This review page is supported in part by the sponsors whose ad banners are displayed below

This review first appeared in the May 2013 issue of hi-end hifi magazine of Germany. You can also read this review of Abacus electronics in its original German version. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with the publishers. As is customary for our own reviews, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of fairaudio or Abacus- Ed.

Reviewer: Martin Mertens
Sources: analog - Thorens TD 160 HD with TP250 arm & Benz Micro MC Gold; digital - Antelope Zodiac+, Creek CD 43 MkII, Logitech Transporter
Amplification: Lehmann Black Cube SE II phono; Jadis Orchestra blacksilver, Exposure 2010 S, Musical Fidelity AMS 35i integrateds
Loudspeakers: Gaithain ME150, Thiel SCS4
Cables:Vampire CC interconnects, Fast Audio Compact 6M biwire
Power delivery: Audioplan FineFilter S, PowerStar S outlet multiplier, PowerPlant S, conditioner, PowerCord cables
Rack: BassoContinuo
Review component retail in Europe: €590/ea.

Prepino and Ampino.
Preampli and power ampli. A cute 'n' tiny combo. I'd nearly fall for that too given its minuscule dimensions. Were it not for a prior encounter with the Ampino. That had left lasting impressions. Since then I'm clear. Cute goes with baby ducks, not the small range of Abacus components. Those are dead serious about sound.

It's been nearly five years.
To avoid repetition on company background and technical details, simply reread my prior Ampino review. Revisiting that scene now is for two reasons. One, the Ampino has been overhauled. Two, this time I'd run it with its matching preamp.

Let's start with the Ampino. It's not a ground-up remodel. To distinguish it from the predecessor, it goes by Abacus Ampino 13. That's not the 13th Ampino lama but for 2013, the year of the update. Massive changes weren't necessary so improvements are limited to small mods. The current version has turn-on transient suppression. Checking its guts I also spotted a different power transformer. And I was pleased to note that certain suggestions of my old review had fallen on receptive ears. Model name size has been toned down, the heat sink aren't as sharp as they were though still not Nivea skin softening cream.

Fundamental aesthetic remains between ambitious DIY project and measurement kit. And that's its particular appeal. For exotic woods, chrome or gold, go elsewhere. With Abacus circuitry is the thing, specifically their unique Abacus-Rieder solution. And that reflects on appearance.

For those too lazy to revisit my prior review, here's the meat. Though implemented exclusively with transistors, their proprietary Rieder circuit is said to borrow from valve circuits to transcend many common issues. Sonder Senior of the firm admits that the biggest R&D challenge with their solution was stability. He delights in telling student-day anecdotes of smoke and flames until he met Herr Rieder who came up with a non-destructive version of this circuit type. 30 years later, all possible concerns about reliability have been buried. The company deals in perfectly stable safe amps.