PMC cor amplifier : £4995
One of the surprises of 2017 was the arrival of the PMC cor integrated amplifier. Not only is this PMC’s first stand-alone domestic amplifier (they have been making power amps for their active speakers since their inception) but it is a proper high end integrated that has tone controls.
Sound quality is exceptional. This is one of the finest amplifiers available at anywhere near its price level – and stands comparison with alternatives that cost a whole lot more. Predictably, it’s well matched to PMC’s own loudspeakers but it is certainly not limited to them either.
One of our early adopters has the cor with Russell K Red 100s. . .
The cor is available in silver or black and, as of March 2018, is becoming reasonably freely available. It is hand built after all.
The cor integrated is an amplifier that adds no sonic character of its own to the music. It follows exactly the same design ethos for high resolution playback as used in the creation of all PMC’s loudspeakers, namely musicality, transparency and neutrality, where nothing is added and nothing is taken away. The role of the amplifier, like the company’s speakers, is to reproduce the music exactly as it is meant to be heard.
Designed and hand-built by PMC in the UK, the cor – the dictionary definition of which is: (anatomy) heart; (figuratively) soul, mind – is an integrated amplifier that works entirely in the analogue domain. Every element of the cor has been developed with purity of sound at the top of the criteria list. The four unbalanced RCA analogue inputs are joined by one pair of balanced XLR inputs and a set of direct inputs that connect straight to the power amplifier. The cor integrated does not feature any digital inputs and is unashamedly an analogue amplifier for the purist.
All the components were specified without compromise after extensive listening tests, including the black PCBs and the volume control, which, together with the tone and balance faders, are motorised using the finest technology from professional mixing consoles, and are remote controllable. This provides flexibility to achieve the perfect sound on every track, without moving from your armchair.
The delicate audio signal passing through the controls remains entirely in the analogue domain and, if desired, a defeat option routes the signal only via the volume control. Audio switching is via hermetically sealed, inert gas filled, gold plated relays for zero oxidisation and better electronic isolation. Power output from the Class A/B design is a conservatively rated 95 watts into 8 ohms and 140 watts into 4 ohms.
The cor also features an auto-sensing true audiophile Class A/B headphone amplifier for personal listening. Whatever the sensitivity of the connected headphones, the cor’s headphone output has enough drive to make them sing, while protecting them from overload and maintaining a musical, neutral and transparent sound.
The cor amplifier performs all the functions of a traditional integrated amplifier, but its circuit design does not follow the usual pattern. The Darlington circuit provides the ultimate in short signal paths and builds on much respected work of Sidney Darlington at Bell Labs. The PMC designers auditioned many different configurations of transistor implementation before settling on the Darlington design, which was found to provide the best transparency. The output devices are at the forefront of modern transistor technology and incorporate temperature sensors inside the transistor. When combined with PMC’s proprietary first stage module, this means optimum temperature tracking, resulting in phenomenally low distortion, lower heat and greater stability.
Each circuit block is linked by a balanced connection, locking spurious RF and EMI emissions out of the audio path and enabling each circuit block to reference its own local ground. The PMC custom designed 360VA power transformer uses MuMETAL® shielding to further reduce EMI, a specially formulated, military-spec alloy which absorbs up to 200 times more magnetic flux than steel. This ensures the amplifier is as clean and quiet as possible.
Explaining the thinking behind the development of the cor integrated, Peter Thomas, PMC’s founder and owner, says, “For many years my passion has been developing amplifiers for our professional loudspeakers, and now a pure analogue amplifier for the consumer world, designed from the ground up. I wanted to take our holistic approach to loudspeaker design, one of musical purity, and bring it to the electronics, through the reduction of noise and the amplifying of nothing but the music.” He continues, “I am thrilled and delighted to be able to present the cor integrated, the realisation of a dream come true, that has been driven not by commercial pressures, but by the desire to do it right.”
Stylistically, the cor is a masterpiece of minimalist industrial design, reminiscent to the work of Dieter Rams and paying homage to Raymond Loewy, the “father of streamlining”. Crafted from extruded aluminium and supplied in an understated black finish, the subtle appearance perfectly complements the purity of music reproduction that is key to the design of the cor.
The extruded aluminium remote control echoes the style of the amplifier and allows volume, balance or tonal adjustments at the touch of a button.
- Type: Pure analogue Class A/B integrated amplifier
- Inputs:1 x balanced, 4 x single-ended, direct in
- Outputs:4mm binding posts, preamp out
- Frequency response:20Hz – 20kHz +0/-0.2dB 5Hz – 80kHz +0/-1dB15dB
- Maximum gain:15dB
- Tone controls:+/- 10dB
- Input impedance:25kOhms, unbalanced >14kOhms, balanced
- THD:0.001% at 1kHz
- Maximum input:5.5Vrms
- Maximum output:10Vrms
- Rated output power, 230V mains: 95W into 8Ohms,140W into 4Ohms
- Frequency response:20Hz – 20kHz +0/-0.1dB 5Hz – 80kHz +0/-1dB
- Input impedance:23.5kOhms
- Sensitivity:1V = 100W into 8Ohms
- THD (Rated output power into 8Ohms):0.001% at 1kHz
- Noise:-101dB A-weighted re. rated output
- Damping factor:>160 into 8Ohms, 20Hz – 20kHz
- Dimensions:W 432mm H 87.5mm D 401mm (inc. feet)