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This review first appeared in the June 2012 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 White Bird Amplification. - 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: zł4.950 in Poland

Calling your company White Bird Amplification seems to be a good move. It’s catchy and original. But one might not realize there’s more to it until one knows that the owner and designer's name Piotr Bocianek translates to little stork. Although you can't tell from the company's name, they make only one kind of product – headphone amplifiers. The range starts with the HPA-03 Reference at 700 Polish zloty and until this review topped out with the Grand Twin Pro and 300B tubes at 2700 zloty.

I only learnt about this manufacturer when one of our readers—obviously a headphone lover, thanks again!—wrote in asking if I had listening to any of Piotr’s creations. I had not but immediately took the opportunity to send out an email inquiry. Not that I received an amplifier as promptly. I had to wait a while but here it is now and that's what matters. And had to wait because I was to receive a completely new model not even up yet on their website. Plus each unit is made to order. The one dispatched is the current flagship which will soon be joined by the Virtus 300B whose review is planned for the near future.

Today we’ll thus take a closer look at the Virtus-01. This amplifier is build around the KT88 with a single 6N6P double triode in the input. The latter reminds me a lot of the so-called ‘super tube’ 6H30P. As Mr Bocianek explained, the Virtus also works with ECC85, E88CC, 6N23P and even 6N2P in the input stage but he feels that their sound gets more “metallic”. It is also possible to use KT66 or EL34 in the output stage without having to change bias.

The build quality of this amplifier is really very good. Its enclosure is made of granite slabs nicely matched and joined and a special front panel of acrylic with a printed foil fixed behind it. The tubes insert via cut-outs in the top plate. I received Electro-Harmonix KT88EH but also tried Ayon Audio KT88sx, a special Shuguang version. The input valve was Russian NOS issue. The volume pot is an Alps and inside we find Wima and Nichicon Muse capacitors, with Samsung caps in the power supply. Metalized resistors have 2% tolerances. As already stated the build quality is very good even though you can still tell that this is a hand-crafted product. The Virtus-01 is available in two finish options: with steel-aluminium enclosure it sells for PLN 3.500, the granite version submitted demands a significantly higher PLN 5.000.

Sound. A sampling of recordings used during the audition. Air, Love 2, Archeology/Virgin/EMI/The Vinyl Factory, 53361, 2 x 200 g LP (2009); Audiofeels, Uncovered, Penguin Records, 5865033, CD (2009); Bill Evans, Selections from: Bill Evans Live at Top of The Gate, Resonance Records, blue vax 10”, Limited Edition No. 270, 180 g LP (2012); Chet Baker Quartet, Chet Baker Quartet feat. Dick Twardick, Barclay Disques/Sam Records, Limited Edition, 180 g LP (1955/2011); Deep Purple, Perfect Stranger, Polygram Records/Polydor K.K. Japan, 25MM 0401, LP (1984); Diorama, Cubed Deluxe Edition, Accession Records, A 114, 2 x CD (2010); Kraftwerk, Techno Pop, Capital Records/KlingKlang/Mute Records, STUMM 308, digital master, 180 g LP (1986/2009); Me Myself And I, Do Not Cover, Creative Music, 005, CD (2012); Nat „King” Cole, Just One Of Those Things, Capitol/S&P Records, Limited Edition: 0886, 71882-1, 180 g LP (2004)...

... Suzanne Vega, Close-Up, Vol 1. Love Songs, Amanuensis Productions/Cooking Vinyl, COOKCD521, CD (2010); The Beatles, Revolver, Apple/Parlophone/Toshiba-EMI, TOCP-51124, CD (1966/2000); Tommy Dorsey, This is Tommy Dorsey, RCA Records, VPM-6038, 2 x Dynagroove LP (1971); Wes Montgomery All-Stars, A good git-together, Lone Hill Jazz, LHJ10133, CD (2004); Władysław Komendarek, Przestrzenie przeszłoci, Metal Mind Productions, MMP CD 0697 DGD, 2 x CD (2011).