No quackery. The compact cardboard box felt unexpectedly heavy. Once sprung from its white inner box, my eyes called Emei's skins immaculate, their hue a greenish grey. The three-stage display—off, dim, max—controlled by a remote button with the universal icon for 'menu'. Full tilt showed quite pale, dim was nearly impossible to make out in the light of day. For another non-intuitive assignation probably from repurposing an existing OEM remote, the wand's home button triggered mute. Most other buttons remained unassigned. In display-off mode, two blue and one orange LED visible through the spyglass confirm 'on' status. Even when nothing plays and the display is off, status remains visible. Wakeup shows as a 'wait' bar progression, then a 'CH3' and 'KLink' check followed by a quick 0-100 sweep before sound springs to life on the prior input and volume. So blessedly Emei packs a memory function. As predicted her dimensions didn't fit my desktop's usual places so Mr. Liu's ferocious little monster had to squat unceremoniously in its middle. Four nice metal footers do unscrew but leave their bolts sticking out to not turn Emei into a lower rider. With my M1 speakers, standard nearfield SPL showed 050 on a 100 scale to leave plenty of voltage gain for what-if scenarios.

Fine micro textures in close-up.

Even ear on transformer, I made out zero mechanical noise. My initial inspection found equally zero gripes on build or finish. It only arched a minor brow for the dim light show. I'd still have to see how that translated at the 3-4 meters my racks in the two bigger systems put any amp. Regardless, the most apt term to sum up my first date before any sounds were even made was serious. Getting hands on had each push on the multi-function controller advance inputs from 1-3 then K-Link all at the presently set volume. A long press for standby killed the sound without a blip to show the 'CHoco Sound' name which gently faded, sprung back to life and repeated that cycle to never end in a blank screen. My $6'250 AMP-23R did muster a completely blank stare. On perceived build quality it had absolutely nothing on Emei. If anything, au contraire. As I said, serious. Damn. Fact checking Enleum's site for 100wpc, their new AMP-54R with optional DAC/phono cards gets €25K. Even on the add-on score Emei's K-Link port pulls close if not even but now for a truly facetious fraction. Seriously damn!

Footer and vent detail on belly | close-up of the upper left front corner

Impressed silence continued with the volume control. It progressed click-less in either direction; and quite rapidly with the remote's button depressed for the duration. It also said sayonara to Kinki's ¼dB steps in their EX-M1's first iteration. There just 10dB of change meant we had to traverse 40 (!) steps. Since no piece of kit will ever satisfy all, it's fair to point out that Emei lacks a pre-out. For owners of deluxe preamps or elite variable sources who might want to run Emei as an amp, the voltage gain at full throttle is just 23.5dB. Unlike the AMP-23R which gets very toasty including its controller knob, Emei didn't even get luke warm. Clearly Mr. Liu's bank-vault casing books excess dissipation factor to break no sweat; at least not in my office use.

About which, Emei audibly improved upon my earlier bass power. This rendered the lower band more audible, forceful and far reaching. On raw resolution and just for the sake of easy visualization, I pegged hers a 95 to Enleum's 100 so unreasonably close if arguably not fully on par. Given the preceding setup, I considered that rather stupendous. To not cause my AMP-23R more blank stares and uncomfortable silences—and because my desktop couldn't properly host a machine of Emei's height—I decided rather quickly to take this show on the road. The first stop was upstairs to replace a Crayon CFA-1.2. That Austrian integrated belongs to the same sonic class as Bakoon/Enleum, Job/Goldmund and Kinki. It even uses the same output devices albeit in a current-feedback circuit with switch-mode power supply. It does 64/90wpc into 8/4Ω and when current sold for €4'250. Speakers were my usual SuperMon Mini with Dynaudio S18 sub. Here's a parting glance at desktop hog mode…

… and magnified spyglass action around the central 'gold' bullion with the not Fort Knox mint.

Window window in the lid, who is the fairest of this kit?