A dinky power amplifier with a big heart, Paul Rigby reviews the Edge A2-300
Power amplifiers, in general sonic terms, are good things. They reduce electrical noise cross contamination between the pre-amp section and the power amp section of an integrated amplifier.
Firstly, separating the two into separate pre-amp and power amp chassis, you put physical distance between the two to lower or negate that very noise effect.
Secondly, in general terms, the parts quality in a separate power amplifier will be of a higher quality which will, again, raise the sonic stakes (as will the extra space available in the chassis for those improved components). Thirdly, you have more flexibility in terms of positioning on a typical hi-fi rack. Lastly, you’re given greater flexibility in terms of future upgrades because you can upgrade the power amplifier at a different time to a pre-amp and you can pick and choose your next power amp upgrade from a different brand manufacturer to the pre-amp upgrade, finding ‘best quality’ specialists for each.
This power amp is a small unit, when compared to much of the competition out there. Spanning a mere 200 x 58 x 285mm and weighing just 2.3kg, the A2-300 could almost be described as fun size.
Because of the lack of bulk of its aluminium and steel chassis, it allows easy conversion to a monoblock because, if you flip a rear ‘stereo/mono’ switch to mono you can link two A2-300 boxes together to act as a stereo monoblocks.
XTZ also provides matching connector and faceplates to blend nicely into a 19” racking system, allowing a single amp to be racked or you can double up, connect two amps together and add racking ‘ears’ to the far left and right.
XTZ go Lego.
But back to the plot and the 150W (into 8 Ohms) stuffed into this compact cutey. The Edge is based upon ICEpower Class-D technology, which will be familiar to some. I’ve reviewed ICE amps before and found them…pretty good. Different. Interesting.
The front of the Edge is the usual holding area for the brand name and logo plus power light. The business occurs at the rear. Apart from the meaty speaker connectors, the RCA inputs, power socket and rocker power switch, there is a gain knob. Small yet useful, it can be used to maximise the power to prevent speaker damage, balance the volume during bi-amping or, on a more day to day, practical level use the gain for other sources such as a smartphone or media player.
There’s also a Signal Sense switch that either keeps the Edge ‘always on’ or it will shut the amp down into standby if no signal is pushed through it for a (seemingly) arbitrary eight minutes. Not seven. Not even 53. But eight.
And it sounds like?
I began with vinyl and the country ballad, You’re Free to Go via Emmylou Harris from the album, Thirteen.
The A2-300 tackles sound in a particular way. It always seems super excited to be playing music and tracks the same in very enthusiastic kinda way. Music is lifted and projected towards you in a “Oh, you gotta hear this, let me show you…” sort of way. So Harris’ voice is raised a touch. She elevates herself from her backing instruments so that you can hear more of her when she delivers.
What the A2-300 did here was quite special. It created, around Harris, an intimate space. Her inflections were detailed and accurate, yes, but the A2-300 seemed to go one step further. Harris seemed to open up. For one thing, I could hear her taking breaths in between lines – quite a rarity, even with very expensive amplifiers. More, her voice seemed to almost shudder with emotion. I felt the urge to run to my turntable with a hanky.
The low noise presentation of the amplifier aided the epic nature of the piano, giving it a truly grand persona, while the strumming guitars retained that essential ‘ting’ sound of the metallic strings. This last bit is important because the metal strings featured their own reverb tails, adding realism and texture to the entire song. Meanwhile, drums were solid and the mandolin solo during the middle eight was on the money in terms of transients.
Was I happy so far? Oh yes. I reached for Queen on CD and the dynamic track, Dead on Time from the album, Jazz.
Firstly, I was interested, in dynamic terms, how the A2-300 coped with the slightly strident nature of the mastering. Such was the dynamic room from this amplifier, that aspect of the sound was never really and issue, which will lower listening fatigue for those albums suffering from a bright demeanour.
I was also intrigued how the A2-300 balanced the energy of the music, the power of the drums and the firm confidant nature of the bass and the raucous nature of the guitars, with the delicacy of the cymbal hits and vocal nuances. All were handled with some aplomb and without any apparent effort of strain.
The sense of instrumental separation meant that each instrument was given enough room to perform properly without being masked by its neighbour. This added to the layering effect of the music, increasing the richness and depth of the delivery of the song itself.
