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Srajan Ebaen
Financial Interests: click here
27" iMac with 3.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i7, 16GB 1.333MHz RAM, 2TB hard disc, 256GB SSD drive, ADM Radeon HD 6970M with 2GB of GDDR5 memory, OSX 10.8.2, PureMusic 1.86 in hybrid memory play with pre-allocated RAM and AIFF files up to 24/192; Audirvana; April Music Eximus DP1, Esoteric/APL Hifi UX1/NWO-M with Audiophilleo 2
Preamp/Integrated: ModWright LS-100 with Synergy Hifi tubes, Esoteric C-03, Bent Audio Tap-X,
TruLife Audio Athena, Concert Fidelity CF-080LSX2 [on loan]
: First Watt SIT1, ModWright KWA 100SE, Bakoon AMP-11R
Speakers: Aries Cerat Gladius, Voxativ Ampeggio
Cables: Complete loom of Zu Audio Event,
KingRex uArt USB cable with Bakoon BPS-02 uninterruptible battery supply
Artesania Esoteric twin 3-tier with optional glass table, Rajasthani hardwood amp rack
Powerline conditioning: GigaWatt PF2 [on power amps],
GigaWatt PC3-SE Evo [on front end components]
Sundry accessories: Extensive use of Acoustic System Resonators, noise filters and phase inverters
Room size: 5m x 11.5m W x D, 2.6m ceiling with exposed wooden cross beams every 60cm, plaster over brick walls, suspended wood floor with Tatami-type throw rugs. The listening space opens into the second storey via a staircase and the kitchen/dining room are behind the main listening chair. The latter is thus positioned in the middle of this open floor plan without the usual nearby back wall.
Review Component Retail: €9.500

Today's Athena preamplifier was unveiled at 2012's HighEnd Munich show. It so happens to be the 3rd such machine I'm aware of whose godmother was the Greek goddess of reason, intelligent activity, arts and literature. Mark O'Brien's Rogue Audio Athena from the American colonies perhaps was first. That one is based on a quad of 6H30P tubes in a mu-follower array. Velissarios Georgiadis' TruLife Audio Athena from Greece is a single-stage valve-rectified unit also running on 6H30P gain which I've recently reviewed. From the Nordic domain of Hamlet's Denmark now comes Flemming Rasmussen's all transitorized answer on how to spend less than half of what his €24.000 Pandora two-box statement preamp commands.

Remember Rhys Ifan's hilarious Welsh eccentric in Nottin Hill who blew smoke through his diving goggles? He tells the love-struck Hugh Grant that he once knew a girl named Pandora but never got into her box. With the virgin Athena he'd not be getting it on either. She was born in full battle dress and here is laid out fully dual mono. That keeps things purely separate to refuse mortal bedding attempts (more on that later).

Particularly face on, even the general styling suggests Pandora's upper half. Per her specs Athena's core virtue must be the zero-feedback 2MHz bandwidth. That speaks of high slew rates—hence transient fidelity—and zero treble phase shift or proper focus with fine ambient micro detail. Input impedance is a high 10/20K on RCA/XLR. Output impedance is a lovely low 20Ω to secure superior drive even across long cables. Practicing green-conscious EU conformity, standby power consumption is less than 1 watt. Even idle hits a mere 32 watts. The power supply sports a butch 28.000uF of capacitance per channel. Dimensions are 48 x 13 x 40cm WxHxD. Weight is a svelte 9kg.

Gryphon's HQ, woman at work, Pandora two-box flagship preamp

There are 4:1 RCA:XLR inputs with an AV throughput option on input 3. There's a tape loop, the optional MM/MC Legato phono board for input 5 and one each RCA and XLR line output. 50-step volume control is via microprocessor and hermetically sealed gold-plated ultra low-capacitance reed relays. Those select from a Welwyn metal-foil ultra-precision resistor array. To shrink her signal path to minimalist length, Athena shuns all internal wiring. With an equally minimalist fascia of just one multi-function knob, setup is controlled through a menu. This displays across a 5-stage dimmable 2-line 50-character green vacuum fluorescent touch-sensitive panel integrated with the acrylic face plate.