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Reviewer: Glen Wagenknecht
Financial Interests: click here
Sources: Audio Space CDP 8A CD Player
Luxman Brid CD Player modified by Audio Upgrades into a tube-less, zero oversampling machine with volume control
Preamplifier: Audio Space Reference 2S
Amplifier:Bel Canto 200.4
AV Receiver: Pioneer Elite SC-25
Main Speakers: Apogee Duetta Signature, Paradigm Servo 15 subwoofer
AudioSpace AS-3/5A
Stands: Charisma Audio Function Stands   Target
AV Speakers: JohnBlue M3s
AV Subwoofer: Paradigm PW-2200
Cables: Audio Art SE cable loom, JPS Labs Ultraconductor 2 speaker cables, Signal Cable Silver Reference interconnects and speaker cables, digital optical and coax cable.
Resonance Control: Solid Tech, EquaRack Footers, Weizhi Precision Gold Glory footers, Boston Audio TuneBlock2 footers, Superspikes, and Black Diamond
Powerline conditioning: Noise Destroyer power filtration
Accessories: TrueHarmonix Black Magic CD Mat
Main Room size: 12' x 17'
Home Theatre: 10.5’ x 16.5’
Review Component Retail: $3.700 including Gizmo remote

At what point does MidFi end and HighEnd begin? For most the integrated amplifier becomes the dividing line. Yes there are tube products that have crossed it but generally those are regarded as specialty products. Certainly a growing number of respected names in separates have challenged the prejudice against integrateds, most notable in recent experience Wyred4Sound. Their phenomenal STI-1000 demonstrated that a top-notch preamp could coexist with virtually unlimited horsepower in a single box. Where does the Densen Beat 130+ integrated amplifier belong? It enters the arena with a mere 80wpc and although refined in appearance doesn’t look the part of a heavyweight contender. But appearances can be deceptive. The i-generation will tell you that good things now come in very small packages.

Densen is hardly a fresh face in the audio community. Founded in 1992 by owner and designer Thomas Sillesen, this Danish company has managed to accumulate a long and rich product history accompanied by numerous accolades and glowing press. Originally notable by the eccentricity of having the volume control on the left side because the designer is left handed, solid engineering and sonic prowess have kept the company consistently in the spotlight.

Their products follow a more European attitude by being smaller components. Unlike North American counterparts who have the luxury of generously proportioned listening rooms affectionately referred to as man caves populated by equally oversized equipment, Europeans must deal with the realities of more modestly sized dwellings where living space must multi task. But if Europhiles must concede on room size, they certainly demonstrate no intention of compromising sound quality. Here Mr. Sillesen has honed his efforts with sonically upscale expandability and the aesthetics and size of a refined lifestyle component. Where dimensions would normally scream MidFi, what’s under the hood of the Densen and in fact even the hood itself indicate a level of greater technological sophistication. In this case small doesn’t mean less, only more compact.

The 130+ embodies not only technology but design philosophy. Audiophiles often build systems that excel at revealing information in a progressively exclusionary process whereby the vast majority of recordings is rendered systematically unlistenable to reduce the acceptable repertoire to a precious few records. Mr. Sillesen considers that a disservice and takes a different approach. To that end Densen products are designed with the goal of making music more accessible. Today’s compact little amp is situated in the middle of Densen’s integrated line on power but a blend of Densen’s reference products—the B-150+, B-250 and B-330—to incorporate key elements of them all.

"The preamp stage has a 30.000uF power supply with three separate voltage supplies based on the B-250 reference preamp. The output stage is based on the basic design of our B-330 power amp. The B-130+ rating of 80/100wpc into 8/4Ω is conservative. The power stage draws from a quad supply with 60.000uF of capacitance and seven different voltage feeds."

There is only one PCB per product to avoid the signal path passing through flying-lead wiring. As the latter involves costly hand labor, the benefits of a monolithic motherboard include lower mounting costs which allows for better parts quality. The printed circuit board is a double-sided Teflon affair to ensure effective separation between ground plane and maximally short signal path. The boards are robotically stuffed to a precision of 0.02mm which far exceeds hand labor. Among the claimed benefits are stress avoidance of solder joints, a common cause of failure after a few years. To further improve reliability and avoid oxidation, all of Densen's solder work is carried out in an artificial nitrogen atmosphere. This improves signal transfer and secures an extremely long life expectancy.

The circuits are designed with neither global nor local negative feedback and operate over the first few watts in class A. All resistors are Vishay 1% metal film issue. Wima capacitors and Densen’s own high-speed variants filter the power supply which also runs custom-made toroidal "extra stiff" transformers to avoid dynamic compression .In e-mail discussions Mr. Sillesen whose official title is head honcho fielded a few extra questions.