Moor Amps isn’t exactly a household name and, to be fair, aside from the relative newness of the company, there’s a reason for that: the Angel Pre and Angel 6 power amp is this fledgling company’s first product. And it’s pretty ambitious as first products go: the ‘unity gain’ preamp has four line-level and one AV input, and a choice of RCA or XLR (balanced) output, to the Angel 6 power amp which boasts a generous 150 Watts per channel into an 8 Ohm load, an impressive 300 Watts per channel into 4 Ohms, and a frankly remarkable 580 Watts per channel into a 2 Ohm load. Neatly finished in gently rounded casework the build quality is reassuringly solid and refreshingly free of ‘high end’ styling pretension. Not that I’m against a bit of styling pretension, you understand, but there’s a time and a place, and when you’re a small start-up, I’d say that what’s in the box is rather more important than the box itself.
The designer is a software engineer by profession, and an obsessive amplifier builder by vocation. Apparently barely a Christmas has gone by in the Narramore household without a new amplifier from Tim’s fertile brain, and the Angel 6 has been effectively 30 years in development, one prototype at a time. The ‘eureka!’ moment came when, not having managed to get the performance he sought, he went back to first principles and laid out for himself what each element of the amplifier had to do. This resulted in a design in which each stage is as linear as possible; an amplifier with the absolute minimum of negative feedback that relies instead on hefty current delivery to control the loudspeakers. A lot of attention has been given to component layout, separating voltage sections from current sections, the better to deal with intermodulation distortion. The designer claims that the IMD is almost as low with real speakers as it is with a test load, and argues persuasively that this is a fundamental, but often overlooked, aspect of amplifier performance. The three-stage power supply has a total of 200,000µF of reservoir capacitors, which helps explain the remarkable performance into difficult loads.
It also explains the size of the thing; the Angel 6 is a bit of a beast, 575mm wide and 29kg in its stocking feet. As Tim puts it, a hefty toroidal transformer and the aforementioned 200,000µF of reservoir caps takes up a fair bit of space. It may be a beast, but the Angel 6 is not a bruiser; while it can rely on sheer grunt rather than feedback to tame a wayward loudspeaker load, it wears its power lightly. So lightly, in fact, that first impressions are more about its speed and delicacy, than about the heftiness of its output. It’s a ninja, not a nightclub doorman. And that’s been the story pretty much all along, the power is most definitely there but aside from the effortless sense of scale and weight, and the way it just goes on driving hard without stress or fatigue, you’re never reminded of the sheer heft this amp can bring to bear, because it’s only there when it’s needed.
The ‘unity gain’ preamp is not a conventional passive design and it doesn’t have voltage gain, just a passive volume control and active output current buffer stages. The nice thing, apart from the fact that it works just beautifully alongside the Angel 6, is that the volume control is usable pretty much through its entire range, though I chickened out once I got past the 3 o’clock position (the speakers I used didn’t belong to me; also, we have new neighbours). Over the years, I’ve decided that while passive preamps have a lovely, limpid transparency, they usually lack drive and boogie factor, so an active preamp has always been my preference. The Angel pre, into the Angel 6, isn’t shy in the boogie department, which does support the design choices for the pre-section.