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Outtake: After taking the Colotube monos through their paces on big and small Voxativs to clinch that sale—the previous night Dan had calibrated ears on Kondo Gakuohs to declare the Swiss victorious—we compared his NWO-4.0SE to the Octave. Either machine ran amps direct. Gino's monos are fitted with very high-quality resistor ladder attenuators and 10 watts of power into 100dB speakers produced more than enough sound pressure to make added preamp gain redundant even in this sizable an open floor plan.

Gino Colombo in the hot seat listening to the Voxativ Ampeggio after the Ampeggio Dué

Asked what I thought, I told Dan that to my ears the Octave was gutsier and richer, the rebuilt Esoteric prettier and ultra refined but just a tad emasculated. To overdraw, the Dutch was a raunchy gypsy singer, the Bulgarian a Rococo castrato. The latter image arose because we had in fact just listened to such a counter tenor, i.e. a falsetto rather than hautre-contre chest voice. Dan nodded in agreement about going Dutch (the subtext of a cheap date won't be lost on the reader who's counting). Admittedly the Peychev machine wasn't the most current word on the subject. That would be the NWO-M. Plus, one man's preference is another's also run. And when it comes to hifi Dan is a serial monogamist. He enjoys various flavors and often returns to some which were previously set aside for something new.

Relevant in this context were only two things. 1/, benefiting from the same Esoteric super sled, the simple R/2R Octave performed on the level with the endlessly paralleled sigma-delta AKM 4399 stack and far more complex circuitry; 2/ its 'no output stage' concept suffered zero setbacks when asked to direct-drive amplifiers vis-à-vis a machine with a purpose-designed fully discrete class A output stage.

NWO-4.0SE as transport, Octave, Colotube 300B SE monos, Voxativ Ampeggio

What effrontery, what nerve. Suffice to say that for this particular owner who can afford to pursue hifi at the highest level, the puny Metrum Acoustics more than lived up to its maker's claim of performing "up to $5.000".