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A tidy wooden crate with a gun-metal grey Athena inside securely ensconced, its top cover slipped on loosely without bolts to enable immediate access and mount the three valves - two Sovtek 6H30-EB from, one EZ81 in a box labeled RFT. Also included was a chunky wooden wand with two buttons for volume up/down and one red LED to confirm commands; and a generic Schuko-fitted power cord.

Though I inspected the front cover closely indeed, I failed to identify anything that could conceivably double as IR eye. Yet the wand worked swell, with a small relay click in the preamp further acknowledgement. Sitting on my writing desk 5 meters away it still worked. Ditto when I aimed it at the ceiling or flummoxed into the corner behind me. Now it dawned why Velissarios had mentioned in passing that finalizing the remote had involved some curses. Apparently he'd gone RF and the extra mile (or very useful meters right through domestic walls). I was duly impressed.

Inside the layout was very tidy, power supply fully shielded behind a divider running the entire length of the chassis. As a single-stage phase-inverting circuit, the parts count was expectedly low to primarily consist of power supply components and those rakishly pink coupling transformer housings.

The side view shows the power supply compartment with AC line filter, EI-core power transformer and stiff input selector.

The chimney-style heat sinks for various voltage regulators and stabilizers are properly bolted through the motherboard and to the sturdy undercarriage.

The general assembly impression is one of great confidence-inspiring robustness. What plays second fiddle—or bouzouki in this case—is the sheer sex appeal of the outer case work compared to my ModWright LS100 for example. Like its name sake known for wisdom not opulence, the Athena plays that card solid rather than extravagant.

Here is the all-reaching motorized volume control to have Athena at your beck and call from all likely and unlikely places.

Confirming all systems are a go is a purposefully orange light ring around the central power button. After all, these valves glow orange, not yellow, blue or white. Since they're invisible, this little reminder should be quite welcome.

And go it definitely was once Athena had embedded herself in my downstairs system where she took over the reins from the usual ModWright. Velissarios had been right. His 6H30 implementation did not exhibit the qualities I'd previously objected to and blamed on the tube. Not exactly. Time to learn a somewhat different truth.