I own and still use a first generation Audiolab 8000A (about 12 years old). The criticism of the first version of this amp was that it had a slightly glassy treble and could be a bit analytical. I have mated mine with a Cardas Golden power cord with excellent results, and I can tell you that most, if not all of the reviews of the Audiolabs over the years have been exactly the opposite of the first post in this thread. The Audiolabs have never been described as polite and mild. My 8000A with the Cardas still sounds excellent and I know that I'd have to spend a lot more than $500 or $600 to better it significantly-heard the Musical Fidelity A300 a week or two ago and was quite impressed-at 150 watts per channel it has an authority and control over speakers that the Audiolab does not, but it's $1,400. In most other areas, my old 8000A is still pretty good, and while not the equal of a good $1,400 integrated, it is clearly not embarrassed by this kind of competition. The 8000S, by the way, is supposed to sound better than the A model and was current until about 2 years ago, when Audiolab was taken over by Tag-McLaren. Artech (the distributor) still has some on closeout, I believe, and in the $500 range, my guess is you'd be very hard pressed to beat this amplifier. Reviews were very positive on it 2 or 3 years ago when it retailed at $1,000.