My insane schedule of the last few weeks is finally starting to die down some (I've been out of the office either fully or partially for 6 weeks of the last three months, and oddly no one has come along to do my work!). I actually spend some time today listening to a new piece of gear, that was leant to me by our own Mike O. The Densen Beat B-100 is a lovely, simple, no negative feedback 60 WPC amp of the european school. Beautifully made in Denmark, it has a lovely black anodized alloy case and real 24k gold plated knobs, on for volume, and the second for the source selection. In this case, source 1 is an add on MM phono board. On the left rear is a on off switch. The RCA's are of good quality, with the 5 way binding posts being typical, if solid, plastic construction. There are two sets of binding posts in the rear, but they are just there for easy Bi-Wiring. So no fancy toys of any kind to mess with. Nothing in the very short signal path to compromise the sound. Just purist audiophile of the purest kind. To ensure that you suffer a little for your audio, or perhaps this is Densens way of keeping you fit, no remote comes with it. Too loud or too soft? Get off your lazy but, and give that beautifully made volume knob a turn! Under the hood, you see very little. Most of the space is taken up by a monster of a toroidal transformer. It is a real beast for a 60 WPC amp, and it really shows that that power supply was the priority for Densen. Which is not a bad place to start! As the title speaks of comparison, I should clarify what it is being compared to. While I did very little comparing, per se, the amp I have been running for the past few months, and have becoming intimately familiar with, is the luxurious Sony TA-F808ES. This was perhaps the last of the great run of Sony ES gear from 1985-1990. The folks at Sony threw everything they new into this beast. The parts list is all the best Japan had to offer in the mid 90's - Muse, Duorex, Alps, etc. The chassis has Sonys proprietary anti-resonant Gibraltar material on both the top and bottom. Copper is used generously, including the bus bars. They even added Mosfets in both the driver and power stages. Again, this is the result of some of the best engineers in audio, with enormous resources and buying power, setting out to build the best integerated amp they could. The end result was this astonishingly well built, 100 wpc, 55 pound beast. It has every feature you could possibly want built in also. Real tone controls. Every switching option imaginable. Any input you could imagine. It comes with a lovely sounding built in phono stage. It can handle lowish output MC's with aplomb, but it doesn't like the highest output MM's, and seems to overload on ones like the 7mv Rega Exact. It's a sweetheart with my 3 mv Grace F9 however. Around back you have the loveliest, if least practical, binding posts ever put on an amp. Eat your heart out, Tiffany! Oddly, it lacks one of my favourite controls, a real live loudness feature. However, if all of this fanciness is more then you want to handle, or your purist sensibilities are offended by it, their is a very effective bypass button that takes all of it, except for the binding posts of course, out of the signal path. Very simple and effective. Add to this, an overly complicated and fussy remote control, that offers limited functionality with the amp, but will control all those other Sony components that you didn't buy. Unfortunately, as North Americans seem to not be able to handle any sparkle or shine in our audio gear (Audio is serious business, dammit! No room for frivolities here!), we get stuck with the boring Black Box version. The rest of the world got a truly lovely piece in champagne, with redwood sideburns. So how does it sound? Very warm, lush and full. It is a really pretty sounding amp. No lack of detail, but everything sounds like it runs through a layer of really nice chocolate fudge. Again, this doesn't mean you lose anything from a detail perspective. It's all there and more. You just end up with a not totally neutral view into the music. Not only does it sound warm, it plays warm too. It must be heavily biased into Class A, as it makes a pretty good impersonation of a tube amp when viewed as a room heating device. But the presentation is certainly lovely to hear. The downside? You wouldn't categorize this as a Prat Master. It has a certain plodding quality to it. Eveything just seems a bit slow and deliberate. This has been characterized to me as a Sony characteristic, and based on my limited experience with their gear, I wouldn't argue that point. It isn't a deal killer, but it is something to keep in mind. As such, you would want to match it with source and speakers that are quick and light on their feet. Which is probably why it works so well with both my Exposure cd player, and the Totem Arros.