Country of Origin



This review first appeared in January 2024 on HifiKnights.com. By request of the manufacturer and permission of the author, it is hereby syndicated to reach a broader audience. All images contained in this piece are the property of HifiKnights or the manufacturer – Ed.

Reviewer: Dawid Grzyb
LampizatOr Pacific (KR Audio T-100 / Living Voice 300B + KR Audio 5U4G Ltd. Ed.), Innuos Statement
Preamplifier: Trilogy 915R, Thöress DFP
Power amplifier: Trilogy 995R, FirstWatt F7, Enleum AMP-23R
Speakers: Boenicke Audio W11 SE+, sound|kaos Vox 3afw all with LessLoss Firewall for Loudspeakers, Boenicke ComDev

Cables: Boenicke Audio S3  and 3 SE Evo+, LessLoss C-MARC and Entropic Process C-MARC, Boenicke Audio 3 SE Evo+
Network: Fidelizer EtherStream, Linksys WRT160N

Rack:Franc Audio Accesories Wood Block Rack 1+3
Resonance attenuation: 2 x Carbide Audio Carbide Bases (under DAC, preamp and speakers), 3 x Bindbreakers (under LessLoss power bar)
Retail price of reviewed components in EU (incl. tax): €67'000

Invader. Until recently Aavik's lineup hosted three differently priced visually identical integrated amps. The brand's latest looks like an entirely different effort from another far costlier universe. Over the years I've seen and heard quite a few visually brilliant amps. The Bakoon AMP-13R, Nagra Classic INT and Gryphon Colosseum stand out. However, pressed to name just one whose styling impressed more than any other, the discontinued €36K Aavik U-300 would be my first choice even today. It was an AiO packing DAC, phono, pre and power amp inside one fine enclosure. Its matte black exterior with large bores for lateral heatsinks and one massive central control knob made it one spectacular machine. To me the U-300 still shows how handsome and cleverly executed audio hardware can get. Its designers did their job so well that similarly styled chassis started showing up shortly past its launch. To copycats lacking in imagination, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery after all.

Most hifi brands of very costly products build their electronics into CNC-milled metal enclosures. Several years ago Aavik's founders determined that aluminium chassis aren't ideal for best sound so stepped away using them. It's the primary reason why their entire 3xx range discontinued. Since then the reworked range groups its inhabitants into 180/280/580 tiers all dressed alike in HDF. The top models add a titanium cross brace on their hood, inner copper sleeves and more proprietary noise attenuation. These matte black boxes with large gloss-red dot matrix displays are visually modest yet nice to look at even if marginal visual variety doesn't match their rapidly increasing price tags. In this group extra coin buys extra performance, not a flashier box. At least that was true until recently.

Gryphon founder Flemming Erik Rasmussen joined Aavik's parent company Audio Group Denmark in May 2021 as industrial design consultant. Since then he and CTO/co-founder Michael Børresen have been up to something. Fast forward to early 2023 and we saw the results, two new platforms visually not even remotely similar to previous Aavik designs. The new entry-level AiO named Forté launched the Group's fourth brand Axxess, the 880 series forms Aavik's new premium tier. The integrated I-880 amp is its firstborn, with siblings already in the oven. This newcomer is quite the sight; and very costly at that. Several weeks ago I had my chance to find out whether it also acts the part. Shortly past publishing my Børresen M1 review, our local Audio Group Denmark representative Jacek had an Aavik I-880 loaner on hand. He didn't need to ask twice whether I'd like to have a go at it. Boy did I have a go.

All Audio Group Denmark fare I've sampled thus far arrived in double-boxed cardboard robust enough to survive more than one international trip but hardly fancy. The I-880 showed up in a proper flight case that put 55kg on the scale. Handlebars on each side and four twist locks allowed us to easily carry and unpack my large cargo. Jacek had to help out but once carriage was over, it was smooth sailing. The amp shrouded in a cloth bag inside a precisely cut foam liner. Upon extracting it I had access to a shallow oval compartment that housed the manual, a pair of woollen gloves and a sleek matte-black remote designed to work all current and future 880 models. The earlier standard-issue silver Apple wand was fine but product as dear as the I-880 really ought to have this critical accessory styled to match. Kudos to Aavik for finally making the effort. Four round cavities in the flight case's bottom stored as many Ansuz Darkz Z2S decouplers. They're mandatory extras for Aavik's newcomer just as they were for Børresen's M1. These unapologetically costly footers demand €3'500 – each. Yet they're by far the very best anti-vibration isolators I've tried to date.