Along a full-sized soundstage and absolute control of dynamic relief (noblesse oblige!), the sound contained everything one expects from the Sound Analysis Laboratory designs. Among other things there was a perennial sanguinity with emphasis on melodic expression caused not by sheer power but finesse. All this resulted in considerable interest from the visitors to the show and a Top High End Product of the Year Award.
Following this, a Hercules MkII was not long in coming. It's this amp we'll talk about now. Alexey himself told me everything I wanted to know about it. Surely some things he mentioned should be left unpublished. Nothing wrong with that. IP is sacred. During our conversation, he habitually began to speculate about inductance, saturation, inner resistivity, surge current or emission characteristics. He is totally at ease with all these terms. I had an urge to interrupt him with something like: "Hey, remember who you are talking to!" In other words, we weren't engaged in this conversation on equal terms. Fortunately musical communication doesn't require an intermediary. Nothing explains music better than music herself.
We listened to the Hercules MkII amps in a suite belonging to the SoundProLab audio salon of Moscow. Their system comprised 145kg/ea. Magico Q3 speakers with grapheme woofer diaphragms, diamond-coated tweeter domes and sealed cabinets. And surely there again was the Studer, indispensable for any Sound Laboratory demo. A quick glance at the list of amps offered by their portfolio is enough to separate them into thematic groups, quite contrary to how product ranges are habitually perceived.
For instance, there is an 'antique' group comprised of Ligeia and Erato. There is the 'musical instrument' group with the amps and phono amps Stradivari, Amati etc. There are the knights, one black, one white. Finally there are the heroes Samson and Hercules. One thing in common between them is relatively high output power. You'll agree that it would be pathetic if specs for the Samson read 9 watts per channel. In fact, Hercules has twice the power over its 'sibling' — 250 watts against Samson's 120. We can almost envision a lean but wiry fighter with Philistines standing shoulder to shoulder facing the mighty towering Hercules athlete. The difference in cabinet sizes alone corresponds with this vision.