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

Paul Candy
Financial Interests: click here

Digital Source: CEC TL51X transport, Audiomat Tempo 2.6 DAC, PS Audio DLIII DAC w/ Cullen Level 3 mod
Analog Source: Pro-Ject RPM 5 turntable, Pro-Ject Speed Box, Pro-Ject Tube Box SE phono stage, Ortofon Rondo Blue cartridge
Amps: Audiomat Opéra Référence integrated
Speakers: Green Mountain Audio Callisto (on sand filled Skylan stands), (2) REL Q108 Mk II subwoofers
Cables: MIT Shotgun S1 cabling,MIT Shotgun digital cable, Wireworld Equinox 6 cabling, Accustic Arts Silverline balanced interconnects [on loan]
AC Cables: Wireworld Aurora 5² & Silver Electra 5²
Stands: Grand Prix Audio Monaco four-tier rack.
Powerline conditioning: BPT Pure Power Center with Wattgate, Bybee Quantum Purifier and ERS cloth options, GutWire MaxCon (transport only)
Sundry accessories: Acoustic Revive RR-77, Auric Illuminator, Audio Magic/Quantum Physics Noise Disruptors, Caig Pro Gold, Echo Busters acoustic room treatments, Grand Prix Audio APEX footers with silicon nitride bearings, Isoclean fuses, dedicated AC line with Wattgate 381 outlet
Room size: 11 x 18 x 8, long wall setup, suspended hardwood floors with large area rug, walls are standard drywall over Fiberglas insulation
Review Component Retail: $10,000

Founded in 1980, German brand Audiosysteme Friedrich Schaefer (ASR) offers four products - the Emitter I and Emitter II amplifiers plus two phono stages, the Basis and Mini Basis. The Emitters are the latest reiteration of a design that has been in production since 1980. That’s right, 30 years of tweaking and upgrading the same basic circuit. This is in stark contrast to most audio firms that seem to revamp their complete lineup every few months. That should speak volumes about ASR’s attention to the tiniest detail and their confidence in this design. Think about it. If you were a total music nut who didn’t mind spending serious cash for an awesome sounding piece of kit, would you rather buy a product in which every little component has been obsessed over for years or one that was whipped together in a few months? I know which one I’d be more inclined to pick.

Both Emitter models are available with a wide range of options including an onboard MM/MC phono stage, headphone output and various cosmetic bits depending on your needs and the thickness of your wallet. The top-of-the-line Emitter II Exclusive is a four-chassis beastie including a massive battery power supply that clocks in at $27,000. As is my nature, I was more interested in the entry-level Emitter I (provided here with the balanced input option) than the flagship. Not that I have a system that would do a $27,000 amp justice anyway. I’m quite happy flying coach though it’s certainly difficult to accept a $10,000 amp as entry level. That said, once you lay eyes and ears on the Emitter, the price actually seems, cough, reasonable. I’ve sampled many $5,000 amps and in terms of sound and build quality, the Emitter I sure took both up to a completely new level.

The Emitter I is a two-chassis affair with the separate power supply connected to the amp with a 2m double-shielded cable terminated at the power supply end with a humongous Harting industrial connector. The power cord feeding the power supply from the wall outlet is ASR’s 1.5m Magic Cord, which also appears to be a sturdy heavily shielded cable with a 20A IEC at the power supply side. The 71lbs metal-encased power supply sports three Philbert-Mantelschnitt transformers, two of which are massive 500VA monsters. ASR claims that the separate power supply will keep electro-magnetic fields and transformer vibration away from the main control unit. The power supply provides eight different voltages rectified and buffered separately to supply the amp’s various stages. The Emitter I has a total buffering capacity (including the PSU) of 373,000uF and outputs 140 watts of Class A/B power into 8 Ohms via six Toshiba MOSFETs per channel.

Incidentally, ASR does not regard the Emitter as an integrated amp. They call it a multi-input power amp with relay switching and volume control. Sounds like an integrated amp to me. However, while most integrateds have an active preamp section with rather rudimentary volume pots, the Emitter does not have any preamp circuitry at all whereas its step relay volume control is quite sophisticated.

Comprehensive protection circuits guard against overload, override, short circuit, runaway temperature and DC voltage. These circuits are not in series with the signal path and should not adversely affect the amp’s sonic performance.

The top and bottom panels of the main amp were smoky-tinted acrylic which ASR contends is sonically superior to steel or aluminum. Clear acrylic is available for those who wish to gaze lovingly at the wondrous interior build quality and all those LEDs. A special cleaning cloth and plastic polish are provided if you are prone to drooling. Incidentally, the Emitter ships with a complete set of replacement fuses, two Allen keys and even extra screws in case you drop one on the floor and helplessly watch it bounce right into a nearby floor vent (which occurs to me far more often than I care to mention - and usually with review loaners).

In the standard issue Emitter I, there are gold-plated brass RCA connectors for six sources and a tape out. One of the inputs labeled Direkt bypasses the switching relays and connects directly to the volume control for optimum sound quality. However, this feature is for single source systems. Switching to another input will not remove the Direkt input’s signal from the amp. You’ll hear both sources simultaneously. My sample featured five single-ended inputs and one balanced input. Speaker binding posts were the top WBT models. All signal wiring is silver.