New from UK manufacturer Edwards Audio are two entry-level integrated amplifiers of interest to HiFi Starters. Say hello to the £350 Apprentice IA and £430 IA.
Essentially the same amplifier, both share the same half-width 220mm square case. Both put out 30W per channel into 8 Ohms (50W into 4 Ohms) via Class AB amplifiers (not Class D as you might think from their size). And both sport one MM phono and three line inputs (one of the latter via 3.5mm socket on the front). To which the IA adds remote control of volume and mute.
Options on both include fixed-level or pre-amplifier outputs – one or the other, there’s not room for both – priced at a very reasonable £15. An aptX Bluetooth module can also be factory fitted at the time of purchase, again for a reasonable £50. Both amplifiers have a dedicated ¼” headphone socket in the middle of the fascia that mutes the speakers when engaged. It’s no afterthought, the high-current output driver circuitry having received specific attention.
There’s no provision for digital inputs other than Bluetooth, despite the rear panel having blanks for them. A shame given Edwards sees both amplifiers as ideal for the desktop or small rooms where space is at a premium. But then adding in a simple dongle-DAC would work fine and needn’t take up much space.
The available finishes match Edwards’ very smart Apprentice TT, TT1 and TT2 turntables, meaning you can choose from black, white, green, red, grey and blue. The red finish in the press photos certainly makes a statement. The Blue option looks very sophisticated, and the almost minty-green finish definitely has something about it. Your eyes may differ.
Both amplifiers are available now and are the first from Edwards’ new UK factory. They’ll be followed by a slew of other new products in 2023 and beyond. As a starter amplifier the Apprentice IA and IA, paired with small standmounts (or easy-to-drive floorstanders), could work well. Think alternative to the Rega iO / Kytes pairing or maybe even the Pro-ject Maia S3 / Speaker Box 5 S2.
Further information can be found here (worth a visit if only to lust over the turntables). We’ll try to grab a listen to the amplifiers and report back.