Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac (4GHz quad-core with Turbo boost, 32GB RAM, 3TB FusionDrive, OSX Yosemite. iTunes 14.4), PureMusic 3.02, Qobuz Hifi, Tidal Hifi, Fore Audio DAISy1, COS Engineering D1, Aqua Hifi Formula, AURALiC Vega
Preamplifier: Nagra Jazz, Wyred4Sound STP-SE Stage II, Vinnie Rossi LIO (AVT module)
Power & integrated amplifiers: Pass Labs XA30.8; FirstWatt SIT1 monos, F5, F6, F7; Crayon Audio CFA-1.2; Goldmund/Job 225; Linnenberg Allegro monos; Aura Note Premier; Wyred4Sound mINT; Nord Acoustics NC500 monos; LinnenberG Audio Allegro monos
Loudspeakers: Audio Physic Codex; Albedo Audio Aptica; EnigmAcoustics Mythology 1; Boenicke Audio W5se; Zu Audio Druid V & Submission; German Physiks HRS-120; Eversound Essence
Cables: Complete loom of Zu Event; KingRex uArt, Zu and LightHarmonic LightSpeed double-header USB cables; Tombo Trøn S/PDIF; van den Hul AES/EBU; AudioQuest Diamond glass-fibre Toslink; Black Cat Cable redlevel Lupo; Ocellia OCC Silver
Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all components, 5m cords to amp/s + sub
Equipment rack: Artesania Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Exoteryc Krion and glass amp stands [on loan]
Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators
Room: 4 x 6m with high gabled beam ceiling opening into 4 x 8m kitchen and 5 x 8m living room, hence no wall behind the listening chairs
Review component retail: €8'500/pr

If historical anecdotes are true, the long-haired Hungarian pianist and composer Franz Liszt was quite the Rock star of the day. Unlike his frail and sickly but hyper-poetic Polish arch rival Frédéric Chopin, Liszt reportedly was robust, boisterous and flashy. He is remembered as a born showman and impromptu performer who must have enjoyed the trappings of fame and good looks including the period's take on young groupies. By naming his flagship mono amps Liszt, German designer Ivo Linnenberg plays on bravura technique, astonishing speed, consummate showmanship, romanticism and magnetic appeal. Unlike our more Chopin-sized 55-watt Allegro precursor which, though unlisted, remains in the catalogue by request, the again true balanced Liszt quadruples power to 200 watts for the full thunder. But in keeping with Liszt's fistfuls of hammered fury aka fingers of lightning, these high-speed DC-coupled circuits still flash 0.3Hz to 1.2MHz unfiltered bandwidth. There are no signal-path capacitors, thus 120'000µF of capacitance go to power-supply filtering (twice over what the Allegro uses). Output devices remain paired lateral Mosfets, albeit now twin pairs to create the bridge. At 40µV, self noise remains very low despite such a serious raise in power. That translates to effective >20-bit resolution or a S/NR of 122dB. As a modern EU-compliant device, standby draw is just half a watt and LinnenberG recommend to leave the amps on permanently safe during thunder storms or extended absence.

The full spec tally includes 1.5Vrms input sensitivity, 47k/94kΩ input impedance on RCA/XLR, 28.9dB voltage gain, 25A continuous current, 650ns rise time and 0.003% THD+N at 10W/8Ω. In keeping with the high-speed concept, the circuit is physically compact and tightly packed in three dimensions for the shortest signal path. With efficient class A/B bias, not much dissipation surface beyond the actual case work is needed, hence the modest rear heat sink where the Exicon output transistors mount. As a front-to-back balanced circuit, the XLR input is obviously preferred but a convenient toggle activates the RCA input if wanted. And as the photos showed already, the case work again is a clamshell extrusion whose top and bottom halves bolt together via the end caps aka thin front and back panels. It's a simple clean execution on the other side of town where the overweight blinged-out cases live. As a bridged/balanced design, the 'minus' terminal is live and should never connect to ground (high-level connections to a powered sub must ascertain that such use is safe). For normal protection not self-inflicted shorts, there's auto-sensing thermal shutdown, shutdown against DC and over current. Any encountered errors display by blinking the power LED once per second until the error's cause is removed.

Alternating with FirstWatt SIT1 on Zu Druid VI

Having acquired the loaner Allegro pair after its review to serve as our much loved reference for this type amp—competition would include Bakoon, Crayon and Goldmund—it was obviously Kismet that the Liszt would face off their siblings. Just as obvious, Ivo Linnenberg considers the Liszt superior. He recommends them over the Allegro unless someone specifically wanted the smaller boxes. For the third obvious in a row, more money shouldn't just buy more power. You'd want better sound too since mostly, more power tends to just sit there untapped. Now the real question becomes, how much better and better in what ways does the extra expense buy? Answering that would be my focus for this assignment. It continues where my Allegro review left off; and where various show sightings in the US and Germany did.