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, it seems to be the apple in Nic Poulson's eye, the company which most satisfies his ambitions as a designer. It’s been to market for more than two decades already. Despite many prior products, the current portfolio is rather modest. Most models are hybrid types with a mixture of valves and transistors under one hood. There are one integrated amp, two valve preamplifiers, monos and two stereo amps. There's also a phono stage and two dedicated headphone decks. And there's ISOL-8 which should be seen as an extension of Trilogy and the main bread winner. Today’s 933 headphone amplifier demands around €2’950, making it one of the most budget Trilogy devices available. Many of the others exceed €10’000. Manufacture in the UK involves much hand labour and the industrial design and execution are at a high level.

The Trilogy 933 is a two-box set and thus a bit unusual for a headfi component. Of course power delivery is Nic's primary playground so an external PSU shouldn’t surprise. Still, delivery by courier did surprise me with a carton that seemed suspiciously small for a €3’000 machine. It quickly turned out that these boxes were littlins. The 235x120x38mm DxWxH main unit weighs 1.8kg and consumes 22 watts. Looks are always subjective but I found the 933 to be extremely stylish and elegant, carved from solid aluminium to have the entire chassis double as heat sink. All edges are slightly rounded over and the monolithic construction eliminates the usually bolted front and rear panels. Obviously the heavily perforated steel bottom comes off, making access to the innards child’s play. Even the aluminium is brushed differently than usual.

For core specs, we get an input impedance of 20KΩ, response of 15Hz to 120kHz and 19dB of voltage gain. THD into 300Ω @ 10mW remains below 0.05% and A-weighted SN/R is 85dB, causing a Polish reader to question why Beyerdynamic’s A2 has such superior specs. "It depends on what you want from a product. I hold musicality as the ultimate goal. THD has very little correlation with this goal. In fact, low THD is usually detrimental. What is incredibly important is the distortion spectra. It is extremely easy to wrap an op amp in 50dB of feedback and have vanishingly low THD and noise. It’s also very cheap and most follow this route. But listening tests confirm to us that it’s not the correct route. The 933 will better its specs but the distortion it does produce is predominantly 2nd order with almost no higher-order components. I suggest you listen to both models, then decide."

I had reviewed the A2 for our Polish Audio-Video print magazine. From memory I’ll simply say that it didn’t play in the same league. I'd pick the 933 any day. Back on track, the 933’s front is modest but perfectly functional, with the big logo and model name on the left. On the right the 3Ω 6.3mm headphone sockets sits in a shallow recess with two input selector diodes bracketing the IR. More LEDs in an arch signify +/- volume but there’s no traditional volume knob because Nic couldn’t source a quality potentiometer small enough to fit the chassis and PCB.

Volume control thus lives on the remote which goes plastic but has all necessary rubbery buttons with good responsiveness. Personally I’d prefer an old-fashioned solid aluminium knob. The top panel features three cosmetic recesses which do double duty with heat dissipation. That’s because the 933 is a pure class A amplifier. It runs hot enough to scramble eggs on but I’ve dealt with hotter furnaces in the past, Audio-Gd’s Phoenix one of them. The back sports two RCA inputs, no balanced, and a fixed 1m power umbilical with 4-pin Neutrik XLR for the PSU whose mismatched box is a bit narrower, taller and deeper. That has two LEDs, a conventional IEC, the matching 4-pin XLR but no power switch. The long leash suggests leaving room between the two is desirable and power-on is purely by remote, hence don’t misplace it. The PSU’s green LED confirms operational fitness and that’s all she said.