Sugden IA-4 amps

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by mrkrinkle, May 4, 2023.

  1. mrkrinkle

    mrkrinkle Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    I'm going to audition the a21se and IA-4 this weekend. Curious if anyone here was choosing between the two and decided on the a21se over the IA-4?
     
    Ivand likes this.
  2. P3ESRXD

    P3ESRXD Arnaud, still enjoying...with what I have

    Location:
    Montpellier France
    ;)
    your choice is done,
    with the title of this thread !

    Anyway, that would be my choice also as I'm very happy with the cheapest Sugden A21 Signature (not SE).
    Well, you will be fixed after your audition.

    As side note, I've read somewhere (sorry don't remember), MasterClass Sugden amps (and preamps) of choice are LA-4 + SPA-4
    if we can support the cost (about 10k Euros in "pack", here).

    For me one day maybe ...

    Side note two, the other components are not to be neglicted,
    speakers choice would be harder (my opinion).
     
  3. mrkrinkle

    mrkrinkle Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    Ha, sorry, messed up the title.

    Did you audition the others and choose the a21?
     
  4. mrkrinkle

    mrkrinkle Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    Related question--has anyone run either amp with KLH 5s?
     
  5. Ontheone

    Ontheone Poorly Understood Member

    Location:
    Indianapolis
    what speakers will be paired?
     
  6. mrkrinkle

    mrkrinkle Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    Either Harbeth P3 or KLH model 5s. At least for now--I'm eyeing other speakers. I love the 5s, but find them a touch bright, though I wonder if a Sugden would mellow them out.
     
    MC Rag likes this.
  7. Leao

    Leao Forum Resident

    You should not neglect to audition the Sugden A21 not” SE “as well. It is a wonderful integrated amp with a nice built in phono stage that has worked with all of my speakers including my Falcons. L3/5a’s
     
  8. mrkrinkle

    mrkrinkle Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    For sure. I've heard good things about it. Not sure if my local dealer has one on demo, though. Did you ever compare it to the others?
     
  9. Leao

    Leao Forum Resident

    Sorry, no. I ordered one with the help of Goldprint Audio without auditioning.
     
    Ntotrar, timind and GoldprintAudio like this.
  10. FuzzyNightmares

    FuzzyNightmares Forum Resident

    Location:
    Oregon
    I had the sugden a21se in house for a bit before ultimately going another direction. I have not heard an IA-4, but my understanding in all of the research and reading I did on Sugden units at the time was that the IA-4 was more in line with the sound signature of the A21, where the A21se had its own flavor. If I had to put cliché verbiage to the sound, it would be that classic class A warmth vs a bit more detailed with blacker blacks and punchier sound. Let us know what you think!
     
    jonwoody, Ivand and Ontheone like this.
  11. Ontheone

    Ontheone Poorly Understood Member

    Location:
    Indianapolis
    I had the exact same experience with the A21SE - warmth and drive but without exceptional detail, imaging, soundstaging, or 3D holographic presentation. I actually think it may pair better with the OP's speakers than my higher efficiency/higher impedance variety.
     
  12. mrkrinkle

    mrkrinkle Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    Thanks. When you say "classic class A warmth", do you mean the a21se or the IA-4? (That's the kind of sound I'm after, btw.). I'm guessing a21se, but just want to make sure. Thanks.
     
  13. mrkrinkle

    mrkrinkle Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    Do you mean when compared to the IA-4? Thanks.
     
  14. FuzzyNightmares

    FuzzyNightmares Forum Resident

    Location:
    Oregon
    I mean the ia-4 should be more similar to the a21 (not se) with that class a warmth sound, and the a21se has a different sound signature. Again, based on what I’ve heard from others, have only heard the a21se so no means of direct comparison for myself.
     
  15. mrkrinkle

    mrkrinkle Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    Got it. Thanks.
     
  16. Ontheone

    Ontheone Poorly Understood Member

    Location:
    Indianapolis
    I only have experience with A21SE. I suspect suspect that although it didn't have perfect synergy with my speakers that it (any Sugden amp) might with yours. Mine are warm to begin with and the Sugden just sorta piled on the warmth and lushness.
     
    timind likes this.
  17. mrkrinkle

    mrkrinkle Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    Yeah, I'm really curious to hear them with Harbeth for exactly that reason--wondering if all that lush midrange might be too much of a good thing in a single chain. (Also, my favorite carts are all warm.)
     
