Audio-gd Precision 2 – Review
If you read my review of Audio Gd Master 9, you would know how much I love that product and how happy I am with it in my headphone sound system. After spending a lot of Saturdays at Jack and listening to a lot of speakers, I’ve caught the bug of wanting some speakers of my own, small speakers till I move to a bigger place, but nevertheless a good pair bookshelves of my own.
I already kind of knew what I wanted, a pair of Focal Aria 906. Well, if you want speakers, you need a speaker amplifier. When I have more space, I would certainly want a pair of big speakers, and I’ve been dreaming for some time now for a pair of Martin Logan Electromotion. The Electromotion needs quite a serious power amplifier, and even if Aria 906 aren’t demanding, I wanted to be future proof.
After searching for some amplifiers, I remembered that Audio-Gd has an affordable speaker amplifier that was released at the beginning of 2014 if I remember correctly. Looking at the specs, I found that this amplifier has some good horse power under the hood. Looking at the price and the specs made me “push the buy button”.
Build Quality & Specs
As with Master 9, the product looks far better in real life than in pictures. It’s built like a tank and it has the same shiny finish M9 has. Even if it has somewhat of a spartan look, I for one like it and I consider it’s build quality top notch and it’s design pleasing to the eye.
Precision 2 has some really interesting specs, specs that is hard to find in much more expensive amplifiers. You can find them in detail on the audio gd spec page, on the Technology Detail page and on the Summary page.
Let’s list some of them :
- S/N Ratio > 115DB
- THD ( Test by 0DBV output) < 0.0015 %
- Output for speakers : 100W @ 8ohm and 180W @ 4ohm
- It does have a headphone output and it has some whopping power outputs :
- 22W @ 25 ohm
- 16W @ 40 ohm
- 7000mW @ 100 ohm
- 2300mW @ 300 ohm
- 1150mW @ 600 ohm
- Channel cross: < -140DB
- Dimensions: 435MM ( W ) * 380MM(D) * 143MM (H) ( Fully aluminium with feet)
- Fully discrete design, Non- feedback ACSS analog amps
- The gain stages and pre-driver stages working in class A, built with discrete analog stages without any OPA and coupling caps in the signal channels.
- The Diamond Cross Non-feedback output stages design can avoid “switch distortion”, rivaling class A amps.
- Separate two channel 80 steps digitally controlled relay-based volume control avoids channel imbalance, channel cross and improves sound quality .
- 5 analog inputs: RCA X3, ACSS X1 , preamp bypass input X1
- Applies 12 pcs transistors ( 150W / 15A / pc). Supports 100W X2 (8 Ohms) output or 16W X2 (40 Ohms).
- The capacitance of the whole machine reaches as high as 100,000 uF, 900W transformers.
- Applies all audiophile grade components, including DALE resistors, WIMA caps, custom order NOVER (UK brand) caps.
- A total of 4 groups of high-quality class A parallel connection PSU power supplies for the gain stages. To achieve high S/N, the control circuit is powered with separate regulators.
- Between the transformers and signal amps resides a thick metal board to avoid disturbance.
I’ve rarely seen such specs in amplifiers even 3 times more expensive. The SN ratio and channel cross are really, really good for a speaker amplifier.
Another surprise came from the headphone output, which was a really awesome surprise.
The build quality of the unit is incredible inside as well. Besides the high quality components used, the design is very clean and incredibly well put together.
The two transformers are huge, but they are very well caught with thick screws. Everything was very well soldered and the unit was very stable, making it easy for me to flip it and take the above picture.
Precision 2 is considerably taller than Master 9 and quite heavier (24 kg compared to 16 kg ) . I must say that my back hurts from moving it around for test purposes and pictures.
Tests and Listening Impressions
Although I have tested this amplifier both on the speaker output with Aria 906 and on headphone output and I will write about my experience in both situations, I will write more about the headphone output and how it compares to Master 9 for the moment. Why am I doing this? Well, even though I have tested it with Focal Aria 906, I still want to hear how it behaves on more speakers, eventually, on some that are more demanding.
I was really impressed by the output power this amplifier has on the headphone output and it really made me curious about how it sounds on it. Added the fact that it has 100 000 uF, it should be interesting as well, as I expect deeper and more present bass than on M9.
As I said before, Precision 2 has some really nice specs. I was curios if the specs are the same for the headphone output and Kingwa answered me that it has even better specs than listed on the website, because the headphones have higher impedance and that means less distortion, better linearity, etc.
The headphone output is not full class A as M9 is, but the first 1.5W in 25 ohms are full class A, then it switches to AB. My guess is that you will listen to your headphones in full class A most of the time, as it’s hard to get pass 1.5W.
