Regardless of which Fern & Roby integrated amplifier you choose, the instant you turn it on, you will be taken back by the sheer quality of the sound that comes out of these small, well crafted cast iron boxes with bronze control knobs. Great sound is always the requirement here, but when great sound is combined with great industrial design, especially when it’s in a timeless manner as it is here, that’s an instant home run. The Audiophile Aparment is way to new to be handing out awards yet, but this amplifier is worthy.
Beyond the aesthetics of the F&R amplifier, there is a high density of thought that has gone into this piece to make it as special as it is. While not high power, the sound that it produces is of extremely high quality. If you’ve ever wished to get thirty watts worth of $10,000 amplifier sound in a compact, stylish package, your ship has landed. And stylish it is. The rounded corners and bronze control knobs have such a wonderful feel to them, you don’t want a remote control, you want to get up from the couch and interact with this amplifier. If you’re the kind of person that loves the way a Bentley door closes, or that soft “clunk” that a Leica camera makes when the shutter is depressed, you’re going to love the F&R amplifier. And the clear top panel lets you see the craftsmanship inside, instilling further confidence.
The F&R gives you everything you need and nothing you don’t. It’s built like a tank – seriously, the outer case is cast iron. I could probably drive a Ford F-150 over this thing and not do any harm. It’s got either four line level inputs (the $2,800 model) or three line level inputs and a Moving Magnet phono stage. (the $2,300 model) Both feature an output for a powered subwoofer too, so if you want to press one of these mighty little amplifiers into duty for a compact yet high performance 2.1 system either to rock your apartment or make for a stunning stereo home cinema system, this amplifier is up to task.
Both models look identical, and ironically the one without the phono stage actually costs more. Suffice to say that this model features a beefier preamplifier, where the phonostage went and higher grade, hand picked parts throughout. It’s kind of like getting that $4,000 gear set for your bike versus the $1,000 set. There’s an ease to the performance that the lesser model doesn’t possess. Both are great; the phono equipped model will be the choice for most, yet the more crazed audiophiles in the crowd (especially those with a high performance record player and phonostage) will appreciate the extra finesse that the $2,800 model without phono brings to the table.
While the F&R integrated amplifiers are solid state, and that’s a good thing, they have a warm, organic sound that might remind you of vacuum tubes. If that top plate wasn’t clear, you might even be able to be fooled that there’s a glass bottle or two inside. That magic is courtesy of master amplifier Michael Bettinger, who has been more than around the block as a major audio industry veteran. The circuit was designed with painstaking care to where every component was placed – each one rearranged for the perfect outcome, a zen-like approach.
Prepare to consume a glass or two of your favorite beverage and sink into the couch for some uninterrupted personal time with the Fern & Roby integrated amplifier. Whether you are a seasoned audiophile or new to this game, you will be impressed. And while you’re shopping, check out the other cool things on the F&R site…