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Despite its vault-type casing Burson style—albeit at a higher level of finishing as you'd expect from Neal Feay—the Ai700 is far from the back breaker its power rating would have generated from a classic A/B circuit's linear power supply. That's fringe-benefit smarts from the class D concept. It even eliminates a power mains. The frontal standby switch with its tiny white LED is it.

From panel thickness to gap tolerances, cunningly textured optical volume encoder and billet remote wand, the Ai700's dress code and bearings are a real class act. Hence its top cover won't require mass loading to prevent ringing.

Internal execution follows suit and shows experienced design and manufacture.

An unusual detail is the absentee visual connection on the hot speaker terminals. The hookup wires instead terminate in their circuit boards whilst the minus leg couples as expected.

Wires connecting the various board are a combination of discrete hard-soldered thin leads, fat leads with push-on terminals and computer-style ribbon cable.

The compact power toroid for the input/driver circuit supplies with their butch capacitance bank is sleeved in an open steel can to shield surrounding circuitry from stray radiation.

Here's another look at the power supply board for the line-level circuitry.

Simon Lee: "Personally I like this Ai700 very much. Even though it is equipped with two separate ASX250 module bridged to mono to output 500wpc with higher damping factor, you will realize that it's working very quietly and in the analogue style. The huge input buffer was designed very delicately by ear to get the most from ICEpower without any class D smell. The design concept is very simple like the remote. For a DAC we recommend the Eximus DP1 with Amarra 2.4. To my ear it's best then to fix the converter's output level at 3 o'clock."

Where much contemporary Asian hifi casings go gonzo on their metal work—some might substitute garish or gaudy—the Ai700 exudes far more understated chic. It's about old money qualities, not self-referential nouveau rich excess.