Analog Domain Artemis power amplifiers review

Angel Despotov's decades of experience with pro audio have certainly played a key role in designing the ultimate sounding machines (a company slogan). The needed power, proper handling of the heat, no cut back performance and utmost reliability were key points in designing all of his mighty amps from the ground up. The styling is surely a cherry on the top of the cake. Analog Domain Artemis monoblock power amplifiers are Angel Despotov's cost no object take on the ultimate solid state highest grade high-end audio design.

I've been following the Analog Domain venture from the very beginning and regular readers of Mono and Stereo are no strangers of the brand's output. For everyone wanting to dig deeper into the mindset of Mr. AD, here is an interview. The Analog Domain Isis M75Mk2 integrated amplifier is a long time reference in my setup and the Analog Domain Artemis is following Angel's painstaking endeavours to deliver something extraordinary to the upper echelon high-end audio realms. 

The Artemis is after the Calysto, second most powerful power amplifier, followed by the Athene and the Apollo. All the amplifiers are based on the same core technology, only being different in their power output. The "entry" level Calysto comes with an output of 500W into 8 ohms and the flagship Apollo delivers an up to whooping 8000W into 4 ohms.


The Artemis has a peak power rating of 1,000W into 8 ohms and 2,000W into 4 ohms, housed in an Analog Domain M2 chassis. The sheer size is the same as the M4 chassis. Only the height is different.  

The output stage of the Artemis features 52 high-performance audio-grade power transistors with a peak current capacity of 360 amperes. 

The Artemis was designed from the ground up to act like full range amplifier, it can also be used as the Mid/HF channel amp in a high-performance split system. The front panel design is synergetic with the Apollo and Athene. This allows the amplifiers to be stacked if needed.


A number of features make Artemis different and special. One of the most significant is for sure the proprietary bias management technology - the DX drive.

Here is a little background...

Transistors' parameters are influenced by temperature. Conventional circuits use a temperature sensor to "guess" and maintain the correct operating point of the output power transistors. No matter how close this sensor is to the junction, it's physically impossible to measure the exact temperature with a dynamic signal. Heat builds up rapidly in the junction during current surges and it takes some time until it reaches the sensor. The consequence is thermal modulation of bias, leading to what is known as "memory distortion". 

To overcome this problem Angel Despotov invented the DX drive. DX stands for "Direct cross-current drive". It doesn't measure or cares about temperature. Crosscurrent (which is the bias current flowing through the output devices across the supply rails) is measured directly and the operating point is maintained constant, regardless of temperature or supply voltage.

The DX drive has a number of advantages, of which the most significant (from a user perspective) is vastly improved resolution. The amplifier will deliver outstanding performance from whisper-quiet to full power. Another very significant advantage is the reduced requirement for bias. Most designers of conventional circuits try to swamp the problem by increasing bias. That works, but it gets hot... very hot in class A! And Angel Despotov is very clear about the solution: "There is a better way, guys."

Another factor is the input stage. It operates at the full rail voltage. Why? Because the input stage can be a major contributor to distortion due to non-linear effects, caused by large input signal variations relative to the supply voltage. Some have attempted cascoding the input stage, and Angel Despotov again thinks out loud "I wish them good luck!"
High power output is required for realistic reproduction. This typically means a lot of heat. Heat is an enemy (remember Arhenius?). The Artemis keeps cool as it employs a variable power supply to the power stages. A high supply voltage is needed only for the duration of a peak, and music is a very dynamic signal. The managed supply allows the Artemis to play at any level without getting too hot.

The importance of the power supply cannot be overstated. Lots of capacitors in parallel allow the power supply to deliver current instantly when required. Angel again bold states: "And yes, we use the highest grade available. No, we don't care about fancy branding - there is a handful of experienced, trusted manufacturers in the world from whom we source our components and none of them is a "high-end audio" brand. Sorry!"

Finally, the circuit is DC coupled end to end. Reservoir and fast bypass capacitors are mandatory for the supply rails, but they can cause a lot of issues if placed in the signal path, no matter how good they are. The best capacitors for audio are the ones you didn't put in the signal path. 