The Edge A2-300 screams value for money. Really, it should be twice, maybe three times (more?) of the current asking price. You’re getting a lot for your cash with this one. And, although I was unable to test it here, the upgrade possibilities on turning this power amp in a pair of mono blocks are mouth watering indeed.
Bathed in clarity with impressive transparency to boot, the XTZ A2-300 is a little gem of a power amplifier.
XTZ EDGE A2-300 Price: £440 Tel: 01642 232188 Website: hifipilot.uk
GOOD: clarity, firm bass, transparent soundstage, intimate midrange
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All vinyl was cleaned using an Audio Desk’s Ultrasonic Pro Vinyl Cleaner
Phil Masters21st December 2018 at 7:25 am
How good is this? It is always very difficult to understand what HiFi delivers at what price point. Ie does a £440 amp getting 9/10 better than a £1500 amp receiving 7/10? I am looking for a temp amp to pair with a musical fidelity m8 pre and focal 1028. Would this be asking too much?
Paul Rigby21st December 2018 at 9:37 am
How good? You need to read the review. It’s all there. I tend to rate based on a variety of variables, most are discussed in the review itself. One of those is the price. Don’t expect a £440 amp to sound as good as a £1,500 amp. That’s the first point. For an elaboration as to why that amp received a ‘7’, again you need to read the review. If, after reading that lot, you’re still confused, then give me a shout 🙂 In broad terms, though, the Edge is worthy for your needs in terms of the speakers, I would suggest.
Peter Chalkley11th January 2019 at 7:57 pm
Just purchased this amp to replace an elderly Linn LK75 power amp whilst do a great job with a pair of PMC FB1s but Edged out. Four hundred quid has shown me how much has changed, I thought what timing was about till the EDGE A2-300 came along. I have now received the Gold Note PH10 and the two are making music. The Columbia and DECCA curves have made dramatic difference with older pressings. Thanks Paul.
Paul Rigby12th January 2019 at 5:44 pm
Glad I could be of help, Peter 🙂
Graeme Durie18th April 2019 at 2:42 pm
I purchased this amp for my TV setup, its very good for the money. no triggering required due to signal sensing. The only thing I would say is that they should consider a model with balanced inputs, this amp deserves that level of connectivity. I’ve only been running mine for a few hours but I can already tell how good this amp will be burned in. The value for money in the is amp is unbelievable, I think its fair to say you get more than you pay for. Very pleasantly surprised. A pair of these in monaural mode would be very interesting indeed. I may just have to try that some day.
Paul Rigby18th April 2019 at 2:53 pm
That’s a good point re the balanced inputs Graeme. Yes, I think the mono block approach would be well worth a try 🙂
harkpabst_meliantrop11th August 2019 at 12:27 am
Be careful with what to expect here, though. Like pretty much all class D amps, these cannot be “mono blocked” or “bridged” the same way as class A/B amps. Even with the switch set to mono, there is no change in maximum voltage or current output, hence max. power is the same.
The only thing the mono switch does is to sum up the L and R input signal. In particular, if one input is left open, both pairs of speaker sockets will put out what has been delivered to the one connected input.
This is purely a convenience feature for bi-amping use, since there is no need for an input signal splitter. It’s a cool feature, but don’t be fooled into thinking that two of these could deliver twice the power. into one single speaker terminal.
Ulrich Hirner17th August 2019 at 3:57 pm
Regaring using them as mono blocks. It is correct, that output cannot by added like with traditional A/B amps, but either you use them for BI-Amping, then you would have the full power output, but even using them as “Mono” blocks will give you a higher power output. According to a XTZ technician, the power output is limited by the power supply in the amp and if you run only one channel, the max output increases to 450 W at 4 Ohms.
Paul Rigby19th August 2019 at 10:46 am
Thanks for the info Ulrich.
