Review: Fezz Audio Alfa Lupi Integrated Amplifier

Power isn’t everything.

When it comes to Watts as power, the number of is only one part of the equation. The mistake some audiophiles make is to look at amplifiers and speakers and DACs and turntables in isolation—as if their performance was a stand alone matter, fixed and consistent regardless of the accompanying gear. Despite system context.

I’ve seen reviewers pair a sub 10 Watt amp with 85dB speakers that have an EKG-like impedance and conclude the amp is underpowered. Which is like buying an 85” TV, driving three blocks away to watch it, and concluding the screen is too small.

The Fezz Audio Alfa Lupi Integrated Amplifier relies on a quad of self-biasing PCL86 tubes, a pentode/triode, that handle pre/driver and power duties run in push-pull for 10 Watts of output power. As you can see, the Alfa Lupi offers 4 and 8 Ohm speaker terminals to mate with your speakers and three pair of single-ended RCA inputs. An IEC inlet and power button complete the rear view.

The volume control knob and matching input selector sit on either side of the shiny black face of the Alfa Lupi, while the company logo resides dead center. Measuring a mere 14” wide, 11.5” deep and weighing just 20 lbs., the Alfa Lupi is about as simple and easy to move and use as an amp can get, and those PCL86 tubes emit very little heat beyond their surface, even when pumping out Boris at Barn-shaking levels. More on that in a moment. With its black and white looks, I think the Alfa Lupi is a looker.

with the Sonner Audio Legato Duo

I paired the Alpha Lupi with two pair of speakers—the Barn resident DeVore O/96 (96 dB/W/M, 10 Ohms) and the review Sonner Audio Legato Duo (see review for details), both relatively easy loads for any accompanying amplifier. The resident Auralic AIRES G1.1 Streamer (review) fed the totaldac d1-unity (review), which has also taken up permanent residence in Barn, acting as digital source, while the resident Michell Gyro SE/Michell T8 Tonearm/Ortofon 2M Black paired with the Manley Labs Chinook Phono Stage (review) took care of my records. AudioQuest Thunderbird Interconnects, Robin Hood Speaker Cables, Diamond AES/EBU Digital Cable, and Thunder High-Current AC power cables sent the signals and delivered the power, with everything plugged into an AQ Niagara 3000 Power Conditioner. The Box Furniture “Fallen A” rack made all of the gear feel at home.

Clarity, purity, and spice are among the Alfa Lupi’s core sonic characteristics, traits that traveled with it whether tasked with driving the DeVore’s or the Sonner Legato Duo’s. Beginning with the latter pairing, I found the Alfa Lupi, “lit up the Duo with the combo sounding nimble, quick, and a bit juicier with tone colors sounding a bit more saturated [as compared to the Audia Flight FLS 10 (review).” The Sonner speakers are smooth operators, quietly seductive as opposed to being bold and brash, and the Fezz/Sonner pairing made a delightful display of all the music I asked them to play.

Einstürzende Neubauten’s Tabula Rasa proved to be a perfect test album for this pairing that dug deep into the nuance, tones, and textures of “Blume,” with Anita Lane’s spoken, sung, and sweet vocals coming across crisp and clear and nicely embodied in space in Barn amid the harmonic pings bouncing from Bixa’s Bargeld’s guitar like slices of light, and the boys in the band’s relatively restrained clatter.

That said, the Fezz amp spent most of its Barn-time driving the DeVore O/96, weeks on end, so I was able to get into the finer points of the Fezz using this combination.

Stereo Mind Game from Daughter is the London trio’s latest, released on 4AD earlier this month. A beautiful sounding record filled with subtle sounds, moves, and grooves, the Alfa Lupi/DeVore system displayed a firm grip on the bass’ bottom end while sparkling guitar and wispy string sounds courtesy of London-based string orchestra 12 Ensemble added the right amount of dreamy atmosphere to Elena Tonra’s mesmerizing vocals. Perhaps the biggest surprise to come from the Alfa Lupi’s way with this music was its ability to render a speaker-defying sound image that felt at once clearly defined and spread out in every direction, as if the DeVore O/96 were omnidirectional (they actually are if you think about it).

the Alfa Lupi comes with a tube (that I didn’t use)

Relaxed, airy, resolute and clear kept coming to mind as this lovely record played from beginning to end, keeping me riveted to the Eames red chair delighting in the interplay of Daughter and 12 Ensemble weaving dreamy solitudes in sound. Lovely.

