Cute? Baby ducks are cute. Susan Sarandon's juicy character Annie Savoy was anything but amused when Bull Durham star Ebby Calvin LaLoosh called her cute whilst she tried to seduce him. Calling the Clones boxes cute is factual but says little about what they can do. Here is a testimonial from Hercule, Funjoe's domestic dealer in Kowloon. "Pairing Magnepan with Clones Audio was a pure coincidence. I'd just become a dealer for Clones Audio and had the 25i demo unit undergo burn-in paired with the KEF LS50, not Magnepan MMG. I used a lot of high-power integrated amplifiers with over 120wpc to drive those but most of them stopped working by triggering various over-current/over-heat protection circuitry due to their extremely low impedance in the bass. Later I got my MSB The Analog DAC with built-in passive preamp section. I planned to reorganize my whole system and looked for a nice pair of power amps. I tried every amplifier I have with the Analog DAC, some with bypass input. Whilst the 25i has no bypass, turning its volume to max still made it behave like a power amp. It did its job nicely and refused to shut down even during loud tutti passage of orchestral pieces. It would clip but still gave a comfortable sound. Naturally now the more powerful 55pm monos came to mind."

Prior personal Clones amp victories.

"Clones Audio customers know the trade-off very well where the 25i/25p/25pm give a more magical sound whereas the 55pm are less refined in return for more muscle. The Magnepan are simply not very delicate refined-sounding speakers unless driven by high-quality tube amplifiers at least ten times the cost like Conrad Johnson or Audio Research. Now the sonic difference between 25 and 55 was less than expected. When the 55pm arrived, Funjoe himself witnessed their first encounter with the Magnepan MMG. I gave the 55pm the ultimate test piece as their first assignment, the Reiner/CSO plays Scheherazade reissue by Analogue Recording on vinyl which had already killed several power amplifiers or triggered their protection circuits. As amplifiers fresh out of the box, the bass of the 55pm wasn't really well controlled but better than expected. After the finale, they showed no signs of overload distortion and the temperature rise was acceptable. As time went by, the low frequencies had more grip and bass slam came with ease like a nice pair of planar speakers should; and the soundstage opened up too, making all the amplifiers I paired in the past guilty of a lack of power and control. After almost a month of the 55pm being paired with the MMG, my conclusion is that they are more than capable to drive them. Now I think of stepping them up to the 1.7 in the near future. For tonal quality, the 55pm remind me of the sound of the finest pull-push tube amplifiers without the residual noise of tubes." Not bad for a €899/pr of 100-watt/4Ω chip amps.

For more Bull Durham quotes, "I believe in the Church of Baseball. I've tried all the major religions and most of the minor ones. I've worshipped Buddha, Allah, Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, trees, mushrooms and Isadora Duncan. I know things. For instance, there are 108 beads in a Catholic rosary and there are 108 stitches in a baseball. When I learned that, I gave Jesus a chance. But it just didn't work out between us. The Lord laid too much guilt on me. I prefer metaphysics to theology. You see, there's no guilt in baseball and it's never boring,"

Sounds like hifi, doesn't it, what with the church, the theology and the guilt? And never boring.

"This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. Sometimes it rains." Again like hifi. At the beginning and in the very end, one never knows unless one tries and plays. My own game was afoot. I only had to decide on which model. Whilst the 25iR integrated had more universal appeal, I didn't have an original to compare. But I still did have the AP1. The AP2 now sounded like the greased speeding ticket to answering Funjoe's call to compare and comment on his design progress. "Man, that ball got outta here in a hurry. I mean, anything travels that far oughta have a damn stewardess on it, don't you think?"
"AP2 labour is 3 times more than AP1. More than 100 parts go in same tiny case. The most important part remains my hand assembly!"

People with fixed-gain DACs; or variable ones with digital volume which they feel get pale at low settings... they might want a compact little preamp with remote control. It transfers volume into the analog domain; adds some gain which may put some extra beef into the stew; and might even improve drive across longer cables such as you'd have if most your hifi sat on the side wall but your amp/s close to the speakers in the front. Now an interconnect between DAC and speakers could span 3-6m (ours is six metres). That's one perfect application for our cute pre with 3 inputs and 1 out all on RCA which won't break the bank. As it turns out, I didn't have to decide. Funjoe was more than happy to dispatch both units. Time to learn how he'd massaged their recipes since the originals - er, clones.

The same AP2 board populated, then installed in the case.