Monday, 12 December 2016

SoulNote SA710 - Watts The Matter?

It has been awhile since I get to review a Japanese product. The last Japanese product I purchased was the Sony HAP Z1ES back in June but have yet to review it. When Audio Art offered to review the HECO Direkt together with this Soul Note SA710 monitor amp, I could not resist the temptation. I first listened to Soul Note product was back in 2015 KLIAV show. I was impressed then at how comprehensive their products are and  the bang for buck sound. 

SoulNote is designed and manufactured by CSR Inc. that was estbalished in June 2004. It has strong links with Marantz. Their vision is to create a world and industry first products and build a trusting relationship with customers.


While most hifi chassis design are a full deck or shoe box size, SoulNote opted for a full deck size by width but half size for the length (420 x 98 x 243 mm). Its chassis has a fine black metallic finish that gives the overall classy look. There are only 2 knobs in front which are the input selector and volume. Sturdily built with sufficient control to step up/down on the volume.The power button lights up into a cool blue LED when turned on and there is also a headphone jack output. It is relatively a light amplifier weighing at 6 KG. The amp also comes with a set of steel spikes if you wish to use it.


Believe it or not, this small monitor amp delivers only 10 watts per channel into 8 ohm and the headphone section boasts a 3 watter amplification. It is also designed to be used as a pre amp and connect to your power amp. For this review however, it will only be used as an integrated amp driving the ProAc D18 (and Heco Direkt as per my previous review). The topography is based on a Class A amplifier.


Simplicity is the game here. Minimalist design with the following inputs and outputs:
  • 3 x RCA in
  • 1 x XLR balanced in
  • 2 x RCA pre out
  • 1 x headphone out (in front)
  • A pair of speaker terminal (spade or banana plugs)
Additional function includes a gain switch high/low for the headphone.

  • What's Going On by Marvin Gaye - WAV 16/44.1
  • Take Five - DSD 2.8 MHz
  • Sabarlah Menanti  - WAV 16/44.1

  • SONY HAP Z1ES Hi Res player connected via USB cable to Oppo HA-1 DAC
  • Oppo HA-1 DAC with Siltech Classic Anniversary IC to the Soul Note
  • ProAc D18 with Vermouth Audio Black Pearl cable

What's Going On
Marvin's vocal sounded luscious with a hint of warmth in it. Very soulful indeed the way the SA710 delivers this track. It has great refinement with substantial musical flow. It does not bring up the control that a higher wattage amp can deliver but nevertheless, the overall track enjoys the wider sound stage and airiness that this monitor amp churns out. It is the high frequency may be a bit sharp for some  people but for a track like this, the deep baritone voice balances it out just nicely.

Take Five
Like any other DSD tracks, I needed to increase the volume a little bit to give me a more in depth feel of what this amp can do. The bass was extensive and spread out to provide quite an impressive envelop. It does not emphasize on control as it lets out a free flow musical experience. The percussion sounded sharp on this track especially on the ride cymbal and snare. But refinement through the wind instrument made the overall track sounded lively and full of energy. It is so refined that I somehow could hear the reed of the instrument being played.

Sabarlah Menanti
This was the SA710 best performance with respect to average sensitivity speaker like the ProAc D18 (88 dB). It maintains its warm big sound stage. An amp that can really deliver emotions when it is needed. The vocal from this late Malaysian superstar came out to be very melodic. The guitar works reminded me of tunes from Eric Clapton early days. Again, the SA710 strength is at the low end spectrum but without diminishing the importance of clarity and transparency.


In comparison with HECO Direkt, the SA710 maintains its strength in bass delivery and sound stage but looses out in control and grip with the ProAc D18. This I believe is related to the lower sensitivity of the ProAc D18. Surprisingly however, the SA710 can still drive the ProAc with ease and no sign of stress. With the HECO Direkt which has sensitivity of 95 dB, the SA710 drives them perfectly. Retailed at RM9538, it is definitely bang for buck as I expected.

If you have high sensitivity speakers (I would say 90 dB and above) and looking for a nonsense-free mini amp, do consider to demo for this Soul Note SA710. It can provide a musical experience that can satisfy different genres of music.

For a demo, please contact the following:

KL - Selective HiFi
68-2, Block F, Zenith Corporate Park, Jalan SS7/26, SS7, 47301 PJ
Call David on +60 12-249 9823 or Vinson on 0129071955

Ipoh and Northern - Audio Art
Contact Yoon on 012-5201066

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