Austin AudioWorks

Ugly but swans – Austin AudioWorks feel that behind brick-like no-frills exteriors, their Black Amp headfi amp [$1'849] and Black Swan phono stage [$1'649] are snow-white purist swans. Where Bakoon and Enleum have long promoted high-impedance current drive for headphones, designer Barry Thornton now adds to that proven recipe class A bias, fully balanced operation and zero feedback. The MM/MC phono stage puts all the adjustments on its utilitarian front then pursues the same general circuit topology groomed for wide bandwidth and low noise. Check their website for the brand's genesis story and details. Whilst new it packs a lot of prior experience at other brands.