Remi18th September 2019 at 11:01 am
Hi Paul, I listen mainly to LPs with Technics SL1200GR, audiolab 6000a and MA Silver 200 (but also play CDs with the 6000cdt). I sometimes turn up the volume till -15, and therefore wonder if I need more power (speaker specs does recommend 60-150W amp…). One option is to switch to a stronger integrated – the new Cambridge cxa81 seems to be a great option (will need a decent phono stage also), the other is to add the xtz edge and use the 6000a in preamp mode. The latter option will probably start the path to separates. I appreciate your thoughts: maybe -15 volume level is actually typical/ok? cxa81 vs xtz-edge if I choose to upgrade? (I hold a conception that class A/B amp may be better than class D for home stereo listening). Love your writings 🙂
Paul Rigby18th September 2019 at 3:18 pm
Hi Remi – thanks for your kind words. If you’re looking at a pre/power combo because of power requirements then I would strongly recommend going for a dedicated pre-amp now and not using the Audiolab for this purpose. A dedicated pre-amp will offer lower noise and higher sound quality. You can spend a lot on an audiophile-level integrated to find lots of power but an Edge with a pre-amp will provide high power at a *relatively* low cost. Depends on the budget, of course.
Remi19th September 2019 at 9:10 am
Thx Paul. In case anyone can recommend on a pre-amp to go with the Edge I would love to hear. (Knowing what should be the reasonable budget range for such will also help).
Paul Rigby19th September 2019 at 12:21 pm
Hi Remi – actually, it depends on the cash you can supply. So, if you can provide a figure, I can offer some advice.
Remi19th September 2019 at 2:43 pm
I am thinking up to 500 EUR (but can starch a bit if for a good reason or if decent pre-amps that match the level of the Edge simply cost more). thx!
Paul Rigby19th September 2019 at 3:34 pm
Hi Remi – check out this example: https://www.schiit.co.uk/preamps/Freya%20S
Remi19th September 2019 at 11:11 pm
Thx Paul for being kind and helpful. Pls allow me a final question: in case I want to go cheaper and smaller, would it be wrong to prefer the Saga + (or S) over the Freya S to go with the Edge?
Paul Rigby20th September 2019 at 11:52 am
That should be fine, Remi. Make sure you do extra research, though. Check the specs, the facilities you will require and ask about a home demo to see if you can test the box in your proposed hifi chain.
Yaniv27th September 2019 at 6:35 pm
Hi Paul, can this class D power amp work well with a passive preamp or maybe as such it does need some additional colour? any suggestion for passive or active is welcome. I am thinking about spending the same as the Edge for a preamp, either passive or active.
Paul Rigby29th September 2019 at 7:49 pm
Hi Yaniv – I make sure the I isolate the sound of anything I review and report on that in the review. As for pre-amps at that price? Hmmm, I would look at products from Schiit.
walter napolitan8th March 2020 at 2:12 am
Hi Paul. Thanks very much for your review on this amp. I know it’s been a while since you published this review but I just stumbled upon this amp watching Zero Fidelity and Thomas. I have Ascend Acoustics Sierra 2 EX with RAAL ribbon tweeters and I wish to upgrade my HK 3490 receiver to seperates. I’m trying to stay at $1000.00. I was heading towards the Iota Stack but the Class D topology is very interesting because of all its positive sonic attributes. I’m torn regarding a pre amp. For my budget I’m looking at the Parasound ZPRe3. The other option in the same price category would be the Schiit Sega + single tube. Do you have an opinion on which direction I should go regarding a pre amp? Thanks!
Paul Rigby8th March 2020 at 3:12 pm
Hi Walter – hmmm, probably the Schiit.
walter napolitan9th March 2020 at 10:39 am
Thanks for your reply Paul. I’ll be buying the Schiit DAC and Phone Pre Amp as well. I’ll be reading reviews between this Sega + and the Freya S. Wondering if the extra $200.00 is worth the money. I’d temporarily put off maybe the Phono Pre amp. I’ll be scouring the reviews between the two. Thanks again for this fine review.
walter napolitan8th March 2020 at 6:37 pm
Thanks Paul. You feedback is MUCH appreciated. I mat temporarily put off a phono pre amp and get the Schiit FREYA S.
Zylan Daroya4th May 2020 at 2:15 pm
Hello Paul. I have just read your review on XTZ A2-300 class D power amp. Could I connect my CD player direct to the power amp and use the gain control? Many thanks.
Paul Rigby4th May 2020 at 6:38 pm
If your CD player can also double as a pre amp then sure.
Zylan Daroya4th May 2020 at 6:59 pm
Hello. My CD Player is Marantz SACD 8005. I don’t think there’s a built in pre amp. Any way thank you for reply.
Paul Rigby4th May 2020 at 7:07 pm
Just checked and, no, you’re right. You need to connect that to a pre amp of some sort.
