Up to this point it would seem that the Aavik was a one-trick pony geared for speed and associated traits. Not. It didn't get texturally lean, chiseled, skinny, hot or piercing. Quite the contrary. Big tone not only was one of its most prominent virtues but made sense given all the silencing tweaks inside. Their noise trimming doesn't alter tonal balance or overall gestalt but uncovers extra color, heft, reflexes and decays, holds everything more firmly and darkens the backdrop to increase clarity without trickery. This non-invasive therapy makes music more substantial, coherent and alive to where any audio product subjected to it instantly behaves like an older, more experienced and noble version of itself. This familiar action I'd heard multiple times before during LessLoss assignments. Although they relied on their own tech, to my ears the Aavik sounded just like a product tweaked with the Lithuanians' external add-ons.
Full Aavik lineup with integrated, DAC, streamer and phono stage.
Put up against far pricier hardware, the Kinki in the past had once or twice been called out for being less sophisticated but I can't recall when it struck me as lazy. Yet the I-280 scored higher not only on speed, power and elasticity but also was the tonally more complex. It better differentiated textures and that particular expressiveness, politeness and sensuality which often presents on calm minimalist fare. Gentle female voices portrayed a bit cooler though more organic and convincing than the now warmer, more voluptuous and withdrawn EX-M1. Although the Dane struck me as the clearly higher-tiered deck, I think that many ears would still see its rival as the better fit for my naturally very resolved W11 SE+. However, synergy is a fickle mistress. Once I replacing this load with Børresen's 01, the Aavik emerged as the undisputed winner.
In this report I l called the 01 the one to beat on ripped dynamics, potent slam, guts and top resolution. I'm aware of no other passive monitor that on these counts does what this one pulled in my room; not even close. Although the muscular 01 was noticeably darker than my naturally more lit-up Swiss, with the I-280 it produced a sublime balance of openness, agility, density, tangibility, insight and sunniness. Past my exposure at the Audio Group Denmark facilities, I can't really say that I hadn't seen this coming. Demo systems there included mainly their own components which by design were mutually supportive to make for truly spectacular team efforts. The 01 fronted by the I-280 now granted me the same luxurious aural aesthetic inside my own four walls.
So Børresen's own monitors widened the gap between amps. Into this specific load, the Aavik had its opponent far in the rear-view mirror. Slam, speed and insight were as audible as they were with the Boenicke but with the 01 the list stretched out to include a wider textural palette, increased accuracy and resolution, accelerated air propulsion, greater overall elasticity and somewhat bigger images. This provided all the data necessary to finish today's gig and single out the I-280's speed combined so tastefully with unusually generous tone as its greatest asset. That's quite the accomplishment considering how difficult it is to get these two inherently opposed features evenly distributed.
Aalborg's coats of arms as the Castle of Eels.
Each class D amp I reviewed on HifiKnights since late 2019 was voiced so uniquely that months later I still remember all four quite well. Even the most affordable of the group stomped hard on the tired dry/lifeless stereotype attached to the breed. The Aavik I-280 followed suit by its own sonic means to stand tall as yet another distinctive D class act. Its makers are known for walking to their own beat after all. Noise-free operation, ease of use and a well-made exterior ready to mechanically couple to siblings show clever design. That's typical for companies well past their beginnings. Although its outsourced key component might suggest otherwise, upon closer inspection and listening today's I-280 clearly doesn't fit the profile of a cookie-cutter switcher. Its designers have the ears and know-how to go beyond the usual and managed to dress it up very nicely. Finally, let me highlight two class D performers that were as exceptional as they are unique. The S.P.E.C. Corp. RSA-M99's power output was that of a beefy transistor amp but sounded very much like a purist SET. On snap, resolution, overall maturity and freshness, the AGD Productions Vivace runs circles around almost anything I've heard to date. The Aavik I-280 now fit right between those two marvels and considering their respective ask [€10'900 and €15'000/pr – Ed.], its sticker strikes me as spot on.
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