Accuphase E-350 Integrated Amplifier

Petri Mutanen
Translated by Robin Lybeck

First published 3.12.2003

The name "Accuphase" is derived from the combination of "accu" (accurate) and "phase". Accuphase is a Japanese company, who’s portfolio at the time of writing contains 32 different standalone high-end products, and on top of that several internally mountable modules such as a riaa-stage and a d/a-converter. Considering its portfolio and technological know-how, Accuphase is anything but a "garage setup". The company has been in business since 1973, with products available in Finland since the end of the 80´s. Accuphase has always opted to take its own route with technical solutions, even compared to other Japanese manufacturers, and they’ve never yet produced any real "entry-level" products.


The E-530 represents Accuphase´s "state of the art" -thinking for integrated amplifiers. Both the pre- and power-amplifier sections work in pure class A, and use current feedback normally associated with op-amps. The advantage of current feedback compared to the more traditional "voltage"-feedback is, among other things, more linear phase behaviour, especially at higher frequencies. The output stage uses Toshiba 2 SJ 618 and 2SK 3497 (180V/10A/130W) MOS-FET transistors, three pairs per channel. The manufacturer claims a doubling of output power all the way to two ohm loads (30W/channel into 8 ohm, 60W/4ohm, 120W/2ohm). The stability of the power source into lower impedances seems to have been considered in the exceptionally well-shielded toroidal transformer (450VA) shared by both channels and in the audiophile-grade filter capacitors (2x 40000uF).

Short signal paths do not seem to be a priority among the designers at Accuphase. The inputs are handled by relays placed close to the input terminals, while the volume-control is handled by a motorised potentiometer located just behind the front plate. From there the signal is transferred to a volume-amplifier with discrete transistors and onwards by surprisingly thin wire to the preamp board. The toroidal transformer, bridge-rectifier and filter capacitors are situated close to each other, the capacitors being connected to the output transistors by thick wires. Because of the amount of functions the E-530 encompasses, the lack of extremely short signal paths is understandable.

The Accuphase-trademarks; bypassable tone controls, peak output meters, separable pre- and power amp sections, balanced inputs, loudness-control, tape monitor, connectors for two loudspeaker pairs (not biwire) and remote control are all part of the "standard" equipment. Add-ons include a RIAA-card and a D/A-converter module.

With its high-quality finish, excellent looks, massive weight (25kg) and sufficient connectors, the Accuphase E-530 leaves a very dignified impression.


The review sample was brand new, so approximately 100 hours of burn-in was allowed before the "real" insertion into the reference system. Sources were the Accuphase DP-77 and Lindemann D680 CD/SACD-players. A passive attenuator with Holco H4 resistors was used as a preamp during separate evaluation of the E-530´s power amp section. The amplifier was placed on a Grand Prix Audio Monaco equipment support. Interconnects were Audioquest Cheetah, Transparent Ultra MM and a DIY-alternative. For loudspeaker cables a DIY-alternative was also used and additionally a set of Audioquest Pikes Peak. Finally, the power cable for the power amp section was DIY, with the sources being connected by Transparent Power Link XL15, Power Link MM, a DIY-power filter and a DIY-cable for the Lindemann Power Brick. Speakers were Avantgarde DUO SUB225 horns.

For the final evaluations I used the Lindemann D680-player, the Transparent Power Link MM for the transport, and a DIY-cable for the Power Brick. Interconnects for the E-530 were Transparent Ultra MM´s, the power cable being a DIY-version. In this instance I used my own DIY-speaker cables. This aforementioned combination gave the most balanced overall result in my reference system. The Audioquest-cables yielded an overly bright result, while the overall sound was a bit to "nasal" with all cables when using the DP-77 sacd-player as source. It would seem to me that a slightly warmer-sounding cable, such as the Cardas Golden Reference, might have been a better match for the two Accuphase-units. Unfortunately such a cable wasn’t available for this review, so it just leaves my educated guess.

