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The bull's eye display at right
could strike some as a stylistic break for a tubed deck but it's definitely informative. It confirms chosen input and tracks thermal ramp-up with a warm-up bar. On i/o our metrosexual is complete as well. There are four high-level inputs including a full tape loop. There are also two low-level phono inputs for MM and MC respectively. Sweet. The preamp signal can be tapped via a pre-out and the speaker terminals sprout at double strength. Whilst that looks suspiciously like the well-known 4/8/16Ω taps of full-on valve gear, here it's simply for discrete biwiring. If your boxes support it, I recommend a trial run. I found added transparency above the upper mids. No war of the worlds but clearly worth a check. Which I forgot to do for the headphone socket.

During already the break-in phase which thanks to factory-conditioned glass was happily brief, I couldn't fail to notice the Magnat's dry very pressurized bass which never overdrew. Instead I got plenty of harmonics and infrasonic bits. Those created a rock-like foundation whose clarity was class leading. The muscular optics invited Punk Rock so I kicked off in earnest with Rise Against's "Whereabouts Unknown" from their Appeal to Reason disc. Its take-no-prisoners relentlessness really rocked out. Especially the insanely fast drum beats which in typical Punk fashion have the hi-hat or low tom on eighths, the snare on two and four and the bass kicks (often via double foot pedal) somewhere between, exploded like cracking hammers with unmitigated suddenness from my speaker boxes.

For the first time I now took note how drummer Brandon Barnes works his snare drum both with and without its wire set. (For non drummers, a snare sports a wiry mesh for that special sound. The distance of snare to skin can be altered to tweak tone.) I also heard that, intentionally or not, his sticks don't always meet the skin. Occasionally they end up on the rim which had been previously obscured. Combined with Joe Principe's equally furious e-bass an octave lower, their work provided snarl and growl as the low-frequency support for the higher registers.

This ease of combined bass shove and structure put the Magnat at the very top of my world very early on. It also gave my pure transistor Symphonic Line RG9 Mk4 amp a really tough time. Though a few years old, it's still a firm €5'000. To avoid misconception, the amp from Duisburg does infrasonic shove plus dry hardness too or I'd never have bought it in the first place. The Magnat's degree of chiseled sculpting and infrasonic fill were still beyond its ken however. Was a personal champion bested? It sure seemed so.

A cross check with a far more audiophile approved and live disc by Blues legend Mighty Sam McClain (Joy & Pain from cuts of 1997's German tour) confirmed it. The superior differentiation which the Pulheim machine dedicated to the bass foundation made my Symphonic Line—painful as it was to admit—feel a bit staid and wooden. But despite such bass bravura nothing droned, boomed or overlaid the upper mids which often smear as a result. This was really impressive. If you want amplification that does this even better without sacrificing this precision and transparency, you might need to look for a pure stereo amp or even monos. At best that'd be a sideways move on price. And that's before you add a preamp which would doubtlessly drive up the bill a lot higher.