    Ontheone likes this.
  18. mrkrinkle

    mrkrinkle Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    Anyone own a sugden and the Marantz pm8006?
     
  19. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hong Kong
    I think whenever you make a comparison where one component is considerably more expensive to then open up your audition list at the higher-priced option.

    So the Sugden IA-4 is $11,000 and there are a LOT more higher-end options at $11,000 to be aware of.

    The Sugden A21 is a classic - and is the longest-selling integrated amplifier on the market (over 50 years). It is priced around $3,300

    While you can make a case that the A21SE is a good deal at that price - due to limited options - that is not the case at $11,000.

    Sugden amplifiers should be treated more like a Single Ended Tube amplifier as they lack power and are limited to tube-friendly speakers. And as good as Sugden is - I would still only buy them if you absolutely do not want a tube amp. And even then there are tube amps that auto-bias so when the tube dies - you just pull out and stick a new one in and that's it - good for another 10 years. For example, my Audio Note OTO Phono SE Integrated is such an amplifier. No messing about. And with a tube amp - you can adjust the sonic palette with different tube choices which can't be done with SS.
     
    Swann36 likes this.
  20. mrkrinkle

    mrkrinkle Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    The IA-4 is around $6500. I really like it but I'm leaning toward the a21se. The IA-4 seems more linear but I really love the lush midrange of the a21se. Really curious if anyone has compared it to the PM8006.
     
    GoldprintAudio likes this.
  21. GoldprintAudio

    GoldprintAudio Forum Resident

    Location:
    Lexington, NC
    IA4 is $6500 in the US...... and honestly work quite well with a wide variety of speakers.

    To the OP, the A21/A21SE/IA4 are 3 of my favorites pieces that I sell. To put it bluntly, I'm a huge fan of Sugden and feel that they are a huge value still in the US with sound quality and build quality in comparison to any other Class A options that are available.

    I'm also a Harbeth dealer. Both the 21SE and IA4 are fun options with your P3 (IMHO). I would listen to both at your dealer, and see if you have a preference. I would pick the IA4 as one of my all time favorite integrateds, but the 21SE is excellent as well, and an absolute bargain at it's $3750 price point.
     
    beverett, MC Rag, Ivand and 3 others like this.
  22. mrkrinkle

    mrkrinkle Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    Thanks. I've heard them with a number of speakers, including my p3s. Both gorgeous. I'm specifically curious if anyone chose the a21se over the IA-4, and why.
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2023
  23. ghasley

    ghasley Forum Resident

    I’ve owned both the IA4 and the OTO SE Signature and they are different amps for different speakers. Both have their strengths and their weaknesses. There is little that will compete with the OTO for the money with the right speakers. The IA4 is FAR more versatile and will drive a lot of different speakers that the OTO can’t and it has a beautiful but authoritative sweetness that is hard to beat. I also had a First Watt F8 and SIT-3 for comparison and I kept the IA4…but I prefer tubes so YMMV. Let’s face it, the OTO MAY be 6-8wpc before it starts to run out of gas but those 6-8 watts are pretty special tonally(I have a Jinro in my main system). I have an IA4 in my office system, the remote control volume is nice (although the volume comes on pretty strong very early on the dial with efficient speakers).
     
  24. mrkrinkle

    mrkrinkle Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    Thanks. I'm really stuck between the a21se and IA-4. Loved both, but my listening experience was very different. The a21se definitely pulled me in more because of the midrange, but the separation and clarity of the IA-4 were terrific. I worry I'd miss the a21se's midrange, which seems more lush than the IA-4.
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2023
    Ivand likes this.
  25. HIRES_FAN

    HIRES_FAN Forum Resident

    Your profile shows some great amps including the pm8006. On the other hand, your listed speakers seem a bit lackluster. You may be better off speaker shopping than amp shopping.

    If you are just curious/wanting to explore the class A topology, you could pick up some class A amps for dirt cheap on aliexpress that have a lot of 'similarity' ;) to the Sugden circuits. Later on, if you decide that the latter type of sound was well worth the higher cost (over your existing amps), you could start emptying the wallet then.
     

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