Ubiqaudiolab Ubicube Power Amplifier Review Part 1

The ubiqaudiolab ubicube solid-state stereo power amplifier is another highly interesting product with an extremely refined, stylish exterior and an even more impressive inner heart.  

Ubiqaudiolab

The ubiqaudiolab team consists of two engineers of diverse and distinct kinds: Igor Kante and Andrej Lakner.

Both are passionate, extreme in their visions and masterships, and have four decades of experience working with high-end audio in all its forms. 

Igor Kante's history in audio dates back to 1985 when he developed his first KBS power amplifier. This was followed by establishing UBIQ Audio in 1989 and UBIQ Power Amp in 1992. 

In 1990 Kante became a high-end hi-fi distributor for renowned brands such as Audio Research, Infinity, Keff, Sonus Faber, Kardas, Jeff Rowland, Gryphon (sold the first two pairs of Poseidon speakers in Europe), Burmester, MBL, Viva Audio, Hegel, Clear Audio, Nordost, MIT, CH Precision, Magnan cables, Avantgarde Acoustic, Tom Evans, MSB, BFA, Atma Sphere, Martin Logan, etc. 

Igor is a genuine enthusiast and fanatic when it comes to sound. Having been involved with various high-end audio brands and products for years, he has been able to try out almost every high-end audio device available over the years.

In 2012 he acquired his studio in the center of Ljubljana (the capital of Slovenia). It is a unique centuries-old,   building with an underground listening room of 85 m2, made entirely of stone, and a second room of 45 m2 on the second floor. 

Andrej Lakner started his journey into electronics at a young age. At the age of 11, he became a radio amateur. After a few years of digging through blueprints and schematics and experimenting with tons of different concepts, he developed his first amplifier and professional lighting system for the bands at the age of 18. 

At 21, he took a job as a sound engineer at RGL (Radio Glas Ljubljana). In 1992 he founded the company ESL, which to this day imports, maintains, and repairs various state-of-the-art X-ray equipment for the medical field. 

In 2008 he buys a pair of Avantgarde Acoustic Trio horn loudspeakers from Igor Kante and builds a stunning big horn for the lower register, which is extended under the house and entirely made of cement. 

In 2006 Lakner built his First One amplifier, which is a cornerstone of the current Ubiqaudiolab amplifiers.

In 2016, Igor Kante began its close collaboration with Andrej Lakner. After five years of constant research and development, Ubiqaudiolab was founded in 2021.  

Ubicube

Ubicube was inspired by the idea of a compact power amplifier, based on the great designs that both Kante and Lakner always appreciated, waiting for the time to materialize at the right moment. 

The fascination comes from the great shapes of the legendary amplifiers like Pass Labs Aleph 5, Yamaha B-6, etc. The ubicube is a node and a case of ubiqaudiolabs appreciation and what they see as a humble contribution to these great designs of all time.

To build such an amplifier worth qualifying as ultra-high-end, some radical steps had to be taken. This included planning all the installed parts from scratch, choosing the right topology, layout, etc. All these parameters had to fit together perfectly as a whole.

 

The very first step of ubiqaudiolab research was to establish parameters that would allow for uncompromising quality of all parts involved in the project, starting with a completely new power amplifier design. It had to be a very compact, small, fully copper EMI-shielded class AB topology, which in the end resulted in an amplifier module size of a credit card. The electrical topology was based on improved earlier schematics, brought to perfection, and raised to a whole new level of sound quality and measurements.

An amplifier is only as good as its power supply. The next big challenge for the ubiqaudiolab team was to fit as many joules of energy storage as possible into this compact package.

Clean power is needed everywhere and fundamental, especially in the power amplifier. The amplifier as a whole is just a 'perfect valve' to deliver the energy to the speakers, and without a perfect power supply, such a concept is just wishful thinking.

So this was the main reason for developing the amplifier module in the size of a credit card. It should take up as little space as possible, without compromising on quality, to incorporate the largest and most complementary power supply possible in the amplifier. 

The result is an impressive 2 kW+ of effective power available at all times.

 

An uncompromising approach has also been implemented in the other supporting ancillary components such as the unique MCU control of all the amplifier's vital protection functions, the special copper plates thermal management for the heat dissipating enclosure, the soft-start circuitry, the solid-state output switches with less than 1 milliohm, and so on. 

Special attention has been paid to the rear panel of the amplifier, which houses one of the best connection sockets available on the market, as well as a beautiful design and an easy-to-understand explanation of the correct connection use and functions of this unique ubicube amplifier. 

