Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Sources: 27" iMac with 5K Retina display, 4GHz quad-core engine with 4.4GHz turbo boost, 3TB Fusion Drive, 16GB SDRAM, OSX Yosemite, PureMusic 3.01, Tidal & Qobuz lossless streaming, COS Engineering D1, AURALiC Vega, Aqua Hifi La Scala MkII, Fore Audio DAISy 1, Apple iPod Classic 160GB (AIFF), Astell& Kern AK100 modified by Red Wine Audio, Cambridge Audio iD100, Pro-Ject Dock Box S Digital, Pure i20, Questyle QP1R
Preamplifier: Nagra Jazz, Esoteric C-03, Vinnie Rossi LIO (AVC module), COS Engineering D1
Power & integrated amplifiers: Pass Labs XA30.8; FirstWatt SIT1, F5, F6, F7; S.A.Lab Blackbird SE; Crayon Audio CFA-1.2; Goldmund Job 225; Gato Audio DIA-250; Aura Note Premier; Wyred4Sound mINT; S.A.Lab Blackbird SE; AURALiC Merak [on loan]
Loudspeakers: Albedo Audio Aptica; EnigmAcoustics Mythology 1; Sounddeco Sigma 2; soundkaos Wave 40; Boenicke Audio W5se; Zu Audio Submission; German Physiks HRS-120; Eversound Essence
Cables: Complete loom of Zu Event; KingRex uArt, Zu and LightHarmonic LightSpeed double-header USB cables; Tombo Trøn S/PDIF; van den Hul AES/EBU; AudioQuest Diamond glass-fibre Toslink; Arkana Research XLR/RCA and speaker cables [on loan]; Sablon Audio Petit Corona power cords [on loan], Black Cat Cable Lupo
Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all components, 5m cords to amp/s + sub
Equipment rack: Artesania Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Exoteryc Krion and glass amp stands [on loan]
Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators
Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all components
Equipment rack: Artesania Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves
Room: Rectangular 5.5 x 15 metres with gabled 2-storey ceiling and stone-over-concrete floor
Review component retail: €2'200

Greece. The doyen of democracy. The home of Homer. The song of Socrates. Anyone with enough time on their hands could come up with an A-Z of matched pairs to reflect ancient Greece's past glories. Wherein lies the rub. They're long past. Today, Greece's economic standing in the EU is quite inglorious. Like its other citizens, hifi makers struggle to survive, particularly those which don't pursue the one-percenters who are always flush no matter what. Stratos Vichos' Lab 12 company isn't an Ypsilon Audio or Aries Cerat.

As their above Munich 2016 exhibit shows with its Ikea not Ikandi tables, his comfort zone is a lot more blue collar than white. Even the exhibitor lady wears real-people clothes, not ridiculous designer pumps and skimpy skirts. As Stratos put it, "we find ourselves in a period where we need promotion from a well-known site with a review from a reputable reviewer". Unlike his landsmen at TruLife Audio whose present range venerates Athena, Zeus & kin, the Lab 12 catalogue contains no reference to Greece's legendary past. There's only the Gordian power conditioner which knots an implied connection to Alexander the Great.

Today's subject, the Suono amp, simply means sound. And that's in Italian, not Greek. It's a stripped-back very essential meaning. On looks too it avoids the overbuilt template of thermionic temple worship. It's far more basic and simple. This continues with quite practical specs. It's a SET if those letters signify single-ended tube. Whilst it can be run in triode mode with the flick of a switch, its KT150 power tube really isn't a triode at all. It's a high-power kinkless tetrode in the KT88 family. Hence the option to run the Suono in native or ultralinear mode. Now it delivers a full 25wpc. In SET terms, that's quite a lot when the famous 10Y, 101D, 45, PX4, 2A3 and 300B make less than 10 watts. So it is posh but petite versus prole but potent.

In SET terms, it's a bit of an impostor because it's neither true triode nor direct heated. But prospective buyers wouldn't give a toss. They very much would, however, over replacement tube costs. A Russian Tung-Sol KT150 can be had for ~€80. Many of the posh DHT start at 10 times that, then go up. In fact, one could waste the Suono's total tag of €2'200 on glass alone when dealing with upscale DHT amps. Again, the Suono isn't about passé glorification of Western Electric NOS - new-old stock to the uninitiated, signifying tubes often 50 years old which have never been used but whose rarity inflates prices. It's about current production valves of average cost; and how to squeeze the most from solitary output bottles which must operate in class A by design, hence conduct always at full power. It should go without saying that the output transformers won't be exotic Japanese issue from Hashimoto, Kondo or Tango; and that their cores won't be FineMet, amorphous or Cobalt/Nickel, then get wound up with aged silver. Again, the Suono is for folks who wouldn't know these pretensions, ambitions and secret handshakes. No copper chassis either or chrome-plated tube chimneys. No inch-thick faceplates or Japanese Yamamoto meters. Its VU meters are sourced from Taiwan's Nissei instead, part #TR-57. But it is a pure class A amp, a pure tube amp and a manual bias circuit with no negative feedback. Plus, fascia and transformer caps can be had in matte black, gloss white or a custom colour. Viva la proletariat?