Audible warmth often associates with elevated textural richness and round edges plus a mild veil and limited treble energy. However, this description doesn't entirely fit the sensation the INT-25 and Vox 3afw left me with. Things were too open and easeful to simply call warm. Increased tonal temperatures and carefully applied roundness did play their part but the more I became familiar with the Vox/Pass sound, the more it struck me as simply earthy. Speaking in DAC terms, I'd call it a quality R-2R ladder type not a Burr-Brown or Sabre chip. A chocolaty tissue on voices and instruments is typically on an amp's shoulders when in deep class A bias. Naturally neither the Vox 3afw nor INT-25 alone was responsible for this flavor. More importantly, it easily presented as very alive and liquid to banish all thoughts of overt darkness, syrup or bloat. Quite the contrary in fact. The general impression was agile, fresh and expressive.

The 4-driver 3-way Vox 3afw is capable of fabulously focused very intimate vocals. That sort of artful articulation and sexiness is normally reserved for top full-range drivers but the Swiss pull very similar stunts. Here it's critical to stress that the INT-25 showcased that particular expressiveness with ease regardless of its naturally gravitational disposition. Sensual lips nearly touching a microphone weren't lost in translation. The Vox could flaunt its key virtues and clearly was very happy with the Pass. At this point I had a pretty good understanding of what the INT-25 brought to the table. Time for contrast with the DC-coupled wide-bandwidth class A/B Bakoon.

AMP-13R and Vox share several qualities like lucidness, directness, magnifying power, speed, effortlessness and a generally lit-up profile. In a sense it would be fair to assume that their match wouldn't be too synergistic. To keep overall balance in check, we routinely interleave our hardware. We marry fuzzier amps with more piercing speakers, chunky setups with zippier quicker cables etc. Not today. The Vox/Bakoon combo doesn't know about 'usual'. Secondly, hardware from a performance tier this high is subject to different rules. It suffers no sub-par aspects that need compensation. Top specimens cover all bases and that's what their substantial price should reflect. Since there's nothing to fix, one can focus on mixing such products to tailor the sound to one's liking. The Bakoon, Pass and Vox all unlocked this option without fail.

Where sonic pedigree was concerned, it didn't matter whether the Vox 3afw was fronted by the Bakoon or Pass. Swaps caught out no culprits. On spatial grandeur, fluency, tissue, complete bass, midrange charm, treble extension or sheer satisfaction, there were no bad choices, only significant very predictable alternates. The AMP-13R was the more snappy, lit up, sunny, outlined and here.

The Pass was darker, mellower, more composed, dense, round and there. The Bakoon accelerated harder, injected more oxygenation into space and more explicitly sculpted voices. The INT-25 presented as calmer, thicker, more romantic and distant. Key was that with the former, I didn't hanker for more oomph or body whilst the latter was sufficiently illuminated on top and responsive to not sound slow or hooded by comparison. Just as a top integrated should, each avoided extremes. It's why two distinct voicings were equally coherent, complete and synergistic into the Vox 3afw.