The I-280's forehead doesn't have much but what's there is simple, intuitive and tastefully executed. Gently concave clicky buttons on the left put it to on/standby and mute. The bottom control changes inputs if pressed quickly and upon a longer press opens the menu where one may adjust preamp gain (5-15/1-11dB for inputs 1-4/5) and channel balance, activate the pre-out, set display brightness (10/40/70/100%) and dim delay (1-5s and off), enable home theater bypass and set its level plus check operating temperature and firmware version. Changes can be made either via Apple's responsive RC or the frontal buttons plus the massive endlessly rotating knob to cycle through the options. How this controller behaves is very similar to my Trilogy 915R linestage and its shiny silver surface is a magnifying mirror that looks and feels truly luxurious up close.

i/o board in back, Pascal UMAC board in front, vertical Tesla coil boards in the middle.

The I-280's glossy large red dot-matrix display with excellent black background shows the currently selected input and volume (76 x 1dB) and is perfectly legible from afar. Nothing more is needed. A single dot in either the bottom left or right corner indicates standby or on with the rest of the display off. An IEC inlet on the rear sits below the mains switch with self-replaceable fuse and neighbors a RS-232 firmware update port and two DC triggers. Next to these are five RCA line inputs (10kΩ input impedance, 4.5/6.5Vrms for inputs 1-4/5 respectively) and one RCA pre-out (max output 7.5Vrms, THD below 0,005%@1kHz/1V, 50kΩ output impedance). All this slots between two pairs of translucent speaker terminals conveniently mounted on the business end's far left and right.

My loaner's silence was the first thing of note. Neither was there any buzz from the chassis nor speakers. Aavik's latest was so quiet that I wouldn't be able to tell whether it was powered up without its red dot indicator. The product instantly awoke from standby and past flipping its power mains was up 'n' running in five seconds. The new interface was quick, responsive and worked as intended though the option to name inputs would be nice. During several weeks of extensive usage I encountered just one glitch that mixed up display info but didn't impact performance, was easy to avoid and most likely will be a breeze to sort with a firmware update.

The I-280's steel interior looks unusual and Pascal's integrated UMAC circuit is the largest resident. Its PWM block generates sine not triangle wave to decrease UHF noise, lower inductive filtering at the output and effectively provide higher damping factor. Lowest possible inductance is a fundamental design goal for Audio Group Denmark. The amplifier module's output devices attach to a heat sink on one side and the other stacks two PCB each with 36 active tesla coils. The i/o board next to these incorporates dithering IC and multi-layered squared noise-killing coils whereas anti-aerial veins are visible under black cables sleeves that connect Pascal's board to the speaker terminals. The volume control behaves and feels like an analog ladder inside a chip controlled by a rotary encoder.