Speaking about the designer, that would be Dr. Julian Studnicki. In Poland he is a well-known but modest physicist who recently turned 75 yet is still active. Next to his love for science, he has a warm heart for music, singing and composing. It was still in the days of the infamous Iron Curtain, in 1970 to be precise, that Dr. Studnicki got sorely fed up by the quality of then current audio amplifiers. However, it was a small world behind the Curtain. Getting access to electronics except for tubes was quite the challenge. Once he’d decided to build his own better products, it was little wonder that his first trials were tube amplifiers. By the time his daughter Kinga began to perform as a singer, the old aversion towards the quality of audio equipment and amplifiers in particular which had since mitigated where home use was concerned started to focus on professional equipment.

As a result, Dr. Studnicki developed his own studio preamplifiers and monitors. These developments resulted in a 350-watt amplifier called the B500 which became his first solid-state amplifier. As a perfectionist, Dr. Julian was not fully satisfied but nonetheless filed for a patent which was granted. From that time on, more than 20 designs have followed to find their way into homes of music lovers and on the stages of performers. So far pre- and integrated amplifiers as well as phono stages had carried the Studnicki label. In his home town of Krakόw, many musicians know his address to stop by and order a special design just for them. In some cases Dr. Studnicki does the build after the design himself. Other builds are outsourced but carefully monitored by the designer. One of the last names of fame who commissioned a special preamplifier for his violin was Nigel Kennedy who for many years now has lived in Krakόw.

One of the companies Dr. Studnicki chose for building his designs is Artman. Run by Marek Stoliński—of course another avid music lover—Artman today produces and markets Studnicki designs under the name AbysSound. The above information came from Jacek Biskupski, acting sales and customer representative for AbysSound. It also was Jacek who contacted us at the Audio Show which set this review in motion.

As already mentioned, the ASX-2000 runs in full class A up to 80wpc when loaded with 8Ω. Input sensitivity is 1.2V and on the high side so a well-behaved preamp or direct-coupled DAC with volume control is mandatory. The amp presents an input impedance of 10kΩ. Gain is 29dB. Frequency response covers 7Hz to 80kHz (-3dB) whilst THD is rated as less than 0.019%. Further according to the factory specs, the S/N ratio is 106dB and your energy bill should reflect the 1200VA max power consumption or ~720 watts. All that power runs through the huge central toroidal transformer coupled to a bank of capacitors totaling 330’000μF. In order to manage and control the power distribution inside the amplifier, Dr. Studnicki applied digital circuitry that also acts as a smart protection system. That digital control circuit is galvanically separated from the analog part of the amplifier to avoid digitally induced noise. On top of all this, the ASX-2000 uses no negative feedback whatsoever. Hence Dr. Studnicki must have successfully dealt with things like power supply noise, thermally affected modulation and high output impedance in his actual circuit topology.

In these times of energy conservation, wind and solar power being green buzz words together with class D power efficiency, it is remarkable that a big fully class A power amplifier is being brought to market. To find out what AbysSound’s view regarding the colour green was, we asked them directly. Here is Marek’s reply: "The ASX-2000 is currently our flagship amplifier. We put a lot of research and our hearts into making it look and sound as it does today. Why did we choose class A operation? Because we know for a fact all the benefits that come with it as do our clients and listeners who have chosen or auditioned our ASX-2000. Their feedback is the most valuable thing for us and so far we haven't got any complaints about the power draw.

"Just for the record, we would like to clarify the quiescent dissipation in our ASX-2000 amplifier because perhaps for this there is some misunderstanding.  During normal operation, the total power consumed from the mains is about 450-500W. The maximum power is drawn during start-up due to the high-value battery capacitors. The momentary value can be up to 1200W even with applied soft-start. Of course we are aware of our amplifier's relative inefficiency but think that 450 watts of continuous power are not that much when compared to other amps on the market (i.e. the vast majority of valve amplifiers or class A amplifiers from other manufacturers).

"We also have other products which are less power hungry like our quarter class A model ASX-1000 (up to 20w/8Ω in pure class A) or the ASA-5000 class AB integrated amplifier which is in development. In further plans, we consider developing an amplifier with ‘intelligent class A’ where bias current will adjust according to the actual power draw. Perhaps that will be the right direction for Europe :-)"