Translations. Inoffensive:boring. Pleasing:filtered. Sweet:opaque. Warm:woolly. There's endless fun to be had in flipping adjectives from a positive to a negative; or vice versa. Your 'exciting' could be my 'nervy'. My 'lively' could be your 'grating'.  Here I thought the Hifi Rose inside the greater middle to not inject overt tint or influence. But it's not as though I didn't hear character. I simply didn't hear early class D—dry, overdamped, flat—nor the obvious thick warmth whereby subsequent ICEpower implementations with custom balanced input buffers rebelled against or overwrote my first class D hearings. And like on the desktop, neither did I hear the accelerated lit-up personality of previous GaNFet encounters despite now applying higher system resolution. What did I hear? Contrasted against my wide-bandwidth Kinki Studio sound, the RA280's treble wasn't as endless. But realistically we'd not expect that when coming off a direct-coupled 2.5MHz circuit with no audible phase shift then switching to one with an output filter whilst applying dipole Mundorf AMT tweeters to the tracking job. Yet the Hifi Rose was clearly not rolled off. It just wasn't as exploded so lacked the same sheen or airiness. Its textures were somewhat more matte than glossy. They also felt slightly drier without anywhere near getting close to foreshortened decays or creating crisp-fried attacks.

Fed by Laiv's Harmony DAC which I perceive 3rd-harmonic dominant like the discontinued FirstWatt F5, the RA280 followed up the same flavour with the occasional very minor presence-region forwardness to reveal the metallic action of plucked strings or minor intonation issues of choral vocals. Seeing how I deliberately bought the Laiv for its subtly fresher keener aspect, the Hifi Rose seemed to simply amplify what I fed it just as it should have. One attribute of the 250-watt monos it couldn't quite match was their microdynamic twitch factor. It created a calmer less rippled musical surface when no big dynamic swells were present. What I very decisively did not hear was any desiccated treble or pale colours. My personal class D flaws—not a diss at the general tech just certain implementations!—were notable by their absence. Ditto self noise. Here the RA280 out-silenced my monos which, though very quiet for linear muscle amps, aren't this quiet. In my experience this really seems to be a bona fide advantage of proper switch-mode power supplies. They don't amplify 50/60Hz line noise nor do they use big power transformers with a propensity for mechanical hum.

'In space nobody can hear you scream'. A by-line to that effect accompanied the first Alien movie poster. My mind always associates it with trying to breathe in a vacuum. That no-oxygen nothingness is very unnatural compared to nature's silence. Even when that gets really quiet, it's no suffocating vacuum. There's a subtle quality of breath, a pulsating living presence like a cat's very faint purr. Listening to the RA280 which I just called extremely quiet, I never thought 'vacuum' quite unlike those review descriptions of 'pitch-black backgrounds with true emptiness between images'. Recordings are filled with connective tissue stretched between images. That's mostly about reflections which like miniature comets light up the space in which they occur. It's how they make space visible. Emptiness is otherwise inaudible and an absence of sounds. If we want to perceive the recorded venue as a tangible spatial presence which hosted our performers—it matters not whether it was a real space or one artificed with mixing-desk reverb—we can't have electronics generate backdrops of nothingness that suck up all the spiderweb trailing edges like a black hole. The RA-280 circuit's low noise floor allowed those gossamer or planktonic strands to be audible. It didn't overdamp them to dust.

Whilst the R280 wasn't as 'interconnected' as my monos, it was a far cry from that Alien poster. In film I also associate overdamping with the clipped cadence of an actor overdoing the quintessential stiff-lipped aristocratic Brit accent all nasal and bored. None of that. More huzzahs again for no nerviness, no hyped transients, no dimensional starkness, no desaturated colours. All the potential demerits I've witnessed with lesser and earlier switching output stages really were out of this picture regardless of which of my three systems I tried. Again, all of it suggested careful circuit tuning. Stock OEM class D modules I've heard didn't sound like this. €15K GanFet class D I heard didn't, either. Team Hifi Rose pursue their own sonic aesthetic. However untrustworthy audio memory should be, it also struck me as still different from S.P.E.C. with their more 2nd-harmonic triode-type creaminess and higher associated density. So I was right back at where my desktop had started me: soft power. A sense of real power translates as authority, ease and self-assuredness. Softness means that this type power has no need to show off. This sound also didn't betray any obsession with micro detail which in some circles means 'hi-rez' but in fact is a fatiguing facsimile that lacks cohesion and flow. This was yet another expression of softness so a gentler more natural not flashy sound.