This review page is supported in part by the sponsors whose ad banners are displayed below

This review first appeared in the October 2009 issue of hi-end hifi magazine High Fidelity of Poland. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with publisher Wojciech Pacula. As is customary for our own reviews, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of High Fidelity. - Ed.

Reviewer: Wojciech Pacula

CD player: Ancient Audio Lektor Prime
Phono preamp: RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC
Preamp: Leben RS-28CX
Power amp: Luxman M-800A
Integrated amp: Leben CS300
Loudspeakers: Harpia Acoustics Dobermann
Headphones: AKG K701, Ultrasone PROLine 2500, Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro, 600 Ω version
Interconnects: CD-preamp Wireworld Gold Eclipse 52, preamp-power amp Velum NF-G SE
Speaker cable: Velum LS-G 
Power cables: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9100 (CD) and 2 x Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC7100 (preamp, power amp)
Power conditioning: Gigawatt PF-2 Filtering Power Strip
Audio stand: Base
Resonance control: Finite Elemente Ceraball under the CD

Review component retail: 12.800zł

Importing rare niche brands, ‘discovering’ them or finally reviewing those discovered by distributors slowly becomes the domain of or at least I like to think so. There are at least three reasons for this. One, I am really interested in such products. Two, in this magazine there never was a connection between advertising banners and reviews. And three, it is easier for an internet magazine as you do not need a distributor in a given country to review a component. You just need common sense to handle the subsequent issues because such components are only supplements but that is the only limitation.

You also take into account the availability of those products as being limited so not many people will be able to enjoy them. But just like with many such plums, they are a coloring agent, a safety valve in the otherwise routine life of an audio reviewer.

With the Musica brand however it was different than with other Japanese companies which arrived in Poland due to us. We received the integrated amplifier int1000s from their Polish distributor, the Wrocław-based Moje Audio which among others also carries the Reimyo brand. The representative of Musica outside Japan is Mr. Yoshi Hontani. The Japanese market, different to what we are used to with companies from elsewhere, is mostly insular and focused on itself. Only rarely is it represented abroad by the same companies. That task is taken on by agents and special companies used to contacting people from Europe or America who can tolerate their behavior – normal for us but completely tasteless in the eyes of a Japanese. Hence Mr. Hontani, a very nice man, represents multiple brands like Musica, Acrolink, Oyaide, Leben and others. And the first one mentioned is the last one we met. Photographs of their products were familiar to me from the Stereo Sound magazine but I did not learn more because the company’s website is entirely in Japanese. So I asked Mr. Hontani for a brief introduction.

"The model int1000S is a special version of the amplifier int1000. The main differences are:

• The output power increased from 100 to 120 watts (class AB)
• The front is made from Indian Rosewood by the famous Japanese guitar manufacturer, Takamine
• The IEC socket uses Rhodium-plated contacts instead of nickel plate
• A better power switch
• A better power cord"

The int1000s is so unusual that we need to say more about it. "The inputs of this integrated amp have very high impedance provided by the tube working in the preamplifier stage. This impedance is about 20 times higher than in other amplifiers, which limits the current flowing from the source to 1/20th of the usual current. This also means that transmission losses are reduced by 20 times. The lack of a negative feedback loop in the power stage allows the elimination of back EMF (the reverse electromotive force induced in the voice coils of the speaker fed back to the output stage of the amplifier). The power stage features MOS-FET transistors which are ideal at tracking rapid changes in the music signal. The volume is controlled by a slide potentiometer situated below the amplifier. The designer believes that no knobs or buttons on the fascia should interfere with the perception of music which is why the input selector and power switch also were placed on the bottom plate of the enclosure."

Clearly this Japanese integrated is different than most others. It is quite small and does not convey the impression of actually possessing its rated power. Mr. Hontani added that the sound from the int1000s is so clean and free from distortion that the listener does not know what power he deals with – the music flows that effortlessly. That there are no knobs or buttons on the front panel we already know. But there is a round window with a blue LED and a visible double triode. There are only two inputs to make the selector a simple switch but we can additionally decide whether the amplifier should work as an integrated or power amplifier by means of another switch which separates the preamplifier stage from the power stage.

The insides are extraordinary. The transistors aren’t bolted to typical heat sinks but long aluminum plates instead which are bent in the shape of a chair. Despite the high output power, there is only a single pair of push/pull transistors per channel. There is no remote control. And one more thing: the power cable is clamped in an adjustable metal collar to not loosen. Surely this is no run-of-the mill amplifier.