I used the headphones on the low gain settings, as on the high gain I couldn’t get past 7 (of 80) .
The first thing that I noticed was that I was brought a few rows closer to the stage and the drum was deeper. Hugh’s voice was a little warmer and had more body. The details were very good and the guitars sparkly and extended. M9 has a wider soundstage and overall more details and better transparency. Hugh’s voice is better textured on M9 but not as full as on Precision 2.
The details on Precision 2 even if not as good as M9 still are very very good. The guitars are sparkly and tickle your ears with their attack. The voices have a very good presence and extension.
The extension and the body of the drums are very deep and shows very good bass and sub bass. The plucks of the guitars are strong and begin with imposing attack. I don’t know if I ever heard such bass from HD800 until now.
The body of the guitar is amazing with HD800. I’ve never heard them to be so full bodied. The energy of this song made me tap and dance along with it. I just loved the main full guitars and the ones in the back that had very noticeable plucks and extension as well.
The drums from the beginning were very addictive with their pace, punch and extension, even if not as fast or detailed as on M9. The voices have amazing presence and are very well textured making the song extremely enjoyable.
This song showed that Precision 2 can rock on classical music too. The soundstage was big, the instrument separation was very good making the presentation airy and very pleasant. The instruments were around you when you closed your eyes, detailed, present and naturally textured.
The bass is excellent. It has very good presence showing excellent extension and sub bass. It packs an energetic punch and has good control over it. With headphones, this throws the sound more on the warm sound, but still natural and very pleasant to the ears. The interesting fact here is that this didn’t extend with speakers too, as I found it to be quite neutral on the speaker outputs but still on the warm side of course. On headphones this is the best bass I’ve ever heard.
The mids are rich and full, backed by the well extended bass. The instruments sound natural, well textured, detailed and showing very good extension.
The treble is not as detailed as on M9 but it is still sparkly and well extended. I find the treble to very very natural and very pleasant to the ear.
The voices are very nicely and naturally textured with full extension and good detail. Their presence is amazing, especially male voices, but the female vocals are very well extended as well. The voices have more presence and on some occasions are more emotional than on M9 even if not as detailed and textured.
The sound was very clean and showed very good transparency, as I expected from the specs. M9 wins here too, but Precision 2 still is one of the most transparent headphone amps I have heard.
The transients are very good and a little different than on M9. The attack is powerful here too, even a little more powerful on some occasions, but the decay lingers a bit longer than on Master 9. Precision 2 still is an energetic and fast amplifier, but not as fast as the it’s smaller brother. This makes the sound more romantic on some occasions. Actually there were times when I liked them more than on M9, as for example the guitars have a fuller body, better attack and more presence on some songs.
Details & Dynamics
Precision 2 still makes you feel the instruments and the whole song through many things, but through details & dynamics too. You can hear and feel the instruments in the back as every sound is lively and very extended.
As I said before, Precision 2 is on the warm side. This is not a typical warm sound as the bass even if it’s very present and deep it’s still very controlled and fast when it has to be. It doesn’t invade the other frequencies and the sound is still fast, transparent and detailed when it has too. I would go further and say that Precision 2 is very natural sounding as the instruments and voices have an excellent texture that makes it more romantic and emotional sounding.
I love how this amplifier sounds on all types of music from rock to classical. On classical music I love the details it brings to the song, the natural texture that make the instruments vibrate lively right next to you. On rock I love the heavy bass, the guitars, the deep , the punchy drums combined with well extended and present voices.
Compared to Master 9
The headphone output on Precision 2 was a really nice surprise. I didn’t expect this level of performance from it in the headphone section. I still like M9 better, as it remains the most transparent amplifier I have ever heard. M9 still has more details, better speed, a bigger soundstage, better extended treble and faster transients.
Master 9 also has a wider dynamic range and you can hear that for example on the Credo song when Mercedes Sosa highers the voice to a powerful volume, Master 9 was capable of showing its power a little better.
Master 9 also sounds different from it’s bigger brother as, Precision 2 has a more forward sound, putting you a little closer to the scene and this takes a little away from the soundstage and holography that M9 has. However, Precision 2 is not far from M9 in these regions either and shows very good performance in all sections too.
With headphones, it also falls more into the warmer side compared to M9 which still keeps the sound on the neutral side, even if on the warmer part of neutral. Don’t get me wrong, as I said above, Precision 2 has a very natural sound and even if it is on the warm side, it still has very good details, controlled bass, good dynamics to make it sound great on any type of music from rock to classical.
