They say that nothing fails like success. Once we achieve our ambitions, they won't be enough. Retirement turns out to be a bore. The rat race after bigger shinier goals resumes. My own ambition to explain Silver Fox's core signature in standard audiophile terms seems to have likewise failed; and miserably so. But that rather strikes me as the design's true success. It's not a paint-by-numbers affair whose numbers would-be couch engineers could use to scientifically predict its sonics without listening. Such 'reviews' really do exist. It's perhaps because of them that Mr. JianHui Deng didn't reveal more when I asked him about circuit details. There we have little to sink our teeth in. He doesn't want us to know more. Which is just as well. Most of us, yours truly included, haven't a clue how to correlate circuit diagrams and parts lists with sonics. All we need to know are two basics. Is this deck perfectly noise-free into whatever headphones we wish to drive? Check. Does it have enough power to make them go as loud as we want? Check. All the rest is fancy window dressing. Check mate. Once we enter a shop, we no longer see its windows. The displays just seduced us to enter. With Cen.Grand's Silver Fox, the seduction also begins at the eye. This is a very attractive, beautifully executed full-featured and mature effort. It'll make you come closer to inspect it hands on. Soon you'll wonder how this team secures its perfect copper-tone edging; and why we haven't seen this done before.

Next you could wonder why we've not heard of this brand before. My intro explained that. Then you'll want to know what the 9i-906 sounds like. Hopefully there my comments gave you a good idea. Simply remember the M+M of mass and momentum. It creates density from displacement injected with propulsive energy. It's a richly hued meaty sound with big drive that made all of my headphones sing. In my little world of competing acquaintances and resident samples, Cen.Grand's Silver Fox just became its apex predator. I rate it equal to Enleum's AMP-23R on overall quality, its divergent voicing even higher for emotive connectivity and resultant hookup with my gut and heart strings.

If HifiMan's Susvara remains as representative of extreme loads as I think it does, Silver Fox should drive anything bearish you care to throw at it. Without pre-outs or remote control, it has no intentions of doubling as preamp. There's no built-in DAC either. For that Cen.Grand have Meitner/Nagra-type DSD 1'028 resampling machines; and smaller combo decks. Given this showing, a close hard look at one of their standalone DACs should really be next. Today is simply about the dedicated Silver Fox head amp. Global distribution for it just commenced. Germany already kicked off a first EU presence with Audio.Next's portfolio supplying their dealers. That's early days. But it's very happy days when the top echelon of headfi amps just gained such a serious new contender.

Having been a very premature silver myself for years already if admittedly non-foxy, Mr. Deng's Silver Fox made a most powerful argument to stay put. If yesterday's sale of a pair of my speakers sticks—I gave the local buyer 10 days to be sure—I'll be most tempted to make this machine a permanent member of our hen house. Unlike for our farming landlord who routinely loses chickens to ordinary red foxes, our household won't crack one egg hosting this silvery specimen. Regardless, it's definitely cracked my personal ceiling already for its component category. What a terrific find!

As it happens, the speaker sale stuck with a very happy buyer in Galway; and so did the Silver Fox as my new reference headphone driver…

PS: On September 11th, Iain Borthwick of Willowtree Audio became Cen.Grand's UK distributor so availability in Europe already expanded.