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Timing. How would your own audiophile history read different hadn't timing—chance, kismet, luck—presented you with one very specific sequence of exposure and opportunity? Judgment relies on personal experience which invariably ties us to chance. We might have gone gaga over component X except that Y crossed our path a minute earlier. Though it was happenstance, we cannot undo this meeting nor its effect on subsequent assessments. So the Timekeeper wasn't master of this timing. It followed directly in the footsteps of the $1.495 Job 225. Goldmund genetics and direct sales make it one of today's hottest buys in ultra-performance amps. Specified very conservatively at 125wpc with unconditional stability into any load and cable plus a demonstrable vise grip on unruly woofers, the only provisos are high gain/input sensitivity (35dB/0.75V); unprotected direct-coupling which could eliminate DC-leaky valve preamps; and at time of writing being limited to US-only sales via Amazon without a published company contact for any pre-sale assistance.

If my Timekeepers felt a bit wobbly about this turn of events, they also breathed a sigh of relief. No matter how stiff an adversary, the Job was unobtainium for most of the globe. How relevant was that? True enough. Except that I had it. On hand. Once known, our biological hard drive is incapable of 'delete'. And proper conduct demanded a duel. First speaker judge was AudioSolutions' flagship Rhapsody 200. Its underdamped twin-port dual-woofer alignment had until then only been mastered by the €9.000/pr Ncore NC1200-based Acoustic Imagery Atsah monos; and the surprising Job 225. Not passing this test would put the Bursons with illustrious company; all my FirstWatts, ModWright's lovely KWA-100SE. It simply would register differently now that the small Swiss amp had rewritten my expectations. Timing. It's the bane of our best-laid plans.

First all hands on desk. Forget monos. With the Conductor's stepped pot coming on quickly, my Gallo Strada 2 played loud enough two clicks up from mute to make for very little range coming off the Pure i20's digital iPod stream. One stereo Timekeeper was plenty. By comparison E.J. Sarmento's more powerful (into 4 ohms) mAMPs had their matching mPRE at 10:30 for the same SPL. The mPRE also was more feature rich, offering more i/o ports including true balanced plus remote. The wand isn't vital for the desktop but a life saver in the big rig. On currency the US beat Oz by a whopping margin. Wyred's two monos put $1.800 on the scale, one Timekeeper wants $2.600. That's $5.200 for two. A hole nutha hood in the wallet. Likewise for the pres. Here the score was $1.200 vs. 1.850. Go Yanks!

Being prepared to turn this score on its head for the sonic tally—in high-end faith lowly class D vs. fully discrete class A/B tends to win alphabetically—there was zero cause. Class D was rev-happier and blossomed to full dynamic life at levels appropriate for the extreme nearfield. The Burson combo's torque didn't fully kick in to sound more distanced and less vibrant. This was true also for textures. The Wyred sound was glossier, laterally more expansive and more piquant. The Burson had it all drier, mellower and paler. I'd have to see whether the tables would turn in the farfield. In this context the smart money was the better choice.

Big rig
. Here the monos at first caused a massive ground loop. Stereo mode diminished amplitude but kept humming. It took floating amplifier grounds to kill that. Starting with a single Timekeeper—PureMusic 1.89g in 352.8kHz maximum fidelity upsampling, AURALiC Vega in filter mode 4 and exact clock setting, Nagra Jazz—the Rhapsody 200 speakers were slightly elephantine in their bass to betray a small shortage of what I knew would have been complete control. That said, one Timekeeper already fared far better than my low-power FirstWatt amps do. Yet it still was outmatched by the potent Job 225 whose signal path is clear of all caps and even eschews a DC servo.

Quadrupling power accomplished a few things. It tightened the overall rigging, filled the sails with more detail, increased focus, articulation and stage depth. But LF control still didn't equal the Job whose grip and damping recall the sealed timing of Zu's giant high-power Submission subwoofer. The secret is no ringing. A perfect image for this is the impact of a projectile hitting dirt but penetrating cleanly without causing a cloud of dust. As I prefaced this exercise, not matching the Goldmund/Job put the Timekeeper/s in august company. For less than 1/3rd the coin I simply took note. The 225 not only outmuscled the Aussies on blatantly challenging woofer control. By an admittedly fine degree it also upped definition, clarity and that sense of crystallization which freezes all micro motion to stand perfectly still. That's not something you'd verbalize as such in isolation. It's only by comparison that the slightly softer fuzzier presentation appears to be caused by subliminal movement. Hand held with electronic image stabilizer versus good ol' tripod. You don't know better 'til you do.

Anyone sensitive to the long-stringed wiriness on close-mic'd sarod or tambur as that striated snarl coincident with blitzing fire flies keys into this crystallized quality. It's not dry or brutal like Munich HighEnd show demos which overplayed Nils Lofgren's popped slap bass to go cyborg. It doesn't require loudness to come off. It's simply direct like touching fire. If you love French musette and Manouche Jazz like the Diknu Scheeberger's Friends album at right, you'll have a great test in the glassy slightly nasal timbre of the Selmer-type guitars favored by these musicians. Portuguese guitar has a related twang but is rarely played with similar virtuosity. Like a faceted Feng Shui crystal turning in the window to have incoming light refract in various ways, so the harmonics spraying off these scintillating guitar strings tell their small stories within the greater arc of melody, rhythm and harmony.

What separated bridged Timekeepers from the 225 was very little indeed. The latter simply had some extra keenness in its observational powers on such tone modulation minutiae. Considering that its circuit benefits from refinements spanning three decades involving nine different R&D teams, this spoke very highly to team B's Timekeeper project which in man years is far younger and thus less experienced. Had one Anne in Geneva not solicited me to review the Job which had flown completely below my radar, the Timekeepers would have bossed my white tower speakers from Lithuania which had been waiting to be dominated by just the right amp. And the kangaroos really came very close. But as this page kicked off, timing can be everything - not the careful keeping of it but the unpredictable happening.