Listening impressions

In "integrated" mode, the Accuphase E-530 sounded more or less identical with all different pieces of associated equipment. My initial impression of the sound stayed with me until the end of the review period. The level of tonal "cleanliness" is probably the first thing to clearly set the Accuphase apart from the "mass market" offerings out there. The neutral presentation is another such factor. Dynamic shifts are controlled and presented with great ease. Pace remains natural and unforced, without sounding "slow" in any way. The bass is powerful, controlled and far from the "one-note" bass of lesser amps. Space is clearly delineated, with sufficient depth, width and height. Layered depth is very good, albeit a bit behind the very best amps I’ve heard. Soundstage focus was excellent in the lateral plane, but the musicians were lacking that last it of air in between them.

When using the E-530 solely as a power amp some change of character became evident. The musicians gained some extra air in between them, dynamic swings were a bit more clearly defined, the background became more “black” and the overall sound got something of a “deep-cleansing”. Considering the dynamic changes more carefully; when using the E-530 as an integrated at low volumes, the sense of drive was better, almost to a point of having a “loudness-effect”. When using the Accuphase as a power amp, I had to turn up the volume to achieve the same effect. However, in “power amp-mode” the dynamic swings felt more natural, especially with large-scale orchestral music. Differences between quiet and loud passages were just more tangible. The improved retrieval of inner detail and the better delineation of background passages (with the preamp section bypassed) convinced me of the fact that the preamp section of the E-530 is somewhat unable to pass a signal which is 100% loyal to the original.

No matter how I used the Accuphase (integrated or power amp), a certain “Accuphase-sound” was continually audible. The overall sound left a lot of positive impressions, but also some things I would have like to be different. Neutrality, control and drive were all very good, but I would have liked to hear a bit more liveliness, airiness, layered depth and perhaps some warmth. However, if you happen to be interested in spotting differences between, say, different concert pianos you won’t be disappointed. Resolution is not a limiting factor here.


Balance: Neutral, not dominant in any specific area. If forced to make a choice, I’d say the amp is balanced slightly to the cool side of neutral.

Resolution: Rather impressive, doesn’t “clog up” even on more complex material, even though some less audible details remain hidden. When using only the power amp-section, clarity improved and even the smaller details became evident.

Transparency: When used as an integrated amp, transparency was akin to looking out of a clean three-layer window. With the preamp section separated, the effect was comparable to using high-quality optics.

Treble: Clean and detailed, without any extra sizzle or harshness. On some occasions the treble got a little thin, I felt like I could have used a bit more warmth and “fullness”.

Midrange: Closer to being recessed than dominant, the midrange doesn’t give rise to any objections. Some additional warmth would have made the listening experience even more enjoyable.

Bass: Powerful, dynamic and controlled. Its character reminded me more of a taut electric bass guitar than a full and rounded acoustic one.

Dynamics: No lack of rhythmic drive on low volumes as an integrated. On high levels a “tad” restricted in this area, most noticeably with large-scale orchestral works. When using only the power amp, the effect became more or less reversed.

Soundstage: As an integrated; wide, high and reasonably deep, but still lacking the last bit of airiness. As a power amp; more transparent, with better layered depth and quieter backgrounds. Either way, not the best amp I’ve encountered in this regard, but it still gets a very good grade.


I feel Accuphase has managed to build a very solid integrated amplifier with the E-530. Even though the E-530 wasn’t the best amplifier I’ve ever heard in my system, it could well achieve that status in another setup. The Accuphase might well be at its best in a system with a more full and open overall sound. Despite this, it’s very well built, using components which will last for a long time. You really don’t have to look more than skin deep to see that the E-530 is a very seriously developed and built piece of equipment.

If you’re looking for a high-performance integrated amplifier, don’t bypass this Japanese alternative. I’m sure the high-quality sound won’t leave anyone untouched. Whether its somewhat dry, cool and controlled sound is the one-way ticket to audio Nirvana or not must be up to the audiophile her- or himself.

Price (incl. 22% vat): 9000€
Importer: Kruunuradio Oy
Distributor: Audiostar Oy





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