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Srajan Ebaen
Financial Interests: click here
Source: 2TB iMac 27" quad-core with 16GB of RAM (AIFF) running OSX 10.8.2 and PureMusic 1.89b in hybrid memory play with pre-allocated RAM and 176.4kHz NOS-style upsampling, Metrum Hex, SOtM dX-USB HD with Super-clock upgrade & mBPS-d2s
Preamplifier: Bent Audio Tap-X, Esoteric C-03, ModWright LS100 with Psvane CV181-T, TruLife Audio Athena
Power amplifier: FirstWatt S1 monos, SIT2; ModWright KWA100 SE, Bakoon AMP-11R, Clones 25i [on loan]
Loudspeakers: Zu Druid V + Submission, AudioSolutions Rhapsody 200, soundkaos Wave 40 [on review]
Cables: Complete Zu Event loom, KingRex uArt split USB cable with Bakoon BPS-02 uninterruptible battery supply
Powerline conditioning: GigaWatt PF-2 on amps, GigaWatt PC3 SE Evo on front-end components
Equipment rack:
Artesania Exoteryc double-wide three tier with optional glass shelf, Rajasthani hardwood rack for amps
Sundry accessories: Extensive use of Acoustic System Resonators, noise filters and phase inverters
Room size: 5m x 11.5m W x D, 2.6m ceiling with exposed wooden cross beams every 60cm, plaster over brick walls, suspended wood floor with Tatami-type throw rugs. The listening space opens into the second storey via a staircase and the kitchen/dining room are behind the main listening chair. The latter is thus positioned in the middle of this open floor plan without the usual nearby back wall.
Review component retail: $1.099 for DAC/pre, $899/ea. for monos

Topping the desk with a 160GB iPod Classic, Cambridge Audio iD100 digital dock and Gallo Strada 2 + TR-3D subwoofer

Weird name, serious company. In 2013, any mention of Wyred4Sound in audiophile circles has the first response hardly crop up no maw. EJ Sarmento's reputation for well-engineered high-performance/value gear has become solidly entrenched. He's the uncredited ghost writer for at least one other very popular brand's amplification components. And he keeps collecting awards. Meow. When it comes to expertly voiced and tuned ICEpower amps at fair prices, he's in fact often the very first port of call.

His new mAMP—the small 'm' makes it a mini-club member like the mINT—adds more fire to that ice. Using the familiar chassis with silver or black core, it's a busted-out mINT doing some power multiplication, circuit refinements and other mid-air somersaults. Then it returns to terra firma in now three chassis. Two are fully balanced mono amps, one is the matching mPRE as upgraded mINT minus speaker drive. That makes it a fully balanced preamp/DAC with coax/optical 9023 Sabre core plus 24/192 async XMOS-based USB and a 6.3mm headphone port. And before you ask, no you can't simply biamp with a mINT because the mAMPs have 3dB higher gain (the ST/SX amps do not). But yes you still can if you use EJ's RCA-to-XLR cable which compensates for the difference. Cheers!

Fiennes as Gareth Malory in the 23rd James Bond
  This new M isn't Ralph Fiennes. For a run-down on how the new Ms pick up the mINT theme and refine it, I asked the man to paint us the full picture. "Let's start with the specs of the mAMP. At 0.2% THD+N, power output into 8/4Ω is 255/430w. If we relax THD+N to 1% we get 277/462w. Output idle noise is <125µV. The lower bandwidth limit into all loads is 1.5Hz. Input impedance for both RCA and XLR inputs is the same very high 100KΩ. This prevents loading the output stage of your source. Dynamic range is 111dB, gain is 30.5dB, input sensitivity a useful 1.35V, output impedance a nicely low 0.018Ω and the minimum recommended load impedance is 3Ω. Max output current is 30A, idle power consumption a very low 9.5w and standby power consumption with deactivated output stage is below half a watt to comply with European green regulations."

"The back panel is perfectly self-explanatory with 1/ the mains switch, 2/ the fuse-holder and IEC power inlet, 3/ the 120/230V mains voltage selector, 4/ the 5-way binding posts, 5/ 12V DC triggers to remotely go in and out of standby as well as trigger additional equipment with a compatible input, 6/ the XLR input, 7/ the RCA input and 8/ the XLR/RCA selector."

"As we did in the mINT, ICEpower again runs on their latest 3rd-gen modules with heavy 14-gauge OFC output wiring to the binding posts. The dual-differential common-mode converter of the quad-paralleled FET input stage is derived from our popular DAC-2 to feed the ICEpower modules a fully balanced signal regardless of whether you use the XLR or RCA input. The new chassis sports refinements, no visible screws from the front or sides and just two recessed screws tucked into the very rear of the top cover which are only visible from above. The front panel is ¾" machined line-grained black-anodized aluminum and the side extrusions follow suit.

"For space reasons we're obviously using B&O's advanced SMPS and for more power over the mINT another board. We spent a long time massaging our custom input stage for the class D analog switching output stage to get the sound we wanted. As our competitors have learnt too, there's surprising performance variability of these modules depending on how one configures what precedes them."

Here April Music's Simon Lee would certainly agree. Following his ICEpower Eximus S1, the Stello Ai 700 integrated didn't just combine two S1 with permanently bridged 250ASX2 boards, it sported a more refined input stage causing The Abso!ute Sound's Jonathan Valin to exhort, "... on 35—the 35th floor in the Venetian hotel - Ed—those pesky fellows from April Music who proved me an idiot at RMAF were back with the $80k Marten Coltrane multi-way floorstanders and once again their little class D amp sounded fabulous - so clear, so neutral, so natural that for a second time I did an aural double-take. These things were simply superb on my Blue Tofu cut (with exceptional bass). Indeed they were superb on everything I played. I don’t know what April Music is doing right but they sure have a lock on class D amplification. And they also earn my twelfth nomination for Best of Show."

JV wasn't quoted to distract from Wyred4Sound but as a high-profile example for how current B&O tech surprises even reviewers on the ultra-priced exotic beat when teamed with very upscale speakers. The times when it was hip to bolster one's cred by categorically dismissing class D are over. Now one looks an uninformed racist ass for being so stuck (up) in the past.