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This repeated itself with Gil Scott-Heron’s "On coming from a broken home pt. 1" from I’m new here. While his voice was cleanly separated from the not terribly impressive synth doodling backdrop which I could have done without, other amps in the past rendered the diction of consonants a tick clearer and sharper (something this recording can stand since it’s sadly apparent how Scott-Heron’s drug use caused him to loose some teeth). Octave’s V70S for example scored higher on lyrical intelligibility. The ECI-5MkII didn’t undermine the hypnotic effect of Scott-Heron’s voice however. Musical and verbal meaning telegraphed en masse as it were.

That particular impression reasserted itself time and again. The ECI-5MkII seemed to obey the medical Hippocratic Oath of primum non nocere – first do no harm. This machine restricted itself a tad on transparency but did so simply to spare the listener sharpness or related ear attacks. This was applied so cleverly that upon longer audition nothing really seemed lacking. The ECI-5 somehow managed to pass on musical expression unscathed despite allowing anal accountants to perhaps insist with real cause that a wee bit of reverb, air and cymbal sheen were missing.

This impression held once the upper frequencies were inspected. Cymbals sounded believably metallic, piano strings (say Frédéric Chiu’s reading of the Lt. Kije Suite transcriptions) felt tautly stretched. Yet tonally this amp was a tad restrained. The spark which some amps bestow on a cymbal even if the recording itself doesn’t was a bit toned down.

Sonics Part II. At the opposite end restraint was definitely not on the menu. Au contraire. When I first fired up the amp and played it louder than my average family/neighbor-conscious levels, I had to move my speakers away from the wall a bit. Bass and ECI-5MkII were more potent than most. This celebrated extension and power over the last iota of control or damping. I’d thus not combine the Electrocompaniet with speakers which require an ultra-firm hand. This reads harsher than intended. This amp was neither ponderous nor slow. Bobby Bland’s "Ain’t no love in the heart of the city" from a Best-of CD had the interplay of percussion and bass simply nailed. What I earlier said about the midrange applied with bass as well. The ECI-5MkII transmitted the musical message intact. This extended to dynamics too. Here the amp had unlimited power where my needs were concerned. I never managed to get past 2:00 on the dial. Even so impulses didn’t explode with quite the same ferocity as some competitors have 'em. I’m quite sure the test bench would give the Electro’s impulse response a clean bill of health. Subjectively however there was a very minor reticence on dynamics as a function really of the tonality's gentler voicing. Recall that tonally brighter voicing emphasizes the leading edge to sound edgier and faster while a darker voicing appears more relaxed, softer and slower.