Alluxity Power amp One and Pre amp One test / review



Alluxity

MONO AND STEREO HIGH-END AUDIO MAGAZINE


When I first heard about the Danish Vitus-Audio planning to create a ‘budget’ line of products, I had mixed feelings. On one hand I was happy to have lower prices, because this would mean a shorter path to the audiophile nirvana, but on the other hand – knowing the market reality I feared the other side of the medal. Introduction of entry level models for many companies, including audio legends, resulted in them being accused of going the easy way and their present and past achievements were depreciated. Fortunately now, one could profit from previous experience and draw the right conclusions. Hans Ole Vitus surely did, giving control over the new project to his son Alexander. Thus a daughter company was born, called Alluxity, which became to Vitus Audio the equivalent of the ‘5’ series watches for Seiko, or Organic Audio line for Argento, if we are to stay in the audiophile market. So Vitus did not lose anything from its exclusivity, while creating a nice playfield for future clients. However if you counted on low, or even discount prices, then you are wrong. Alluxity is cheaper than its older brethren, but we are still orbiting at high levels, and Denmark is not a tax heaven or cheap workforce country. The products may be sleeker, maybe even nicer looking, but not really cheaper.






Alluxity is very laconic regarding published technical data of their products. The amount of inputs and outputs, dimensions, weight and in case of the power amplifier the power at 8Ω and the information, that the 200W rises almost twice at 4Ω and 2Ω impedance does not make any stress to the device are everything we get. Both units supplied for the test were precisely CNC machined from blocks of aluminium. Only the bottom plate are separate elements. The devices are supported by aluminium feet with felt rings. The buyer has two color versions to chose from – black and white satin. We received the classic black satin versions, but also the white ones should be a nice choice for modern homes. Also interior designers should be satisfied, as the units combine elegance with outstanding design. I liked the Alluxity exterior looks very much. Satin varnish, delicately rounded edges and centrally placed touch screens attract attention. Those are not another, run-of-the-mill black boxes, but thought through, refined projects, which were not made by coincidence. In the Pre-amp One there are more icons displayed, but during normal operation the most important information is the volume level, which is clearly displayed, while not being irritating (you can adjust brightness to your needs). Finally you do not have to use glasses to read the value from your preferred listening distance. The back plate reflects the balanced architecture of the device, with only the big, toroidal transformer being single, and hidden in a special milled place in the cabinet. I advice caution while connecting the interconnects. You need to carefully read the descriptions at the back plate, as the company used identical PCBs for both channels. I’ll repeat ‘identical’ which does not mean ‘mirrored’. When we acknowledge that, then it should be easy. The preamplifier offers four line inputs, two RCA and two XLR. The outputs are also doubled, we have a pair of RCAs and XLRs at our disposal. The active output is chosen in the menu of the device. For owners of more complicated A/V systems a bypass input is also provided, allowing the signal of an external processor to be guided directly to the outputs. The unit can also be remotely controlled by a nicely looking, Apple like, controller.

The Power-amp One is much bigger than the dedicated preamplifier. The unit is about twice as deep, and to get better cooling (the unit is quite warm even in standby setting) eight rounded holes were cut along its sides, which not only look good, but improve also the portability of the unit, as it weighs around 42kg. Similar to the preamplifier also here we find a touchscreen on the fascia, which allows to put the unit in standby and chose the preferred input (RCA or XLR). This allows two separate setups to be constructed in a very easy way. Inside, in two milled chambers, two identical PCBs were placed, one for each channel. Two toroidal transformers also have dedicated housings, which translates in perfect silence on the outside, even when you place your ear on the cabinet, you will hear absolutely nothing.

Both devices (pre and power amplifier) are made in such a way, that the innards are hanging ‘upside down’ so to speak, and the bottom plate is the only part that has direct contact with the ground. This allowed to eliminate eventual vibrations. I also have to mention, that the logo milled on top of both units is a nice decorative element.

