S.A. Lab Blackbird: Elevating Audio Excellence

Introduction

In the world of audio enthusiasts, high-quality sound amplification is a crucial element in achieving an immersive and captivating listening experience. The S.A. Lab Blackbird amplifier is a remarkable addition to the lineup of amplifiers from Sound Analysis Laboratory, known for their exceptional craftsmanship and audio performance. With its unique blend of cutting-edge circuitry and affordability, the Blackbird sets a new standard for entry-level amplifiers.

The significance of a reliable and powerful amplifier cannot be overstated. It serves as the backbone of any audio system, providing the necessary amplification to drive speakers and reproduce music with accuracy and precision. Whether you are a casual listener or an avid audiophile, having an amplifier that can faithfully reproduce the intricacies of your favorite tracks is paramount.

Now, let us delve into the world of the S.A. Lab Blackbird amplifier, exploring its technical specifications, design and construction, functionality, sound characteristics, performance, advantages, value for money, and ultimately, our conclusion on this exceptional piece of audio equipment.

Technical Specifications

The S.A. Lab Blackbird amplifier is a powerful and versatile tube amplifier that offers impressive technical specifications. With a power output of 125 watts, this amplifier is capable of delivering robust and dynamic sound performance.

The Blackbird operates in triode Class A mode, utilizing a three-stage circuit with a dual triode 6072 for the input and driver stages, along with four pentode 6Ф6 tubes for the output stage. This combination of high-quality NOS tubes ensures exceptional audio quality and reliability.

In terms of sound quality, the Blackbird boasts an impressive signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) of 96 dB, allowing for clear and detailed audio reproduction. Additionally, it has a low total harmonic distortion (THD) rating of just 0.6%, ensuring minimal distortion and accurate sound reproduction.

This amplifier offers various inputs and outputs to accommodate different audio sources. It supports two channels of amplification, allowing for stereo playback. The Blackbird also includes connections for two pairs of speakers, providing flexibility in speaker configuration.

In terms of compatibility, the Blackbird supports a wide range of audio formats, making it suitable for various music sources. Whether you prefer vinyl records or digital music files, this amplifier can handle them all.

The frequency response of the Blackbird ranges from 20 Hz to 20 kHz, covering the entire audible spectrum with precision and accuracy. This allows for a rich and full-bodied sound reproduction across different genres of music.

Furthermore, the Blackbird has been designed to work seamlessly with speakers of different impedance levels. Its ability to handle various impedances ensures compatibility with a wide range of speakers.

Overall, the S.A. Lab Blackbird offers impressive technical specifications that contribute to its exceptional audio performance. Its powerful output, low distortion levels, versatile connectivity options, and wide frequency response make it an excellent choice for audiophiles seeking high-quality sound reproduction.

Design and Construction

The S.A. Lab Blackbird amplifier boasts an elegant and sleek external appearance that exudes sophistication. The amplifier features a sturdy chassis constructed from high-quality sheet steel, which not only enhances its durability but also effectively minimizes vibrations and resonances. The front panel of the amplifier is made from Corian, an artificial stone material known for its aesthetic appeal and resistance to wear.

One notable design feature of the Blackbird is its efficient cooling system. The amplifier is designed with proper ventilation to ensure optimal heat dissipation, preventing overheating and ensuring the longevity of the components. This thoughtful design element contributes to the overall reliability and performance of the amplifier.

In terms of connectivity, the Blackbird offers a range of high-quality connectors and switches. These connectors are well-built and provide a secure and reliable connection for various audio devices. The switches on the amplifier are smooth and responsive, allowing for easy adjustments without any unwanted noise or interference.

Overall, the design and construction of the S.A. Lab Blackbird amplifier showcase meticulous attention to detail and a commitment to quality. From its visually appealing exterior to its robust build, this amplifier exemplifies craftsmanship and reliability in every aspect of its design.

Functionality

The S.A. Lab Blackbird amplifier offers a range of impressive functionality to enhance your audio experience. With its versatile connectivity options, you can easily connect various audio sources such as CD players, computers, smartphones, and more. Whether you want to enjoy your favorite music from a physical disc or stream it wirelessly from your smartphone, this amplifier has got you covered.

One notable feature of the Blackbird is its ability to support the connection of two pairs of speakers. This allows you to create a multi-room setup or switch between different sets of speakers effortlessly. Additionally, the amplifier provides separate terminals for different speaker impedance levels, ensuring compatibility with a wide range of speaker systems.

While the Blackbird does not include balance controls or tone adjustments, it focuses on delivering a pure and unadulterated audio signal. This minimalist approach allows the amplifier to maintain the integrity of the original sound without any unnecessary coloration or distortion.

In terms of operating modes, the Blackbird does not offer any additional features such as built-in USB players, RDS FM radio support, or internet connectivity. However, this simplicity in functionality is intentional, as it allows the amplifier to prioritize its core function – delivering exceptional audio performance.

