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Fast forward to the Milan show last year. Trafomatic was present by way of Italian importer Salvo Giardina of Audio Point Italia and the Serbian contingent of Sasa and his partner Mica. We had some nice and interesting conversations with the gang and asked them to listen to the Arcadian Audio Pnoe single-driver AER MD3B giant horns we own and which were also at the show. After an impromptu audition Sasa suggested we should have a home trial with the same Kaivalya/Pnoe combination in Holland.

With that stored somewhere in the backs of our minds, we visited a Dutch hifi show in Utrecht a few months later. Exhibiting there was Hans Kortenbach of Musical Affairs in cooperation with Renaissance Audio of Bergen/Norway and Norwegian Trafomatic importer Moiz. The norsemen Roald Mikkelsen and Mutjaba Hussein had brought a pair of Kaivalyas with them to drive Hans’ PHY-based speakers. When we visited their exhibit, another amplifier was playing and it was not convenient to switch in the Trafomatic monos just then. We thus had to wait for another opportunity to hear the amps ourselves.

That opportunity arose sooner than expected. Mutjaba offered us to have the Kaivalya delivered to our door right after the show so we could listen to them at our own pace and with our own speakers. This very generous offer we accepted without a second thought. It was Hans Kortenbach who delivered the pair of amplifiers shortly after the show and he would take care of returning them to Norway in due time.

So there we finally were with a pair of long-anticipated EL84 push/pull pentode or PPP amplifiers in gleaming white. The lacquer was a great match for our all-white Pnoe horns. To further match the amps’ silver top plates we used the silver/grey removable trims rims around the AER drivers whilst the amps’ amber standby LEDs especially at night came close to the drivers’ yellowish paper cone. Goodbye to matte black ‘pro’ looks.

Much to our surprise the boxes the amps arrived in contained not only the Russian tubes Sasa has picked to suit his circuit but also four boxes with matched pairs of prime Psvane EL84 and two Psvane ECC82. This unexpected bonus promised some serious tube rolling.

Starting with the Russian tubes we connected the amplifiers to the 16Ω Pnoe and on the inputs directly to the PS Audio PWD DAC’s output with its digital attenuation. As an aside, this attenuation works fine for 16-24bit source material as the attenuation is performed by a 32bit Wolfson chip leaving at least 8 bits of headroom before sound quality is compromised and most the time 16 bits for standard Redbook material. Hence no additional preamp was needed.