Like with all of the Analog Domain products, everything is straight forward and easy to use. The powerful and potent electronics come in a beautiful, robust cabinet, designed and made to last a lifetime. A distinct feature is the sealed enclosure, preventing ingress of dust and liquids. Angel jokes: "One may ask - where are liquids likely to come from? Well, have you been to a really great party recently..? ;)"

Among many neat features that are really, great additions to the already impressive design are the front panel light sensor and touch on/off button. When in standby the circle ring radiates a gentle white color and after holding the finger inside of the ring for about two seconds amplifiers are turned on from the bypass mode. The delay prevents from accidentally turning on the amps while cleaning the glass front cover. One the back there are the RCA and balanced inputs, speakers binding posts, and a grounding connector. 

That's not all. A role of switches on the back adjusts the light sensor behavior, 0 or 26 dB gain level and let you selected between the RCA or balanced inputs...

The mini jack trigger input/output allows Artemis power amplifiers as well as other Analog Domain devices to be remotely switched on or off. Very handy and this works really smoothly and elegantly.

Close to the IEC connector resided the dedicated grounding input for anyone, that wants to explore the intriguing world of grounding and ground boxes.


Analog Domain can really handle a monstrous dynamics loads and there are more than plenty of the tracks that present a serious challenge. Over the evaluating period, I've tried numerous tracks and all of the music's genres to properly assess the Artemis universality. Artemis is of rare (power amplifiers) breed, that is not specifically "tuned" to any particular music labeling. It simply plays the music and plays it beyond any of the typical norms or expectations. It was designed from the very start to serve the music with its full gestalt and for the years to come. At this price range, anything is considered as an investment and Angel took this deadly serious. Everything under the hood is over specced and designed to last a lifetime. Think in the terms of reliable German super sports car vs exotic outputs, where you never really know when things can go south. 

Dharma forms the Batik's album Headland is a really a true amp crusher and possible speaker destroyer. If you'll try it on your system, be careful with the volume! The very first seconds will explore the speakers and system ability to deliver a magnitude of the sonic force. It's not all about the submarine depths and impressive dynamic shifts. When everything is laid down on the proper plane the high-resolution amplifier will deliver the far above expected lurking into the sonic scape. Analog Domain Artemis was once again proving that there are no coincidences in high-end audio. Proper design delivers proper aural ecstasy. 

One of the albums and a particular one of the tracks that fully explore both speakers', as well as amplifier potency to render and handle the dynamic ability, is Anne Bisson's September In Montreal form her album Blue Mind. The song is slowly developing with numerous layers of complexity. The real world examination out starts when all instruments kicks in at around the minute. Most of the amplifiers I've tried over the years simply collapses under the lower energy distribution. Analog Domain Artemis amplifiers havent even blinked and carried out this demanding track with impressive ease. My listening notes were highlighted with thick red outlining and undersigned with excellent remark!

Karate's A New Jerusalem (Mark Hollis cover) is not only a true amp killer but literary speakers' driver destroyer too :). I will not name the brands, but quite a few renowned speakers were blown by playing this track at the proper level. There are scarily few amplifiers that can render A New Jerusalem at the needed level of ordnance and Analog Domain Artemis comes on the very top of the solid power amplifier food chain with what they can deliver sonic and dynamic wise. There's no need to step into the esoteric realms when it comes to the handling of the heavy duty dynamic  loads. It's all about simple physical laws and most of the amplifier lack of performing their duties as advertised in this regard. Artemis' liquid and undistorted nature delivered an unprecedented portraying of A New Jerusalem. The fixation of the drums and the raw guitar grips hits you with the power of the Thor and in absence of any reservation. 

Another favorite of mine is Melody Gardot's Live in Europe. The Rain (Bergen 2013) starts out enigmatically and even the hardcore fans wouldn't know what she'll bring out next. This is an impressive live track by all means and another song that easily pushes the limits of any amplifier to its limits. Melody's vocal is not at forte here but the mesmerizing live arrangement with so much dynamic shifts going on, that mind grasping operation feels like a ping pong multiplexing handling of the coding strings. Artemis acted like an inner sanctum of this unique music's arrangement. A stand out impact with a music's story telling potency.

What about something as simple yet always complex as human vocal!? Radka Toneff - Butterfly Nature Boy calls for a true champion control to portray her very essence. It's easy to form a basic projection, but never simple to form a believable rendition of Radka singing. Analog Domain Artemis has encapsulated an impressive three-dimensional scope, a proper weight and most importantly a sense of being there, that I really didn't expect even at this level of higher aural realms. We don't talk often enough about the believability factor. Probably because this is not exactly among the usual prominent exhibited factors! Artemis inner heart has proven again what proper engineering can deliver. An immersive experience that not only lasts, but calls for the returning re-check if the archived impressions were not merely a happy accident. Well, not with Angel Despotov proud creations!


You'll hear many arguments how only the first watt is most important and how there is no need for few hundreds, what to say about a few thousands of watts. Well, the reality is quite different. Over the years, I've had a luxury to listen, test or visit numerous state of the art high-end audio systems and except for two or three complex (Western Electric or inspired by) horn systems each of the grander speakers never really performed properly. Even some highly efficient speakers (100db +) only started to act properly when driven by properly matched amplifiers. And they were never shy of the power...

"Over the years, we've heard a lot of claims, and we've listened to many over-hyped products, claiming "the beauty of the first watt". Indeed, performance in the first watt is very important, but it's quite frustrating when an amp runs out of steam just as the fun begins. So, what if that divine 'first-watt' beauty could be extended to ... a kilowatt, or more?"

How much power is needed is a tough question, whose answer depends on factors like room size, system efficiency, personal preference, mood, occasion, etc. Many of the finest loudspeakers today are "power hungry", i.e. not very efficient in transforming electricity into sound. They achieve a realistic playback level only when driven with high peak power. Furthermore, high-quality recordings contain peaks as high as +20dB or more above the average level of performance. In terms of power, +20dB means 100 times more power.

Above is  waveform of typical rock performance and its statistics. Average power is -12dB referenced to the peak level, corresponding to a power ratio of 1:16. A typical classical track. Peak to average ratio is 23dB, corresponding to a power ratio of 1:200! 

But it's not only about the sheer power, but also about the resolution. And Artmeis' resolution opens up a true window into the real ultra high-end audio universe.

Analog Domain amplifiers are designed to give you the freedom of choice - to enjoy your music at any level. They have the ability to play gently in a late-night listening session or to shake the house foundations on a mad party. They can be safely driven to the limit, even over-driven, retaining perfect control and resolution at any power level.

When speakers are locked and loaded optimally quite a few attributes move from their typical point of operation. A properly designed amplifier can remove quite a few primary speakers' problems (like uncontrolled lower register). It might sound a bit controversy, but when loudspeakers drivers are handled with constant and matching power delivery, there is less sonic interaction with the room. The listening environment is simply less amplified, thus serving the more unaltered sonic projection.  

Everything about the Analog Domain Artemis power amplifiers is majestic. The design, the power, luxurious appeal and nevertheless the performance. 

Artemis (as other power amplifiers) was designed from the ground up to reproduce any kind of music without dynamic constraints. The massive wattage and power reserve can deliver minute changes with feather-like ease. 

For most, the 1kW (@8ohm) peak power output might seem like overkill, but yours truly surely wants to explore one day what the Apollo's 4kW adds to the performance and I was all bliss already with the Artemis...

This was quite non-ordinary experience with the lingering effect that still echoes... A giant league!

Matej Isak


- MSRP is 79'990 (each) incl. VAT in Germany


- Input sensitivity:    1.55 Vrms
- Input impedance:    10 kohm
- Voltage gain:    +35 dB or +26 dB, switch-selectable
- Peak power output:    1kW/8ohm; 2kW/4ohm; 2ohm stable
- Peak output voltage:    89 Vac, ±126 Vpp
- Peak output current:    70 A
- Frequency range:    1Hz–100kHz
- Full-power bandwidth:    5Hz-25kHz
- Minimum rated load:    4ohm
- Damping factor:    > 1000
- Output noise:    < 35uVrms
- Dynamic range:    > 126 dB linear; > 132 dB A-weighted
- THD+N:    < -92dB (0.0025%)
- Mains voltage:    230/115Vac, factory pre-configured
- Power draw:    150W idling; < 20W standby
- Max current draw:    < 8A / 230V
- Inputs:    XLR balanced, RCA unbalanced
- Trigger voltage:    12V in, 12V out
- Trigger input/output:    3.5mm jacks
- Dimensions:    440(w) x 254(h) x 545(d), mm
- Weight:    ~65kg, 95kg shipping


Analog Domain Audio GmbH
Bergstr. 12
D-82024 Taufkirchen

Tel.: +49 (0) 1608 173 193