Overall, the functionality of the S.A. Lab Blackbird amplifier strikes a balance between simplicity and versatility. It provides various connectivity options for different audio sources while maintaining a pure and unaltered sound reproduction. While it may lack some advanced features found in other amplifiers, its focus on delivering high-quality audio makes it an excellent choice for audiophiles who value sonic purity above all else.

Sound Characteristics

The S.A. Lab Blackbird amplifier delivers a mesmerizing sound quality that surpasses expectations. Its sound characteristics are truly exceptional, providing a listening experience that is both captivating and immersive.

One of the standout features of the Blackbird is its ability to reproduce intricate details with remarkable clarity. Every nuance and subtlety in the music is brought to life, allowing the listener to fully appreciate the depth and complexity of each instrument. The amplifier’s precise and accurate sound reproduction ensures that no musical detail goes unnoticed.

Instrument separation is another area where the Blackbird excels. The amplifier creates a wide and spacious soundstage, allowing each instrument to occupy its own distinct space within the mix. This level of separation enhances the overall listening experience, making it feel as though you are in the presence of a live performance.

The bass response of the Blackbird is powerful and controlled. It effortlessly reproduces deep, impactful bass notes without overpowering or muddying the rest of the frequency range. The amplifier strikes a perfect balance, delivering a tight and articulate bass that adds depth and richness to the music.

In terms of treble clarity, the Blackbird shines brightly. It reproduces high frequencies with exceptional precision and transparency, ensuring that every cymbal crash and vocal sibilance is rendered with utmost clarity. The treble is never harsh or fatiguing, allowing for extended listening sessions without any discomfort.

The overall sound presentation of the Blackbird can be described as engaging and dynamic. It brings music to life with an incredible sense of energy and liveliness. Whether you’re listening to classical orchestral pieces or energetic rock anthems, this amplifier elevates the listening experience to new heights.

Regardless of the genre you prefer, the Blackbird leaves a lasting impression on every type of music. It effortlessly handles delicate acoustic tracks with finesse, capturing every subtle nuance and breath-taking moment. At the same time, it injects a sense of power and excitement into rock, pop, and electronic genres, making the music come alive with energy and impact.

The S.A. Lab Blackbird amplifier truly excels in its ability to reproduce sound characteristics with exceptional precision, creating a captivating and immersive listening experience across various music genres. Its attention to detail, instrument separation, powerful bass response, treble clarity, and overall sound presentation make it a standout performer in its class.

Sound Performance

The sound performance of the S.A. Lab Blackbird amplifier is nothing short of exceptional. It has the ability to transport the listener into a captivating auditory experience, immersing them in the richness and depth of the music.

One of the standout qualities of the Blackbird is its remarkable ability to faithfully reproduce audio signals. The amplifier delivers a level of clarity that allows every instrument and vocal to be heard with precision and detail. Each note is rendered with utmost accuracy, ensuring that no nuance or subtlety is lost in translation.

The dynamics produced by the Blackbird are truly impressive. It effortlessly captures the ebb and flow of music, delivering impactful crescendos and delicate pianissimos with equal finesse. The amplifier’s ability to handle sudden shifts in volume and intensity without distortion or compression is a testament to its exceptional design.

Furthermore, the tonal balance achieved by the Blackbird across different frequency ranges is simply outstanding. The lows are deep and well-defined, providing a solid foundation for the music. The midrange is lush and full-bodied, allowing vocals and instruments to shine through with warmth and clarity. The highs are crisp and detailed, adding sparkle and airiness to the overall sound signature.

Whether you’re listening to classical orchestral pieces, rock anthems, or intimate jazz performances, the Blackbird excels at bringing out the best in every genre. Its ability to accurately reproduce complex musical passages with precision and finesse sets it apart from other amplifiers in its class.

In conclusion, the sound performance of the S.A. Lab Blackbird amplifier is truly remarkable. Its ability to faithfully reproduce audio signals with clarity, dynamics, and tonal balance across different frequency ranges makes it a standout choice for audiophiles seeking an immersive listening experience. With the Blackbird, you can expect nothing less than sonic excellence that will elevate your music enjoyment to new heights.

Advantages

The S.A. Lab Blackbird amplifier offers several distinct advantages that set it apart from its competitors in the market. Firstly, its unique combination of circuitry and sound quality, derived from Sound Analysis Laboratory’s expertise, makes it a standout option. The Blackbird manages to deliver exceptional audio performance while maintaining a surprisingly affordable price point.

One of the notable advantages of the Blackbird is its use of high-quality NOS tubes manufactured in the USSR before 1968. These tubes, including two double triodes 6072 for the input and driver stages, as well as four pentodes 6Ф6 for the output stage, contribute to the amplifier’s rare sonic characteristics. Additionally, the output stage can be easily modified by replacing the 6Ф6 tubes with 6П6, 6V6, or 6F6 without any alterations to the circuitry.

The design and construction of the Blackbird also deserve recognition. It features a sturdy chassis made of sheet steel with an anti-resonant coating, ensuring minimal vibrations and improved overall performance. The front panel, made of artificial stone (Corian), adds a touch of elegance to the amplifier’s appearance.

