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Black Pearls Audio Birth 100 integrated amplifier test review



Future is bright


Integrated amplifiers are coming back as strong as the wider population is finally coming closer to better audio quality. Another important factor is an easy approach to music listening. At last we an witness some of the things moving into the right direction, price scheme included.

These days even most of audiophiles want a clutter free audio environment, that can provide and instant pleasure. Enjoying and listening to favorite music repertoire instantly became a top most priority. It’s a reflection of times we’re living in. Each moment is becoming precious and people are starting to realize how quality of life means something more substantial then just raw consuming “culture”.

With the advancement of technology and making things more approachable it is a great time to be around high-end audio. Many door prior closed to wider population are beginning to open.

This brings us to the rise of small companies, which can make products of their vision becoming a reality. Years back, only large investment groups could afford actual realization of product that small companies or boutique manufacturer are offering today.



Meet the Black Pearls Audio


The company was founded in January 2012 by Konstantino Papachristou, Ph.D., electronic engineer and lover of sound, music, and high-end equipment. He decided to take it to a professional level and combine his electronic engineering knowledge with his audio experience. Having studied jazz saxophone and attended many live concerts has resulted in a face to face experience with sound, which is invaluable for someone who wants to get involved into the development of high-end audio equipment.

Black Pearls Audio had a clear goal from the start. To produce high-end products with no second-guessing in design and sound. With the trained ears (Konstantino studied Saxophone) on hand and practical experiences that came as the the labor of love and dedication first company products Birth 100 was created. Black Pearls Audio Birth 100 represents the company vision and approach to high-end audio reproduction. It shows that no corners were made. Both on the inside and outside Birth 100 shines with the aura of finished matured product. You don’t find that so many times with company “first born.”


Black Pearls Audio Birth 100 integrated amplifier is working with 70W at 8Ω) and is designed from the core as a true dual-mono mirrored amplifier. Both left and right channels are created in identical manner With physical separation of channels everything becomes more balanced and refined in the final stage of reproduction.

Birth 100 built in preamplifier works in a pure A Class with single ended topology. It uses separate toroidal transformer and a dedicated circuit. It shows that Konstantino Papachristou already had a working and refined separated products before creation of integrated amplifier. Wit, well thought modular concept with elaborated separated stages combined under one chassis makes Mr. Papachristou both proud and happy man. Its an art to harmoniously join working principles to a great sounding and stable design. Birh 100 brings more then just a heavy dose.

Like with many great AB class power and integrated amplifiers Black Pearls Audio Birth 100 is heavily biased toward A class. This keeps the purity of the sound and heat within normal temperatures. Not always, this works out for the best sound, but it seems Birth 100 is a result of many planning and listening hours. When it comes to the end of the day. It simply works!

Black Pearls Audio Birth 100 offers one quasi-non-balanced XLR input and five line inputs. Like with most contemporary integrated amplifiers you can control inputs and volume changes with the lovely enclosed remote. All that can be operated also via front panel where you’ll find also a dedicated headphone output. This offers quite a sound, as it’s tapped directly from a speaker’s output. So all in all, everything is set for musical feast. And that some.

Under the hood

Even to the untrained eye, it instantly become clear how everything around Birth 100 was done in systematic and logical way. Four large torodial transformers ensure the different and elaborated path of dealing with electricity. To often we find one large transformer with separate outs and big claims of high performance.


I was surprised by four of them and love the additional care. As written above, everything is laid in dual mono fashion. We’ve seen the first concepts of this back at days of Gryphon integrated amps. Soon after that many companies followed and integrated amps became a serious high-end component by itself. A lot was gained with such concept. When build properly integrated amplifier can represent not only a great value, but great performance without additional cabling, system mismatch etc.

