Audiolab 9000A Amplifier and 9000CDT CD Review

Audiolab 9000A Amplifier and 9000CDT CD Review

Audiolab 9000A Amplifier and 9000CDT CD Review

The English brand A audiolab is a rare example these days of commitment to a corporate philosophy and a recognizable sound signature of components. The eldest and most expensive series in the company’s history with the index 9000, which recently appeared on the market, was no exception.

At the moment, the series includes two models - the Audiolab 9000A integrated amplifier and the Audiolab 9000CDT CD transport. In this article we will talk in detail about each of them.

Audiolab 9000A Amplifier and 9000CDT CD Review

Audiolab 9000A

The Audiolab 9000A integrated amplifier currently occupies the top line in the proprietary hierarchy, its declared output power is 100 watts per channel into 8 ohms in class AB. It would seem that this is not so much, but experience with the company’s amplifiers suggests that dry numbers do not at all reflect the ease with which they cope with very capricious speaker systems.

The first thing you notice when you turn on the amplifier is the colorful 4.3-inch diagonal IPS display located on the left side of the front panel. It clearly displays information about the volume level, the input used, and the sampling rate of the digital signal entering the USB port. But the most important visual feature is, of course, the display of the output signal level in the form of channel-by-channel dial indicators! Balm for the soul of old hi-fi fans. In addition to the display, the front panel contains knobs for input selector, operating mode selection and volume control. Between them is a headphone output socket for a 6.35 mm jack, served by a separate specialized amplifier with current feedback.

The switching capabilities of the model are very wide - in addition to three linear inputs on RCA connectors, there is also a balanced input on XLR, as well as a separate input of the built-in phono stage. It supports moving magnet (MM) heads and is made with discrete JFET transistors. The Audiolab 9000A also provides a separate preamp output and a separate direct power amp input. This solution not only allows you to organize a bi-amping circuit, but also simplifies the integration of the model into a home theater system.

Digital inputs of the Audiolab 9000A are represented by a pair of optical and a pair of coaxial terminals, and there is also a USB-B port for connecting to a PC. The DAC section in the amplifier is made on the top-end ES9038Pro Saber chip from ESS Technology and is capable of receiving a PCM stream with a resolution of up to 32 bits / 768 kHz, as well as a native DSD512 stream. When connected via optical or coaxial, the resolution is limited to the PCM 24-bit / 192 kHz format. Full decoding and conversion of MQA files is claimed. Wireless capabilities include Bluetooth 5.1 connectivity with support for the aptX HD codec.

Audiolab 9000A Amplifier and 9000CDT CD Review

The amplifier's power supply is built on a large 320 VA toroidal transformer; the filter uses four capacitors of 15,000 μF each. The amplifier circuit was designed by Jan Ertner and uses a so-called CFB (Complementary Feedback) topology to make the quiescent current independent of the temperature of the output transistors. Particular attention is paid to the pre-amplifier section, which is not only reliably shielded from powerful circuits, but also features the shortest possible signal path, while all signals arriving at the linear inputs always remain analog. The device weighs 9.4 kilograms.

Audiolab 9000A Amplifier and 9000CDT CD Review

AudioLab 9000CDT

The company seems to have hit the nail on the head when it decided a few years ago to stop making full CD players and focus on making transports. The incredible success of the 6000 series predetermined that in all new lines of the company, the device for playing optical media will output the signal exclusively in digital form. In principle, there is logic in this decision. Firstly, today the vast majority of integrated amplifiers on the market are equipped with built-in DACs, and secondly, many audiophiles already have external digital-to-analog converters, and in addition, their supply on the market is very large. But go look for a new high-quality CD transport.

By eliminating the DAC unit in the Audiolab 9000CDT, the developers were able to focus on mechanical and digital quality. The transport mechanism is mounted on a solid aluminum base, while it is completely shielded from all other circuits and receives power from its own separate source. After reading data from the disk, it enters a separate buffer for error correction, and a precision clock generator also comes into play to ensure minimal jitter levels.

Like the amplifier, the front panel of the Audiolab 9000CDT features a 4.3-inch color display, but other than the tray eject button, the only controls are a rotary knob that can be used to pause and play playback, as well as navigate through tracks. . The digital signal in SPID/F format is output via coaxial and optical connectors. The device can also play content from an external drive connected to the USB-A port on the rear panel. Like the amplifier, the transport is controlled using a proprietary universal remote control. The weight of the component without packaging is 5.74 kg.


The sound of the Audiolab 9000CDT and Audiolab 9000A combination was evaluated as part of a system that included the Mission 700 and Mission ZX-1 speaker systems, as well as an Audiolab DC Block 6 surge filter, which effectively eliminates the DC component from the current coming from the mains. All connections were made using AudioQuest digital and speaker cables.

Let's listen

As already noted, in the top series the company’s developers remained true to their traditional sound style. Even with your eyes closed (well, almost) you could recognize that the system was running Audiolab components. But in comparison with the younger series, signs of a real High End appeared in the voice, namely, a clear articulation of not only the main, but also secondary parts of instruments, impeccable separation between their groups in the orchestra, almost exemplary - taking into account the acoustic systems used - control of the low-frequency range. The lightness of the gesture, spontaneity and lack of forced attack even in the heaviest genres produce a stunning impression. At the same time, the mentioned features of the corporate handwriting remained in place.

A slight emphasis on the lower mids - in the performance of components of the older series it is subtle, but still present - and the roundness of the upper mids make male vocals and classic rock bass lines especially expressive. True, violin works and classical wind instruments lose a little in timbre accuracy with such a presentation, but the drive and power of the rhythm section of Gamma Ray, Metallica and Black Sabbath are conveyed simply perfectly. And this is with absolutely precise separation and positioning of each part in the mix. This style allows you to listen at very high volumes to poorly recorded albums, of which, unfortunately, there are many in the collection of every music lover. So if you prefer the pleasure of dynamic and heavy genres to the contemplation of “breathing pauses,” then the new series from Audiolab is for you!


Type – CD transport | Name – Audiolab 9000CDT | Price, rubles – 89,900 | File format support – Redbook CD, MP3, WMA | Output impedance – 75 Ohm | Frequency response - 20 – 20,000 Hz | Outputs – optical, coaxial | Input – USB-A | Dimensions, mm – 444 x 89 x 322 | Weight, kg – 5.74 | TTX source

Type – integrated amplifier | Name – Audiolab 9000A | Price, rubles – 164,900 | Output impedance – 120 Ohms | Output power – 2 x 100 W at 8 ohms, 2 x 160 W at 4 ohms | Frequency range – 20 – 20,000 Hz | THD – 0.002% | Signal to noise ratio – 110 dB | Inputs – Analog RCA (4), Analog Phono (1), Analog XLR (1), Digital Optical (2), Digital Coaxial (2), Bluetooth 5.1 (aptX HD) | Outputs – analog RCA (pre-amplifier) ​​| Dimensions, mm – 444 x 89 x 342 | Weight, kg – 9.4 | TTX source

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