I spent a whole evening with vocals in lead roles, from the opera singers mentioned to Rysiek Riedel, Martina Jakubowicz, Steve Ray Vaughan, Cassandra Wilson, Etta James and Steven Tyler. It confirmed how well the DM-250 copes not only with faithful timbres and textures but also with the expressive emotional sides of such recordings. The musical genre didn't really matter as long as the recording was of at least decent quality. It was only with poor productions when I realized that the amplifier's tolerance for mediocrity was limited. Whenever possible, it brought out everything good from a given recording in a way that attracted my attention. It did not hide weaknesses but these were pushed a bit to the background. It was only when I fed it with some really low-class tracks that it gave up and proved that it followed the simple role of shit in, shit out. I've always appreciated honesty and truthfulness so I can only applaud this approach even if it eliminated some parts of my library from rotation.

The DM-250 saved the day when Michael Plessmann brought his Pirol loudspeakers over. At the time I had only my two integrated amplifiers sans pre-out and a separate preamplifier but no power amp. The Pirol's active bass relies on built-in amplifiers but requires a low-level signal via RCA or XLR. The Struss pre-out allowed me to connect these speakers as soon as they arrived. Since they weigh over 100kg each, getting them in the first place wasn't easy so if their designer couldn't at least check on them after their journey from Berlin, he would have been rather disappointed. But thanks to the DM-250, Michael, his partner and I had a chance to spend several hours listening to the Pirol together. It also gave the designer a chance to refine their positioning and tweak the DSP to optimize them to my acoustic conditions and personal preferences.

Using the Struss with these semi-active speakers created a unique opportunity to assess its midrange and treble performance in a way not possible with passive speakers. How did it fare? If you compare prices of amp and speakers, such a marriage would seem way off. Yet after refining all the settings, we agreed that the system sounded really good. Even the very demanding designer who wanted his offspring at their best stated that he was pleased with what he heard. It was clean, resolved and dynamic. It combined high transparency with the richness and saturation of perhaps not quite a high-end tube amplifier but the music presented as smooth, natural and unforced.

We listened together for several hours and had opportunity to hear many recordings of various genres. As it was getting late, we then had to gradually reduce volumes. That's a challenge for many amplifiers. They sound great loud but at low levels their advantages disappear. In this case the position of the potentiometer didn't much matter. Quiet listening turned out to be as satisfying as normal levels or even those few times when we played really loud which both speakers and amplifier seemed to enjoy. The DM-250 proved itself particularly well equipped on pace and rhythm which in concert with the Pirol's built-in bass amplifiers was exemplary. It delivered an agile energetic engaging performance capable of raising one's blood pressure in a good way.