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Reader Mutjaba Hussain whom I would meet during my RoadTour Bergen then checked in: "It is a pleasure to see the Trafomatic Experience Head One being reviewed at 6moons. It is one of my favorite products in the lineup. Recent developments in Norway have been beneficial for Sasa and Trafomatic Audio. Renaissance Audio has been appointed the official retailer of Trafomatic Audio products in Bergen. The company is led by Mr. Roald Mikkelsen who has in the last 20 years produced the finest high-End audiophile cables in Norway. Renaissance Audio is also the official distributor of Von Schweikert speakers and Kora Electronic Concept (France) in Norway. This picture was taken during a listening session at Renaissance Audio where the Head One was used as preamp driving a pair of Kora monoblocks. Attendees were impressed by its transparent yet euphoric sound."

This bit of unsolicited feedback presaged what I would discover. The Head One is one very fine valve preamplifier in the big rig. Small size and price might suggest otherwise but only fools pay extra just to brag that they have. Mutjaba's photo also shows what the cosmetics were prior to the makeover.

The review context for headphone listening was as follows:

• Raysonic Audio CD228 or Esoteric UX1/Yamamoto YDA-01; Windows XP or April Music Stello CDT100 into April Music Stello AI500's USB input, then out via its record outputs on the desk top; Apple iPod Classic 160B into Wadia iDock into RWA Isabellina HPA as fixed-output converter or Meier Audio Corda Stage DAC
• KingRex Headquarters, Woo Audio Model 5, Yamamoto SoundCraft HA-02, Red Wine Audio Isabellina HPA, Trafomatic Experience Head One
• Sennheiser HD800 w. ALO Audio wiring, AudioTechnica ATH-W5000, Grado PS-1000, AKG K702 w. ALO Audio wiring
• ASI HeartSong rack and amp stand or desk top
• ASI LiveLine interconnect and power cords or Crystal Cable Ultra loom
• Walker Audio Velocitor S passive power bar or Furutech RTP-6

Incidentally and despite forum posts to the contrary, the Western Electric 437 is only similar to the 6S45P but not the same. As Sasa explained, it has a different socket and pin out and "an exact equivalent does not exist. The Telefunken EC8020 is very similar but also very expensive—$100 - $150/ea.—so I haven't tried it. The whole concept of the Experience Head One was a high price/performance ratio."

A few final comments on the new cosmetics. The two frontal controls look very similar to but are somewhat smaller than the classy Goldpoint units on Red Wine Audio's gear. The top deck is nicely grained aluminum with counter-sunk hex screws and engraved tube markers. The paint on the transformer can is a very attractive textured black. Unlike WLM's preferred glossy equivalent, it shows no finger prints or dust to be more practical but just as handsome.

The wood veneer application is superb and from the aesthetic angle, the total package is now completely beyond reproach. One no longer credits a handicap for the country of origin - except for the final sell price which assuredly would be higher were this amplifier made in Western Europe or the United States.

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