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Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial Interests: click here
Source: 2TB iMac 27" quad-core with 16GB of RAM (AIFF) running OSX 10.8.2 and PureMusic 1.87g in hybrid memory play with pre-allocated RAM, Audirvana 1.5.5 in direct/integer mode, Metrum Hex, SOtM dX-USB HD with Super-clock upgrade & mBPS-d2s, AURALiC Vega
Preamplifier: Nagra Jazz, Bent Audio Tap-X, Esoteric C-03
Integrated amplifier: Wyred4Sound mINT, Bakoon AMP-12R, Gato Audio DIA-250, Clones 25i [on loan]
Power amplifier: Crayon Audio CFA-1.2; Goldmund Job 225; FirstWatt SIT1 monos; AURALiC Merak [on loan]
Loudspeakers: soundkaos Wave 40 ,Boenicke Audio W5, German Physiks HRS-120, Zu Submission, AudioSolutions 200, Gallo Acoustics Strada 2/TR-3D
Cables: Complete Zu Event loom, Light Harmonic LightSpeed and KingRex uArt split USB cable
Powerline conditioning: GigaWatt PF-2 and Vibex Two 1R DC filter on amps, Vibex Three 11R on front-end components
Equipment rack:
Artesania Exoteryc double-wide three tier with optional glass shelf, Rajasthani hardwood rack for amps
Sundry accessories: Extensive use of Acoustic System Resonators, noise filters and phase inverters
Art: paintings by Ivette Ebaen,
Indian bronze musicians and other Rajasthani furnishings from with jewelry from
Music sources:,,,
Room size: 5m x 11.5m W x D, 2.6m ceiling with exposed wooden cross beams every 60cm, plaster over brick walls, suspended wood floor with Tatami-type throw rugs. The listening space opens into the second storey via a staircase and the kitchen/dining room are behind the main listening chair. The latter is thus positioned in the middle of this open floor plan without the usual nearby back wall.
Review component retail: €549 for preamp, €899/pr for the monos

AP1 with 55pm monos

The email was from funjitive cloner Funjoe. He was holed up somewhere in Hong Kong ever since that intelligence leak. Oops, Snowden. Wrong man. But Funjoe really is from Hong Kong. And no plans for Russia other than to sell cost-effective hifi. "Someone mentioned you had another article about my 25i. Thank you. I still remember the night when I sent you my review request whilst awaiting my baby boy. That's now almost a year ago. My son's second birthday arrives soon. Wow, time flies. Especially with a child. Clones Audio too has been through its first year. I never imagined it'd grow like this. I am really thankful for your first review. It gave me the confidence to keep walking this path. I quit my graphic design day job in July even though my income was suddenly reduced to far less. I don't care. I realized a passion to dive deeper into this hifi venture. I also want more time with my family. Of cause I also appreciate that global economics have impacted the hifi market.

preamp board

"Already this year I had two new products: the mPSU for the Mac Mini and the AP1 preamp. According to very many requests, people wanted a new 50-watt amplifier after I discontinued the old one because I thought it didn't sound as good as the 25-watter. The replacement for the 50pm monos is another opamp-based design but with more current/power. Its goal was to come as close as possible to the tone of the 25pm but with more useful drive. This new monaural amp will be named 55pm for its 8-ohm rating. And I have another exciting product in the pipeline which by necessity will introduce a different price point to my range. For now I propose sending you an AP1/55pm set. I've wanted to send you an AP1 for a long time but decided to wait on the new power amps, perhaps even on remote control for the pre. But the time line for the latter has changed. Do let me know whether we can proceed."

Here's how I'd put it about the 25i in my first keep it honest column for contributor John Darko's own site. "The 25i is the sort of component one should keep around to keep oneself honest. As an electronics 101 circuit directly off the opamp maker’s own application notes, it’s got zero engineering cred. It’s so simple and basic that manufacturers couldn’t make any real money of it unless they were Japanese mystics riding out the limited time it took until people wised up to roll their own. Which is exactly what happened to 47lab’s Gaincard. Its reign by now dates far enough back to where you might think been there, done that, passé. Except that the 25i is that inconvenient reminder to the contrary. Purely on sonics it remains competitive with or exceeds equivalently priced to more expensive amps with ‘proper’ engineering credentials, i.e. discrete output devices, no feedback and the ability to bench-press Maggies (which you’d not do with this or any other gainclone)."
Given my feelings on the subject, I gladly accepted Funjoe's invite despite no Maggies for that unfair torture test. As I'd petitioned for in my original 25i review, I asked for the optional 2nd preout on the AP1. This would accommodate a subwoofer without 1-to-2 adaptor. You know, uncomplicated affordable high-performance hifi is the secret dream of any reviewer petitioned for regular recos. We need kit that's unconditionally right for all comers. It's gotta work non-stop. It can't brake or use bits that wear out to need replacing. It can't get hot, noisy or otherwise freaky. It should be compact and stupid simple but despite—or because?—of it all sound better than its price justifies. We sneeze at bling, mysticism, tweakery, big-name credibility or steep-sticker incredulity. We want a minor miracle.

After my award for the Clones Audio 25i, Mono & Stereo's Matej Isak had followed suit. So had HifiPig, then Polish contributor Wojciech Pacula for Four different systems, four rooms, four human yard sticks, one outcome. Now that's whistle blowing done right. Call the NSA. Lock 'er up!

There's one more thing. Normal folks favor small hifi stuff. That includes speakers. Small boxes with good bass simply mean low efficiency. Enter need for power. Here pert 50-watt monaural mini amps with proper stability and drive into 4 ohms and built like brick outhouses for gnomes would be cracking good fun. Could Funjoe clone another champion for an encore?