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47 Laboratory 4739 Fudou power amp Review

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True and consistent with his minimalist design philosophy of “Only the simplest can accommodate the most complex,” Junji Kimura of 47 Labs develops his products to have the highest performance possible with the fewest parts; and he does it in such a perfectionist stance that it’s often accomplished at the detriment of user conveniences. For instance, the Gaincard has only 9 parts per channel and the world’s shortest signal path of 32mm including the length of parts, but the featherweight body of the 4706 Gaincard S amplifier was problematic in my 2002 review of it.

Now, Junji coalesced the structures of two 4700-50 Power Humptys with complete mono construction and separate power supplies onto a resonance dispersing acrylic, aluminum and stainless steel platform housing an extensively streamlined Gaincard and out comes the 34-pound, 4739 Fudou. The word “Fudou” means “un-moving” and this time I completely agree. The result is a much heavier version of the Gaincard S that can withstand the heaviest of cables, at the same time increasing the impedance capability to 70 watts-per-channel at 4 ohms.

To be certain, all this is tremendous good news that all audiophiles can rejoice to, even though the Junji-sque, spade-only clamp-down speaker terminal remains. Junji fitted such a clamping rod over the speaker area with three vertical screws per channel that overhead space is an absolute necessity to access the connectors. This makes putting the 4739 onto open floor space or the top shelf a necessity.

Bearing a kindred spirit with the folks at Pass Labs, Junji is an analogphile at heart and it shows even in the world-class PiTracer CD transport, in which the laser emitting and reading mechanism is incorporated into a hovering, solid block of extruded aluminum above the upside down CD on the spinning platter. The result was an ultra-powerful CD transport that makes most others sound undernourished. Now, only if Junji could add SACD capability to it and a new SACD/USB DAC that also feeds on the Power Dumpty cylindrical power supply. Wouldn’t that be something? I can still conjure up the memory of his dual-mono, zero-oversampling, digital filterless Gemini DAC and PiTracer in my system.

Sonically, the 4739 Fudou is a marked departure from that of the Gaincard S. Devoid of any features and superfluous part counts, the Gaincard S flaunted a sound so unhinged from the world of high-end audio that were it not for its underpowered slimness in the presence of power hungry speakers these days, it would’ve been a fantastic reference of neutrality. The Fudou is not of the same vein.

If the Fudou was to be assigned a perfect loudspeaker, the 86dB/8 Ohm Quad ESL 2812 would be it. With an internally charged static transducer system, the Quad was found to be a tonally flamboyant speaker with a mild dynamic temperament. It would ultimately only go so loud even as beckoned by the likes of the Pass Laboratories XA200.8 pure class A solid-state monoblocks. The Fudou, then, never had to push itself beyond what its 45 watts at 8 ohm could deliver where the Quad was concerned. Achieving 82dB of constant sound level at the listening position, the Fudou had reached its peak performance in driving the Quad ESL.

As funneled by a complete, $75k of MIT Cables Oracle system with the Audio Reference Technology corps d’elite empowerment in the forms of two Analyst SE ($7,300 each) and two Super SE ($2,950 each) power cables and the Power Distributor, the Bricasti Design M1 dual-mono DAC and Pass Laboratories Xs Preamp put together a consummate display of uncanny beauty in moderation. For my late night listening sessions, this was perfection. But because of its pleasant midrange and delicate top-end, the Fudou gave the Quad exactly that layered spatiality and intricate tonality that allowed the speakers to showcase its advantages.

After the Quad ESL2812 came the $30k, 88dB/4 Ohm Technical Audio Devices Laboratories Evolution One, and this speaker presides at the very far edge of the Fudou’s 70 Wpc/4 ohm performance envelope. The coaxial Coherence Source Transducer (CCST) of the TAD-E1 is a marvel of the coaxial technology that I have been craving for and found fulfillment in the Tannoy Churchill Wideband of late, followed by the Westminster Royal SE. The Churchill spent five years in my system while the Westminster, three, but I have experienced the point source manifestation at its highest form in the TAD’s CCST driver technology. The Fudou compelled it to blossom.

In my 14′ x 30′ x 9′ room, via the $9k Fuuga moving-coil cartridge in the company of the $18k Spiral Groove Revolution turntable system and the Pass Labs Xs Phono, the $10k 47 Laboratory 4739 Fudou drove the TAD-E1 to 85 peak decibel in realizing the sonic splendor of the MFSL Alan Parsons Project I Robot GAIN 2 Ultra Analog Numbered Edition 45rpm 180g 2LP set. Contrasting the gentlemanly Quad ESL 2812, the TAD-E1, still in my system as of this writing, represents quite the vanguard in dynamic delivery and sheer awe.

The Fudou attained superb definition reminiscent of the Gaincard S in driving the TAD and displayed a tonal affinity towards the likes of Electrocompaniet, slightly soft and impressively spacious. Pushing the Fudou to beyond 90dB peak sound pressure twelve feet away in my listening chair induced subversive compressions. Asking the Fudou to drive the TAD-E1 into party-level ruckus will be improper.

If in another space the owner of which craves 90dB-plus sound pressure from the TAD-E1 to realize the sonic splendor of the any other MFSL swashbuckler, the $12k Pass Laboratories INT-250 should be considered. But for readers who has come to know the 47 Lab sound and method and found the Gaincard S a bit too idiosyncratic physically and transparent sonically, the Fudou is the sweeping solution, albeit at a much higher price.

The 47 Laboratory 4739 Fudou stands apart from its lineage. With its flagrant sonics, the Fudou is the beauty of the family.

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6 Responses to 47 Laboratory 4739 Fudou power amp Review


  1. r dunki says:

    Isn’t impedance either 4, 8, 12 or 16 Ohms?
    What is 70 W “impedance capability”?

    • Dear Ronald,

      Thank you for your readership and question. The passage on the Fudou’s impedance capability is a reference to the amplifier’s ability to output 70 watts into a 4 ohm load.

      Sincerely,

      Constantine Soo

  2. Sam says:

    Your talking about 47 labs concept of simplicity and using an mit cable loom which is exactly the opposite of simplicity. Why not use a simple cable set? Something from 47 labs itself.

    • Dear Sam,

      Thank you for your readership and comment.

      Yours is a question about review objectives. In using the 47 Laboratory 4708 OTA interconnect and 4709 speaker cable, I would be commenting on the sound of the system as presented by the cables. Retrospectively, by using the MIT Cables Oracle Series cable system, I am reporting on the Fudou’s maximum potential.

      If I get twelve comments from readers seconding your suggestion, I’ll reach out to Sakura Systems officially for the cables and do a follow-up article.

      Sincerely,

      Constantine Soo

  3. Robert Pollock says:

    Given the reasonable prices for their cables, it would be interesting to find out if they are a good match.

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