Ram3rd June 2020 at 3:33 am
Have been following your reviews. Really enjoy reading them and have newly subscribed to your channel.
Once again, thank you for your informative and insightful article. I have gotten this XTZ and it really enhances audio from my Klipsch RP 6000f fronts with open, clear, transparent audio with a good bass punch as compared to my Onkyo RZ 830 AVR. Am really enjoying my music now.
My experience ehoes your review. Rather spot on. I have also two Klipsch 10inched subs running with it and a Marantz UD 7007 CD/SACD and Blueray player. All are connected via my Onkyo which acts as a pre and XTZ as power amp. Movies sound good too. For the price, its really worth it. It does perform way above its price grade.
Having been smitten by the XTZ, I now wish to further enrich my sonic experience. Am thinking of getting a dedicated pre to go with the XTZ. Am exploring if I should get the Schiit Freya + or PrimaLuna EVO 100. Both have tube qualities ( which I am intrigued with but never got a chance to experience). Both have got good reviews but the Prima is much pricier than Freya +.So am thinking which would be a better match for the XTZ. Some do mention Freya + has a higher gain. Would this affect in matching my XTZ. I plan to route the preamp whichever I get through my Onkyo to my XTZ. My Onkyo currently has built in Tidal functions which I stream. If there is negligible difference between Schiit Freya + and Prima, I rather go with Schiit Freya + as it is cheaper.
May get node 2i down the road if budget permits.
Appreciate your views.
Paul Rigby3rd June 2020 at 8:57 am
Hi Ram – thanks for your question. The EVO 100 is too good for the Edge, as good as that power amp is…go for the Schiit which will fit nicely. In the future, if you want to fully explore tubes (i.e. pre and power, etc), give me a shout.
Ram3rd June 2020 at 2:36 pm
Thanks Paul for your advise. The Freya + is less expensive too. But just to clarify may I know what is meant by too good.
Some say the Freya+ may not give the full tube appreciation. So am not sure how the EVO compares. You think Freya + does give adequate tube sound? I am not very experienced in tubes. Never used em before and just plan to venture into tubes. Hence, amd asking.
Certainly take your point that the Freya + seems to be a better mate with the XTZ. Do I have to worry about excess gain issues from the Freya+ as some have expressed; as the XTZ does have a gain feature as well.
Appreciate your views.
Paul Rigby3rd June 2020 at 3:04 pm
Hi Ram, I just mean that the Edge, as good as it is for its price point, is not capable of fully supporting the EVO, in sonic terms. That the EVO is capable of a lot more, in performance terms. If you do eventually grab an EVO then I’d recommend a tube power amp to partner it which will provide a better sonic blend.
Lars Vedder15th July 2020 at 10:59 pm
Hi Paul, just read the reviews of the XTZ and IOTAVX SA3 and PA3. You rate them 9 / 8 / 8. Did you test the SA3 + PA3 stack and how would you think they compare to the XTZ Edge? Would that stack be a 9 too? I take it the IOTAVX stack sounds a bit warmer? I just bought the XTZ to try it out. Might consider the IOTAVX stack as well. Speakers at the moment Canton SL 580.2, but am thinking of getting a pair of Triangle BR 03 as well. I am looking for a warmer, less bright and crisp sound.
Paul Rigby16th July 2020 at 10:25 am
Hi Lars – well, the Edge is a dedicated power supply and much more expensive than the PA3 so a comparison is not exactly fair. It’s superior to the PA3 but so it should be. None of those components are bright but very towards neutrality.
Lars Vedder3rd October 2020 at 4:56 pm
Hi Paul, well I tested a few different speakers and preamps to go with my XTZ Edge; the XTZ 99.25 LCR, Triangle BR03, Quad S2, Schiit Saga+ and the IFI iTube 2. The Quad S2 sounded so good, that I ended up buying the Quad Z2 (50% off special offer), they are absolutely marvelous (need 50+ burn in time, but improve drastically compared to just out of the box).
So right now I have the Quad Z2, XTZ Edge, Schiit Saga+ and a BlueSound Node 2i. Now I am wondering if I will go for a Musical Paradise MP-701 MK2 Tube Preamp or the MP-D2 MK4 TUBE DAC (update coming out soon). Does the XTX Edge need a preamp, since it has a gain dial?
