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This was a surprise. Usually it is exactly the opposite. Here the transistor amplifier played the role usually taken up by tube amplifiers. The IT-15 evidently combines the better linearity and lower distortion of transistors with something which—as it still mostly seems—is not available for solid-state technology: density. Treble thinness and ricketiness might seem endemic to the transistor. But I know it needn’t be. My Soulution 710 is different. So was the ASR Emitter II reviewed some time ago.

The latter is warm teetering on the edge of correctness. It circumvents the usual problems of transistors but in so doing creates its own. The Lavardin does it better. Although the treble is warm, it is not too warm. While it is withdrawn, it is not withdrawn too much... just as though it all followed a greater plan, not merely singular action plot.

Probably due to this treble balance the midrange occupies the subjective foreground. But it’s not about the usual contrast where when the treble does not bother us the midrange impacts us more strongly. While it probably is part of the general sound shaping, it’s far from the only one and at that not even a basic element. As I said, vocals rule. They are big, saturated and have beautiful timbre. So I moved from disc to disc, listened to this or that led by musical associations, instruments etc. This is how I came to progress from Eva Cassidy to Lisa Ekdahl, Pat Martin, Jim Hall, David Gilmour, Audiofeels and Clan of Xymox. I did not listen to their entire discs at first, only selected cuts but all in one go. The Lavardin pulled me into its world and stories. It offered up a slightly warm but incredibly well differentiated sound. It was very dynamic but never tiring, with a strong beautiful bass despite its lower reaches not being especially forceful.

The midrange together with the upper/mid bass formed one inseparable whole. This was a dense sound of big volume and momentum that produced a large soundstage. If the recorded instruments suggest a huge room like on the Clan of Xymox disc with "In Your Arms Again", our room will convert into that space with really high dynamics and depth. That’s why listening to this amplifier has us forget about technology especially with loudspeakers like Harbeth. Not by coincidence was Lavardin—and perhaps still is—the French distributor for Harbeth. Its electronics fit the British speaker philosophy perfectly. Such loudspeakers with a linear impedance to not demand high current seem ideal partners for the Lavardin.

In use the unit gets not warm at all to point at the choices made regarding output transistors bias. This is interesting since this type of sound would traditionally be expected from class A—and big class A—amplifiers at that. But the sleek small IT-15 with its cold heat sinks (which also suggest an attempt to maintain constant temperature of the output stage) would seem to tell a different story. Listening to it I had no problems with anything. Its sound was absolutely complete, full and finished.

Beautiful. I can recommend it without any trace of a doubt to all those who search for an amplifier costing up to 50.000zł; who want the heart of a warrior; and the best of the best combined with something like my Harbeth M40.1 Domestic and Ancient Audio Lektor Air V-edition CD player. It will create a system to which most audiophiles and music lovers aspire their entire lives. How about that the IT-15 costs so little? (No, I am not joking with ‘only’.) Well, nobody is perfect...