Review: Blue Circle Audio Music Pumps Amplifier
The $799 Music Pumps are a pair of 25W single-gain-stage mono-block amplifiers housed in a pair of size 11 1/2 women's dress shoes. This is driven by an oversized 75W transformer. The transformer and the huge heat sink attached to the output device, stick out of the liberally applied electrical-grade silicone that pots everything inside the shoes open architecture. Silver-plated copper wire with Teflon dielectric is used throughout the circuit, which employs point to point wiring. Pure-copper wire is used in the power supply. The Pumps' speaker wire is hard-wired to its output. A gold-plated RCA dangles out the shoe's back. A very short hard-wired power cable is terminated with a non-polarized two-prong plug. The Music Pumps turn on and off by an extension cord, that look like something you would use with Christmas tree lights.
I unfortunately do not have the matching Music Purse preamplifier to feed the Music Pumps. The $499 Music Purse is a three-input preamplifier with 6dB of gain, installed in a breadboard/faceplate assemblage, which is affixed to the lining of a fine Spanish leather purse. A tape/processor loop can be added.
Therefore, since I did not have the Music Purse, my first chore was the find an appropriate preamplifier to use with the Pumps. I did not want to color the sound if possible. What I settled on was using the "pre-outs" on a Creek 4330 integrated amplifier. This part of the Creek is very passive, basically just a volume control with an input selector. To keep things in the family, I used a pair of BC95 interconnects to connect the Music Pumps to the Creek.
I tried two different speakers with the Pumps. Since I was working with only 25 watts, I tried the small and efficient (91dB) B&W DM302 bookshelf speakers; and a pair of the original CDM-1. So let now try some music.
First…Brahms Piano Trios; The Beaux Arts Trio….Philips CD
The Pumps were able to capture the essence of the performance, with very good piano tones for such a low powered amp. There was also very good energy, with a realistic soundstage and imaging.
Next…Take Five; The Dave Brubeck Quartet….Columbia CD
The Pumps presented excellent detail in this classic recording. Percussion brush strokes, cymbals, and light tapping were reproduced very realistically. The bass was also very good, but not as deep or beefy as you would find on a larger more power amp. Overall there was very good rhythm and the sense of live music.
Finally…Mozart Requiem; Dresden State Orchestra; Leipzig Radio Choir; Peter Schreier, conductor….Philips CD
Here the Pumps gave me joyous choral singing, with rich resonance. The soloists were presented with good detail, even on more delicate vocal lines. As the music reach a crescendo, the Pumps were up to the challenge. The orchestra sound had good dynamics and imaging.
So overall what do I think of the Pumps? To be honest, if your goal is solely audiophile reproduction on a budget of $800 to $1,000; a plain "black box" amplifier in this price range will outperform the Pumps, including Blue Circle's own CS power amplifier which I plugged into the system for a reality check. The difference is in the bass. You can get more authority, and deeper bass at this price. But in no way do the Pumps embarrass themselves. The bass was still very detailed and realistic. The midrange was sweet, and the highs had a good sense of air. Sometime I will try them out with a better power cord than the supplied "Christmas tree" setup; and maybe try to upgrade the hard-wired speaker cable.
What the Pumps do give you that a plain box amplifier does not is fun. They are cool to look at, and instantly fascinate all visitors to your home. There is a price to style whether it is clothing, furniture or automobiles. In this regard, the Pumps are a bargain.
More details and ordering information is available at www.ClassicPumps.com
Creek 4330 Integrated Amplifier (Pre-outs only). B&W DM302 and CDM-1 Speakers. Blue Circle BC95 Interconnects.