Moderat and track ‘A New Error’, again I was stunned at the control this amp provided, with plenty of power on hand, my toes were tapping away as the heavy bass in this track kicked in. Again if your speakers lack in bass, this track will throw a spotlight on it for sure. However, in this case the amp did not fail in relaying the powerful bone crushing bass lines to be had here (I had to open one of the doors in my lounge as the bass was causing it to rattle in its frame). Within a short period, I was appreciating how this amp loves bass and seemed to handle complexity well also. Suitably geared up from my positive experience with Electronica, time to try some of my recent finds by way of Kaleo – A.B and track ‘Way Down We Go’, starting with some nice soft vocals and piano, then a burst of bass as the track builds up. The Wyred 4 Sound again had my toes tapping away and I just sat back and got absorbed into the track. Next up – Pinegrove, just love the whole album called ‘Cardinal’. Again I was able to just sit back and be taken away by the music. I think this is a good sign in that adding this amp to my system did not detract from my enjoyment of my favourite recordings, so much kudos was due at this point. However, it’s not all so plain sailing, throwing on some of my favourite Jazz tracks – Diana Krall, A Night in Paris and track ‘A Case of You’, I just was not able to feel as connected to this track as I have been with my own amp. To confirm this, I also tried Patricia Barber and album Café Blue which has bags of emotion in this well compiled track listing. However, to be fair to the ST500, I have a significantly more expensive tube amplifier which gives a very different presentation and arguably a better suited amp for this kind of music. Summary This is an amplifier that will appeal to a lot of people. It’s not budget by any means, but it does deliver a lot of bang for your buck. It will drive just about any loudspeaker out there with ease, taking a good grip of your recordings that really make sure you pay attention. I can’t fault it for its ability to handle complexity and eek out another octave of bass that other amps at this price point can’t touch. Not the last word in refinement however and if Jazz is your bag, you may want to audition others. Overall a great amp for the money and very competitive at this price point indeed. Equipment Used The system used in the review is comprised of: - Auralic Aries Lightning Streaming bridge - Lindemann Musicbook: 10 DAC - Audio Physic Codex Loudspeakers - ISOL-8 Substation Integra Power Conditioner – Less Loss Firewall 5X (two of) and Studio Connections Reference cables. A REALREVIEW by James Duncan For further information on this review or if you would like a REALREVIEW on any of your products please contact the content team on firstname.lastname@example.org