Country of Origin


Composer & Full Score one

Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Main system: Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac (i5, 256GB SSD, 40GB RAM, Sonoma 14), 4TB external SSD with Thunderbolt 3, Audirvana Studio, Qobuz Sublime, Singxer SU-6 USB bridge, LHY Audio SW-8 & SW-6 switch, Laiv Audio Harmony and Sonnet Pasithea; Active filter: Lifesaver Audio Gradient Box 2; Power amplifiers: Kinki Studio EX-B7 monos & Gold Note monoa on subwoofer; Headamp: Kinki Studio THR-1; Phones: HifiMan Susvara, Meze 109 Pro; Loudspeakers: Qualio IQ [on loan] Cables: Kinki Studio Earth, Furutech; 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 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: FiiO R7 into Soundaware D300Ref SD transport to Cen.Grand DSDAC 1.0 Deluxe; Preamp/filter: Lifesaver Audio Gradient Box 2; Amplifier: Kinki Studio EX-M7; Headamp: Cen.Grand Silver Fox Loudspeakers: MonAcoustic SuperMon Mini + Dynaudio S18 sub; Power delivery: Furutech GTO 2D NCF, Akiko Audio Corelli; 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 Win10/64; USB bridge: Singxer SU-2; DAC: iFi Pro iDSD Signature; Head/speaker amp: Enleum AMP-23R; Speakers: Acelec Model One
Headphones: Final D-8000 & Sonorous X, Audeze LCD-XC, Raal-Requisite SR1a on Schiit Jotunheim R
Upstairs headfi system: FiiO R7; Headphones: Meze 109 Pro, Fiio FT3

2-channel video system: Source: Oppo BDP-105; All-in-One: Gold Note IS-1000 Deluxe; Loudspeakers: Zu Soul VI; Subwoofer: Zu Submission; Power delivery: Furutech eTP-8, Room: ~6x4m

Review component retail: £2'249 and £1'299 for the amp 

Audio from Austria. There's AKG, Ayon, Mysphere, Pro-Ject, Trenner & Friedl, Vienna Acoustics and Wiener Lautsprecher Manufaktur. Then there's Austrian Audio, today's focus. Like Mysphere's Helmut Ryback and Heinz Renner who were involved in AKG's K-1000 project then split off their own venture to revisit the concept, Austrian Audio are another AKG offshoot¹. In 2017 twenty-two prior employees including "personnel from management, acoustics, electronics, test and measurement, mechanical design, RF/wireless, software and firmware began producing a range of professional microphones and headphones. By 2023 they entered the premium hifi space with the Composer headphones and Full Score one amplifier." That caught us up with today when PR man Murdo Mathewson whispered conspiratorially that "the Full Score one headphone amp is due in EU/UK stores this month or next". Like a movie which compresses time from one frame to the next, we just skipped years worth of action and R&D. But that's how it goes when we're not penning another In Search of Lost Time.

¹ Other companies formed by ex employees include Fyne Audio who came from Tannoy; Psvane who continue Shuguang tube production; and Linlai who exited Psvane. Scandinavia has a few driver manufacturers which were bought out by Chinese conglomerates but subsequently had core employees leave to relaunch under new Nordic banners. In the restaurant trade too it's common that a chef will leave with a team to open a new place. Changes in company culture, management and product focus can all trigger a talent exodus. Sometimes key designers have new ideas that don't fit to eventually set up their own shop and take with them sympathetic team members. It's all part of carving one's own path.

In quick talking points we now cover the Composer with a minimalist/modern industrial design; next-gen 49mm dynamic driver with diamond-like carbon skin; a well-vented headband; magnetically fitted pleather earpads; three different twin-banana headphone cables terminated on the amp end in XLR4, 4.4mm and 3.5mm with included 6.3mm adapter; and core specs of 112dB/V sensitivity, 5Hz-44kHz bandwidth, 22Ω impedance and 385g of weight. The matching amplifier is fully discrete and "a symmetrical voltage-feedback circuit with class B triple emitter-follower output stage, high-speed complementary push-pull gain stage and cascoded parallel-differential input stage". It can support 10-600Ω loads and generate up to 9Vrms or 19dBV. Its power bandwidth is a whopping 5Hz to 2MHz (!) -3dB with 0.25µs rise time and 200V/µS slew rate. You'd think that the implied circuit speed is what Austrian's marketing calls TTT or true transient technology; a kind of Spectral circuit for headfi perhaps. But actually it can be defeated via the second frontal push button. Does that make TTT a quasi 'turbo' mode which pushes leading-edge replay to the bleeding edge whilst TTT disengaged is the plusher 'family sedan' tuning to use layman's language? If so, what's the intended default? And, should TTT sound noticeably better as might be assumed from making it a buzzword feature, why is it defeatable? These seem obvious questions looking for answers. At 22x26x6.5cm DxWxH and 2.8kg, scoring a Full one won't take a dolly but single hand. Like the 'phones, black is the new pink.

And that's all the intro wrote. I'll add that an AKG K-1000 was one of my earlier hifi treasures. Hearing what ex AKG agents now call their new flagship had my ears itch. And you know what hifi nerds do then. Scratch. Today's scratch is £2'250/£1'299 for the can/amp respectively. In the current summit headfi space that's not peanuts but definitely not bushels of macadamias or Brazilians either. Just so it's serious coin for anyone who might spend such a sum on a used car or family vacation. Should we call the Composer a prospective lagship because on price it actually lags seriously behind +£6K flagships like Camerton's Binom-ER, HifiMan's Susvara, Spirit Torino's Pulsar and Valkyria or the new Raal 1995 Magna and Immanis? Perspective. It's everything. And, we each have our own. That can additionally change over time. Voilà, today's basics on these Austrian Audio products. I'll take them through their paces in tandem; and solo. For the latter I have Final Sonorous X & D-8000, Meze 109 Pro and HifiMan Susvara as can comparators; iFi iDSD Pro Signature, Enleum AMP-23R, FiiO R7 and COS H1 as amp challengers. Mix 'n' match. Hope for the best. Report on the lot. The usual reviewer's manifesto.

Note the unusual attachment point for the cables falling down wider than usual; and the ear cup's 4-click tilt range in the drawing. How about the enormous channel identifier inside the ear cup?

… to be continued when samples arrive…