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This review first appeared in the March 2014 issue of hi-end hifi magazine of Germany. You can also read this review of Accustic Arts
in its original German version. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with the publishers. As is customary for our own reviews, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of fairaudio or Accustic Arts - Ed.

Reviewer: Frank Hakopians
Sources: Digital - Bladelius Gondul M, Ensemble Dirondo; analog - Horstmann & Petter Ulysses, Audiocraft AC 4400, Horstmann & Petter Iason, Dynavector XV-1S, Denon DL 103 Volpe
Amplification: Phono - Einstein The Turntables Choice, Naim Superline, Tessendorf TE Phono; pre -
Melody 1688 II, Gryphon Elektra; power - Tenor Audio 75 Wi monos, Audionet Amp; integrated - Devialet D-Premier
Loudspeakers: A Capella La Campanella, Tocaro 40b
Power delivery: Isolation transformers by Steinmusic and Moll-Audio, AHP-Klangmodule, Furutech sockets Component retail price: €7'990


Xmas 2013. A sizable package beneath the tree. The card shows my name distinctly. A questioning glance at my wife elicits a nod. Off with the wrapping paper. It's a Makita power screwdriver. A tool for pros and those thinking themselves such. I don't really belong to either sort but think I understand my wife. It goes without saying that I tend to avoid handiman chores in our digs. Not because of laziness or disinterest to keep up real estate value. But should a heavier than normal mirror end in a wall crater of the sort you suspect is the result of someone hunting flies with a 45 Magnum... then restraint is the better part of valor. Sure, I exaggerate. A bit. And once the mirror hangs, any mishap is fully concealed. Thus it happened as it was ordained. Whenever anything in the house needs fixing that involves screws and holes, the happy owner of said Makita gets to demonstrate his skills. And the miracle had legs. The more often I used the power drill, the more I got used to it. Was it possible that it screwed with more precision and responded with more immediacy whenever the screw sat far enough? I also had the impression that the battery lasted longer than the Home Depot competitors. And when I did have to recharge, the thing revived in no time. In short, the Makita and I became inseparable. Kinda.

By now you're waiting for the other shoe to drop. Stick around and you'll appreciate the opener. Accustic Arts? The oddly spelled name points at a hifi firm seated in the Schwabian Lauffen by Stuttgart. They're nearly better known abroad than domestically. And Accustic Arts is a near one-stop shop—speaker production has stopped—with three hierarchical product tiers: Evolution, Top and Reference. Fairaudio already looked at their Power 1MkIII and Power ES. This time the Accustic Arts folks reached for the top rack and their best Tube Preamp II of the Reference Range. It's a machine whose aesthetics don't scream valves. But behind the opulent aluminium panel hidden from view sit two bottles per channel mounted military style i.e. horizontally.


The by now MkII circuitry is fully symmetrical or balanced and a refinement over the 2009 original. More on which anon. Once the 12kg deck took pride of place on the decoupled top shelf of my rack, it was time for a closer inspection. The industrial design celebrates right angles to be matter of taste but it's clearly functional. No demerits for workmanship. The surface finish of the astonishingly thick metal plates is very high. The stylized tube circuit diagram in the lid isn't mere eye catcher but also for ventilation. Though the deck never exceeds hand warm in use, it clearly benefits from plenty of thermal 'head room'.

The manual controls are well spaced. The quite sizeable source and volume selectors sit at the far left and right in typical Accustic Arts style to bracket two smaller buttons and three LEDS. The right control inverts absolute phase, the left one turns off the tubes whilst the solid-state electronics remain online. That's because transistors benefit from lengthier work hours to stabilize for top sonics. Now the circuit revives quickly after breaks. Clearly two useful features. The LEDs in red signal standby and go in blue. Polarity inversion shows up blue as well.

Self-assured is the fat fully chromed central plaque with company logo which even in my grandfather's coin collection would have impressed. On either side of said medal are two more chromed 'knobs'. The left one engages a quality headphone output which the original lacked. Activated, it automatically mutes the main outs. The right 'knob' is a removable dummy cover to hide the actual 6.3mm socket. Headfi heathens are thus spared a look into the reminding hole. This option and the phase inverter are exclusive to the MkII.