November
2021

Country of Origin

Denmark

C280/580

Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Main system: Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac (4GHz quad-core with Turbo, 32GB RAM, 3TB FusionDrive, OSX Yosemite. iTunes 14.4), PureMusic 3.02, Audirvana 3, Qobuz, Tidal, Denafrips Terminator+ clock-synced to Soundaware D30Ref SD card transport & USB brdige; Preamp: icOn 4Pro SE; Power amplifiers: Kinki Studio EX-B7 monos, Enleum AMP-23R; Headamp: Kinki Studio; Phones: HifiMan Susvara; Loudspeakers: Aurai Audio Lieutenant, Audio Physic Codex Cube Audio Nenuphar Cables: Complete loom of Allnic Audio ZL; Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all source components, Vibex One 11R on amps, Furutech DPS-4.1 between wall and conditioners; Equipment rack: Artesanía Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Exoteryc Krion and glass amp stands; Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators, LessLoss Firewall for loudspeakers, Furutech NCF Signal Boosters; Room: 6 x 8m with open door behind listening seat
2nd system: Source: Soundaware D100Pro SD transport; DAC: Kinki Studio; Preamp/filter: icOn 4Pro + 4th-order/40Hz hi-low pass; Amplifier: Crayon CFA-1.2; Loudspeakers: sound|kaos Vox 3awf, Dynaudio S18 sub; Power delivery: Furutech GTO 2D NCF; Equipment rack: Hifistay Mythology Transform X-Frame [on extended loan]; Sundry accessories: Audioquest Fog Lifters; Furutech NFC Clear Lines; Room: ~3.5 x 8m
Desktop system: Source: HP Z230 work station Win7/64; USB bridge: Audiobyte Hydra X+; Headamp: COS Engineering H1; Headphones: Final D-8000; Powered speakers: Fram Audio Midi 120
Upstairs headfi/speaker system: Source: smsl SD-9 transport; DAC: Denafrips Terminator; Integrated amplifier: Schiit Jotunheim R; Phones: Raal-Requisite SR1a
2-channel video system: Source: Oppo BDP-105; All-in-One: Simon Audio; Loudspeakers: German Physiks HRS-120; Subwoofer: Zu Submission; Power delivery: Furutech eTP-8, Room: ~6x4m

Review component retail: €12'000/€25'000 for C280/580 respectively

C for vitamin, control or both?

On darko.audio, 13'000 people voted in a poll on using stand-mount speakers or floorstanders.

1) Just over half of all respondents are running stand-mounts.
2) Of those stand-mount users, 20% have augmented their setup with at least one subwoofer.
3) Roughly 40% of those polled are listening via floorstanding loudspeakers.
4) 1/3rd of those floorstander users are running at least one subwoofer.
5) 1/3rd of all voters are using at least one subwoofer.

The majority of our mainstream press still plays dumb. It's readers who wised up. The addition of an active sub (or two) is often the smarter 2-channel play. For the system and its owner, said IQ injection means two more, two less. More are performance aka bandwidth, control and quality plus new functionality like adaptive bass, placement options and room correction/EQ. Less are size requirements for the mains and the amp driving them; and money spent relative to what a bigger amp and bigger passive towers would cost that could compete though active bass usually still beats passive bass.

To deliver, my math embeds a critical condition. The sub must integrate via active low and high pass. Otherwise neither the speakers nor the amp driving them are relieved of bass signal nor its demands on current and excursion plus the latter's impact on distortion. How to accomplish the active pass which precedes the speaker signal to filter out its low bass? Home-theater pre/pros have all the answers, high-zoot stereo preamps rarely ever do. Now one looks at external crossovers from JL, spl or Wilson which demand €3K or more; the $499 Sublime; or digital equivalents embedded in DACs from Bel Canto to Linn and TotalDAC or power DACs like Lyngdorf's. Adding itself now to the analog side of our very limited choices is Aavik's new preamp in C280/580 guise. That's if one opts to have its €4'000 filter module installed. This will filter the main outputs at precisely the frequency the user selects; and the sub out follows suit just mirror-imaged. Actually, the latter is always a 4th-order slope, the former 2nd-order. Even at matched frequencies, it'll never be a perfectly symmetrical handover. But Michael Børresen cites a smoother phase transition in trade. For further dialomatics, the low-pass level adjusts in ¼dB steps ±6dB. Obviously all this happens by remote as confirmed by a big very legible display.

If you have no need for this functionality, don't buy it. You still get a 5-input 2-output preamp with Apple remote and the now signature high-density fiberboard enclosure painted black. Given my intro's slant, you of course know where my focus will be. As the Darko poll suggested, it's a feature whose relevance is high. In our 2-channel space, an unexpected number of people run subwoofers. Shouldn't they have superior integration tools to get even better results? Prolonged bass signal at high SPL heats up the voice coil of a 2-way monitor's mid/woofer. That increases its impedance so chokes dynamic contrast all the way up to ~2kHz where that driver meets its tweeter. Remove the bass signal and dynamic range/ease increase across a very broad bandwidth. Ditto for reduced excursions creating less distortion. You simply need to high-pass filter the monitors. So the 'C' in C280/580 is short for control. The 'P' which might have abbreviated preamplifier already prefixes the range's power amps. In Aavik lingo then, a preamplifier is a control amplifier. And when we add the filter module, what we can control increases its scope. Now we can think of our deck as C². Be in control, totally. It's the full dose of C vitamin. We just know that's good for us!

… to be continued…