If we think about a tube stereotype of sweetness, warmth, generous saturation and mildly polite behavior, today clearly wasn't that. On my Boenicke speakers, this amp introduced itself as agile, majestic, spatially present and very open-throated. It sang like a far bigger more powerful amp and nothing about its performance was casual. More than a year ago I'd heard something similar with Ayon's Scorpio on my previous even tougher Boenicke W8. Now the same stout aroma was in the air from single-ended KT150, not quad of push/pull KT88. Until now, I hadn't known that SE amps were capable of that. The Audio Reveal pushed my Swiss speakers without any typical signs of being under-powered so no shrill treble, no thin or boomy bass. Lack of these telltale signs marked it as being suitable for difficult loads and showed me how little power was needed for high SPL and satisfactory propulsion. Here neither of my like-powered transistor amps was as efficient or easeful. I imagine that the Second's dual-mono topology and power supply had a say here. Still, more relevant was the fact that this amp was quite capable of showcasing my speaker's personality even though Alberto Guerra's AGD Production Vivace monos and Kinki Studio's EX-M1 had acted noticeably more effortless and in control but that was hardly a surprise.

Past introductory courtesies, it was time to swap in the Spendor Classic 1/2. How exactly these rate against my Boenicke W11 SE+ remains a story for another time but it became very clear why they came recommended for Michal's amp. This combo instantly unlocked the big picture instead of focusing my attention on a specific feature or two. To pull this off, overall performance must be composed and uniform enough to show no obvious weakness which is exactly what the Classic 1/2 did on the Second. The result was spatially majestic, full, tactile, precise, tonally spot on and balanced. Fabulous elasticity, swiftness, insight and control went hand in hand with textural generosity, openness and bloom. On spaciousness, shove and overall complexity, this pleasantly big-bore sound would make many costlier setups blush.

Meaty open-throated performance with large vivid images already was very respectable but additional freedom from stuffiness, bloat and abnormal humidity made everything click. This emerged as a complete care package just as promised yet my full appreciation thereof came after a round with the Spendor on my Thöress DFP/FirstWatt F7 combo. Although potent slam, on-stage presence and a generously articulated midband remained unchanged, the two-piece set audibly lowered the tonal balance to get a bit darker, heavier and to layer a tad more distant. The Spendor had become more gravitational, earthy and cloudy. The treble remained as weighty and extended as before but had less shimmer than the Second. Although the F7 was no slower than the Audio Reveal, it contributed to a more relaxed calmer effect which somewhat reminded me of what my Trilogy 925 used to do. It packs a punch but in a silk glove.

The two-box team had the advantage over the Second on midband textures and image sculpting. This created a more even ratio of outlines to filler. Geared towards agility, propulsion and carefully dosed stiffness, the tube loaner naturally positioned itself a small step behind its opponents on midrange richness but with the Spendor still struck a better overall balance. The more hours I clocked with these naturally dense muscular speakers, the clearer it became that the tube amp's inherent speed, spatial grandeur, directness and ferocity upon demand made it a spot-on match. In my room and with my own biases in mind, the Second with the Classic 1/2 monitors took the cake instead of the equally elegant but audibly different Thöress DFP/FirstWatt F7 package. That was quite an achievement considering the significant price gap.