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This review first appeared in the September 2010 issue of hi-end hifi magazine of Germany. You can also read this review of the Densen B-420 & B-130 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 or Densen Audio. - Ed.

Reviewer: Tobias Zoporowski
Source: Analog – deck -
Transrotor Insigne with Rega RB 300 arm and Goldring 1042 GX cart; phono pre - Lehmann Audio Black Cube Statement; tuner - Sansui T-80 (modified); digital – deck - Lua Appassionato, Yamaha CD-S 1000; iPod-Station - Advance Acoustic MiP-Station (modified)
Amplification: Symphonic Line RG 9 MK IV, Yamaha A-S 1000 (modified)
Loudspeaker: Magnat Quantum 905, Nubert nuVero 14
Cable: in-akustik loom, also Eagle Cable and WireWorld
Review component retail: B-420 €2.350; B-130 €2.700

As I unboxed today’s loaners and slipped them into the rack, the best of all wives pointedly asked me what was so great about such bland components? You’d spontaneously concur. Spectacular they didn't look. Thomas Sillesen’s hifi kit from the Danish house of Densen exudes about as much sex appeal as laboratory test gear. Except that test gear probably wouldn’t be available in ‘albino’ (silver) and black. Or sport classily brushed fascias. At about 6.5cm high and 44cm wide, Densen’s B-420 CD player and B-130 integrated amplifier are near identical twins. Each face sports a flat central display flanked by four chromed controls on either side. The Scandinavians do away with a rotary pot altogether and volume is controlled by push buttons that trigger clicking relays. Markings for these controls aren’t on the front as is otherwise ubiquitous but on top. Irritating at first, it proved advantageous in practice because it avoided having to bend down for a look-see. Hunkering down in comfort to take in these Northern lights, it eventually will dawn just how exacting the aluminium profiles have been fitted even if their edges are sharper than ultimately comfortable.

First impressions of stark functionality continue inside. Accurately deburred bracing and perfectly machined threads will only geek out born service techs but Densen shows real attention to detail and, just in case, grants the original owner a confident 20-year(!) warranty. Considering the low-rider profiles, the toroidal power transformers seem nearly obscenely large. The CD player gets 300VA iron with an associated filter capacitance of 40.000uF, the amp 360VA and 90.000uF. Particularly for the digital deck this would seem heftily padded. "Less juice would have done" agreed Densen boss Thomas Sillesen. But then real men don’t complain about cubic inches.

The amp segregates individual building blocks but assembles them all on a shared motherboard to maintain ultra-short signal paths. Though shunned in certain high-end quarters, Densen relies heavily on current surface-mount devices. These small caps and resistors fulfil the same function as their ‘discrete’ brethren; are claimed to offer better ultrasonic behavior and lower inductances; and due to higher packing densities take up less space. That’s fitting for the B-130 since it can be quite optioned out.

There’s a €230 MM or MC phono module; the €650 external DNRG power supply; the Saxo active crossover to configure a completely active Densen setup; and starting at €360 a 7.1 surround-sound module to mutate the preamp into a full-blown pre/pro. Still, the stock B-130 doesn’t scrimp on functionality with four line-level inputs, two tape loops and two pre-outs. The DenLink socket and matching €20 cable can leash up various Densen components to be interactively controlled by the €220 Gizmo system control (with built-in battery and charger). This interactivity for example auto-switches the amp to the CD input as soon as the Densen player loads a disc.

One company credo revolves around a near wholesale avoidance of negative feedback to rely on highly stable low-distortion circuits. NFB feeds back a portion of the output signal to the input to compare and subtract errors. This also lowers the output impedance to increase damping factor, to linearize the response and to lower distortion. Self noise too is commonly addressed that way to make negative feedback a safe bet at least on the test bench.