Edge electronics make to my mind what be the most ugly amplifier known to man; the NL Reference – two hip-high pyramids of gently s-curved heatsinks, all 800 watts and laser-guided bipolar output devices. They are said to sound amazing and the brief exposure I’ve had to these six-figure power amps at shows in the US, they certainly live up to the hype. But the looks… sorry, way too Luxor for my tastes.
Fortunately, Edge doesn’t only make statement pieces. The G6 stereo chassis offers a sweet taste of what the best of the brand can do, at a price that doesn’t need to come with an asthma inhaler. This standard sized two-channel power amp still manages to deliver a healthy 135 watts per channel into eight ohms. It features a conventional bias circuit (as opposed to Edge’s signature laser bias, which fires a 630nm laser at the silicon of the output devices to act as a servo feedback system), a single 600VA transformer and a large 40.000µF of power supply filtration.
The amplifier itself is as simple as it comes; a pair of RCA sockets in an inset panel, a pair of speaker terminals, an IEC socket and a power switch at the back. The glow at the front. The amp is finished in a choice of silver or silver and the rounded sandwich design stands out from the pack. The whole package is built with a reassuringly solid feel, like this isn’t the sort of amp that anyone’s going to call ‘twitchy’ or ‘unreliable’.
Edge makes a claim – admittedly a claim more for the laser biased amps – that its amplifiers finally realise the potential of solid-state as the replacement to valves, as they deliver a speed of transient attack that only silicon can manage, with the harmonic richness of tubes, and this is a claim I can mostly agree with. The G6 also offers the promise of greater things as you move up the line.
There is a distinct and satisfying urgency to the sound of music on the G6. There’s a speed to transient attack and leading edges that gives a sense of realism to percussive and rhythmic instruments (and that includes piano and guitar shredders). This is not an emphasis on leading edges, and the amp doesn’t sound fake or aggressive because of this sense of balance, but it does serve to show just how slow a lot of designs can sound in comparison.
This speed of delivery is matched by a sound that is best summed up as both ‘clean’ and ‘sweet’, and it’s here that I concur with Edge’s own assessment of its performance. The ‘clean’ part channels the best of solid-state sound, while the ‘sweet’ conjures up images of very good valve power. Once again, these two elements are in dynamic balance; the ‘clean’ sound balanced by the ‘sweet’ and vice versa, so the overall performance doesn’t pitch into that etched sound that can plague detailed solid-state equipment, but also doesn’t over compensate and deliver something soft, warm and romantic, but completely free from drama.
These three elements – ‘fast’, ‘clean’ and ‘sweet’ – are the prevailing first impressions. You could easily stop here and be satisfied. Longer term listening though unveiled the aspects of the performance that are almost masked by these big three. Such as the G6’s outstanding levels of detail and clarity, wide, precise soundstage and effortless dynamic range. Because the fast, clean, sweet sound acts as a signature writ large, it’s easy to overlook just how competent the amplifier is across the board. But go deeper and spend some time with the amp and you discover its suppressed strengths. Suppressed isn’t the right word here, because the detail and dynamics are on show from the first track you play, but you are psychologically drawn to major strengths of the Edge. Most power amps are less forthcoming in the long term. There’s an analogy with literature here; the Edge is a classic next to the pot boilers of commonplace amps, it deserves revisiting to unwrap its true depths.
There’s a contemporary bonus too. This is the shallow end of a pool that goes all the way to DarTZeel as well as Edge’s own NL series. That characteristic speed of attack and clean-sweet sound is common to both the Swiss and the American amp makers. Given the DarTZeel designs are some of the most well-received and ‘now’ sounding audio designs, that the little G6 gets you a long way down that DarTZeel path for less than half the price of admission to the DarTZeel club, you can perhaps see why this is not just another power amp.
The one tempering force is this…choose your preamp wisely. It’s easy to make ‘fast’, ‘clean’ and ‘sweet’ turn into ‘forward’, ‘hard’ and ‘brash’ with the wrong preamp in front of it. This is perhaps where Edge power amplifiers get a reputation for sounding very solid-state (or perhaps it’s as simple as people reading the name ‘Edge’ and assuming they are ‘edgy’). How you can tell is whether your music tastes are tailored; the G6 is genre-agnostic with the good matches, but will pitch you toward certain styles if the preamp isn’t a perfect partner. ARC and conrad-johnson preamps are perfect partnerships though; as is the Siltech C1 tested in this issue (although I think the price balance makes this a top-heavy amplifier system). Although not the sort of match people would make normally, I can foresee only bad things coming from the marriage of say Naim and Edge or Exposure and Edge. Not that the preamps are wrong, not that the Edge is wrong, just that the two will likely go together like halibut cooked in cocoa powder and Marmite.
The Edge G6 leaves me wanting more. If the base model is this good, do they get better as they go up the range? Is the laser bias really a leap forward? Are Edge’s preamps and source components as good as this power amp? Is there something more to the big pyramids than a tall tower of heatsinks? One thing’s clear, this isn’t the last you’ll hear of Edge.
SPECS & PRICING
Input: 1x pair RCA single-ended phono plugs
Output: five way binding posts
Power output: 135 watts per channel/eight ohms
Constant current capability: 14 amps
Output impedance: 0.07 ohms
Output impedance: 33k ohms
1x 600VA transformer
40,000µF power supply filtration per channel
Dimensions (WxHxD): 42.5x12x38cm
Manufactured by Edge Electronics
Distributed by Epicurean Audio
+44(0)780 556 7630