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Having imported Almarro, E.A.R. and Manley Labs into Austria among others, Hannes Frick has prior experience with well-liked EL84 amps. It stood to reason that once he signed off on the collaboration with Sasa Cokic, he did so convinced that they had a real contender. That, the integrated concept and the attractive price made me accept the review request. It seemed like a timely proposition. For every new statement Lamm amplifier, there ought to be a counter statement to not make those with slimmer wallets feel left out. Did the Minueta have the right stuff?


It's not as though the competition were asleep. For €2,100, Luxman's SQ-N100 adds a phono stage, removable tube cage, headphone socket, defeatable tone controls and includes the remote without surcharge. Having that exact amp in house of course mandated a friendly mano-i-mano in the audition ring. Questioning Hannes Frick how he thought Luxman could sell a Japan-made amplifier for €670 less than his which is mostly manufactured in Serbia—he supplies the wooden chassis, metal top and front from Austria—he pointed at Luxman's higher sales volumes and their lower distributor/dealer margins. (This PDF lists the current prices for all WLM Acoustics models.)


Enlarge For a small outfit like his to get any floor space requires additional sales incentives it seems. Consumers of course care little about those realities. But it's fair to point out that for less cash, the Luxman offers considerably more features, not the least of which is a truly stupendous headphone output which wires directly into the speaker-level outputs padded down by a simple pair of 470-ohm load resistors. This scheme transfers tone-control functionality to headfi, a particularly useful thing since Luxman's tone controls are quite a few cuts about what survives this norm. One feature the Minueta throws into the mix which the Luxman lacks is triode/UL conversion via the dual-mono toggles. As tends to be the case in these matters, win some/lose some is the motto.

For the auditions, I would primarily use my Zu Essence towers. The recent Stereophile review by Art Dudley makes them a relatable quantity to many and their price is far more in line with potential Minueta buyers than my ASI Tango R. Below the big EL34 WLM Allegra monos with 60/120-watt in triode/UL mode respectively.

Incidentally, WLM's border-crossing collaborations now even reach into Switzerland and to Daniel Weiss of Weiss Engineering in particular. The new WLM Acoustics Gamma Reference converter sports a custom OEM Weiss board for the digital circuitry, arriving at digital RCA, XLR, Toslink and twinned Firewire inputs, digital RCA/XLR outputs and RCA/XLR analog outputs.

As I learned during the review process, the entire WLM Acoustics range was converted to now solid wood stained black. This makes for easier cosmetic matching with competitors' components. For the Minueta, remote volume remains optional. That adds a round IR eye to the front as shown below.

Finally, a photo of team WLM Loudspeakers taken at the München HighEnd 2009 show, with three distributor/dealers and Hannes Frick third from left, speaker designer Martin Schützenauer standing.