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The AMPs derive their 200/350-watt 8/4Ω rating from three matched power Mosfets per half wave of the push/pull array. Clearly Audionet is no friend of massively paralleled transistor banks. Thomas Gessler explained that "…relative to total power we always employ the least possible number of devices to increase speed and lower distortion. Inherent nonlinearities of individual transistors become additive and capacitive interactions reduce speed." This sound opinion mirrored that of Gamut whose recently reviewed amp for the same reasons relied on high-power Mosfets as used also in arc welders.

On speed, Audionet’s house philosophy values very high bandwidth. With their PRE1 G3 preamp this extends into the megahertz range. In the forums discussions about the pros and cons (instability) of ultra bandwidth are endless. Let’s focus on what Gessler had to say. "Speed is a core requirement for amplifying hifi signals with ultimate accuracy. The faster a circuit can track and amplify a signal, the more neutral the result will be. We employ two-stage feedback both local and global. Given extreme bandwidth, potential interference would occur solely beyond the audible band. That’s why we sidestep the usual audiophile dispute on negative feedback. A slow amp is simply incapable to amplify accurately. Even with feedback there’ll be errors in the feedback loop itself."

To optimize their HF response, Audionet relies on SMD-based miniaturization. Here too opinions diverge but surface-mount applications versus through-hole assemblies with their greater packing densities, lower induction and better HF behavior are making inroads even in the upper strata of hifi. The PRE1 G3 preamp copies certain tricks of the AMPs. There is AC polarity indication, a dimmable display and standby override. Each of the six RCA inputs (includes a tape monitor and there is an optional MM/MC phono module for €320) can be named, its output trimmed individually. Main outputs are on RCA and XLR to power amps, on RCA to a subwoofer and on a 6.3mm socket to a headphone. For the external ground post, Audionet claims that use of the included green/yellow lead creates greater air and differentiation. While I can’t vouch for significant changes, I did think that this grounding feature added a tad of relaxation. Further improvements (more on those later) are promised with the optional €1.790 EPS power supply. Interestingly the EPS doesn’t completely take over. It inserts in parallel to supply only the sonically critical voltages of the analog signal path. The physically isolated and electrically shielded microprocessor unit remains on the internal standard power supply.

The preamp’s signal path too is direct-coupled to eliminate nonlinearities, distortion and aging effects from passive parts (gold-contact input relays excepted). Volume control and balance eschew the usual potentiometers in favor of a two-stage precision resistor array. This array is switched by C-Mos parts triggered with optocouplers. "This guarantees constant dynamics and lowest distortion across the entire attenuation range" claims Audionet. Because we arrived at dynamics, enough with introductory foreplay. Let’s move into the listening room.

The studio improvisations between guitarist Bill Frisell and drummer Matt Chamberlain don’t make for a real Jazz outing on 2007’s Floratone. There are snippets of string plucks and harmonies, recurring shaded melody work between guitar and cornet, multi layered but smooth behind-the-beat drum work and similarly laid-back but consistent bass support. Approaching shallow drizzle at first, subsequent listening discerns an interesting atmosphere built upon significant subtlety over 11 cuts. Clearly Floratone won’t challenge the resident hifi macrodynamically but in the micro realm more definitely becomes more here to not devolve into uninspired sonic gruel. While the latter should rarely happen with good systems, the Audionet quartet sandwiched between Fonel Simplicité player and Thiel CS3.7 speakers transformed this sparse microcosm into grand cinema with an agility and differentiation power that was uncommon even considering its price class.