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What were the main attributes aimed for with each component? "I think the best component of our flagship Strumento series is the sum of our vast experience. Our design has been perfected over many years. We spent hundreds of hours listening and making the right choices. The sound, the 'soul' of our products is a mirror of our culture not only for the high-end but our life too. If I have to identify some parts I am not able to do so because I think it is a synergy of all parts. It is like a chorus. Each has its own contribution." 

Just on the point about the Strumento chassis it must be emphasized that the assembly quality, machining and finish are absolutely first class. Most of the chassis joinery is free of fasteners and of seamless integration while the aluminium is of the highest grade and flawlessly anodized. These are components that have the look and feel of true high-end products in the literal sense of the expression.

In full flight. Fire up the preamp and you may get startled by the volume control logic system as it returns to the previously-set level prior to turn off. The multiple relays click away in an orchestral show that is actually quite enjoyable to witness and hear – the same process in reverse occurs when powering off as the relays count down to zero prior to powering down... click, click, click. Fun.

Relay shenanigans aside, the sound from the first few bars impressed with its fullness and authority. The beautifully captured live violin and piano from the Audiofon label’s Sonatas by Mozart, Prokofiev, Beethoven, Brahms and Bloch as played by Pavel and Lazar Berman just flooded the listening room with an all-enveloping soundscape. The violin was sweet and detailed, full of bow and string nuance but with the instrument’s resonance rendered in full. So was the enormity of the piano in its entire majesty across the keys left to right. This was truly engaging and gorgeous solid-state amplification at its best. Much like the best valve systems this transistor combo provided a sense of corporeal reality to instruments and voices that was very lifelike.

I recently attended one of the most unforgettable live performances I’ve ever enjoyed. The Jenolan Caves—a massive network of stalagmite- and stalactite-rich labyrinthine caves a short drive from my new home in the upper Blue Mountains—-was the unlikely venue for the world-renowned local Paganini Duo and a performance of Gypsy music from Romania, Russia and Hungary. Deep inside a natural amphitheater considered internationally as having the best acoustics in the world, the duo played some of the most heart-wrenching soulful music I have ever heard. After the performance I had the pleasure of chatting on a number of musical and other subjects with violinist Gustaw J. Szelski and guitarist/cellist Georg Mertens-Moussa. I of course purchased the duo’s Blue Mountains Gypsies CD on the spot duly autographed by both musicians.

Upon returning home that night I fired up the system and promptly gave the CD a whirl. A flood of recently acquired unforgettable sensations came flooding straight back. This recording was made in a studio but with the performance captured live and while the acoustic environment was wildly different, the Strumento combo provided a live and energetic rendition of the violin and guitar which sounded remarkably like it had back in that glorious cavern. 

The Strumenti components provide a very delicate rendition of detail with excellent microdynamic shading and precise separation of instrumental layers. On Curandero’s Aras the intricacies of the various instruments and vocal sound effects can confuse some components and make tracks like "Segue" sound congested and closed in. But here I was hearing an extremely well-resolved mix with very accurate timbral information and an openness and spatial freedom that were quite enthralling.