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This review first appeared in the January 2009 issue of and can be read in its original German version here. It is herewith translated and presented to an English-only audience through a mutual syndication arrangement. As is customary for our own reviews, the writer's signature at review's end has a link below it to his e-mail should you have questions or feedback you wish to send. All images contained in this review are the property of or PHIO. - Ed.

Reviewer: Jörg Dames
Source: Fonel Simplicité (variable outputs for amp-direct option; Wadia 170i Transport & Apple iPod & Benchmark DAC1 USB
Amplification: Myyrad MXA 2150, Fonel Emotion, Funk LAP-2.V2, SAC il piccolo monos; integrated - Accuphase E212, Lua 4040C
Loudspeakers: Thiel CS 2.4, Sehring S 703 SE, Quadral Rondo
Cables: low-level - Straight Wire Virtuoso; high-level - HMS Fortissimo, Reson LSC 350
Review component retail: €2.550

The last of the Mohicans. Okay, one of the last might be true for Glockenklang's Bugatti 300 SE. If one's eyes were fixed hard on the studio sector. After all, there's no overall shortage of power amps. But true studio amps in the hifi market are rare. Those of German providence from a small volume house are even more so since most their punters arrive from the performer/pro scene, i.e. are predominantly active speaker users. Should you demure that the offerings of dealers and internet shops catering to musicians with power amps aren't exactly sparse, you'd be right of course. But consider how air-cooled designs with considerable self noise not critical in studio applications; convection-cooled or class D circuits with excessively high power specs primarily aimed at PA applications (which doesn't render them unfit for hifi use by design) often run the additional risk of - er, sub-optical solutions for home-based hifi racks. Granted, today's tester won't be adored as an utter beau but neither will it seem a castaway or reject in a home-audio rig. Its cleanly finished metal dress (pro-typical ears excepted) isn't hampered by frontal air vents or an armada of flashing lights which often bedevil professional kit.

The sound of bells?
More titillating than the cosmetics is the nomenclature which caused grins on a few visitors though the name Glockenklang (bell sound) is sympathetic right off. It doesn't carry deeper meaning however. Herr Udo Klempt- Gießing, chief and 1976 founder, was simply in need of a "strictly German name. I started out with a mixer and the name had to suggest good sound." Nor is our gent a fan of expensive wheels or hip threads. Well, he might be, what do I know. But his amp range has little to do with Bugatti automobiles: "I developed the Bugatti bass system in 1987 with a friend whose nickname was Bugatti. He deserved credit."

Which gets us to the next item, namely Glockenklang's focus (besides developing studio amps and PA systems) on helping bass players sound better, a field in which the firm enjoys its own high-end status: "Our core turnover is bass amps and speakers. E-bass signal is extremely dynamic and contains the full frequency spectrum. Hence our amps are essentially hifi machines for professional users. Reliability and robustness are vital." The latter is true also for his studio amps which, according to Herr Klempt-Gießing, have rendered non-stop service in certain discos for more than 20 years. Okay then.

To cover it upfront, Glockenklang's Bugatti 300 SE is fitted with XLR inputs exclusively. That mirrors the scarcity of cinch sockets in the pro sector. Unlike many XLR-spouting amps however, the Bugatti 300's circuitry is fully dual-differential, necessitating twice the parts density since the anti-phase signal must be amplified separately. The amp is dual-mono with two 600VA transformers and may optionally be powered from two AC cords to drive the channel-discrete concept to its logical conclusion.

A peek under the bonnet reminds us that the toroidal iron popular in hifi circles for high efficiency, diminished stray fields, low standby losses and good hum behavior looks quite different. Glockenklang instead relies on Philbert-Mantelschnitt PM-core transformers -- somewhat less common but certainly not exotic -- claimed to offer good efficiency and high peak load performance while suffering a somewhat broader stray field ( makes good reading on the subject). To control hum, both SE version trannies are decoupled on custom metal/rubber pucks. In use, actual noise performance was negligible in my book. A final item before we get to sonics are the (common for studios) ground lift switches on the rear which can cut ground-loop induced hum by separating the signal from chassis ground. The chassis remains properly AC-grounded of course.

On the road
Hifi kit is no different from other consumer goods in that some of it prompts instantaneous reactions while others don't. One of the first words that suggested itself right from the get after listening to Glockenklang's Bugatti 300 SE was silkiness. While that's a commonly offered descriptor for good sound, in my experience and contingent on subjective frame work, many people connect quite different qualities with it. Some relate to it with a somewhat recessed or soft treble range; or reduced resolution to suggest a non-analytical musical sound though I don't agree with automatically equating the two (detail magnification and analytical). It's something we'll revisit shortly. Regardless, the Bugatti has nothing in common with lush, soft or shy high frequencies.