AMC XIA 150SE Review: Greetings from the past

AMC XIA 150SE Review: Greetings from the past

AMC XIA 150SE Review: Greetings from the past

AMC XIA150SE Review: Greetings from the past

“Do you want checkers or go?” – this issue is relevant not only on city streets but also when choosing Hi-Fi components. Someone clings to aesthetics and believes that “an ugly plane will not take off”, someone loves with their ears and does not pay attention to the appearance of the device if the sound quality is completely satisfactory, and someone has a rack with equipment that has tinted doors.

The American brand AMC primarily specializes in high-quality audio equipment for smart home systems and home theater systems - devices that usually just stand in closed racks or racks. Probably, for this reason, branded Hi-Fi components turn out to be very utilitarian in appearance - no beautiful displays, arrows, light bulbs, and switches, and the color scheme corresponds to the precepts of Henry Ford: "Choose any color - provided that it is black." However, this does not affect the sound in any way.

Correct roots

The first question that probably arose for those who are not familiar with the AMC brand: “Is it worth paying attention to installation equipment if there are still plenty of traditional Hi-Fi components around?”. AMC was founded in 1970 and indeed initially dealt exclusively with automation systems, including home ones (yes, houses were already smart in the 70s!).

AMC XIA 150SE Review: Greetings from the past

In 1984, AMC's home automation division expanded significantly and began to seriously engage in the production of Hi-Fi equipment. It was in this form that amplifiers, CD players, FM tuners and other AMC stereo components were remembered by audiophiles of the end of the last century. And just from that time, the design has been preserved. Look closely at a modern AMC amplifier, and then find a photo of the same AMC or NAD from the 90s. Everything matches, including the green power button!

And it turns out that the modern AMC XIA150SE amplifier, which we will meet today, is not a stylization or even a revival of the legendary model, it is something like a time capsule: an apparatus assembled in our time and on modern components, but which is essentially modernized version of the amplifier from the 90s. And in those days, a special atmosphere reigned in the world of Hi-Fi, which AMC has fully preserved.


Without trying to impress future owners with a sophisticated appearance, the AMC XIA150SE is quite capable of surprising people who are versed in technology with its internal contents. Let's start with the fact that this device weighs more than 12 kg - very impressive even considering the fact that it produces 150 watts per channel.

AMC XIA 150SE Review: Greetings from the past

Through the grilled cover, you can see a gigantic toroidal transformer, large "banks" of electrolytic capacitors in the power supply, massive aluminum radiators and large-section wires connecting the boards. Everything is done thoroughly, soundly, with a decent margin. There is no doubt that the device will give out the declared power without particularly straining.

It is known about circuitry that transistors are installed in the output stages, which ensure successful matching with low-impedance acoustics and better load control in general. Also, the developers talk about the presence of special circuit solutions that make it possible to bring the character of the sound as close as possible to the tube one, but with all the advantages of transistor circuitry.

And here it is worth noting that AMC engineers are well versed in tube circuitry and tube sound: the company's assortment even includes very unusual hybrid amplifiers with a transistor preliminary stage and a tube output.

Switching and control

All issues related to switching and integrating the amplifier into a stereo system are solved as practical as possible and look as if they were designed not for the end user, but rather for installers. Most of the inputs marked on the selector are dual-purpose, and additional switches located on the rear panel allow you to select which input will be used in a particular selector position.

AMC XIA 150SE Review: Greetings from the past

So, for example, the extreme right position of the selector on the front panel is a digital input, and whether it will be optics or cocacial, you must first select the switch located on the rear panel. And if you look closely, the AMC XIA150SE has quite a lot of such switches, connectors and empty slots for optional inputs.

Thus, a proprietary modular design is implemented, which allows maintaining the relevance of branded amplifiers without constantly updating the model range - input modules are simply added to the classic model, and additional letters or symbols are added to the model designation. The user will be able to choose a configuration that is convenient for himself and use exactly the set of inputs that suits his sources.

In addition to tricky input switching, the AMC XIA150SE has external jumpers that connect the preamplifier and power amplifier. It also greatly expands the system configuration options and allows for easy upgrades.

AMC XIA 150SE Review: Greetings from the past

Control is carried out either using the remote control, which, like the amplifier itself, has a recognizable retro design from the 90s, or via the RS232 interface, or manipulators located on the front panel.

The volume knobs and the input selector are motorized, while the first responds to touch in a completely familiar way, and the input selector, when turned automatically, turns on the electric drive and scrolls the knob one step in the direction in which you indicate the movement. The sensations are extremely unusual: at some point, the selector handle literally breaks out of your fingers and continues to move on its own, accompanied by a uterine buzz.

But the tone block has the usual adjustment with potentiometers. The developers, by the way, declare a particularly thorough development of this section of the circuit - they tried to make sure that it does not have a negative impact on the sound.

AMC XIA 150SE Review: Greetings from the past

Indeed, turning the tone block on/off with the button gives subtle changes that can be attributed to the fact that the middle position of both controls may not have been perfectly accurate. And, by the way, the regulators work very correctly, smoothly changing the number of upper and lower frequencies. However, this is another story - about the sound.

