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Srajan Ebaen
Financial Interests: click here
Source: 1TB iMac (AIFF) via FireWire into Weiss DAC2
Preamplifier: Esoteric C-03, ModWright LS 36.5
Amplifier: FirstWatt F5 and J2, FirstWatt M2 [on review], Trafomatic Audio Kaivalya monos, Burson Audio PP 160 [on review], ModWright KWA 100 [on review]
ASI Tango R
Cables: ASI Liveline
Stands: 2 x ASI HeartSong 3-tier, 2 x ASI HeartSong amp stand
Powerline conditioning: 1 x Walker Audio Velocitor S, 1 x Furutech RTP6
Sundry accessories:
Furutech RD-2 CD demagnetizer; Nanotech Nespa Pro; extensive use of Acoustic System Resonators, noise filters and phase inverters, Advanced Acoustics Orbis Wall & Corner units
Room size: The sound platform is 3 x 4.5m with a 2-story slanted ceiling above; four steps below continue into an 8m long combined open kitchen, dining room and office, an area which widens to 5.2m with a 2.8m ceiling; the sound platform space is open to a 2nd story landing and, via spiral stair case, to a 3rd-floor studio; concrete floor, concrete and brick walls from a converted barn with no parallel walls nor perfect right angles; short-wall setup with speaker backs facing the 8-meter expanse and 2nd-story landing.
Review Component Retail: $1.499
How many screws does it take to bolt together an amplifier? If your answer for the top cover alone was less than 26, you lost. Lest you mistake this for the beginning of a ballsy comedy of screws—after all, why bother with yet another stock ICEpower® amp in a fancy chassis—EJ Sarmento's Wyred4Sound ST-500 runs proprietary input buffer boards. And 26 screws on the very thick bent cover. That must be some sort of record.

Just how many floods have amped the market with these Bang & Olufsen boards also is a record of the more dubious sort. The boards themselves are past their 4th generation. They're bullet-proof, popular and not expensive to OEM. Where it gets screwy again is retail prices. What some of the boards demand tucked inside Rolex enclosures is downright ludicrous. Do you think thick dress plates or wood engravings keep better time?

Enough silly talk. While Wyred4Sound is screwy with their fasteners, they've always pursued the other end of that pricing scenario very earnestly. As a quick look at their ICEpower implementation shows, Wyred hasn't left alone their Danish boards either. I let EJ talk us through the capacitor upgrades, the input buffer and the rear panel's 15-amp circuit breaker (death to wimpy mains fuses). Status indicator—not symbol—is a narrow horizontal slit in the front cover. Behind it sits an acrylic strip that's lit up from either end with a blue LED like a light pipe. The net effect is a subdued blue line which let's you know that the amp is powered up without squinting. Because the power switch is on the back, you might end up leaving the ST-500 on all the time. As a high-efficiency class D design with SMPS, that's not prohibitive at all if arguably not a totally green habit. Idle draw is 30 watts. But then that thin line is blue. To go completely green, we must look inside.

Here is the input buffer board for one channel. It lets your preamp or variable-out source see a nicely high 60.4kΩ impedance. Next to it is the output wiring to the terminals shrouded in an RF filter. Power output is 250/500wpc into 8/4Ω. The line voltage is factory set at 115 or 230VAC (strange for a switch-mode power supply). Comprehensive protection circuitry includes thermal, over current and DC. The amp measures 17 x 4 x 13" WxHxD and weighs 26lbs.