The man behind


Konstantinos Papachristou passion for music and knowing it brought a lot to quality of finalization and so called voicing of the Birth 100. I always state, that the audio DNA imprint is engraved into the final product. Consciously by making choices (except and reject) and on sub conscious level by following the intuition or feeling of what is right and sound right. As from my listening notes Black Pearls Audio Birth 100 represent an amplifier that is “tuned” by ad for listening. Is this a great thing? I would hardly give better compliment. In the age where you can plan and create almost anything with and within computers I too often stumble on products, which are designed simply to work on a stable electronic base, but not listened to elaborately. One can hear the difference of such approach within few note strikes. First choice might feel right, but designing without serious listening back up is a complete nonsense. And there are a variety of such nonsenses out there in the form of speakers, amplifiers, preamplifiers etc.


The appearance


Black Pearls Audio Birth 100 integrated amplifiers comes in very stylish and contemporary enclosure. With clear layout front panel commands and beautiful shining volume knob everything feels both stylish and ergonomic. As written before Birth 100 feels like matured product without the hiccups of first product. Quite an impressive start to be honest.

Sound


Avalon is probably one of the best pop albums and an inspiration for many generations after. Expert production and song writing that is hard to repeat. Take further Synchronicity from Police. A bit different approach, but still produced and sounding as it supposed to.

Casually pop albums might look as an easy thing to be perfectly reproduced. This is far from a complete truth. Each genre carries its own demands and when modern compression is not the main focus, not only classical music is a thing of broader dynamic range and playground of pure enjoyment.

Black Pearls Audio Birth 100 performed without knowing constrains. Music was of open nature and most important welcoming. Unlike many iteration of class D and other AB amplifiers, Birth 100 carries an involvement to listening. Not once in my listening notes I stumble upon listening fatigue remarks. I love when this (don’t) happen.


Most importantly when replayed correctly is the timbre. There is not much “grande” philosophy in my modus operandi book. You either get it right or you don’t. And the yes factor is always based on the voicing-tuning listening part.

Acoustical music is always an important part of my evaluation. Kavi Alexander Water Lilly Acoustic recordings are one of most intimate and well-recorded ones. They not only sound great, but also bring the intimate world of emotional exchange from artist around the world. With right cabling and front end Black Pearls Audio Birth 100 is a keeper. Meeting By The River is perhaps most known Water Lilly Acoustic, but its not the only one. Birth 100 proved to be more then just a serious contender, but a partner for musical reciprocation.

Conclusion


In the times when we're surrounded by the troops of Class D integrated amplifiers and half good AB Class amplifiers Black Pearls Audio Birth 100 represent a strong alternative with enough unique and elaborated takes to make it more then just and interesting competition. It can stay on its own with pedigree.

Refined looks, dual mono configuration, separated torodial transformers, class A preamplifier and power amplifier heavily biased towards A class makes Birth 100 a clear choice for a demanding audiophile and music lover who prefer music first and marketing hype second.


Black Pearls Audio Birth 100 brings the more then just well versed concept. It’s a matured musical machine in an efficient elegant looking package in the service of musicality.

Birth 100 openly carries the designer vision of sound and reproduction. It appeared in the times when quality of music reproduction started to matter much to greater amount of people.

Black Pearls Audio Birth 100 opens up the safe door to high-end audio and gives a substantial feeling of something more and leaves you with very little to hanker about.

If you’re in the market for integrated amplifier do not missed Konstantinos Papachristou first born. You’ll be both surprised and hard pressed to find a worthy contender.

Features
70Wrms @ 8Ω, 110Wrms @ 4Ω
90KΩ input resistance
Slew rate 14.9V/us
Zero local and global feedback
Separate toroidal transformers for the pre-amplifier and power stage for each channel (4 in total)
Class-A single-ended pre-amplifier stage
Audio grade power MOSFETs
Complementary power stage deeply biased for class-A operation
CE compliant (LVD 2006/95/EC & EMC 2004/108/EC)

http://www.blackpearlsaudio.com

Matej Isak. Mono and Stereo ultra high end audio magazine. All rights reserved. 2006-2013. www.monoandstereo.com. ..:: None of the original text, pictures, that were taken by me, links or my original files can be re-printed or used in any way without prior permission! ::..