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It is presented in a seemingly tube-like fashion as with interesting amps based on EL34s. I refer to a kind of saturation of sound, a maturity or even ‘over-maturity’. This manifests as vocals, guitars etc. moved in front of the speakers in a tangible very organic physical way for a truly energetic presentation. With albums like Sara K.’s Don’t I Know You From Somewhere? and Nosowksa’s 8 it was easy. Both actually encourage such a presentation. It also may have been expected from The Incredible Jazz of Wes Montgomery and Further Adventures of Jimmy and Wes but here the scale of this phenomenon—the sheer volume of sound—took me by surprise.

I did not hear small instruments suspended somewhere between the speakers. What I did hear were three-dimensional masses, entire sonic networks linked together into something greater. Superimposed on that was a brilliant texture of tape noise, the noise of air in the recording studio. The latter is nothing much but constitutes an integral part of these recordings. It's what ultimately gives them their specific sonic dimension. This noise was primarily centered in the midrange and not treble. This was thus not an amplifier to brighten up anything.

So the core sound exhibited similarities to an EL34 amp. But that was just a starting point. It was purer than any EL34 amp I’ve heard except perhaps for Linear Audio Research's IA-30T. As such it rather resembled good 300B amplifiers and to some extent the sound of my own Soulution 710 power amplifier which remains unrivaled in this respect. It was enough to listen to Simone Kermes’ La Maga Abbandonata album of Händel arias, especially the wonderful “Ombre pallida (Alcina)” to appreciate the combination of high power, purity and excellent midrange and treble color. These were exactly the same emotions I experienced while listening to the lady live some time ago fronting the Venice Baroque Orchestra during the Mysteria Paschalia festival. Simply beautiful and utterly splendid!

And so we come to the bass. It’s a good time to recapitulate what’s been said so far and, after adding a little, try to summarize. The bass was strong, full and slightly warm. I cannot imagine any speakers which would be problematic for this amp as long as speaker cables are properly matched. But it is here where you can hear a class D amplifier. With smaller speakers such as the above mentioned Dynaudio Special 25 Signature Edition and Kiso Acoustics HD-1, it will not be so obvious because they cannot render bass as low as my Harbeths. What I refer to is a slight sonic uniformity, a type of homogenization in the low bass. Dynamics and extension are outstanding but the differentiation of bass dynamics and color is not.

To some extent the same applied to the treble. It was always pleasant and smooth but not exceedingly well defined though selective. As such it was the exact opposite of the Harbeths. The central and upper treble were slightly warm but if the recording lacked in this respect like Michael Jackson’s Thriller or some tracks from Nosowska’s 8, the SPEC would show it to some extent. It never sharpened or brightened up nor will it drown everything in uniform warmth however.

The amplifier’s advantages can best be appreciated with classical music. Really? No, rather with Jazz. Actually, cough, it honestly sounded better yet with electronica. The Vangelis soundtrack to Blade Runner hadn’t sounded this good in a long time. Actually everything sounded great. As I see it now it’s difficult to pinpoint a particular musical style that would benefit the most provided we can accept certain perhaps—that’s what it looks like today—idiomatic limitations of class D. This is not an amplifier with the highest definition particularly at the frequency extremes. The midrange is outstanding however. The midbass can sometimes be too uniform and thus sound too similar across various CDs. The high treble is warmed up and slightly veiled but only in comparison to my Swiss reference amplifier. There’s no remote control and there aren't too many inputs. The amplifier is not budget-priced either especially at first glance. Yet the moment we see it and get a taste of its perfect design to spot the excellent components inside, we will change our minds. However our first impression is important. And that says that we don’t really know what we're paying for here.

I had exactly the same reaction to the Lavardin Technologies IT-15 amplifier - an unknown manufacturer, a no-frill design, nothing to stand out until we take a closer look and listen to well-matching speakers like Harbeth, Spendor, Castle & Co. Then it turns out that this could become our last amplifier - perhaps no the ‘best’ but definitely enough. And that is very much indeed.