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This review first appeared in the February 2009 issue of hi-end hifi magazine High Fidelity of Poland. You can also read this review of the Aaron Model No.1A in its original Polish version. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with publisher Wojciech Pacula. As is customary for our own reviews, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of High Fidelity. - Ed.

Reviewer: Wojciech Pacula
Review system: Go here
Review component retail:
A few short words about that name. It's neither Biblical nor does it denote Jewish roots or anything of the sort. (On Jewish roots and the star with the LED in the middle -- this might be surprising -- consider Marantz; or so at least claims the All About Marantz official company history published by "Stereo Sound" in their 2003 Special Issue). Aaron co-owner Thomas Höhne who's second passion is flying explains that because he sees his devices at the top of the audio food chain, he wants to appear first in any
alphabetic listings and it's hard to beat a double 'a' after all. Only "Aaaaaaaagency seeking women" could be better...

I tried to obtain something Aaron for review for three years ever since I first saw them at the High End Munich 2008 show. From time to time we even agreed to commence a review on a given date which got moved around again with nothing ever coming of it. But everything takes its due time and perhaps a Model No.1.a review (do you spot the naming consistency?) simply wanted High Fidelity to be first and celebrate the 20
th anniversary of the company's most important product, the very first amplifier bearing the Aaron badge - the model No.1? Perhaps. I'm sure there's something to it as nothing happens without a reason. Often, we simply don't know what it is.

Aaron (High End Unterhaltungselektronik Vertriebs GmbH) was founded in 1985 by music lovers Marita and Thomas Höhne. Their first product was the amplifier A300.M named after the engineer Markus Neumann who designed it. At the end of the decade, the Höhne family hired a few new designers to conceive the Sovereign project under which name they now sell ultra-expensive, top-hi-end products as the crown pieces of Thomas' ambitions. The company pages explain how at this stage the most important contributors were the brothers Andreas and Dr. Bernhard Fuss and the Dutch expat Lion Kwaytaal in the US. The cooperation with the latter was especially fruitful and by 1989, all production was transferred to the Dutch city Hertogenbosch also known as 'Den Bosch' where Kwaytaal took care of supervision. Starting that year all products sold earlier under the Markus Neumann brand were re-branded Aaron. The first component to bear the proud new logo on its front panel was the integrated amplifier No.1.

Aaron is an extremely thorough outfit to focus its expertise on a few choice models only and present the best it can offer at any given time. During the last 20 years, this included: No.1 integrated amplifier (1989 - 2002); No.2 preamplifier (1990 - 2001); No.4 monaural amplifier (1990 - 2001); No.3 stereo amplifier (1990 - 2001); Phono Module phono stage (1990 - 2002); No.5 integrated amplifier (1992 - 2002); No.7 preamplifier (1993 - 2002) and No.6 stereo power amplifier (1993 - 2002) .

Today's portfolio includes the No.22 Cineast stereo multi-channel preamplifier, No.3
Millennium stereo amplifier, No.33 Cineast 3-ch. power amplifier and the No.1.a integrated. Now that's modesty!

Sound: I started the listening sessions whilst testing Gemme Audio's Katana speakers. Those are brilliant with one drawback only. They are a bit closed off on top and don't eagerly convey the recorded energy. This is partially due to the quite soft upper midrange and treble. Except for the P-7100 Accuphase , the Aaron turned out to be the only amplifier on hand that was able to drive them perhaps not to the extent I would have ultimately liked but sufficient to hear what these ceramic speakers were about and what was in the Katanas. Those are twice-the-price loudspeakers that can work with electronics twice again as costly as they are. We thus have to compare the Aaron to devices within the 20000-25000zl range to take its true measure. While two aspects -- sweetness and sonic density-- can be found in two of my similarly priced favorite amps, the Trigon Energy and Luxman L-550A II, all other traits make it a stand-out which only in comparison to the upper hi-end (in my case the Luxman M-800A + Leben RS-28CX combo) will have certain items surface that can be improved upon to demonstrate that spending more money does get one more in return. But listening to the Aaron, we will initially not be able to pinpoint any of that. Yes we know tit to be present, certain items that could be better, but they require direct comparisons. Listening to this amplifier for a week or two on its own, we feel no need to reach higher. I repeat that we know what can be done better, we sense upgrade potential exists there is zero pressure to make the jump. We are fully satisfied with what we have in the here and now.

I do not write this often as I try to avoid such statements. They don't benefit our industry nor its sellers and buyers and in truth just cloud the picture. But, the No.1.a will flawlessly nestle into a system whose ancillaries cost twice as much as itself. Because this really is one of the few amplifiers that sounds like twice (and more) expensive competing amplifiers, I fear such statements. They are overused by magazines all over the world. If we take them serious, it would mean that all products sound twice as good and there's no competition at all. That's simply untrue. So I shall put it another way. The Aaron easily surpasses the statistical means of components up to around 25000zl. This is not exactly what I think (I believe precisely what I wrote in the first sentence), yet I must consider that I could be wrong, that there might exist other amplifiers at this price even better. But I don't know them and you simply might not like that type of sound...

...because this is an incredibly open, quick and dynamic sound. It's the best we can find in solid state as for example my Luxman but also in the E-550 Accuphase and EVO222+402 Krell regardless of how much the latter two differ from one another. And we find it here. Moreover -- and this is probably the crux of what I want to convey -- the Aaron subtracts nothing but still maintains the recorded timbres just as tube amplifiers do. This was the first time that switching from my own amplifiers to a completely different one did not alter the recorded timbres. This was still the full, fleshy sound with its expressive midrange and strong pearly treble I knew. There were of course certain differences but those operated on different sub or secondary levels. Immediately that something arose which I view as a very keen combination of the traits of both tube and transistor technologies and which can only be beaten by amplifiers like the Reimyo CAT-777 + PAT-777 combo and the Ancient Audio Silver Grand Mono.