The Trilogy 915R linestage too arrived cradled in foam inside double cardboard with an owner's manual, the same ISOL-8 IsoLink Wave power cord and a quality Trilogy PRC remote. This rather expensive and gorgeously executed controller is normally sold as an optional accessory to complement all previously released Trilogy preamps. The not exactly affordable 915R gets it standard. The 915R measures 46.5 x 45 x 12cm WxDxH and weighs 19kg. These numbers mark a regular size and shape of unusual weight for a linestage. It felt almost as substantial as my Trilogy integrated. As far as specs go, voltage gain is 14dB single-ended and balanced and bandwidth 20-45'000Hz +/-0.5dB.

Visually the 915R resembles the smaller more affordable 993. Its enclosure is made of precisely machined aluminium coated satin. The front looks very simple but small trim on its top and bottom edges make it very appealing. The logo is found in the far left corner next to a very legible big red dot matrix display, two function buttons ('ESC' and 'ENT') and an endlessly rotating knob called home. The recess near the right ledge sports the standby switch and a diode which goes red once the machine is live. It won't go unnoticed how nicely everything is executed and put together. Nic clearly has the fit'n'finish game down pat. All push buttons had very affirmative action, the display was second to none and the superb rotary wheel scored the highest notes possible on heft and smoothness of operation. The 915R not only looked but felt like luxurious audio hardware. To spend time and tinker with its pleasantly responsive interface is to partially understand why it's this costly.

The top sports several openings to help venting, four feet on the underbelly copy those on the 995R. The 915R's rear sports the usual suspects – the mains switch and IEC inlet on the left, the TASlink RJ45 socketry on the far right and a number of Cardas RCA and Neutrik XLR in-between. There are six inputs (3 x RCA, 3 x XLR), four outputs (2 x RCA, 2 x XLR) and one RCA record-out.

Once the 915R is turned on, its display welcomes us with a 30-sec. warm-up message followed by a request for a unique PIN code which can be disengaged later from the menu. That provides extensive features like dot matrix dimmed or turned off, time and date, channel balance and input naming. Certain features which most people won't use hid a bit deeper in the menu – valve time elapsed, temperature of connected Trilogy amps, real-time bar graph instead of volume level, days of week and specific hours to turn on everything connected via TASlink etc. These options are generous and for those who want/need to go beyond the basics. Admirably, Nic went that extra mile on rare functionality.

Just as the Trilogy 995R monos are, the hybrid 915R is fully balanced front to back with no feedback, has a volume control based on a Fet/relay ladder embedded in a chip whilst the large knob on the front drives a digitally managed shaft encoder. All voltage gain is provided by four 6H6P valves which share a very solid internal compartment with Lundahl output transformers each inside a nice-looking screen. The PSU is based on three toroidal transformers and one input choke.