The RPA-MG1000 is capable of very high SPL, rating at 300 watts into 4Ω. In the middle of the back panel are two sets of speaker terminals where our setup would use the '1' posts. Number '2' is for bi-amp mode. A rotating switch is the input selector. Line 1 opens the input from the RCA terminals, Line 2 from the balanced XLR terminals, Line 2 (Att) adds 6dB of cut should a high-output source overload the standard input. The speaker selector enables output to the primary terminals or to both when in bi-amp mode. At the far right are RCA and XLR inputs above RCA and XLR outputs. The latter simply daisy-chain the input signal to another connected device. The power supply and amplifier distinguish themselves in the front with a wider indicator slot for the amp. Both have the same logo carved into the top panel with 'designer audio' beneath.
From the two other shipping boxes we lifted the H-VC5 volume control, its separate SMPS and the input selector.
The volume control was a small aluminum box with sloping top for the rotating volume knob. A blue light indicates active DC power from the separate SMPS. More on this inline supply later. From the back of the volume controller, we connected both amps with the supplied cables. The input selector was a larger aluminum box with 4 x RCA and 1 x XLR inputs. Outputs are on RCA and XLR. Upfront, a simple knob determines the active source.
We connected our German T+A DAC8 via balanced cable to the input selector's XLR terminals, a Gold Note PH-10 phono stage to the RCA. The output from the selector ran a balanced cable to the monos. Franck Tchang's multi-metal loudspeaker cables connected to our Avantgarde Acoustic Duo Omega horns off the number 1 speaker terminals.
With everything ready and the volume all the way down, we booted up the power supplies. There was no delay after hitting the power switch. For us, the right channel only gave away being 'on' with its indicator light. The left channel produced a moderate turn-on thump.
From the Roon interface on an iPad, we selected the first album to stream from Tidal to our SGM 2015 streamer. Our choice was Blue Maqams by Tunisian oudist Anouar Brahem here joined by Dave Holland, Jack DeJohnette and Django Bates on an ECM recording.
The synergy between the traditional Arabian often complex modal system and more straight-ahead Western jazz improv is fascinating. Before we tapped 'play' on the tablet, we walked closely past the speakers and yes, there was modest hiss on the tweeter horns of both channels. Remember, these are a merciless 109dB sensitive here fed by 300w amps. So far only very few amplifiers of high power had remained dead quiet on them. Whilst walking around the loudspeakers, we did notice another noise from the ITE (information technology equipment) ultra-compact power supply of the volume controller box. We are very sensitive to noise, be it capacitor whine or daylight tube buzz. To be honest, for us this was a spoiler. A successful remedy was covering the wall wart with a blanket. Skipping the volume controller instead for a passive preamp would have been technically feasible but gone against the design philosophy of Banno-san and his team. So we didn't.