As chronicled in my September 2009 report on the Milan TopAudio Show, Absoluta Sound and Space is an exciting new consumer electronics company based out of Padova/Italy 30 kilometers inland from Venice. They specialize in DC-coupled 300kHz bandwidth fully differential circuits which combine valves and bipolar transistors. Those are then clothed in hot-swappable curvaceous covers crafted from solid wood or stone and finished in a variety of matte or gloss colors and species.

Designed and built completely in Italy, Absoluta components even look quintessentially Italian. To appreciate the environmental influences of culture and history which this company quite inevitably pooled into its artisanal offerings, click on the map's names of Padova and Venezia for two brief pictorial impressions. While our brief visit only allowed a few hours of strolling through Padova and a far-too-rushed seven in Venice, the more than 50 selected full-size images with thumb nails do convey the overall setting which inspires the Absoluta team by daily osmosis as it were.

Situated in a business park in the commercial sector of one of Italy's oldest cities, the beginnings of Absoluta by now date back 5 years and some €700.000 in R&D investiture.

The company's core team is led by CEO Giulio Salerno who—in his real life as a successful business man—runs Artú Haloservice, an architectural design firm embedded in the Artufficio s.r.l group which specializes in bank interiors.*


* This firm is presently involved with a from-the-ground-up realization of the Banca Prealpi. Previous projects included the Banca del Veneziano in Fiesso; the Cassa Rurale di Trento; the Banca Credito Cooperativo de Brendola in Brendola; the Barclays Bank PLC in Padova; the Banca Credito Cooperativo del Vicentino in Belfiore; the BCC Sant'Elena in Mezzavia; and the BCC Del Veneziano in Campagna Lupia.

The technical team at Absoluta consists of CTO Elia Piras and technical advisor Marco Manunta who also runs M2Tech, the firm which recently set the PC audio world on its ears with the hiFace USB-to-S/PDIF interface. He previously co-founded Northstar, then spent five years at Audio Analogue. Today, companies like Norma, Audia Flight, Wyred4Sound, Empirical, MSB and NuForce have already expressed interest in his OEM version of the hiFace. Andrea Canaletti is responsible for mechanical and cosmetic design. His day job is with an engineering firm currently involved with a retractable yacht keel that will allow owners of luxury boats to move a lot closer to shore and safely into shallow waters.

Then there's CMO Massimo Lucchesi, a childhood friend of Elia's. They sang and played guitar together in a rock band when young. Massimo's occupation in the real world outside hifi is in sales and marketing within the jewelry/fine watch industry. Alessandro Pagani is the resident assembler and only present full-time employee besides Elia Piras. Everyone else is a contractor to Absoluta until the company's growth warrants otherwise. There are also a number of quiet investors who have helped bankroll the significant expenditures of the present R&D. It's worth pointing out that unlike so many audio firms started by one passionate designer out of a basement and with little if any business sense, the team at Absoluta is strategically composed of money people, business men, marketing experts and experienced electronics designers. In this sector, that's rather uncommon.

The above three products represent the first three years of Absoluta's history and genetic coding - a massive valve preamp with outboard power supply and two kinds of valve monos, one pair around 4 x 6C33Cs per channel, the other around a pair of rare Tung-Sol 7241s. The latter is a triple triode with 100-watt total anode dissipation, three cathodes with single grid and plate connections and a 7-pin giant base. It has seen ultra-reliable industrial employ as a series regulator in power supplies for huge particle accelerators. The two lower images show the top and bottom of one channel's power supply.

Absoluta eventually determined that the sell price necessitated by the labor and parts costs involved in these products would be quite beyond what they could realistically launch with. These eventual top offering were thus shelved. The last two years were instead spent developing the current 'middle' range. This consists of a valve preamplifier with inbuilt phono stage; a bridgeable stereo amp; bridgeable mono amps; and a forthcoming integrated amplifier that won't be 'based on' but actually combine, in full, the present valve preamp and bipolar stereo amp in one scaled-up chassis. And before you ask, yes, that's the one I shall review later in the year. But first things first...