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Leaving music cognition for now -- we might get back to this interesting subject in a separate article -- we now began to listen to the Model 3 as pure listeners. Even though emotion is an important part of relating to a musical expression, one should not over emphasize the focus on merely the tear-jerking or smile-inducing bars.

We played the same music as we did while concentrating on technicalities, now letting the music envelope us to make us part of it. Did the system with the Model 3 in the loop give us the same joy we've experienced before with other non-tube amps? We say non-tube because
class D too is a strong contender when done right, with a sound very much of its own. And yes, the Model 3 did. The integrated amp, though flea-powered by comparison, reminded us of the Kharma MP150 class D mono, meaning neither cold nor sterile, just a smidgeon on the warmer side in the upper midrange while in the bass, things were uncolored.

We liked the tonal balance with the lower octaves full enough without getting muddy or unnaturally tight. Again, the mids and higher mids had a little cream while the highest treble was nicely controlled. The greater bandwidth claimed from the cascode design did not result in any coldness or even shrillness from the tweeter horn.

The combination of Model 3 and Duo Omegas was very pleasant and we enjoyed plenty of listening. Some highlights that really pleased us deserve mention here. First there was Stanley Clarke with his 'comeback' CD The Toys of Men where his signature bass lines rocked the room - in full class A that is. Another comeback was saxophonist Bill Evans' The Other Side of Something where we even enjoyed his vocals. Not bad for a blind buy. From our Balkan/Turkey music department, the compilation Sarajevo Love Songs with the likes of Mercan Dede and Jadranka Stojakovič brought us in the mood for the gypsy opera with a happy ending, Karmen by Goran Bregovic. Here the female voices really came into the room in a palpable way. Other beautiful voices, now male, came from Homo Fugit Velut Umbra, the reworked songs by Christina Pluhar's L'Arpeggiata. Once again, goose bumps all over. Then the best of Cristina Branco in years, Live, which pleased us much over the Model 3.

We were also able to use this component in some other configurations. Though primarily designed for use with high-efficiency loudspeakers that love half a watt, the Avantgarde integrated can also be used with less sensitive speakers and as a preamp only. We still had the big Podium Sound Model 1 bending wave panels in-house so a logical step was to swap the horns for the door-sized 1s.

With a sensitivity of around 93dB, the attenuator had to be turned up quite a bit to reach a comparable level with the Duo Omega horns. The first thing we noticed was the
disappearance of the slight hiss. With its lower sensitivity, a greater part of the music was played in class A/B. While this mode is a reserve setting for the Duo Omegas, now it became the main operating mode. The combination of the diffuse panel character and harder working Model Three was very satisfying as well. After a few moments of adapting to a panel dipole rather than point source presentation, we were a happy listening couple (and a happy couple listening) all over again and for hours.

The final setup was with the Model 3 as preamp only. We connected the XLR outputs to the 200wpc Moscode 401 HR while using our horns again. Were we crazy using this powerhouse amplifier with such speakers? Not if the attenuation of the preamp is sufficiently finely calibrated. Playing very sensitive speakers with really big amps has a special appeal. Dynamics change and large orchestral works gain in body. It's comparable a bit to a 5.4 liter V8 car almost idling at cruise speed versus a 600cc Smart revving its crank case like mad. The downside is that listening can get tiresome quickly. There's just so much coming at you to process. Our reason for this counter-intuitive setup was to judge the attenuator's taper. In order to preserve the ear drums, the attenuator must be able to limit the output signal in
sufficiently narrow gradations. With today's tendency of full-throttle CD recorded super hot, this is a must. As mentioned earlier, the attenuator works best when used with its motor steered by remote control. Then fine calibrations are very well possible even in combination with a big amp driving 107dB speaker.

Sonically, the Model 3 as preamp is very good. Neutrality is king. It's the voicing of the connected power amp that becomes responsible for the end result. The Moscode can be tailored by means of extensive tube rolling of the driver tubes and this combination proved dead quiet overall.

In conclusion, we must say that we liked the Model 3 very much. It is a most versatile integrated amplifier indeed in combination with high-sensitivity loudspeakers. On top of that, it is a wonderful preamplifier. For owners of ultra-efficiency speakers like Avantgarde's horns, this amplifier should be a first to look (listen) at (to). The ample reserve power in class A/B helps to enhance dynamics in orchestral crescendos, hard rock cymbal crashes or jazz sax honks. On the downside, we must mention the slight hiss and in certain cases, that the gradations of the attenuator could be wider.

Quality of packing: Excellent, good sized box with serious internal padding.
Reusability of packing: More or less indefinitely.
Ease of unpacking/repacking: Very easy.
Condition of component received: 100%.
Completeness of delivery: Generic power cable, owner's manual, remote plus batteries.
Quality of owner's manual: Excellent and in English.
Ease of assembly: Just place batteries in remote control, no screwdriver required.
Website comments: Informative, easy to navigate and stylish. Includes many user comments and installation gallery.
Warranty: 5 years.
Human interactions: Prompt, friendly and professional.
Global distribution: Distributors and dealers worldwide.
Pricing: For the built and parts quality, performance, versatility and sonic achievements, very reasonable.
Final comments & suggestions: A step up from the previous model and we have not touched on the product's capabilities in an A/V environment. When used with the standard 103dB Duo loudspeakers (not the 107dB Omegas) or other loudspeakers below 103dB, the hiss should be unnoticeable.
Avantgarde Acoustic website