The last few years has seen a bounty of great audio components coming through for review. The Pass Labs XA200.5 mono amplifiers, Triangle Arts Signature turntable, and the D’Agostino Momentum Integrated to name a few, have made indelible and long lasting impressions. The countless hours spent pouring over these great examples of the alchemy of great industrial design and cutting edge music making has been a joy. None of them sound all that similar yet each reaches deep down into a level of resolution that reveals the heart of music.
Added to that list is the latest from Wells Audio, the Innamorata Signature stereo amplifier. The word Innamorata means Mistress or to fall in love in Italian. Great name! Rated at 150 watts per channel into 8 Ohms, 210 watts into 4 Ohms seems right based on the performance of the amplifier.
Jeff has always loved music and have been fascinated with the electronic reproduction of it since he was a small boy. Along the way he found that he had a talent for system setup and combining equipment to deliver the best possible musical results. He was urged by friends and followers to use these talents professionally so he started the Audible Arts, a high-end audio retail store located in San Jose, Ca., with a colleague 20 years ago. Along the way he always felt that equipment was missing something and should be better. In 2010, he started Wells Audio, not because he wanted to be a manufacturer, but because he felt that he could offer something different and better. The statement that he stands by is the first time he heard the Innamorata, it was different than anything in high-end and he wanted to sell it not necessarily to make a living but because he believed every audiophile needed the opportunity to hear and own what he was listening to. Life is the cosmic scorekeeper. Because the high-end equipment sales arena is so incredibly crowded if he had been deluding himself then he would have disappeared quite quickly, but if he was correct then sales would vindicate him. Wells Audio is still around and doing better than ever.
The Wells Audio Innamorata Signature arrived on the heels of the D’Agostino Momentum Integrated, a product that has had me in a spell from day one. Trust me, I was not looking to review another amplifier at that time. But reviewers’ schedules often conflict and I was asked to help out, so of course I would give the Wells Audio a listen.
First off, the amplifier is really nice looking. The gold-rimmed round meter on the front panel gives the otherwise traditional black solid-state chassis a bit of bling. The review sample also had a transparent top plate. Being able to gaze at the innards was very cool.
Using the D’Agostino as an example of a component that makes an immediate impression in the best sense of the word, so does the Innamorata Signature, but in a very different way. So different in fact I had never really heard anything like it. No, the Wells Audio Innamorata Signature did not best the D’Agostino but it did reveal a bit of dryness in comparison. What the Innamorata has is a midrange and treble that is so creamy and liquid smooth without resulting in any darkness or muting. The overall effect is hard to describe. Textures are downright juicy, they are never harsh or overly bright. Horns in particular just pour out tone and texture. And vocals? Outstanding. Violin and Piano, two of the toughest instruments to get right are handled with such liquidity and proper tone, making for an incredibly seductive presentation.
The D’Agostino Momentum has a beguiling level of neutrality and resolution, particularly in the treble, resulting in every song unfolding into vast landscape to explore. There is simply more information passing through the D’Agostino. That said, the Wells Audio Innamorata Signature’s treble is so well integrated with the mid band making for a seamless presentation on par with the best, it leaves little on the table in the upper frequencies. Very sweet in tone, this is unapologetically beautiful sound. As for the comparison I have been making with the D’Agostino, I have not mentioned that it is nearly 5 times the price of the Innamorata Signature. As for choosing anything near the Innamorata’s price point I’m all over the Innamorata for center stage in my system.
Based on what I have described so far, you would not expect super tight and dry bass and you won’t get it. The bass pretty much follows in suit of the mid band and treble. That liquidity carries down through the mid bass giving stand up bass a densely rounded purring tone. Just lovely. Electric bass like that from Geddy Lee of Rush playing “YYZ,” emphasis is on tone and color and a little less on dynamic swing. Not to say that the track lagged in any way, it is just not as whip snap as it is through either the Pass Labs XA200.5 or the D’Agostino. It is the musicality of the bass that makes the listener really sink into bass heavy tracks. Like the mid band and treble the bass carries the tune with effortless ease. Different yes, wonderful? For sure.
Overall however, the dynamic life of the Wells Audio Innamorata Signature was excellent. Capable of a wide range of dynamic shading you really feel the breath and life of music. Vocal shading was truly excellent. Groups of vocalist had their own individual singer’s vocal shading easily differentiated from one another. Very sophisticated sound here. Again, there is a liquidity and slippery ease to the dynamic swings presented by the Innamorata. Like waves on the ocean, the listener is taken for a ride on an effortless dynamic tide. All of these great traits are the result of what appears to be a seriously low noise floor. I was able to really crank up this amplifier without any shift in tone or timbre or the addition of any glare or brightness. For me, this is really something I love as I have a big space and the sound’s volume must reach a critical level to properly lock into the room.
As for staging and imaging, the Wells Audio Innamorata Signature is a tad laid back with the stage starting a few feet further behind the speakers than either the Pass Labs or the D’Agostino. Everything had its place in space, though. It was not as see-through as the D’Agostino. Elements of production such as reverb and delays and the such are there, but with less emphasis.
I really wish I had more time with the Wells Audio Innamorata Signature, I would have liked to get to know it even better. However I certainly had enough time to confidently relay my experience with this wonderful amplifier. Coming up against my reference amplifier was a tall task, and the Innamorata put on a fantastic showing. Seductive in a way no other amp I have heard is, the Innamorata will please probably 90 percent of all audiophiles out there; so musically pleasing as to make much of the competition sound a bit a-musical. At the price of $15k the Wells Audio Innamorata Signature is a no brainier.
I have reviewed and or lived with dozens of amplifiers over the last 20 years of writing. I enjoy amplifiers on a different level than some other components. I have loved them from the early days of the Krell KSA150, Rowland amps, of which I love to this day, various tube designs right through to my currant references.
The Innamorata Signature is another milestone in my reviewing days. Sounding like no other amp I have heard, it has musical magic running through its veins. This amp really took me by surprise. Very Highly recommended.
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