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To get straight to it—my desk top's former Mark+Daniel Maximus Mini+ that is—the Brik amp drove these small beasties which are minorly infamous for their drive requirements without any huffing or puffing. Common knowledge might complain that their inefficient demanding load behavior ought to be anything but happy with the puny Brik but two basic facts make mince meat out of the opposition.

• Nearfield music listening rather than high-impact gaming in nuclear attack mode doesn't require high levels. What might sound like a dripping faucet in a 10-meter long room turns into a waterfall at 75cm. Now add that you'll be working. Just how loud can you get to keep sufficient attention on your computer chores?
• The amp's deliberately high gain of 33.6dB has it play plenty loud under such conditions. Yes you should quickly hit its power ceiling in the farfield playing bombast with gnarly bass transients and massive 15" woofers. But that's very unlikely on the desk top. There woofers are 5 inches or less and 85dB peaks are really loud.

The reason I don't have photos of this combo is simple. When my new Terra III monitors from Bulgaria's Everything But The Box arrived in their custom two-tone color scheme, I was too keen on moving out the synthetic marble speakers from Shanghai on their funky Ikea stands to remember the camera. I subsequently bequeathed the Mini+ and a matching Dayens Ampino to our local Sushi bar down the street. Maxing out the owner's iPod with suitable tunes, the young couple there is all set. Whenever we eat out now, we have good sound and our own music. Ivette even loaned them two of her geisha and samurai paintings. It's lovely to have a small home away from home particularly when the food is outstanding.

To get specific, I now reached into my grab bin of long-term loaners. Certain companies prefer I hold on to their stuff for occasional comparisons rather than add return fees to a shipping bill whose total will exceed a cheap component's B-stock value. The most suitable competitor I had on this hand were the NuForce minis of $189 Icon amplifier and $449 Icon HDP, the latter a previously reviewed and awarded preamp/DAC/headphone amp.

I left my usual Bel Canto integrated in place but only to maintain proper clearance for my HP2710m computer monitor over the Briks. Source signal came from my 160GB iPod Classic* tapped digitally by Pure's $99 i20 dock, then sent via Black Cat Veloce coaxial digital cable to the respective inputs on the Brik and NuForce converters.


* Fellow iPod fanciers will love to learn that Red Wine Audio's iMod on a Gen 5 iPod Video already can replace Apple's stock hard drive with 128GB of SSD flash memory. Ken Ball of ALO Audio informed me that a brand-new 256GB memory card looks as though it might fit the same mod.

I've already ordered a personal unit. Loaded with AIFF or ALAC files streamed without moving parts and tapped digitally could turn the iMod into a better-than-computer source with very robust storage capacity. By bypassing Apple's opamp output stage and direct-coupling the high-quality stock Wolfson DAC to the outputs via Black Gate non-polarized NX-Hi-Q filter caps embedded in the external cable, even analog performance is improved. In conjunction with ALO's new Raytheon 6111 sub miniature tube portable Continental amp, this should definitely put massive fun into portable audio. The SSD modification is also said to seriously extend battery life and thus play time.