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While we're still in window-shopping mode, let's complete the tour.

Removal of the tube cages is child's play on both integrated and CDP and merely involves the loosening of 4 hex bolts. Still, be careful not to push the spacers between the black chassis and the floating mirror cover into the component or you'll have to fish for 'em the hard way, e.g. via removal of the bottom cover.

The CDP's acrylic flip lid reveals a deep well with finger spaces in the 12:00 and 6:00 o'clock positions, rubber edge- banding to buffer the lid from the mirror-gloss top, a magnetic puck and a non-suspended hard-mounted laser assembly.

The central display is recessed behind the thick black fascia to create a look of luxurious depth emphasized at night when the wide "window sill" edges reflect the dark blue readout. The latter can be completely extinguished via remote command and display functions include track time played, track time remaining and total time remaining. Remote programming options include shuffle, repeat and program while the front-panel click-stop controls engage play/pause/stop on the left and forward/backward on the right. Just as with the amp, the stock Philips 6922s are outfitted with spring-loaded retainers. Connectivity ports on The Last Record Player include single-ended and balanced analogue outputs, one RCA digital output, one grounding terminal and the ubiquitous IEC power inlet with mains rocker. The importer also had included two quartets of NOS Siemens E88CC/6922s to indulge in some tube rolling with both pieces.

Using the same basic black chassis gussied up with the floating mirror cover and the substantial chromed front plate adorned with a slightly curved black face, The Perfect Tune's display consists of three blue LEDs that light up with power-on but extinguish except for the central one when the thermal stabilization process -- finalized when the relays click off -- has run its brief course. Because the innards of the black case (only slightly taller than a single rack space unit) are crammed to the rafters [below] and lateral external heat sinks would have ruined the aesthetics, the amp sports eight chimney-style heatsinks front and aft of the tubes. Their hollow central flutes end slightly below the surface facing the motherboard. Both components rest on 2" tall solid columns reflecting the size of the frontal controls, leaving enough power cord clearance for the belly-mounted IEC on the amp but unwieldy pythons of limited bend radius need not apply. Presumably the forward location of said IEC was chosen to avoid routing AC wiring anywhere near the sensitive outputs. Mounting this power terminal on one cheek of the amp would have marred appearance by leaving a visible cord hanging off to one side. Alas, I could see certain people bitching when their favorite power cord won't fit. The solution? Have Einstein fabricate a shorter version of their current stock power cord terminated in an IEC, with this tail just long enough to protrude on back where you'd normally expect the power mains socket. Now you could use any overstiff oversized power cord in your repertoire without throwing a conniption fit. Just a thought. Audio's supposed to be a peaceful pastime.

The amp eschews the common numerical volume display. The up/down commands on the central ring cluster of the remote rotate the motor-driven pot without any visual confirmation of setting save for the demure white dot on the gain knob. Consensus regarding overall appearance chez Ebaen? An enthusiastic thumbs up: Clean but architectural, luxurious yet not garish, a perfect balance of two-tone chic. The only real complaint this Americanized German must file as a matter of principle? Those bloody Euro-safe terminals. They spell major frustration for followers of the two-spades-stacked tri-wire brigade (moi) who don't have back-up banana-equipped wires to adapt. Additionally, only standard-size spades will fit and God knows how what's on cables in this regard quite runs the gamut. Taos to Laguna Beach: "Dear Mr. Importer, puhleeze request for US usage that your German supplier outfit future amps with Cardas Rhodium posts. Those accept two spades from any which direction and not just one sized-just-so spade from below. True and admittedly, us Yanks are cultural Barbarians of the first order. Alas, we do know how to wire up an amplifier without electrocuting our first-born. Don't punish us with this idiocy. The exchange with the Euro is cruel enough."

The CDP's transport is Rega-based while the analog reconstruction filter is a zero-opamp purely passive resistor/coil affair [insert above] for shallow filtering. This feeds into the quartet of paralleled double-triode 6922s in the output stage. Output impedance is 51 ohms and dynamic range 101dB. The XLR outputs aren't truly balanced and thus not a performance but convenience option [the matching The Tube linestage is a fully symmetrical unit from input to output, however].

From a standpoint of ergonomics, features, appearance & build, the posts are the only niggle your cursed-by-perfectionism scribe can muster since removing finger prints from shiny surfaces is par for the course of said curse. It comes au naturel with the territory of piano-gloss lacquers and fine chrome. The importer needs his goods back by CES hence the full performance review shall publish in 30 days. Considering the pretty singular position of the Audio Aero Capitole when it comes to statement-level tube-powered CD players, I am particularly curious about The Last Record Player which is priced considerably lower but seems endowed with just the same peak-performance ambitions. Fortunately, I currently have the Audio Aero Prima DAC in-house which is the Capitole simply sans transport function. Substituting the latter with my Accustic Arts Drive-1 should arguably be at least its equal to give us a good idea how both machines would measure up mano-i-mano. Accustic Arts plus my customary Zanden DAC will be another comparator, of course. Since the holidaze is just about upon us when it comes to wish lists and excessive spending, a cursory preview of these goods new to our shores seemed of general santaclausian interest. Hence the early publication of what, at this point, is merely the introduction. And here finally is the promised Einstein history as delivered by the firm's own Volker Bohlmeyer. He'll tell us a bit about the people behind these exciting "new" products.

Having sampled The Last Record Player for more than a pre-coital quickie already, I can divulge that this is not a case of skin-deep beauty at all - and $300 worth of NOS tubes take things to an even higher level. And if vinyl trumps digital in the bass, then the moniker The Last Record Player isn't hubris but well-deserved. But before I give away the farm, here's Volker, with some images courtesy of Brian Ackerman, taken this summer during his trip to Germany when he slyly consummated a foursome distributorship for Accustic Arts, Acapella, AudioTop and Einstein. I'm told that Einstein and Acapella collaborate quite a bit and recommend using each other's gear above all others. That's apparently the plan
at CES as well where Einstein electronics will be partnered with Acapella hornspeakers and those famous ion tweeters.