In terms of functionality, the Blackbird offers flexibility with its ability to connect two pairs of speakers simultaneously. This feature allows users to enjoy their music in multiple rooms or switch between different sets of speakers effortlessly.

When comparing the Blackbird to other models within its price range, it becomes evident that it holds its own against more expensive amplifiers. Despite its lower cost, it does not compromise on sound quality or construction. The use of premium components such as Epcos capacitors and Vishay resistors further enhances its performance and durability.

Overall, the S.A. Lab Blackbird amplifier stands out due to its unique combination of affordability and exceptional audio performance. Its use of vintage NOS tubes, solid construction, and versatile functionality make it a compelling choice for audiophiles seeking a high-quality amplifier without breaking the bank.

Value for Money

The S.A. Lab Blackbird amplifier offers exceptional value for money, providing a combination of outstanding performance, impressive features, and an affordable price point. This amplifier delivers a level of audio quality that rivals much more expensive models in the market.

Considering its technical specifications and capabilities, the Blackbird offers a compelling proposition. With a power consumption of 125 watts and a signal-to-noise ratio of 96 dB, it ensures clean and distortion-free sound reproduction across the entire frequency range from 20 Hz to 20 kHz. The low percentage of non-linear distortion at 0.6% further enhances the accuracy and fidelity of the audio output.

In terms of functionality, the Blackbird provides two channels of amplification, allowing for versatile stereo setups. It also supports the connection of two pairs of speakers, providing flexibility in speaker configuration. While it lacks certain features like a remote control or built-in USB player, these omissions can be overlooked considering the overall performance and affordability of the amplifier.

The design and construction of the Blackbird are also noteworthy. The use of high-quality NOS (New Old Stock) tubes from the USSR before 1968 contributes to its exceptional sound characteristics. The handmade transformers, specifically designed for this model, ensure optimal power delivery and efficiency. The sturdy steel chassis with anti-resonant coating and the front panel made from Corian effectively minimize vibrations, resulting in improved audio performance.

When comparing the Blackbird to other amplifiers in its price range, it becomes evident that it offers incredible value for money. Its ability to rival more expensive models in terms of sound quality and construction is truly impressive. The attention to detail in selecting top-notch components further adds to its value proposition.

Overall, the S.A. Lab Blackbird amplifier stands out as an excellent investment for audio enthusiasts who seek uncompromising sound quality without breaking the bank. Its exceptional performance, solid construction, and attractive price make it a highly recommended choice for those looking to elevate their audio experience without sacrificing their budget.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the S.A. Lab Blackbird amplifier is a remarkable piece of audio equipment that offers exceptional performance at an affordable price. With its unique combination of circuitry and sound quality, it truly embodies the essence of the “Blackbird” formula.

The Blackbird features a three-stage, Class A triode output circuitry that utilizes high-quality NOS tubes for optimal sound reproduction. The use of vintage Soviet-made 6072 dual triodes in the input and driver stages, along with four 6Ф6 pentodes in the output stage, ensures a rich and detailed sonic experience. Additionally, the output stage can be easily modified to accommodate different tube types without compromising on performance.

The construction of the Blackbird is top-notch, with carefully selected components such as Epcos capacitors and Vishay resistors in the signal path. The handcrafted 200W power transformers, made from German iron, further enhance the amplifier’s performance. The rigid steel chassis and anti-resonant coating effectively minimize vibrations, ensuring clean and accurate sound reproduction.

In terms of functionality, the Blackbird does not come with unnecessary features like a remote control or timers. Instead, it focuses solely on what is essential for exceptional audio performance. While it lacks certain modern conveniences like built-in DAC or Wi-Fi connectivity, it more than compensates with its outstanding sound quality.

Speaking of sound characteristics, the Blackbird excels in delivering a musical and engaging listening experience. It maintains a balanced tonal balance with excellent detail retrieval and imaging capabilities. The amplifier’s ability to reproduce both delicate nuances and dynamic passages with precision truly sets it apart from other amplifiers in its price range.

During our testing, we found that the Blackbird offers impressive sound performance across various genres of music. Whether you’re listening to classical orchestral pieces or energetic rock tracks, the amplifier effortlessly handles complex musical passages and delivers them with finesse.

The advantages of the S.A. Lab Blackbird are evident in its meticulous design, top-quality components, and exceptional sound reproduction. It offers a level of performance that rivals more expensive amplifiers, making it a true value for money proposition.

Potential buyers should consider the Blackbird if they prioritize sonic excellence and are willing to forego certain modern features. This amplifier is ideal for audiophiles who appreciate the warmth and richness of tube amplification and desire a captivating listening experience.

In conclusion, the S.A. Lab Blackbird amplifier surpasses expectations with its outstanding performance and affordability. Its unique combination of circuitry, meticulous construction, and exceptional sound quality make it a standout choice in its price range. For those seeking a captivating and immersive audio experience without breaking the bank, the Blackbird is an excellent investment.

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