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Why not put the amp to the test with the highest sensitivity loudspeakers available to us? A 107dB speaker combination will show any flaws as though examined under a microscope. It may be not fair but so what? We simply switched all cables from our Audio Note Meishu integrated to the minute Yarland. The Avantgarde Duo Omegas remained bi-wired with Nanotec GS #79 and nano 3. The puzzlingly good ASI Liveline became our interconnect of choice.

The amplifier switched on without any noise at all. The Chinese tubes came on nicely and softly and glowed friendly. Tapping the tubes revealed no excessive microphonics. When we put our ear into the horns, the right channel was almost complete silent. Ten centimeters away from the right horns, there was no noise at all. All that was audible close up was a benign minor hissing. Things were different at the left channel however. Here we found some hum mainly in the lower midrange and a buzzing in the tweeter that fluctuated with a cycle of 20 seconds buzz and 10 seconds silence. Capacitor?

We were in the mood for some strong music so we picked Stanley Clarke's, Larry Carlton's, Billy Cobham's, Deron Johnson's and Najee's Live at the Greek. The amp's attenuator worked smoothly and we could control the 10wpc with ease. When the knob's indicator reached the 10 o'clock position, Stanley's bass was really pounding our chests but the sound was clear and in full control. Playing louder would have caused hearing damage but the little amp had plenty of gusto left for fueling crescendos and straight ahead whacks. The left channel's noise did not increase with volume so after some more heavy music at live levels (Stevie Ray Vaughn, Frank Zappa and the J. Geils Band) we switched everything off and turned to an alternate loudspeaker.

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At the time of the review, we had at our disposition a pair of Duevel Planets. These small, affordable and lovely looking speakers performed very satisfactorily with the Moscode 401HR, KingRex T20U and Trends TA10. They are not real high-end but high-friend comes close. Their omni-directional dispersion puts music all over the room. With ample bass extension and a gentle handling of high frequencies, these originally styled speakers became the next mate for the Yarland.

After connecting the FV 34CIII SA to the Duevels with a single run of Crystal Cable, we switched the amp on and listened for noise. Rated at 85dB -- which makes a huge difference to 107dB -- the Duevel resides in the segment of normally sensitive speakers. We were then pleased to notice that the buzz had gone completely away as had the hum. Gone here meant not audible, mind you.

For our assessments, we put on some more lucid music. A CD we encountered of late and which sits on top of the regular spin pile is Al'l Improviviso by L'Arpeggiata. This is early music set to a modern tone and in this particular recording, the members of Christina Pluhar's ensemble improvise freely on pieces dating back to roughly 1580 - 1700. With the Yarland in use, the music had the same emotional effect as when playing in the big rig. Of course this budget-friendly amp-loudspeaker combo was not as far-reaching in the audio extremes as a true high-end system would be. It lacked in the extremes but preserved the goods in the not-so extremes with true verve.

The Yarland FV CIII SA is great way to get into tubes for just about anyone. A very affordable price tags to a sweet looking and very well-performing push/pull EL84 amplifier. And it is that typical EL84 sound that made the sound of the 50s what it was (read Jeff Day's intro on this tube here). It is this nostalgic feat that makes the FV 34 also a great addition to the amp inventory of hard-weathered audiophiles - and tube rolling is allowed. Full steam ahead.
This Sidebar is a translation from the Crafty website about their visit to the Yarland factory in China. Photos are courtesy of Roland Breteler...

Quality of packing: Double boxed.
Reusability of packing:Yes.
Ease of unpacking/repacking: Easy.
Condition of component received: Flawless.
Completeness of delivery: Yes.
Quality of owner's manual: Very simple but efficient.
Website comments: Informative.
Warranty: 2 years, 6 months on tubes.
Human interactions: Professional and courteous.
Pricing: Don't tell anyone. It's a criminal steal.
Final comments & suggestions: The ideal amplifier for those who want to get into tubes - and as that umpteenth additional amp for those who love to own lots of different amplifiers but aren't rich.

Dutch importer's website
International website