But let us get to the sound. I allowed myself to treat the received set lightly, for a day or two, although it was thoroughly burned-in by the Katowice based distributor (RCM). Or at least I wanted to do so, but when I plugged the devices in, and fed the player with the album “Hail to the King” Avenged Sevenfold, the Danish amplifier caught my loudspeakers with a merciless, iron grip and took complete control over them. This was not a delicate brushing, not a soft foreplay of two introvert teenagers but a true Viking raid. The speed and resilience of the bass, as well as its reach, did not stand apart from what I heard from the Hegel P30 + H30, while the Norwegian set was much bigger and not as beautiful as the tested combo. When the power amplifier reached the operating temperature, much quicker than I anticipated, I started to unleash any kind of repertoire on the tested amplifier. When Alluxity made me forget about my evening coffee, by its dynamics and energy, shown while few with heavy metal, I tried to find out, how it will behave with more civilized genres. I wanted to know, if the power owned by the Power-amp One does not make it show muscle and increase dynamics in pieces, where this is absolutely not needed. So I started with “Tears in Heaven” from the newest re-master “Unplugged” by Eric Clapton. The precision, with which the musicians were located on the stage and the incredible calmness and melancholy brought forward with this peace, allowed to submerge completely within the crown attending the gig. Eric Clapton’s guitar was slightly enlarged, but together with his voice, it was the most important instrument in the recording. The readability of the further planes, choirs and soft percussive elements did not leave any room for criticism.

“The Chokin’ Kind” from the album “The Soul Sessions” Joss Stone drew attention of the listener from the first few notes. The closely recorded vocals were full of audiophile ‘delights’. Taking breath, soft clicks – in general, the whole studio entourage was really palpable. But this was only the introduction to the ethereal, and requiring the listener to pay attention, “Beata Vergine: Motets in the Virgin from Rome and Venice” performed by Philippe Jarousky and Ensemble Artaserse. Here even the slightest sign of nervousness and uncontrolled spontaneity would be not only an indiscretion, but a kind of desecration. Fortunately, the Danish set could control its temper and even on “Stabat Mater Dolorosa” could stay in the shadow of the music, providing a silky smooth and palpable sound. The sweetness of the contra tenor contrasted beautifully with natural coarseness of the strings, and the room acoustics of the place it was recorded increased the realism of the recording. But I like more the typical sacral acoustics, like the one on the albums “Misa Criolla” Mercedes Sosa, or “The Divine Liturgy of St. John Crysostom” Choir of Danilov monastery Moscow, and I would like to stay a little longer with the last album. Alluxity was like a fish in the water with this, seemingly boring, repertoire. The slight lowering of the pitch of the voices of the monks added extra power and gravity to the whole. The very low sung/recited opening of “Kontakion” was a beautiful prelude to higher pitched voice of the leader, while the long decay increased the mysticism of the liturgy. What was important, is the fact, that we did not lose anything from the selectiveness, and although there was a significantly long decay, I notice absolutely no problems with clarity and readability of further planes.

Going to slightly lighter themes I played “A Book of Luminous Things” Aga Zaryan. The warm and incredibly sensual voice of the singer became even more intriguing with the Danish combo, gaining on magnetism and sex appeal. The sibilants were still clearly audible, but the sound engineer did not want to make them the main attractor of the sound, like it sometimes happens on “audiophile” samplers. Instead such artificially enhanced attractions, it was much nicer to listen to the shining and sparkling brass, cymbals, strings, which softly accompanied the singer or the bass line. The ease of following each and every sound line did not interfere with the permanent and precedent consistency belonging to the tested amplification.

The longer I listened to the Alluxity, the more I was convinced, that Alex succeeded in keeping surprisingly much from the original sound of the ‘parent’ company. Combination of smoothness with detail resulted in a very nice musicality based on a solid bass foundation and properly open treble. The slight favoring and extra saturation of the midrange only increased listening pleasure. Juicy flesh filled the clearly drawn outlines, which were a few pixels thicker than in the devices made by the family senior. Now I hinted a bit to the Vitus electronics, I cannot go around without comparing this set to the Vitus and Gauder Berlina RC11, which I heard playing “The Wall” Pink Floyd. Taking into account the ‘small’ price difference between that system and the Alluxity with my Arcona, the result was surprisingly positive. The smaller system played with a very big, and most importantly, realistic and natural sound. You could feel the momentum and a certain pathos of the recording and the spectacle kept you in the listening chair from the first to the last note. The sounds of the helicopter passing by, the closing door or the child were presented just behind the line of the speakers. Without artificial projection of the stage close to the listener, without placing the vocalists on his lap Alluxity created an impression of actively participating in the spectacle. To cut things short – we had full culture, but without overdoing it and without killing the most important part of music – emotions.

Because the tested amplifier is housed in two cabinets I tried to check, if we can save a few euro connecting the power amplifier to a source with regulated output. The first impressions of connecting the amp directly to my Ayon or the Lumin streamer I tested at the same time, were very promising. The power amplifier was the device that gave the sound the final shape, providing it with the required dynamics and homogenous cohesion of the sound. But in time I noticed some kind of flattening of the stage. The choir from “Missa Criolla” did not stand in such a clear halfcircle as before, the freedom of reproducing the musical spectacle disappeared somewhere, making the stage narrower, shallower and less tall. Also noticeable was the reduction of audiophile ‘plankton’ and aura, which engulfed the Steve Kuhn Trio on “Pavane For a Dead Princess”. The presence in the audience of the acoustic Eric Clapton concert was not as obvious as before, and the decay time on The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom” in the Moscow monastery got significantly smaller. It was not bad at all, but compared to the complete set, the impoverishment of the sound was annoying, and for sure, this was not how high-end should be.

I mentioned high-end on purpose, because describing Alluxity as lifestyle electronics would be very unjust. We have to admit, that high quality audio gear does not have to be rough, lacking in aesthetics and user unfriendly. The Danish products show a completely different picture of how sublime audio can be. Something that is not only for the ears, but has also something for other senses of the listener and other members of the household. Ladies and Gentlemen – if you are looking for a very universal electronics, which should also be the gem of the room design, you should give Alluxity a try. I think, that even a short contact with this nice duo may result in long-term acquaintance and the choice of loudspeakers can be done based only on sound and looks, without worrying about power demand – Power-amp One can handle most products populating the market.

Text and pictures: Marcin Olszewski
Distributor: RCM

Prices:
Pre-amp One: 6 100 €
Power-amp One: 8 400 €

Technical Details:
Pre - amp One
Inputs: 3 x XLR, 2 x RCA
Outputs: 1 x XLR, 1 RCA
Dimensions: 110 x 435 x 300 mm
Weight: 14 kg.

Power - amp One
Output power: 2 x 200 W/8Ω
Inputs: 1 x XLR, 1 x RCA
Dimensions: 110 x 435 x 450 mm
Weight: 42 kg.

System used in this test:

- CD / DAC: Ayon 1sc, CEC CD3N
- Digital source selector: Audio Authority 1177
- Stream player: Olive O2M; laptop Dell Inspiron 1764 + JRiver Media Center; Lumin
- Integrated Amplifiers: Electrocompaniet ECI 5
- Preamplifier: iFi iTube
- Speakers: Gauder Akustik Arcona 80 + spike extenders
- IC RCA: Antipodes Audio Katipo; Harmonix CI-230 Mark-II; Harmonix HS101-Improved; Neyton Neurnberg NF
- IC XLR LessLoss Anchorwave; Organic Audio; Argento Serenity "Signature" XLR
- Digital IC: Fadel Art DigiLitz, Harmonic Technology Cyberlink Copper; Apogee Wyde Eye, Monster Cable Interlink LightSpeed 200
- USB Cables Wireworld Starlight; Goldenote Firenze Silver
- Speaker Cables: Organic Audio; Neyton Hamburg LS; Signal Projects Hydra
- Power Cables: Furutech FP-3TS762 / FI-28R / FI-E38R; Organic Audio Power; GigaWatt LC-1mk2
- Power distribution board: GigaWatt PF-2 + cable LC-2mk2; Amare Musica Silver Passive Power Station
- Table: Rogoz Audio 4SM3
- Ethernet cables: Neyton CAT7 +
- Accessories: Sevenrods Dust-caps; Furutech CF-080 Damping Ring; HighEndNovum PMR Premium; Albat Revolution Loudspeaker Chips


SECOND OPINION


When somebody opens a company, which fares well on the market, then the most important thing for the owners is to pass it on to his offspring. Finalizing their plans, the seniors feel satisfaction from their dreams come true and step back from leading the company. This is how things happen usually, but in the family, that is the hero of this test, in a way, it is different. Because in this family, the juniors have their own ideas for their lives and make things happen their own way. You need to have guts to resign from easy money, and taking over a company from your parent would be just that, and try to make your dreams come true. And entering a market taken big a lot of big companies and known brand names while making yourself visible is very rare. Fortunately nothing is impossible, and such ‘miracles’ do happen. Everything I said in the introduction is true for a new player on the audio market – Alexander Vitus, the son of Hans Ole Vitus, who took his future into his own hands and created the brand Alluxity, with the first products being the line preamplifier “Pre One” and the stereo power amplifier “Power One”.

I do not think, that he could have achieved everything without advice from his father, and for sure he does not compete with his parent’s company. Alex decided not to compete within his family and proposes prices, which are more affordable for audiophiles, than the products of Vitus Audio. I only hope, that the lower prices are not the result of cutting costs on his father’s ideas. Anyway I received the set for testing from Marcin and plugged it in my system.



External design is nowadays a very important part of the marketing, and to be recognizable among competition, you can accidentally become alienated becoming one of the people, who do not pay any attention to the design. There is a saying, that “it may look like shit when it sounds like heaven”, but if something is going to be placed in the living room, it has to be accepted by the spouse, and if it is, then sometimes you can even spend more money on it.

In the cartons I found two monolithic, aluminum units, varnished black. The cabinet of the preamplifier is made from one block of aluminum, and the only holes allowing a peek inside are on the back and bottom plates. All the edges are milled with a 45 degrees angle and there are no visible bolts, what makes the project very neat and good looking. On the back plate we find five inputs: three XLR and two RCA, two RCA sockets labeled ‘bypass’, two outputs – one XLR and one RCA, a power switch and an IEC power socket. On the front panel there is a centrally placed, big and readable touchscreen, with icons used for operating the unit, and very large and thick display of the current volume setting – a true 21st century solution. The power amplifier looks very similar to the preamplifier, it is only almost twice as deep, the shape becoming close to a square. To disperse the heat eight holes were drilled in the top and bottom plating, allowing the air to flow freely through the internal heat sinks. The holes have also smoothly milled edges – the whole looks like a gem. The poweramp boasts also a touchscreen, the difference is only in the amount of displayed icons. The back is populated with two inputs, XLR and RCA, loudspeaker terminals, a power switch and an IEC socket. Both devices have a nicely etched company logo on the top, which adds to the stunning visuals. Everything is very tasteful and there is no point of being discontent.

After unpacking and transporting the units to the second floor (they are quite heavy) I connected them to power and allowed to warm-up without playing anything. The power amplifier gets a bit warm, this is far from excess, unlike the American Pass amplifiers – it is just warm. I noticed during the test, that even after putting the unit in standby it remains warm, some circuits must remain powered. Probably this is related to the time needed for reaching operating parameters by the amplifier, but if somebody wants to save, the power switch on the back must be switched off.

I got a bit acquainted with the sound of the Vitus Audio systems, albeit not in my system, so I hoped, that the brand led by the junior will not be far away from that sound. Fortunately, the first notes I heard from the Alluxity after I warmed them in, brought peace to my soul. I got a sound, which was very saturated and loaded with energy. Alexander put emphasis on getting joy from listening through absorption of all musical contents at once, without splitting it into different parts. The whole is homogenous, none of parts composing the sound was allowed to jump in front of others. Main emphasis was put on saturation of the midrange and adding weight to the lower octaves, while keeping the treble’s noblesse. This results in slight blurring of the outlines, the virtual sources are drawn with a slightly thicker line, what makes the sound slightly sweet. However this does not influence the readability of the micro- and macro-dynamics. In quiet moments, the artists from deeper in the sound stage are brilliantly located, and loud, energetic playing does not cover the information coming from them. The character of this young brand seems to be directed to clients like myself, who likes saturated midrange with lots of information, with the only difference, that I also like the edges of instruments being drawn sharper. But to have that, we need to pay a lot more. If we do not want to search long, we can go to a dealer selling products from Ole Vitus and we get that extra in a complete package. However in absolute terms I could live with that sound, with such colorful way of spending my free time, drinking some Single Malt from Islay. The stage presented by the tested electronics was very good, the musicians have enough space around them to not have to sit on each other’s lap, and the sound reaching the listener draws an accurate picture between the loudspeakers.

Knowing the abilities of the Danish gear I decided to confront two worlds: the material from the newest disc of Tomasz Stańko titled “Wisława” recorded by ECM with a New York quartet, and the, still remaining in my memory, concert I heard in the summer, in the known jazz club “Jazz Café” located in Łomianki near Warsaw, which was promoting that recording. In theory there is nothing to compare, as a stereo set will never reproduce that, what you can hear live, but I have some observations, which I will try to describe here, what will make this experience an exception confirming the mentioned rule. I do not know how this happened (the owners of this club must know Tomasz very well), but the mentioned concert happened for only about one hundred people, who were lucky enough to buy tickets. An artist of that class rarely plays for such a small audience, and in an environment more fitting for a Finnish sauna, than a concert hall. This is a small, but very nice club, but the amount of guests present that night made everybody sweat like hell. Every move cause more liters of sweat cover the whole body, so you can imagine, what the musicians endured on the small and heavily lighted stage. They sat almost one atop of the other, because finding a place for the piano and drum kit, while leaving some space for the contrabass was really tough. I really admire the musicians for their commitment, I think that only the charisma of Tomasz Stańko kept them from fleeing. So the beginning and the atmosphere of the concert were quite heavy. The gentlemen played one piece after another, but there was no understanding between them. Fortunately such sessions have their rights, and in time it got better and better. Until the break – and they played the material from the whole two-disc album – they searched for the feeling, but after it, something clicked in the right place and then it was brilliant. Nobody cared about the airless club anymore (maybe with the exception of my wife – she does not like jazz) and the whole audience started to shake their heads and legs rhythmically. Such close presence of the musicians, having the icon of Polish jazz for touching was an incredible experience. The emotions we felt projected also to the five musicians, what translated into neck breaking solos, and at the end the applause did not end. But returning to the point – recalling that event I think about one, maybe two aspects in favor of it: the first one is meeting a world class trumpet player in person, and the second one are the emotions caused by listening to him being maybe two meters away, almost feeling the airflow in the instrument on the cheek. This I will probably not live through again. But comparing that concert with the disc played at home, amplified with the Alluxity set, I felt no dissonance. Why? I hurry to explain.

All aspects like: timbre, saturation, energy and sweetness of the treble resembled that live playing – well, maybe the cymbals were more live during the concert, but I once talked with a recording engineer, and he told me, that cymbals recorded live, without correction, are not bearable when played back. The trumpet was beautifully matte, the piano vivid and with good timbre and the contrabass heavy, yet still very well resolved. Looking from the audiophile point of view, at home it sounds better. The emotions are not as profound, but still there. But it requires a bit of engagement in the musical happening, having the music play in the background would not be enough. The rest of the important aspects is better at home. The Danish amplification shows a much bigger sound stage, the artists do not touch each other, do not flow into one, playing mass. In addition the small size of the club room, and the wooden stage, many times introduced booming, like sometimes you can hear at home in a corner or near a wall. Listening to the disc in your sweet spot I never noticed anything like that. The sound of the instruments, like I mentioned before, did not differ much from the original, and the comfort listening conditions, without stuffiness and its side effects for all the senses, is out of the question. Another asset is the fact, that in the recorded material, the gentlemen are playing on 100% capability from the start, and do not have to conquer the unfriendly environment, they have the right feeling all along. Please do not remove me from your list of credible reviewers after the heresy I am writing here, but this experience showed me, that a well composed stereo system is able to come close (nobody wrote, that it was much better) to a club room, and when you notice something like that while composing your set, you should consider, if this is not the end of your search.

After the “Wisława” I played most of my digital collection, but I would not be myself, if I would not try the tested gear with a gramophone playing the main role. The predispositions of Alluxity: putting extra weight to the sound and smoothness, allowed me to choose any disc from my collection, regardless of the pressing year. After playing a few old pressed vinyl discs, where I had many positive, and not heard before, impressions (the lack of saturation was alleviated by the Alluxity), I placed a three vinyl album on the platter, issued by the Scottish label Linn Records, the monumental, rearranged for a smaller ensemble, opus of George Frederic Handel “Messiah”. You have to exploit the abilities of the reproduction gear, and this recording was a clear example of that. The quite small instrumentation, together with the vocalists, forced into full engagement in the spectacle, and when needed, the set created by Alexander Vitus allowed to trace any vocal or instrumental part effortlessly. Were those solos, or tuttis, it did not matter, you could trace each and every string of notes played on the stage created by Linn’s engineers. Was it the soprano, tenor or bass, all of them sung with splendid timbre, many times searched for, and their palpability showed exactly their location on stage – all due to the Danish-Japanese-British-German-Polish audio system. Three discs which passed so quickly as one. For a jazz loving listener this should be a sign of the class of the tested amplifier.

The unavoidable decision to pack the products of the younger generation of the Vitus family resulted in one feeling – pity. Sometimes such moments are felt like one of thousands similar events, not differing from each other, but not this time. I am very happy that the son of Ole Vitus promotes musicality with his creation. He does not aim for clients loving overly sharp outlines, or blown-up sound, but his Pre-One and Power-One aim at the midrange, while good choice of loudspeakers can direct the results in the direction desired by the audiophile. I think this is a very good marketing strategy, increasing the target population of this young company. If you did not consider these products on your buying list, this may be a big error, and if you do, the search may be over very quickly.

Jacek Pazio
The system used in the test, a complete set of Combak Corporation.

Electronics Reimyo:
- Separate DAC + CD player: CDT - 777 + DAP - 999 EX
- Tube preamp: CAT - 777 MK II
- Solid state power amp: KAP - 777
Speakers: Bravo Consequence +
Power cables: Harmonix X-DC-350M2R Improved Version
Speaker Cables: Harmonix HS 101-EXQ (mid-high section); Harmonix HS-101 SLC (Section woofer)
IC RCA Harmonix HS 101-GP
Digital IC: Harmonix HS 102
Table: Rogoz Audio
Accessories: Antivibration stand for the power amp by Harmonix TU-505EX MK2, Harmonix Enacom improved for AC 100-240V; Harmonix Tuning Room Mini Disk RFA-80i

Analog stage:
- Turntable:
drive: Dr. Feickert Analogue "Twin"
arm: SME V
cartridge: Dynavector XX-2 MK II
- Phonostage: RCM „THERIAA


Original article: link

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