This rather bloody messy battle between two linestages ended with their price difference reflected accordingly. The FirstWatt F7 on Martin Gateley's big dynamic dipoles netted very similar results to become repetitive in the description. The takeaway is as follows: Nic's preamp injected more liveliness, clarity and scale into two distinctively different chains and took nothing in return. It didn't shift core flavours but made them even snappier. That was mighty impressive.

One last thing to discuss is the class A/AB switch on each 995R's rear. Class AB bias made the bass a bit shorter, drier and tighter. More forward treble decayed less and showed less euphonic shimmer. The message of class AB spelled out as a bit bigger, less refined and more blunt. The effect was still typical Trilogy, hence not sharp or desaturated but gutsy, involving and tuneful. However, about 90% of the time I remained in the moister, harmonically richer more refined class A milieu. It didn't lack for speed or scale but enhanced musical flow and engagement. I imagine that with gutsier, slower and texturally more intense speakers than mine, the A/B option could be preferable. With my Swiss loads, Nic's 995R monos with their blue LEDs on was my pick.

My ongoing Trilogy 925 track record shows far fewer battles lost than won. It had been clearly bested once or twice yet never very easily outclassed on every possible count. Hardware capable of brutalizing my reference integrated this badly would have seemed highly unrealistic more than two months ago. Then the day came where its own stablemates 995R and 915R did exactly that to become the very best I've had the pleasure to audition at my place thus far; by far.

To conclude, the Trilogy 995R/915R set looks, feels and behaves according to the numbers on its substantial price tag. These top-line goods score very high notes on assembly, materials and functionality where the clever interface, multiple menu options, quality remote, selectable class A/AB bias and fabulous visuals all serve as tasty cherries on top. Most importantly, Nic's latest accurately showcases what luxuriously dressed artisanal audio is all about. As I wrote in the introduction, the man really outdid himself this time and it shows.

Until now, I've viewed audio as a game of compromises more than anything. Even the priciest specimens auditioned didn't provide exclusive upgrades without giving up something in trade. Thus far the question wasn't about the presence of any such catch but its severity. The less it was the better but there always was a catch to begin with. But two months spent with Trilogy's latest was time enough to understand that it doesn't always have to be the case. Nic Poulson's fabulously balanced statement trilogy, stunning across the board, represents as close to sonic perfection as I've heard to date. It's far from affordable but on performance second to none. In my book, it's the one to beat and simply victorious. Bravo.