The D class connection. Compared to our Nord Acoustics nCore 500-based monos with the improbable model name One SE Up NC500MB, the Allegro pair was just as quiet and resolved. Then came the differences. The class D amps were drier, harder, brighter and comparatively overdamped. They exhibited coarser shinier treble and a bass which, whilst ultimately controlled and extended, lacked a certain degree of flex or give. That was ideal for synth drums, club beats and other techno chicanery. For acoustic upright & Co, it was a bit staid and static. If general textures were taut like pallet straps ratcheted up for zero slippage, the German class A/B challengers loosened the straps for more breathing room. Whilst less glossy and 'popping', the high frequencies were clearly the more suave and airy. Overall textures particularly in the midband were gentler, moister and fleshier. Bass was more generous and as powerful. In exposure terms, the Nord monos acted as though their black and white levels were punched up. Consequently the in-between half tones were reduced in scope and gradation. The LinnenberG monos had the more even exposure, hence higher more natural contrast. This wasn't counting peas under pillows. This was obvious. On first blush, the nCore amps sounded arguably more spectacular and punched up. By contrast, this soon defaulted into slightly monochromatic and hyped, at least on our Accuton-diaphragm Albedo Aptica which don't require four-figure damping and near kilowatt 2Ω drive.

Where does petite stop and cute start? Your call.

At five times the 8Ω rating, into these two-way transmission 1st-order loads, the Nords really had nothing on bass reach over what on paper were German not underdogs but underpuppies. That's no blanket statement. Into the chunky 84dB Mark & Daniel Maximus Monitor MkII, the Nords are miracle workers. Ditto the meaty redolent Boenicke W11. Into our easier though leaner Italian speakers, the fit with the Allegros was simply the more satisfying. No longer owning Gainclone amps —ours made onward tracks to a local music lover who needed them more—I couldn't check on Ivo's supremacy claim over that breed. With our speakers, I could and would however sign on the dotted line of class D. The Allegros played it juicier and more vibrant. Sometimes power and ultra-low output Ω aren't everything. Sometimes they are. Knowing what is when is sadly more about exposure and experimentation than spec-driven predictions.

Battle of the high-speed clansmen. To get a read on where on that map the Allegro fell, I harnessed into service the Crayon CFA-1.2 and Goldmund/Job 225 for direct contrast. The former is our secret Zu Druid V weapon where the Bakoon AMP-12's output power is insufficient. The latter is our standard choice for the media room's fully omnipolar German Physiks HRS-120. One of the arbiter CDs became Abed Azrié's original and best Suerte, i.e. not "in Berlin" or "Live". With the Arabian and Flamenco singers duelling for jaleo shouts of appreciation plus guitar, accordeon, qanun, drums, palmas and foot stomps all very well recorded, it was easy to hear that, whilst cut from very similar cloth, the LinnenberG and Crayon diverged on transient paprika and gloss. Perhaps due to its switch-mode power supply, the CFA-1.2 rendered attacks fierier, sharper and with more innate metal. Without any subjective loss of speed, the Allegro's surface textures weren't as shiny, hence more matte. That eliminated an underlying element of brightness/gloss and with it, the pepper in Pedro Aledo's occasional sibilants and the steeliness in the guitar's rasgueado. Where the Crayon prioritized the virility, musical tension and macho blister of this production on l'empreinte digitale, the LinnenberGs took a somewhat more relaxed and toneful stance - a slight echo of metal vs. paper diaphragm sound. Given how the actual transducers here were metallic, Ivo's voicing had my final nod.

Fully balanced signal path from Aqua Formula DAC via Wyred4Sound STP-SE Level 2 preamp. Speakers on HifiStay Vega decouplers.

The Allegro/Job pairing eliminated the transient difference of the previous A/B. On that aspect, both presentation were very closely matched now. This reading diverged on depth cues and tone body where the LinnenberG monos were more teased out and developed despite sharing the same Exicon outputs (though the Swiss use four, not two per channel). The Job had rather higher gain and paper power but its makers remain tight-lipped on its 2Ω performance which LinnenberG openly specify. The Allegros' more specific and grander depth plus additional image density likely reflected their easily doubled power supplies. On subjective speed—how perception relates to it as sonic attributes—the Crayon led the parade where its application of glossier brighter textures moved it to one side. On very comparable attack treatment and less sheen, the Job and LinnenberG moved to the other side. On ultimate sophistication and naturalness, the Allegros took the crown. On these speakers, they were first amongst equals; very fine performance in elevated company. To move right along, I wanted to know how they'd hold up against our Bakoon, a comparison for which synchronicity had landed the easy-load Swiss Bernola L17 speakers of 95dB single-driver efficiency.

This became a very tight race on an ace Swiss illusionist which, like a stage magician, entertains with a delightful trick and plenty of charming misdirection to disguise the mechanics of its trick. In no uncertain terms, that magic trick lives in Midrange Central. If you don't know the tunes, you won't fully notice what's missing; bandwidth on top and particularly the bottom. If played too loud, this kind sound can betray a certain hollowness which gives away the misdirection. At regular levels however, it's charming as sin, with the unlimited walk-in soundstaging one expects from point sources without phase shift. Bakoon and LinnenberG alike got the most from it but in the end, the Allegros walked away again with the slightly mellower gentler transients that felt more natural and less Technicolour; and whose higher power also squeezed out more bass reach. With the recent launch of the flagship 100wpc Bakoon AMP-51R at €19'990, that made the LinnenberGs poor man's 55-watt Bakoons of sorts; less coin actually than our now discontinued 15wpc AMP-12R. Of course, the white Bernolas weren't a load the average Allegro audience pursues. That made the above showing doubly interesting and the petite monos quite universal. With personal Bakoon-oriented curiosity satisfied, it was time for our Zu Druid V before going back to the Albedos and a final showdown against the class A Pass Labs XA-30.8.