My present sonic ambition is to duplicate our open-baffle SR1a Raal ribbon headphones with our speaker systems. The P1 moved in the opposite direction. It was more earlier Audeze or current Final planarmagnetic; more late autumn than early spring. In class D, Sven's petite P1 undoubtedly joins the general S.P.E.C. aesthetic. Germane to my dislike of dry/overdamped class D is that this amp cancelled such concerns. On textural generosity it behaved far more like a big push/pull KT120 amp whilst running barely hand warm, fitting into one hand like a hardbound book and using no parts which the user must replace eventually. 300 watts as pentode power would be a fair chunk of maintenance change, never mind double as space heater to get overbearing in the summer. The Swiss plays it cool-hand cuke. Should you want, you could leave it on permanently and barely impact your utility bill or thermometer. What that might do for the longevity of the power supply—or not—I wouldn't know.
Is lots of air just a bad hair day? It's a serious question. As we learnt, Sven's sonic references are his own location recordings. Those aren't typical close-mic'd studio productions. From that thinking shoppers predict that Sven's amp probably won't be tuned for maximum air or close-up treble. To capture those fullest before distance dilutes them requires real microphone proximity. During an acoustic gig, only front-row listeners remain in the air zone if already at its perimeter. With an amplified gig, the entire audience can share but in my experience, PA-enhanced performances tend to be bassy instead. That prioritizes the opposite bandwidth. So whether you're a treble- or bass-first listener should depend on your concert experience; and whether your music library is weighted toward typical close-mic'd productions or more Waterlily/m.a 'purist' affairs If you're a treble-first type who enjoys the sheen, gloss, zip and zing of nearfield HF and their influence on our perception of speed and spatial cues, the P1 will be milder, mellower and slower. Now the harmonic spray around cymbal trills, violin flageolet and such gets less brilliant, exposed and elongated and rhythmic incisiveness and urgency milder.
Now eliminate the extreme nearfield perspective. Tonality appears instantly warmer with no 2nd-harmonic sauce or treble phase shift from insufficient bandwidth like lesser SET output transformers suffer. In those terms the P1 is a warmer type also because its bass is muscle-amp powerful and complete. But it's not a brownie dunked in thick THD syrup. Let's return to Sven's presence in the ambient field of a live concert not control room from where he monitors. In that location, reflected sound outweighs direct sound. Tone enriches with more acoustic reverb. The polar opposite with which most of us have no experience is the anechoic chamber. In lieu of that, we compare our untrained singing voice outdoors against it in the loo. We sound better with reflective assist. Some of that applies to the P1. It's tuned not to replicate extreme nearfield tonality but more of the richer slightly softer more blended signature of a seat in the farther rows of a grand hall. That's why it's the antithesis of dry. Like dipoles which involve our playback venue more than monopoles, the P1 doesn't know 'dry'. On that score it's an ignoramus. But as they say, sometimes ignorance really can be bliss. For the type listener I described, the P1 will be that blue-eyed bliss baby.
In certain quarters of what John Darko calls the audiophile ghetto, 'recorded truth' and 'artistic intention' are sacrosanct even though nobody clinging to them was in the studio or inside the performer's head to know. Such abstract ideals also overlook that mastering engineers add their own artistic license with often no exposure to the actual recording session. The cottage industry of vinyl re-issues exemplifies this. Famous mastering engineers get hired decades after the fact to refurbish a popular pressing. Repaint that Michelangelo whose colors have faded. At best, such refurb relies on intuitive hindsight. Otherwise it's a new vision. Either way the original artist had no say. Now music lovers mustn't feel guilty for tweaking their playback experience. The mixing-console professional did it. The subsequent mastering engineer did it. So did yet another mastering engineer on a reissue. Ditto hifi designers. They inject their own sentiments and preferences. Those are informed by their own concert experience and musical likes/dislikes. A final system says as much about its owner as it must only ever please him or her. It's why adventurous audiophiles often oversee a growing hifi cemetery. It reflects certain way stations which turned earlier loves into eventual road blocks. That's not about the absolute sound. That's about exploring the options to eventually find our own voice.
End of philosophical detour. Back on the Radio Boenicke wavelength to hear more of Sven's voice.
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