Best Features

In order to clarify some moments and nuances of the sound of the amplifier, I used two fundamentally different models of acoustic systems: ELAC Vela FS407, made according to modern canons, and KLH Model Three, vintage in essence.

The role of the source was taken over by the Technics SL-G700 digital player. Of the two possible connection options, analog was chosen - it gave a more balanced sound with deep bass and better timbre elaboration, while the built-in DAC made the sound more lightweight and light, with less bass.

In general, the difference between the two connection options was not significant. This, of course, does not indicate the equality of the quality of the two components, but rather the redundancy of Technics for this system. However, this was precisely his task - to give a reference signal to the input of the amplifier, so that during the testing process one could completely focus on the “acoustics + amplifier” bundle, without thinking about how the source affects the overall picture.

From the very beginning of listening, it was obvious that there are some special old-school notes in the sound of the AMC XIA150SE, which are extremely rare in our time in amplifiers, especially in transistor ones. In the presentation, one could feel the softness and accuracy inherent in tube technology, which, however, were accompanied by a very clear drawing of sound images and a muscular bass, quite in the spirit of the best transistor devices.

Any music on any acoustics AMC XIA150SE serves as solid and lively images. They are extremely difficult to perceive in layers or individual details, although the level of detail in this device is quite decent for its price category. As a result, the shortcomings of the recordings do not come to the fore, even the compressed recordings of the 90s sound interesting, and the most sterile audiophile releases turn out to be quite lively and not boring at all.

AMC XIA 150SE Review: Greetings from the past

In conjunction with the ELAC Vela FS407 acoustics, the sound was more balanced, detailed and realistic. So, for example, in the introductory part of the track “California” by U2, the noises of the city are recorded, and with this bunch you get the feeling that you really are on the city street. Space and perspective are well transmitted, some sounds come from afar, others are closer.

And then - complete delight from what he heard. The system turned out to be quite transparent and at the same time very musical, which made it possible to appreciate the nostalgic moods of the performers and the characteristic mastering that sends the listener back to the last decades of the 20th century.

There are no problems with this bunch of genres. The components successfully cope with completely different music and reproduce each genre in a very exciting way. Test recordings of the classics, which I usually listen to in fragments, this time sounded in full.

AMC XIA 150SE Review: Greetings from the past

The combination of KLH Model Three with an AMC amplifier turned out to be more genre, but the excellent work in the bass range and excellent rhythm became an absolutely deadly argument in its favor. The sound of the new RHCP album "Return of the Dream Canteen" in this performance can be a source of absolute pleasure for Flea fans.

In order to fully appreciate the mastery of his playing, the system requires flawless rendering of bass notes, dynamism and the ability to accurately work out complex rhythmic patterns - and all this is present in full.

Therefore, alternative music, like RHCP and RATM, sounded most impressive on AMC + KLH. The same can be said about classic rock, funk, dajazz, reggae. As expected, this pair did well with any music recorded in the analog era, especially with records from the 70s and earlier.

AMC XIA 150SE Review: Greetings from the past

An important indirect indicator of the quality of any system is the duration of listening. In my case, it took about twice as long as usual, and at the end there was no feeling of fatigue or discomfort, which indicates the maximum naturalness of the sound. Since the character of the AMC XIA150SE was the determining factor in these two sets, it was responsible for this effect to a greater extent.


The AMC XIA150SE is a classic, great-sounding stereo amplifier that hasn't been touched by a designer since around the mid-90s. Ideal for those who do not want to spend extra money on something that is not directly related to sound. After all, judging by how this amplifier sounds, the entire budget, to the last penny, was spent on improving its audio part.

It seems that in addition to the design, only the best was taken from the old school - dynamism, warmth and density of sound, a solid supply of energy, authenticity of timbres and a solid presentation. At the same time, the AMC XIA150SE, like most representatives of the modern school, has no problems with rhythm and scene construction, it does not sound rude, and does not eat up small details.

AMC XIA 150SE Review: Greetings from the past

In sum, this gives an exceptionally lively, expressive, and musical sound that is most conducive to obtaining listening pleasure. The music presentation of the AMC XIA150SE is absolutely homely and music lovers, allowing you to listen to releases of completely different quality without experiencing any discomfort.


it would be useful to recall the existence of younger versions of this amplifier. If you don't need 150 watts, you can get the same sound with a 50 or 100 watt amplifier. The younger models XIA50 and XIA100 will not only be more compact, but also noticeably cheaper. At the same time, according to the experts of "Audiomania", where the audition took place, even a device with a power of 50 W can confidently cope with a complex load.


lively and expressive sound does not emphasize the shortcomings of the recordings, copes well with completely different acoustics, it is possible to configure inputs, high-quality implementation of the tone block


utilitarian retro design, confusing input selection scheme

AMC XIA 150SE Specifications

Output power: 2x150W (8 ohms)

Frequency response: 20-20000Hz

Signal-to-noise ratio: more than 85 dB

Harmonic distortion: less than 0.03% (1kHz)

Built-in DAC: 24 bit / 192 kHz

Inputs: 4x analog RCA, Phono, coaxial, 2x optical, power amplifier input

Outputs: preamp, headphone

Additional interfaces: RS232

Dimensions: 430x112x288 mm

Weight: 12.2 kg

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