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The HT input obviously anticipates insertion of the Norse box into a home theater context where control over volume occurs with the source rather than ECI-5MkII. Finally there’s a fixed REC1 output; two variable pre-outs (one XLR, one RCA) for either bi-amping or a subwoofer; and the ubiquitous five-way speaker terminals. The navigator window alerts about conditions like DC at the inputs or overheating but during my time with this amplifier I encountered no hiccups to ever see any of these warnings. The face plate also sports a ‘hard’ mains switch which in fact does disconnect the machine from utility power. Standby is only available via remote by a long hold of the mute button. This equates to 1-watt power consumption which kicks up to shy of 100 watts during idle but the generous heat sinks meant that even then the Electrocompaniet never exceeded getting warm to the touch.

The included remote was a plastic variant which also controls the firm’s source components. Customers keen on something more luxurious can spend an extra €450 for the all-metal ECT3 wand. The firm’s presentation makes some bones about symmetrical signal processing which my colleague Ralph Werner already reported on in his review of their bigger pre/power combo to serve as reference for the curious.

Otherwise the Norwegians remain rather mum on specifics here even though, like most, they engage in flowery verbiage to describe certain features as though they were unique. As far as I could make out, their "floating transformer technology" is simply a center-tapped transformer as is sensible for balanced circuitry; and star grounding. But then it’s not about technology but results.

Sonics Part I. Here the ECI-5MKII had a readily discernable character which spread evenly across the audible spectrum. My listening notes keep mentioning things like voluminous, potent, generous and relaxed. When a friend asked how I felt the Norse box was voiced, I replied "British, with a dash of Yankee accent". I said British because the ECI-5II is tuned for long-term comfort in the best English tradition whilst the American twist arises from a wonderfully fulsome bass. Naturally fairaudio tradition insists on more than one catch phrase to get sonically descriptive so let’s start with the midrange where the Electrocompaniet’s leanings are easily spotted.

That’s because voices—male and female—attain a slightly darker timbre than with many other amps. On Nitin Sawhney’s Prophesy, Natacha Atlas sounded a few years older than she was when "Sunset" was actually cut. That extra maturity served her expressivity well. There was passion and sensitivity for timing and emphasis. Image lock was high and localization occurred cleanly at stage center but the last iota of mixed-in reverb was missing though admittedly that had zero effect on her formidable seductive powers.