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: Edgar Kramer
Financial Interests: Click here
Source: Metronome T-1i CD player with DAISy HE remote
Preamplifier: Supratek Sauvignon with NOS RCA and Bendix tubes; NuForce P9, Wyetech Labs Jade
Amplifier: NuForce Reference 9 V3 Special Edition monoblocks; Cymer Audio Southern Star SE-35 monoblocks; Ancient Audio Single Six monoblocks
Speakers: Wilson Audio Specialties Sasha W/P
Cables: Digital - Cerious Technologies; Harmonic Technology Magic; NuForce digital; analog low-level - Bocchino Audio Morning Glory; Cable Research Laboratory (CRL) Gold with Bocchino XLR and RCA; Cerious Technologies; DanA Digital Reference Silver; Eichmann eXpress 6 Series 2; Harmonic Technology Magic and Truthlink Silver; MIT Giant Killer MPC; PSC Audio Monolith AG; PSC Audio Pristine R30 Ribbon; NuForce IC-700; analog high-level - Cerious Technologies; MIT Giant Killer GK-1 loudspeaker cables; NuForce SC-700; power - Cerious Technologies AC; Eichmann eXpress AC power cables; Harmonic Technology Fantasy; PSC Gold Power MKII; Shunyata Research Diamondback
Stands: Finite Elemente Pagode Signature
Acoustic treatments: Fonic Designer panels and StudioCel bass traps
Sundry accessories: Burson Audio buffer, Bright Star Audio IsoRock Reference 3 and BSA IsoNode feet; Bocchino Audio Mecado isolation diodes; Black Diamond Racing cones; Stillpoints ERS paper in strategic positions, Shakti On Lines; Densen CD demagnetizer; Auric Illuminator CD Treatment
Room size: 17' w x 35' d x 12' h in short wall setup, opens to adjoining kitchen
Review component retail: AU$8,000 a pair

It’s an expanding and shrinking universe
. Imagine. From up high in the clouds you’re swooping down towards the ground. Like Google Earth you see below you an alien landscape. As far as the eye can see it’s populated by large factories and industrial centers. There are hundreds of them, with thousands of ant-like workers vacantly making products for an insatiably hungry cadre of blind consumer acceptance.

Your altitude lowers. The topography becomes more resolute. Amongst these monster industries you notice contained pockets of much smaller independent facilities. There is reduced activity and less freneticism among its contented workers. You continue your fall and approach the ground lower still to the looming structures of a large industry-blocking skyline. Interspersed among the smaller complexes are smaller cells again, individual buildings with a few workers, some with just one. You’ve landed! In this otherworldly habitat right where a single artisan peacefully but industrially crafts away is where you’ll find the purest creative expressions. This place is dwarfed by the scale of the walls that cocoon it but it’s a metaphor for where in downtown Sydney, with exacting and unwavering dedication, Elson Silva builds Cymer Audio valve amplifiers.

Overall this caricature could also apply to the high-end audio industry at large. It’s a heavily populated universe inhabited by wide-ranging and disparate companies all with the shared goal of offering products that aim to transport the consumer that one step closer to real music. This is a noble endeavor. It ties together brilliant minds at the helm of companies that range from the large multinationals to the smaller owner/operators and everything between. The large conglomerates offer products that have been developed and refined over many generations and bear the benefits of economies of scale. But these same companies have constrictions placed upon them by set budgets that are ramifications of massive capital investment and the consequence of the costs of large-scale tooling, a big workforce, complex distribution and many other factors. These very restrictions cause the bulk of their products to be aimed at the middle market where the vast manufacturing numbers meet an equally thirsty demand (and vice versa).

At the other extreme the smaller boutique or niche operations can offer services the larger companies can’t - customization, modification and the ability to deal and generally liaise with the designer personally. Just such a company is one of our very own here in Australia. Cymer Audio principal Elson Silva plays the role of designer, engineer, assembly technician and administrator. And he’s also the guy who’ll sit you down to advise whether your system is suitable for SET or push-pull whilst discussing chassis construction, level of transformer quality, socketry options and so forth. As much as there’s room to move on to finer details, Cymer Audio’s amplification involves strict adherence to valve designs that are the basis for the ensuing ownership experience. Ownership here bears a higher than usual value for money. You’re buying direct from the manufacturer and bypass all the middle men.

Not having to answer to partners, a board of trustees or even a marketing department gives Elson freedom to experiment with circuit and transformer design and component quality without the restraints and justifications of a formalized hierarchical company construct or budgetary structure. This R&D latitude (and the encouragement of a persistent customer in particular) led Elson to embark on a quest to craft much like an artist a somewhat different valve circuit. It would feature his very best transformers and most optimized of layouts to flower into a flagship statement. It was with all these thermionic and gaseous forces of creativity at work that Cymer Audio’s Southern Star SE-35 was born.

Southern Belles.
I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Elson for a number of years. Chat to the man and the conversation will invariably turn to valve amplifiers presented with a convincing case for their superiority. However it’s not just his arguments as valid as they may be. It’s the passion, fervor and conviction of their delivery that prompts admiration. Elson’s philosophy revolves around four main aspects at the core of all his designs from which everything else follows naturally:
  • The best materials from around the world
  • Optimized design simplicity resulting in ultra quiet circuits and absolute reliability
  • Outstanding measured performance
  • Sonic excellence with full-range sound