I mainly listened to the Apurna monos using their own integrated preamp stage since their bypass input wasn't terribly compadre with my Coincident direct-heated triode preamplifier. The result was not bad per se but definitely inferior. Springing for the optional built-in Apurna line stage would seem quite mandatory to unlock the amp's full potential.  That's for the bad news. Now to the good. Already my first session reflected many essential qualities. First, transparency and clarity were outstanding. Everything was extremely resolved and the Apogée amps behaved like exemplary linear devices.

I was also amazed by their dynamics. The manufacturer doesn't provide a slew rate spec but I assume that the Apurna amps stand on the highest step of this podium. The sonic assaults of symphonic orchestras started at incredible speed. There's no need to be polite here: very impressive! Another striking quality was the diversity and accuracy of timbres. There was no detectable emphasis of some part of the spectrum, no intoxicating wealth of mid frequencies as one might have experienced with some expensive Kondo amps.

In fact, the variety of timbres was as good as their obvious realism. All the instruments of a symphonic orchestra were identifiable and sounded as we usually hear them in real life. It thought it quite remarkable to achieve such a degree of neutrality from an integrated amplifier. And yes, in my room these loaners did not deliver the largest soundstage ever, be it on the Vivid Audio G1 or G1 Spirit speakers. However, their stability and focus were phenomenal.

Usually the absence of tube preamplification in my system registers as a lack of fluidity, presence and personal involvement. That's why Coincident's 101D are a central component of my reference chain. Surprisingly, the Apurna monaural amps didn't trigger such a sensation of lack. They undeniably provided a lot of presence, an unusual sense of immediacy—almost emergency—and a very lifelike charge.

It therefore made for rather involving listening even if it didn't achieve the same degree of immersion as my usual system which was gradually optimized over many years. This is by no means contemplative listening which personally bores me. The fancy touch was undoubtedly conveyed by the unusual finish but the sonic beauty derived directly from the unvarnished realism of the Apogée amplifiers. Their level of detail could at times seem almost a drawback when the imperfections of recordings stood out more clearly than usual. All the ambient details were more accurate which highlighted the extremely low noise floor of these gain circuits.

When I pushed their volume to study their reaction, I felt no particular discomfort. On the contrary, I had an impression of extremely low distortion. The soundstage remained very stable without any disturbing zooming effects. The same was true even at very low volumes, with a level of detail almost identical. In this area, the Apurna Apogée monos provided me with remarkable results when it is usually quite rare to maintain this degree of informativeness and stability for the 3D stereophonic image at  very low SPL. I think I never enjoyed listening to music at such low levels before.

Thus, on Michala Petri's album English Recorder Concertos, the solo recorder really seemed of remarkable purity. I had the sensation of actually hearing the visceral, sharp but clean energy of this plaintive wind instrument. This natural tension did not vanish at low volumes nor did the quality of tone. There are many details and nuances here that the Apogée amps highlighted in a clear way without giving me too analytical a rendering that would have compromised my overall musical enjoyment.