Nouveau recette? Combining traditional not oscillating gain circuits with switch-mode power remains a newer trend. In Denmark Aavik do it for their class A models. In Germany there are LinnenberG's stunning Georg Friedrich Händel class A monos. For class AB with SMPS we have the UK's Chord, Austria's Crayon and Switzerland's Nagra. Even the tube heads at Manley contracted with Bruno Putzeys for a quiet switch-mode power supply for their noise-critical phono stage. There'll be more to show that the days of SMPS being exclusively associated with class D are behind us. So ought automatic connotations of 'cheap' as though all were throwaway wall warts or primitive subwoofer fare. Made-for-audio switching supplies are now a perfectly legitimate high-end thing. In Emei's half-size sector I know of Gold Note's €1'699 75wpc PA-10 which combines an SMPS with GaNFet class AB outputs then offers bridge mode for quad power and builds in a slow-moving fan.

But to be fair, this particular combo of oscillating power fronting class A or class AB not D still isn't common. Like lengthy reverb in a cathedral, the blur of old presumptions hangs over. It's likely that a good percentage of Emei's prospective audience must perform mental spring cleaning to catch up with the times. Now it helps knowing that early adopters of the recipe explain their reasons on pure performance not cost-savings grounds. As it was explained to me, a properly designed switching supply can offer lower output impedance, higher current and faster recovery times than a classic linear supply with big capacitance, hulking line transformers and rectifiers. Routinely the switching version will be measurably quieter because it avoids the 50/60Hz line noise and its harmonics. Now its far higher operating frequency is far easier filtered. For a given power rating it can also be more compact than an equivalent classic power transformer and its bigger filter caps. Many old-timey analog designers just aren't fluid in engineering a proper SMPS. It requires specialty know-how or outsourcing with experts like Taiwan's Meanwell. [At right a Meanwhile 600W supply of 25x9x4cm and 1.9kg.] In those terms Emei is ultra-modern. Unlike ultralinear that's just no formally recognized operational amplification mode. But it makes a valid point. We shouldn't consider Emei despite not running a linear power supply. We should seek out Emei because it runs a 21st-century smart SMPS.

No sooner said than undone when on May 22nd, Alvin Chee wrote, "we recently made significant changes. We moved away from the SMPS and instead use a 400VA toroidal transformer to enhance the linear power supply for both line and power stage. This was necessary to improve sound quality and longevity. Although it results in higher costs and ship weight, we strongly believe it's the right step to take." Considering whether to purge all SMPS mentions from what I'd already penned, I thought it more educational to show how Emei's R&D involved a serious conceptual change. Had this impacted the originally targeted retail? "If we could lower costs by any means, we'd very much like to maintain $1'699. However, the cost increase is higher than expected. We anticipate raising the sell price to $1'799 after the first batch to recoup our extra costs. We expect this to happen in Q4 2023. Until then Emei will sell at $1'699." Asked about finish options if any, "gun metal and silver".

… to be continued…