Every year, the Hi-Fi World Awards single out the audio products that have particularly impressed the magazine’s expert review team during the previous 12 months. Among their pick of the most outstanding products of 2015 is Icon Audio’s MB81, which takes the award for ‘Best Valve Amplifer’.
“If ever there was a distinctive-looking amplifier, then it’s the MB81,” writes Hi-Fi World in its 2015 Awards issue. It also comes with a bit of a personal back-story. After discovering a quantity of majestic ‘new old stock’ Russian GU81 transmitter valves (260 mm tall, 100 mm in diameter and weighing in at 1 kg), Icon Audio’s founder David Shaw began to work on a prototype amplifier that would achieve a long-held goal: to effectively drive any modern low-efficiency high-end speaker to realistic levels.
Consequently each MB81 can deliver 200 Watts into 8 Ohms without losing any of that triode magic. The valve complement is completed by a first stage 6SL7 and 6SN7 followed by two EL34 output drivers.
“If I’m completely honest,” says Shaw, “I’ve been building my own birthday present – and this is it!”.
“The result is a stunning sound which combines fine resolution with enthralling musicality,” writes Hi-Fi World. “This could be just about the most exciting and powerful push-pull triode amplifier you can buy”.
Be quick, though, as the MB81 has been created as a very special edition and will be sold in limited numbers.
Head over to Icon Audio’s website to find out more about the award-winning MB81 mono blocks.
Read full details of the Awards in the January 2016 issue of Hi-Fi World