Paul Rigby5th October 2020 at 11:11 am
Hi Lars – the Edge is a power amp so yes, it needs a pre-amp…ideally. The gain dial is more of an assistance to non-specialist source (e.g. a CD player with a pre amp module) rather than a replacement.
Sonny Wu6th October 2020 at 10:48 pm
Hi Paul, I bumped to your site because I’m in the process of upgrading my system. I have seen *slightly conflicting reviews with regard to the 3D aspect of the sound (e.g. Zero Fidelity’s) , which I’m particularly hope to enhance. My Bifrost > Dared preamp+Emotiva UPA+MMG presented with sound separations from my side to the wall in front of me, but I’m very curious about having a pure Tube integrate, XTZ edge, or SA3 can enhance, which one? After I placed the order of SA3+PA3 two days ago, I saw your review of SA3 that caused my concerns, maybe I should cancel? Regards,
Paul Rigby7th October 2020 at 9:50 am
I hope you didn’t hurt yourself in the process, Sonny.
The SA3/PA3 is a potent combo and should work well but cash is the over-riding factor because the latter provides the pre/power while the relatively expensive Edge is a power amp that needs a pre as a partner. As I say, the latter is relatively expensive. I’m not wholly sure of your plans here nor your budget, where you looking to replace the Emotiva with the Edge and use a Dared valve pre to partner it?
Martijn30th January 2021 at 6:55 am
Hello Sir. Thanks for the great reviews. Question.. I bought a Denon 3700h receiver. Now I would like to improve the sound for playing music, either cd or Tidal/Qobuz/Amazon HD or my NAS. Would the XTX be a good upgrade, or would the Audiolab 6000A or a Marantz PM8006 be a better path to follow?
Paul Rigby2nd February 2021 at 11:46 am
Hi Martijn – the Edge is great if you partner it with a specialist preamp. The integrated 6000A can handle network-based music via Bluetooth pushed to it via a device like a phone or tablet. Both would offer amore simple path for any music signal than a receiver. Although a receiver is a useful AV tool, of course with networking facilities. It depends on the direction you wish to follow and your budget.
Martijn2nd February 2021 at 11:59 am
Hi Paul. Thank’s for your reply. The Denon 3700h receiver is essential in my case, since I will use the same front-speakers (Wharfedale EVO 4.3) for playing movies/series/tv and music. To improve the sound of the music I want to use the pre-outs on the Denon to connect to the Edge a 6000A or PM8006. I think/hope connecting the Edge on the pre-outs of the Denon will already improve the sound of playing music. But suggestions are very welcome.
Paul Rigby2nd February 2021 at 12:14 pm
I would advise not using an Edge to boost the Denon. You wouldn’t hear the best from the Edge and you’d largely be wasting your cash. Same goes for the other amps. Too many cooks, in effect. If you’re looking for a power boost or superior sound and you need AV, keep it as simple as possible – buy a better AV amp.
Martijn2nd February 2021 at 12:29 pm
Not the answer I was hoping for, but thanks for being honest. I just bought the Denon as an upgrade to my old AV receiver. So that one will stay a while. I like your comment about not too many cooks. For me that could still be a hifi amplifier like 6000A or PM8006 or something else to connect the Wharfedale speakers, cd-player, network-player, etc. Just as long as the hifi amp has an input for the Denon. Anyway, thanks. The Edge is off my list.
Ian Munday2nd March 2021 at 11:05 am
Hi Paul. I know I’m late to the party, but just wanted to say that based on your review of the XTZ Edge, plus some further research, I purchased one as a Christmas present to myself.
I was a bit apprehensive, as I was replacing an Audio Innovations ‘1st Audio’ power amp, which has decided it had had enough!
Wow! I am so pleased with my purchase.
I stuck with my Audio Innovations L1 pre amp, which seems to work well with it.
The clarity and speed are breathtaking, and I’m rediscovering so much of my record collection and enjoying every minute.
Thanks for your reviews and keep up the good work. 👍🏻
PS. Now I’m after new speakers.
Paul Rigby2nd March 2021 at 4:19 pm
Many thanks for the update, Ian. Much appreciated.
Guido Koß8th June 2021 at 10:57 am
Paul, hello, could you recommend a suitable pre-amp? Thanks, Guido
Paul Rigby9th June 2021 at 9:47 am
Hi Guido – For this price range, I’d look at the Schiit products.