Ubiqaudiolabs has used all the tricks of the trade to the best of its ability to achieve the goals of the ubicube and proudly presents this unique amplifier.

Design Highlights

Ubicube is quite unique by its design, as almost the entire internal volume is occupied by the hybrid power supply in a dual-mono configuration. It has an effective power of 2 kW and an energy reserve of 400 J stored in a 190,000 uF Mundorf capacitance bank. All this results in an almost unlimited number of power surges available at any time to faithfully mimic the natural transients in dynamically uncompressed, high-resolution music material.

Providing such transient-strong performance led ubiqaudiolabs to develop a highly compact, credit card sized copper-shielded Class AB amplifier module where speed, stability and EMI shielding were the main design goals. 

The choice of current feedback topology was a logical step in achieving these first-class goals. Lakner's desire not to lose the smallest musical detail in the signal path led him to design very specialized circuit boards, populated with surface-mounted, discrete components in the closest possible proximity. 

Symmetrical rise and fall times of the output transients in an ns range were easily achieved. Stability, no frequency peaks and MHz bandwidth were also achieved in this way.

Ubicube reflects an uncompromising approach to preserving the finest musical details. The best possible electronic components in ubiqaudiolab's opinion have been selected. For example, on the input signal board there are top class WBT RCA connectors, Omron relay switches for input gain selection, double-sided FR4 PCB board with 140 um copper foil and so on.

In order to protect the customer's costly speakers from amplifier failure, ubicube is equipped with appropriate protection control. Especially for this application, ubiqauidolab has developed its own software-controlled MCU circuit that controls the output current limits, DC offset and temperature of the device. 

In the event of a serious malfunction or misbehavior of the amp, the power supply will shut down and the speakers are immediately disconnected via solid state mosfet switches. 

Operational 

Ubiqaudiolab ubicube is simple and straightforward to use. There is no on/off button on the front, but the switch is ingeniously located on the top of the case. As you can see in the photo, the red solid cover acts as the on/off switch. The entire cover acts as a button no matter where it is pressed. 

On the front, there is only one small LED in the second row.  Even a quick glance at the rear panel reveals a wealth of options and high-quality-high-cost parts as well as a German-like measuring device spacious layout. Among the inputs and outputs, there is also a correct phase LED indicator. 

Thanks to its unique design, the entire case acts as a heat sink. Ventilation is on both sides, the front, and the bottom. 

The aluminum case gets warm but not hot once it reaches its stable operating point, which is after about 45 minutes. Everything stabilizes after 20 minutes, but the final refinement can be heard after forty-plus minutes. 

The core of the ubicube is housed in two small modules, with over 150 parts carefully selected, measured, and hand-picked. These PCBs are finally molded in resin. 

Everything is optimized to provide the shortest signal paths from inputs to outputs. 

Ubicube produces more than a healthy 100 watts per channel into 8 ohms and 200 watts into 4 ohms. This was more than enough to drive my TIDAL Audio Piano G2 speakers to complete satisfaction without ever losing grip or control. 

Ubicube can also be put into bridge mode, where it acts as a monoblock. So, in theory, one can start with a stereo pair and upgrade to a pair of ubicubes if needed for even more potency and authority. 

The Music 

More music references will be added in the second part of the review, but one of my favorite references, The Emerald Forest; Original Motion Picture Soundtrack really came into its own with ubiqaudiolab ubicube. 

Junior Homrich and Brian Gascoigne's unique masterpiece anchored the unity vector of this timeless, haunting sonic escapade and renewed it with an unbridled force of energy.

Ubicube could easily retell myriad sonic twists and turns with variant, multi-faceted and firm sonic gradations, never presenting the instruments or the overall sonic drama as miniature. 

The Emerald Forest evolved with full sonic integration in the listening space, delivering rejuvenating diversity and provisioning harmoniously with the album's vibrant narrative. 

The cinematic soundscape of the soundtrack was rendered with full prospect and vigor, comprehensively embodied, never wrestling with dynamism, and ubicube managed to encompass and unspool the crux of Technicolor-like vibrancy. 

With ubicube, I repeatedly encounter more lucid, luminous reproduction of familiar favorite and reference music. 

It was more than interesting to observe how the ubicube worked in a very different, distinct way, allowing the music to become more present, more wholesome, and without artificial sonic charge, expanding the perpetual plenitude of musical constellations and formations at every turn. 