Dublin’s Irish folk quartet Lankum’s latest, False Lankum, is a somber outing, stretched and pulled over time and tales like a black lace veil. Uilleann pipes, concertina, tin whistle, fiddle, viola, banjo, double bass, vibraphone, piano, bayan, harmonium, organ, piano, and percussion are some of the instruments at play, with Radie Peat’s intoxicatingly sorrowful vocals casting an eerie spell. Opener “Go Dig My Grave” runs over 8 minutes with drones and groans breathing deathly slow, feeling like the last bellowing gasps of time run out. The sounds, moods, and atmosphere of False Lankum opened up in Barn, transforming the space and transporting me to some far away place that felt foreign yet eerily familiar. The little Alfa Lupi proved more than up to this task, driving the O/96 well beyond the confines of stereo sound into purely emotive territory.

Boris’ Akuma no Uta is the Japanese hard(est) core band’s fifth album and it rocks and drone’s with the best of ‘em. Simply monstrous guitar from Takeshi (rhythm and bass) and Wata (lead) with Atsuo filling out the assault on drums, Boris’ sound is distinct and captivating, I could eat it raw, right from the jar. I pushed and pushed the Alfa Lupi, harder and louder until I reached its breaking point, which came at volume levels I rarely reach, except when listening to band’s like Boris, and the aural indications of driving the Fezz amp too far were a hardening and flattening of the sound image, as if Boris began crumbling under their own sonic weight. Yes, this was a real torture test in a large space (the Barn’s listening area is 18′ x 35′ x 12′ high) but one that needed to be made as it provided the upper volume limits of the Alfa Lupi’s drive. My much more expensive Leben CS600, that offers about 28 Watts of output power from a quad of Gold Lion KT77’s, has no such limits and can drive the DeVore’s harder and louder than I ever care to listen, even with Boris in charge. Dialing back the listening level to the mid to high 80dB range put Boris back in action with the Alfa Lupi, relaxing the sound and space of the recording back to its fighting weight.

Nature is a beautiful thing and it’s doing its beautiful best display of returning every thing to flowery green accompanied by sweet sweet smells tickling my senses and lightening my step. The Tara Clerkin Trio’s EP In Spring is chamber music meets more modern sensibilities including jazz and trip-hop with pop floating on top, where cello, piano, woodwinds, organ and more back hushed vocals to create a rich garden of earthy delights. This is delicate, color-filled music and the Alfa Lupi excelled at carving out the individual voices, space, and mood of this lovely sonic affair. I have heard more bloom from these distinct voices, once again the Leben CS600 comes to mind, but leaving comparative listening behind reminded me that the little Fezz amp is perfectly capable of weaving an intricate and enticing web of music that needs no apologies. Its nimble dynamic swings, clear as a bell clarity, and billowy sound image all made for an engaging world of sound that was a breeze to forget myself within.

Nuha Ruby Ra’s EP Machine Like Me feels dangerous and sexy with its bass groove growl, industrial sounds, crunchy guitar, and shape-shifting vocals. This is also music that asks to be played loud and at my comfortably loud listening levels, peaking in the high 80dB range, the Alfa Lupi was swinging right along, offering menacing bass, menacing vocals, crushing guitar, and that eerie trumpet off in the distance acting like some sort of manic ghost of Chet Baker barely keeping afloat amidst the sludge. This record sounded big, positively huge, with the Alfa Lupi/DeVore combo in charge making for a sweat-inducing 23-minute workout. Dangerous!

Everything, and every one, has limitations and any 10 Watt amp needs to be paired with speakers that come alive with little power. The Fezz Audio Alfa Lupi made sweet sweet music with the Sonner Audio Legato Duo and DeVore O/96 speakers, offering delicacy, control, and delight with all of the music I sent its way when played at what I consider to be reasonable volume levels. If you regularly listen to head-banger music at ear-splitting levels, you’ll probably want more power (and eventually hearing aids) to reach your sonic bliss.

Fezz Audio Alfa Lupi Integrated Amplifier
Price: $2,395
Company Website: Fezz Audio
North American Distributor Website: Bluebird Music


Tubes : PCL86 x4
Bias: Automatic
Power: 2 x10W
Circuit: Push-Pull Class AB1
Impedance: 4 ohms / 8 ohms
Inputs: 3x RCA
Distortion THD: < 0,3%
Frequency Response: 20Hz-120kHz (-3dB)
Power Consumption: 90W
Dimensions: 340 x 355 x 150mm
Weight: 9,5kg