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Before it even landed, I knew that the P1 was very powerful. I also suspected that it had big tone. Other than that, I hadn't a clue. I only knew that Sven's boards use gold-plated traces and bakelite without solder-stop lacquer instead of epoxy boards with damping lacquer. I also knew that before being populated with parts, his boards ship to Volker Bajorat of Clockwork Audio in Köln to be "trimmed to resonator length accurate to within 2 microns so very custom". I'd heard various ICEpower, uCD, nCore, Pascal, Anaview, TI and Purifi. I'd never heard Powersoft, certainly not as massaged by Sven Boenicke. Color me curious.
Relative to the above speaker, personal curiosity would have found itself choked. That's because it goes back to 2013 as an experiment into an affordable hi-eff speaker. All I learnt is that it combined a Raal ribbon tweeter with a Beyma midrange run as filter-less widebander into a rear-ported transmission line. Then the bass was handled by an active dipole woofer system. Now we best return to something that's perfectly current and available.
Had we been in France's Chateau de Busset in early October, we could have heard not only the P1 but also the V3 preamplifier above. This photo really rubs in just how puny this 300wpc amplifier is. Its power cord is captive so length and termination—I asked for 1.5m and US—are set at order time.
Vital statistics: mechanically tuned 300wpc/8Ω Powersoft module; Chord Company Shawline AC power cord 10% silver-soldered directly so no screw or plug contacts; 3 x LessLoss next-gen Firewall AC input filters; custom-made AC soft-start module on FR2 circuit board; Bybee small Gold Slipstream Quantum Purifier filters in the audio input; 3 x proprietary resonators (16cm parallel spiral resonator, 16cm series spiral resonator, new 2cm series resonator); ETI Research RCA input sockets; LessLoss internal cotton-covered wiring; Black Ravioli Small Pads feet; high-end orientation optimized Refine Audio fuse installed with unique contact-enhancing agent; solid walnut backplate since aluminium won't sound the same. Weight ~5kg. 6.9cm high x 23cm W x 20cm deep. Silver anodized or black powder coat.
As you saw, this party is for RCA and bananas only. XLR and spades aren't invited. And whilst the stylish front wheel might say volume control, remember. This is a power not integrated amplifier. Said control is the snazzy master switch. Now our introductory P1 tour concluded. Anything more is ears only. Here, use mine. At this juncture, reader Michael Fanning interjected: "How in the world does a bespoke Swiss-made 300wpc power amp from one of the finest European designers/builders go for just €2'500? Yes, I do realize that Sven will sell direct but he could easily charge twice and still be in the affordable category."
The fair answer is probably that by adopting an OEM power module, Sven avoided not just R&D time/expense for that circuit but also costly compliance certifications to sell worldwide. He could focus on what modifiers do: apply parts and processes to a pre-fab circuit which didn't occur to its original designers. Selling direct then eliminates dealer/distributor margins. The most correct P1 description could be that it was designed by a large Italian concern for theme parks, hotels, resorts, bars, restaurants, stadia, convention centers, museums, clubs, malls, shops even public transportation systems, then modified in Switzerland to suit high-end standards.
As to why keep it relatively affordable? Expensive class D amplifiers based on Hypex, ICEpower, nCore and Pascal are often accused of being just repackaged cheap OEM modules so barely different from competitors except perhaps for a custom input buffer like this Nord Rev D with discrete op amps. At least with attentive observers, expensive class D which drives stock modules has a credibility issue. Exempt are proprietary solutions like AGD's and Merrill's. Here Sven's friendlier pricing hopes to invoke the same exemption. Selling direct for the most attractive price is also how Nord and Apollon do it, albeit for ICEpower, Hypex, nCore and Purify and without the P1's exotic/esoteric tweaks. For Powersoft + modified to the hilt + direct sales, Boenicke at least at the close of 2020 seemed to occupy an area of one to own their spot outright. Being boss is sweet. And, going black saves a bit of money over the silver version. Being sold from Suisse, EU customers must factor in VAT and with the power cord captive, you specify the type of mains plug and cable length.
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