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This review first appeared in the May 2013 issue of hi-end hifi magazine High Fidelity of Poland. You can also read it in its original Polish version here. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with publisher Wojciech Pacula. As is customary for our own articles, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of High Fidelity or Phasemation - Ed

Reviewer: Wojciech Pacula
CD player: Ancient Audio Lektor Air V-edition
Phono preamplifier: RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC
Cartridges: Miyajima Laboratory Shilabe & Kansui
Preamplifier: Ayon Audio Polaris III Signature with Regenerator power supply
Power amplifier: Soulution 710
Integrated amplifier/headphone amplifier: Leben CS300 XS Custom
Loudspeakers: Harbeth M40.1 Domestic + Acoustic Revive custom speaker stand
Headphones: Sennheiser HD800, AKG K701, Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro 600Ω vintage, HifiMan HE6
Interconnects: CD/preamp Acrolink Mexcel 7N-DA6300, preamp/power amp Acrolink 8N-A2080III Evo
Speaker cable: Tara Labs Omega Onyx
Power cables (all equipment): Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9300
Power strip: Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu Ultimate
Stand: Base IV custom under all components
Resonance control: Finite Elemente Ceraball under CD player, Audio Revive RAF-48 platform under CD player and preamplifier, Pro Audio Bono PAB SE platform under Leben CS300 XS
Review component retail in Poland: 6.490zł

Japanese manufacturers can be pretty airtight and I don't mean the brand. Just look at the most important Japanese quarterly magazine Stereo Sound. You will find many reviews and ads of brands nobody outside Japan has ever heard of. There's Tech DAS (although a recent Stereophile review makes it a flawed example), Technical Brain (here The Abso!ute Sound is trying to change things), Kripton Japan, Fundamental, U-Bros and many others. The fact is that Japanese manufacturers focus their attention and efforts on their domestic market. Obviously there are also giant well-known corporations and brands like Sony, Panasonic, D&M Holding (Denon, Marantz), Yamaha, Onkyo, TEAC (Esoteric, Tascam) but these focus on mass-produced electronics, not high-end audio [owners of Esoteric's top models would beg to differ – Ed]. There's also a third category decided to global which are mostly quite small firms often employing less than ten people. These are brands like Accuphase, Luxman, Kondo, C.E.C., Furukawa, Oyaide, Leben, SPEC, My Sonic and Miyajima Labs. I think it's fair to include Phasemation, a brand owned by Kyodo Denshi Engineering Co. Ltd.

There's a current problem with its brand awareness as only two years ago it was called Phase-Tech which many audiophiles would probably still recognize. When the company decided to enter Europe they had to face the fact that their name was already registered there.

So they came up with Phasemation. Their core activity is cartridges and phono stages. A few years ago they added two more items – a D/A converter with K2 digital filter and a proprietary master clock. Recently Phase-Tech added preamplifiers and power amps.

Exclusively for the Japanese market they also make a CD transport and integrated amplifiers. For review we received the latest addition to their portfolio, the EPA-007 headphone amplifier.

It's a small aluminium box that contains a fully balanced circuit with two headphone outputs that you can use for two pairs of cans with classic 6.3mm plugs: or for one pair with a balanced wire harness that terminates in twin plugs [with discrete grounds for each channel – Ed]. Unlike many other amplifiers this is not a basic design as it gives its user some adjustments for loading and tonal control though not in the classic sense.

Sound. Recordings used during this review - Bottleneck John All Around Man, Opus3, CD 23001, SACD/CD (2013); Claudio Monteverdi L’Orfeo, Ensemble La Venexiana, Claudio Cavina, Glossa, GCD 920913, 2 x CD (2007); Depeche Mode Heaven, Columbia, 47537, SP CD (2013); Depeche Mode Delta Machine, Columbia/Sony Music Japan, SICP 3783-4, 2 x CD (2013); Diary of Dreams The Anatomy of Silence, Accession Records, A 132, CD (2012); Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong Ella and Louis, Verve/Lasting Impression Music, LIM UHD 045, UltraHD CD (2010); Jim Hall Trio,Blues On The Rocks, Gambit Records, 69207, CD (2005); Martin L. Gore Counterfeit2, Mute Records, CDSTUMM214/247725, Copy Controlled Disc (2003)...

...Michael Jackson Thriller. 25th Anniversary Edition, Epic/Sony Music Japan, EICP-963-4, CD+DVD (1982/2008); Michael Rother Fernwärme, Random Records/Belle, 091546, SHM-CD (1982/2009); Miles Davis Seven Steps To Heaven, Columbia/Sony Music/Analogue Productions, CAPJ-8851, SACD/CD (1963/2010); Pat Metheny Group Offramp, ECM, ECM1216, CD (1982/1999); Pat Metheny Group Offramp, ECM/Universal Music K.K., UCCU-9543, 'Jazz The Best N° 43', gold CD (1982/2004); Pat Metheny Group Offramp, ECM/Universal Music K.K., UCCE-9144, SHM-CD (1982/2008).

We all know the simple rule which tells us that we should find proper speakers to fit nicely with our amplifier and room. It's simply about finding three elements that cohere into something more than just a simple sum of their features and then produce true high-quality performance. In theory every well-designed speaker should complement any well-designed amplifier but experience simply proves this wrong on many an occasion. Sometimes a high-power amplifier with a very good power supply that remains stable into even significant impedance dips with a great damping factor isn't enough. It's not about specifications. It's about a good fit. Sometimes you need a low-power amp with low damping factor and high output impedance to drive particular speakers properly. You're doubtful? Look at an email I received from Srajan that was about just that: