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The White Knight works in class А up to 40W whilst max power is 180W and nominal power 100W. "It’s commonly known that transistors clip rigidly once the signal exceeds a certain level. Why am I talking about 100W of nominal power? Working with a sinusoidal signal the amplifier produces an undistorted 180W (THD is less than 0.001%). But add 2-3W and it starts clipping. These figures are for a 4-ohm load. For 8 ohms they’re half." The input stage is a class A emitter repeater driving a transformer. Then there is a more powerful intermediate stage also driving a transformer and finally the output stage is another emitter repeater. Output transistors are Motorola MJ15025, two per channel. The stabilized power supply with specially designed thermo-stable module is realized also with Motorola parts. There is no global feedback. The Knight’s weigh is more than 60 kilos mainly because of numerous transformers. Each channel has interstage transformers of no less than 400W each. A kilowatt transformer works in the output stage. A 300W transformer is in the input stage plus there’s a transformer for servicing the electronics and a mains transformer in the power supply. Each channel has capacitors for a total capacitance of 1F. As a result the amplifier is very well armed with energy.

The schematic decisions are more or less clear but how did Syomin develop the voice of the amplifier? Where did he start? "I began with the output stage. I tuned it the way I wanted, then moved backward watching for alterations to not change its character. In other words I was moving from output to input. The fine-tuning included among other things the careful selection of components. For instance I first used certain capacitors but the amp didn’t sound right. I put in other capacitors and the sound improved radically. I wound all transformers myself with Japanese iron cores. The transistors in each stage are of just one type. Resistors in the input stage are Riken Ohm, in the output stage they are Kiwame. The operational mode is established by an audio core of 100W total power."

There are no printed circuits. Syomin preferred point-to-point wiring. He tried printed circuit board but didn’t like the sound. Point-to-point wiring of course greatly complicated assembly to guarantee optimal temperature conditions for various parts. It wasn’t easy to achieve non-leakage and stability. And what to say about the amp’s armor? The only control knob combines three functions: volume (based on an array of resistors), input selection (push and rotate) and on/off (push and hold for 2-3 sec). There are two displays: the lower one (on the base) indicates the actual input voltage (most SA Lab amps have such a display), the upper one the level of actual amplification. Two dancing poles of plasma indicators above the tri-mode knob reflect the momentary level changes.

The main wooden carcass is manufactured by a profile treatment of super-thick stacked Plywood layers. On a larger scale we’ve seen the same shape already in the Ligeia and Erato models. All surfaces and curves are faultlessly polished and decorated with transparent matte lacquer. The narrow front, rear and perforated upper panel are thick plates of stainless steel and polished. The frontal metal part is covered by a 10-mm thick glass rectangle. The monumental shape of the White Knight is softened by a cheerful club-like glow of two displays and indicators and the light tones of wood are balanced by the coolness of glass and metal. Beside 4 RCA inputs there is a line output which by addition of another Knight helps organize bi-amp connection (control of two amplifiers by means of one amp). I must admit that I began the listening test with a great degree of apprehension. I’m very keen on SA Lab tube gear. What to expect of an entirely new ideology? Nobody likes to be disappointed but in creative work success is as common as failure. Moreover I’m well aware that my tastes in music are quite different from Alexei’s. But it turned out that our hearing is quite similar.