Tarzan creator Edgar Rice Burrough's other pulp fiction hero is John Carter. Having inadvertently dimension-hopped to Mars, he leaped tall buildings in a single bound due to enjoying far lower gravity. Coming off our resident Kinki monos, very first impressions of setting foot on planet Händel were of heavier gravity and less atmospheric moisture. So there was an instant shift in tonality and texture, albeit nowhere close to what Carter's four-armed green Martian allies would have felt had they played a gig on Gaia. Händel's shift was crystal upon first encounter then taken in full stride, no mental muscle required. Having confirmed proof of life and zero ear-on-tweeter noise, I saw my doc for the annual oil change. Upon return an hour later, the amps had switched up movies to Cool Hand Luke. They still were barely warm to the touch. Class A's always-on transistors draw at idle what they draw under full load. Such chilled demeanor I'd not expected. Clearly Ivo's recipe of a chassis within a chassis plus the radiator's surface area are thermally over-spec'd for the job. Not only does switch-power Händel weigh less than our more compact EX-B7 with their beefy 800VA toroids, it runs no hotter than their 250wpc in class AB. On all fronts, Händel isn't an early Krell brute. Without sliding bias tricks, these LinnenberG amps still cater to the environmentally concerned 21st-century customer. "Sometimes, nothing can be a real cool hand." Händel is anything but nothing. But it's certainly less on weight, size and heat than classic class A amps of the same specs. Does this add up to winning a card game with a 'nothing' hand like Paul Newman's character did?

"You're right, these amps don't run hot. Everything was done to lower their operating temperature and achieve greater efficiency. Of course you operate Händel under normal conditions. But in the homes of actual customers, there are never normal conditions.

1/ Summers get warmer and warmer each year to heat up living rooms beyond 30°C.
2) People often have their listening room in the attic. There it gets even warmer.
3/ People use racks or other storage furniture far too small to give proper air exchange any chance. Here the décor factor is the main reason.

"Still, people leave their components on 24/7 because they've heard somewhere that this is better for the sound. When amps eventually shut down to protect themselves against overheating, customers are disappointed. And you really can't argue with them. They're telling you that their previous class D amps stayed on all the time. As a manufacturer, we're always responsible for everything. That’s why Händel's thermal design has extremely high margins. In today's world you need them. Plus the frontal LED blends slowly from blue to red, informing you about any thermal problems. That's psychologically far better than any hard power-off out of nowhere when extreme conditions breach the maximum allowable temperature.

"Relative to your question about dissipation, 100 watts into 8Ω need 5A peak current. With a push/pull output stage like ours, we adjust 2.5A since at full swing, the lower 2.5A add to the upper 2.5A. With rails of ±40V, we now must dissipate 200 watts. For our SMPS that's very easy. The 10% number for class A efficiency is a myth and only relevant to single-ended output stages, not push/pull."

The other myth probably started with a Dr. Morbius line from the Forbidden Planet. "In times long past this planet was the home of a mighty and noble race of beings which called themselves the Krell." I never heard 1981's original Krell KSA100 [KSA-200 at right]. It doubled from 100wpc/8Ω into an imperturbable 1'600/1Ω watts to be the era's first that could safely drive Apogee's infamous 1Ω Scintilla. I only met its myth in remembrances of those who'd heard one. Bedrock bass. Control worthy of the Borgias. Dynamics like hell hath no fury. I remembered it now when Händel called up similar sentiments. First off, it was spookily quiet. That eclipsed our Kinkis. Those exhibit mild hum into these 95dB loads. Greater silence heightened contrast and stage depth though not from extra air or treble light. These extras were of power, control and intelligibility in the LF. That was not the cheap trick of a goosed tone control which works on amplitude to usually cause thickening into the vocal band. This was a new qualitative continuousness. Midrange lucidity extended all the way into the sub bass. Usually curtains rise. This one went down. A certain opacity at 100Hz and below vanished. That curtain fell to remove its clarity barrier. Call that barrier nonlinear definition. It had meant more lucidity above it, less below it. Its removal wasn't from superior insight flooding down from the high registers. This greater visibility worked bottom up. The byproduct was a new intensity of grounding—that mythical bedrock connection of the first Krell perhaps—and a living blackness. It didn't feel like a static absence of light. After all, visibility improved. This felt like a new presence of very informative or 'self-aware' darkness. Big words for a real very obvious effect.

Typically, any injection of extra treble illumination creates stronger edge limning. With it come a higher degree of quasi holography, image specificity/pop and a more aerated textural billowiness. Händel's extra bass illumination too increased contrast ratio but with a very different side effect. Rather than separate out more, the sonic gestalt grew more cohesive. Rather than any champagne fizz buoyancy or fluffy elasticity, this sound was dry, taut, super robust yet sunny. That was the shift in tonality I'd pretty much noticed from the go. I only had to listen longer to see its fullness. Who woulda thunk that darkness could radiate its own luminance? In fact, Händel's course correction reminded me of hi/lo-pass integrating a superior subwoofer like Grimm's SB1. It's something I have recent experience with to recognize. When dovetailed ideally, such a sub addition too removes the textural and clarity differences between the first two octaves and remaining bandwidth. I'd simply not yet fully heard what Alain Pratali's hidden 4th-order bandpass carbon-fiber woofers can really do by themselves. Preceded by Baroque pops Händel, suddenly hidden sub lust seemed quite misplaced. Of course Händel's quality worked across all the bandwidth. What that traded were typical elements of subjective speed from extra treble light and higher harmonics. Its sound was more settled and robust. I also traded more 'hyper-realist' soundstaging cues which compensate for us not actually seeing performers for that more cohesive/connected feel. That didn't pursue quasi holography though it too aced more intense contrast. It just went about that heightened contrast in its own way. And at least to me, that way was novel though perhaps there are alternates particularly in the older Jeff Rowland catalogue.

Falling in love with darkness?