These 2 amplifiers sound different from one another and it could also be a matter of taste between them, as I found myself liking one above the other on some songs. Precision 2 sounds fuller, somewhat a little more intimate with excellent details on lower midrange and bass. It has the best bass I’ve ever heard on a headphone amplifier.
As a speaker amplifier with Aria 906
I found out that with speakers, Precision 2 was actually more on the neutral side, and did not keep the warm signature it had on the headphones output. Aria 906 was no match for Precision 2 power wise, as I use less than 10% of it’s power to make them sing. Actually at 10% it’s a little too loud.
Having heard the 906 with more amplifiers, I must say that Precision 2 is one of the best pairing I’ve heard with them until now. It made them fast, added kick power, details, energy and dynamics, keeping the refined signature Aria has.
Another thing that impressed me is the clean, transparent sound that Precision 2 is capable of on the speaker output.It actually reminded me of the first reaction and impression that Master 9 gave me when I’ve heard it for the first time.
Another thing that grabbed my attention was the energy and attack power that Aria got with Precision 2. Aria usually has a refined sound signature and it was a little shy when it came to energy and liveliness.
Don’t get me wrong, it had a very nice sound signature overall, but wanted a little more punch and energy with them and I must say that I got them with this amplifier. The attack has more explosion and decays are faster leading to a faster and more energetic sound.
The voices on 906 were great and emotional with great presence, texture and detail. At one moment I got startled as I heard a voice in the room with me so clearly that I thought there was someone else present. It was just the beginning of a song with a voice that started quietly before the instruments.
I loved the instruments on Aria too, as all guitars and all instruments in general showed great spark, extension and energy.
As I said before, I am going to test it with more speakers and more demanding ones for that matter and see how it behaves, but I have a feeling that it will be great as with Aria 906, because it showed the same qualities Master 9 used to amaze me with, qualities like: very clean and transparent sound, excellent details & dynamics, excellent bass with good control, detail and marvelous extension, natural sound signature, good soundstage and instrument separation.
I have also tested it with Martin Logan Electromotion, Martin Logan Theos, Piega Premium 3, Piega Premium 5.2 and it worked great with almost all of them, except the Premium 5.2 which were kind of lifeless and harsh on Precision 2, a pain to listen to.
With the others it actually did a great job and it really shined with Premium 3 which were incredible transparent, dynamic and fun with Precision 2. You can read more about this match right here.
I was quite surprised when I’ve seen that it wasn’t good for it’s bigger brother, the 5.2. Even with the latter, after some cable tweaking and adding an ifi iTube buffer before it, it was ok, but wouldn’t be my first pick.
As expected the Precision 2 is a great product and I consider it to be an excellent acquisition. The surprise was the headphone amplifier which amazed me, considering this is a speaker amp first.
It’s not quite in the same league with M9, as it doesn’t have the same transparency, details and it’s not as fast, but it’s still very good and not far from Master 9. It actually is the second best headphone amplifier I’ve heard after Master 9 . It also sounds different and adds more emotion to the song and in the end it can be just a matter of taste, considering the difference between the two is not that big.
Ok, let’s forget that Precision 2 is a speaker amplifier for the moment, and a great speaker amplifier from what I’ve seen until now. So we would have a 1000 $ headphone amplifier. I don’t know any other headphone amplifier at that price to beat it for that matter, if you get my point. Adding the very good speaker amplifier, it makes this product to have one of the best perfomance / price ratio I’ve ever seen in this market.
You want a great speaker amp and a great headphone amp and don’t have money for both? Well, Precision 2 will solve your problem with one shot.
It was a great match for both HD800 and LCD-X. With HD800 it was a delight. I never heard so much bass from HD800 and such natural sound. It also tamed the treble without taking from the sparkle and the extension.
I highly recommend this product.
- Great build quality and finish. It’s built like a tank
- Remote control
- Has a lot of rca inputs
- One input that has a pre-amp bypass and you can use it as power amp
- Excellent deep bass with good control and punch
- Rich, emotional and detailed mids
- Natural voices with great extension, presence and textures
- Very natural treble with good extension and sparkle
- Natural sound signature
- Very good details and dynamics
- Good soundstage and instrument separation
- Very clean sound showing very good transparency
- Very good transients with exploding attack and romantic decay
- Excellent headphone output
- Excellent performance/price ratio
- The headphone output is more on the warm side and this could be seen as a minus (but it still is very natural sounding from my perspective)
- If you forget the amplifier on the power amp input when you turn it off, you will get a “pop” sound in the speakers
- Very susceptible to humming on the power amp inputs