“Sweat-drenched, knuckle bruised”

FOR Bold pre­sen­ta­tion; lots of fea­tures; good en­try level hi-fi AGAINST Rather for­ward pre­sen­ta­tion

What Hi-Fi (UK) - - First Tests -

light­weight about this pack­age is the re­mote, but we can’t have any com­plaints at this price. It works per­fectly well.

To be­gin, we load up Tidal and stream Frank Carter and The Rat­tlesnakes’ acer­bic de­but al­bum Blos­som and are nearly blown back­wards from our seats. There’s no pride in be­ing coy upon de­liv­er­ing an open­ing track named Jug­ger­naut, and this Tan­gent’s pre­sen­ta­tion is fit­tingly vig­or­ous. From the song’s volatile open­ing, through Carter’s shriek­ing vo­cal and its sweat-drenched, knuckle-bruised break­down, the Spec­trum X4 is armed with the ar­tillery to main­tain this as­sault on our ears.

But we ought not paint the per­for­mance as one-di­men­sional. Tim­ing, in par­tic­u­lar, is im­pres­sive given the weight and girth of

the sound, and the amount of body and bot­tom end Tan­gent has worked hard to of­fer. Some­times it lacks a bit of space, but the ar­range­ment is never clut­tered and the Spec­trum X4 is sharp and fleet-footed enough to keep up with the fre­netic pace.

Tak­ing things down a notch with John Fr­us­ciante’s eclec­tic To Record Only Wa­ter

For Ten Days, the Tan­gent show­cases its nuance and satisfying at­ten­tion to de­tail.

The pre­sen­ta­tion is still for­ward, and we find our­selves want­ing a lit­tle re­straint and a greater hold of dy­nam­ics, but for a £300 sys­tem we are very much en­ter­tained and con­tent with the ver­sa­til­ity on of­fer.

As we vary in­puts, pream­pli­fy­ing Rega’s Pla­nar 1 turntable as a suit­able com­pan­ion and plug­ging our lap­tops in with an aux cable, there are the ex­pected vari­a­tions in qual­ity and na­ture of the sound, but its gen­eral per­son­al­ity is un­changed. For an en­try-level amp with de­cent con­nec­tiv­ity, that con­sis­tency is a no­table achieve­ment.

Of course, when we switch the speak­ers for Q Acous­tics’ Award-win­ning 3020s, the im­prove­ment is im­me­di­ately ob­vi­ous; there’s greater space, de­tail and del­i­cacy with dy­nam­ics. You could pair the Q Acous­tics with our cheap­est Award­win­ning stereo am­pli­fier, the Onkyo Až9010, for £390 and get a bet­ter-rounded over­all sound but, as well as for­go­ing fea­tures such as Blue­tooth and the Tan­gent’s com­pact­ness, that al­most 30 per cent price hike is still quite a dis­tance.

In many ways, that reaf­firms the Amp­ster X4’s place among en­try-level hi-fi. Here you’re get­ting a starter sys­tem, with amp and speak­ers al­ready matched, gain­ing a bunch of fea­tures and the scope to up­grade as and when you can. We’ve been ter­rif­i­cally en­ter­tained by the Tan­gent, and that is the best en­dorse­ment we can give.

“For a £300 sys­tem, we are very much en­ter­tained and con­tent with the ver­sa­til­ity the X4 has to of­fer”

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