Once a production sample from the second run with new IR eye (dark Titanium finish below) was on hand, Silvio announcement shipment. "When may I Skype or phone to give you more info on the product?" The planned visit had changed. A phone call would cover just as much ground and involve far less expense and time. Capiche and too bad for the conspiracy theorists. For the amp's four-pin HP port and HifiMan's parallel Susvara loaners, I had the right balanced cable. Susvara's peak sonics plus 83dB-inefficient power thirst make them ideal gauges for any headphone amp's raw drive and sonic sophistication. For speakers, our 98dB 16Ω Zu Druid V seemed suitable mates. And Cube Audio from Poland had already shipped their 92dB single-driver Bliss C. I'd even try the big Audio Physic Codex in the off chance that its four drivers might sing like the Fat Lady on 10 watts. You never know. Wackier things have happened.

Because the remote's silkscreen was slightly delayed, SIlvio explained how to use a generic until their wand shipped. "You can use any remote, pad or smartphone with IR and Philips RC5 code. Logitech and LG web already have the code under Riviera." As for their ECC82, "we use the absolutely best available today that is in conformity with Rohs and CE regulations. But if you want to really push performance, feel free to use compatible new-old stock. This is a very critical point for any producer. We cannot really officially say that customers are better off substituting our tube because some NOS are better than any current production we could possibly supply. But it's a fact that an NOS Mullard, RT, Philips Miniwatt or RCA black-plate clear top are better than anything produced and legally sellable today." No longer having a proper tube inventory myself, Silvio offered to include some choice specimens with the remote's mailing.

3/4th of the innards live above a central divider plate; the other fourth below.

As Silvio explained and thus very much like Vladimir Shushurin of Lamm Industries or Michel Vanden Broeck of Tenor Audio, Luca Chiomenti has developed his own psycho-acoustic model of human hearing. This isn't the version taught in med school. This is a deeper understanding of how the harmonic distortion behaviour of audio interacts with our ears' own. It doesn't rely on unusual measurements. It's an understanding on what an entire suite of standard measurements should look like whilst factoring their multitudinous interactions so they closely track our own biological behaviour. The selection of circuitry and parts then isn't tuned by ear but, via measurement conformity to the psycho-acoustic model, to the ear. Silvio explained that while this behaviour—harmonic distribution across frequency and varying SPL—tracks our own, the extent of their built-in profile is some 7dB to 8dB lower. But this pursuit of the right mix of even- and odd-order harmonics also explains Riviera's deliberate mix of gain devices.

JJ current production valve from Slovakia.

The AIC's 10wpc power is relative to 0.2% THD. At 1%, the circuit and chassis dissipation support a full 30 watts. To reach thermal equilibrium and with it, the intended behaviour of their active devices, Riviera recommend 45-50 minutes of warm-up. Luca's explorations have also identified what he views as the ideal output impedance. By necessity, this still must remain a golden mean when load impedances vary quite a lot. Still, theirs is 0.4Ω; low but an order of magnitude higher than much class D. Embedded in Riviera's concept also is understandable reluctance to publish deeper measurements. By design static, they would never reflect the various interactions during music's dynamic variations. They would reflect test tones instead. Still, I convinced Silvio that readers would want some basic specs like noise floor, bandwidth and power into varying headphone impedances; and circuit descriptions. He promised to be back with those.

Meanwhile UPS had delivered the double-boxed goods which unpeeled first from a plastic bag, then black draw-string cloth hood. The sand/gold finish seemed dipped in thick gloss lacquer for a luxury touch which continued with the general mechanical construction and innards. Not visible were the actual output devices which must mount to the heat sinks but do so in hidden fashion. In step with the €11'500 tag, this machine really did exude the 'high' in 'end' well before making any sound.