With the live acoustic recordings, the reflection of reality was ably generated with factual absoluteness, and intensity and harmonic richness were all-encompassing. Certainly a rare achievement and something to be fully praised and highlighted.

Sum Up

Ubiqaudiolab ubicube audio packs amazing technology into an elegant case, with a minimalist, sleek design reminiscent of an Art Deco/Bauhaus style of timeless beauty.

Under the lid, it hides a lot of technology, the result of two decades of constant research and development to achieve the current state-of-the-art circuitry. 

There is something extremely adequate about the way the ubicube sounds. From what I've had the luxury to try over the years, along with the Lamm M2.1 M1.2 Reference monoblock power amplifiers and the darTZeel NHB-108 model two, ubicube is one of those rare amps that can instantly immerse you in the music and magic. Something that FM Acoustics, Lamm, and darTZeel amps possess. 

There are many secrets of what lies behind such a specific, fully immersive sound. Besides many attributes like the circuit design, it's all about the proper use of the second and odd harmonics that play a key role in how our ear and brain perceive and decode acoustic signals. 

The ubicube, like the amps mentioned, has an enclosing warmth that is of tube quality but never crosses into the realm of saturation. I am talking about the delightful intoxication phenomena that occur at a live concert when the environment, the audience, and the unadulterated music reproduction are right. 

Similar to great food, whiskey, wine, etc. It absolutely comes down to the right dosage of a good thing. This is one of the most difficult things to achieve in product development. Especially in high-end audio and especially with amplifiers. There are so many paths you can take and so many wrong turns you can take. From components, circuit design, voicing, etc. 

Ubiqaudiolab ubicube sounds like a mature product out of the box. Like an excellently aged wine that presents the music in its richness and its ability to create a real bond between the performer and the listener. 

Do not be fooled by the size. There is impressive power under the hood of this compact power amplifier. If you try to lift it, the nearly 30 kg speaks for itself. There is far more "weight" behind it than you think. 

Ubicube operates with unique qualities and attributes, harmonic richness, full control over the entire frequency spectrum, airy and unbridled highs, and excellent control over the bass. 

There are few power amplifiers that immediately captivate you after repeated listening and trigger an elemental satisfaction. The ubicube casts a certain spell on the listener and is the readiest source for daily music enjoyment.

Ubiqaudiolab ubicube is one of those rare amplifiers that defy the automation of listening by a perpetual sweet seduction of sound. 

Many confuse realism with utilization. This is mostly due to the audio engineers and the choices they make when designing the amplifier. It's a very fine line when drawing the parallel between utility and music. For this reason, many amplifiers, regardless of price, can sound perspective. Merely two-dimensional instead of offering a fully expanded three-dimensional holographic presentation. 

The same goes for the efficiency of power amplifiers, which is simply not enough to be called high-end. If an amplifier disembodies the core qualities of the music, introduces uncertainty, and tessellates the music, then it has failed in its basic functional role. 

In contrast, ubicube presents reality objectively with a unique clarity of origin and presence where the music is inseparable from its core qualities. 

Ubicube represents an innovative interplay of art and technology without tiring effects or distractions. 

There is a strong tenacity among many audiophiles and music lovers to resist change when something new comes along, but ubiqaudiolab ubicube is among the essential components that are more than worth investigating. 

Even now, in the first part of the review, I wholeheartedly award one of the rare 2022 Editors Choice Product Award to ubiqaudiolab ubicube.  

In the following months, I will write more about ubiqaudiolab, such as the (150k) cost no object state-of-the-art solid-state power amplifiers, the flagship ubiquitous speakers, and much more...

Those who will attend the Munich High-End Audio Show 2022, can hands-on experience flagship power amps, ubiquitous speakers, and more at the HiFi Deluxe show at Marriott Hotel.  

Price

  • 36.000 EUR (with VAT)

Technical Specifications

  • Voltage gain:​ .................... +27,8 dB
  • Input impedance: .................... 100 kΩ ll 100 pF
  • Output impedance:​  .................... less than 1 mΩ (20 Hz to 20 kHz)
  • S/N ratio: .................... ​more than -120 dB (input shorted)
  • Output DC offset: .................... +/- 1 mV max.
  • Power bandwidth:​ .................... DC to 100 kHz (-0,1 dB)
  • Rise time, fall time:​ .................... symmetrical, less than 150 ns
  • Output Power: .................... 100 Wrms/8 Ohm,  200 Wrms/4 Ohm
  • Dimensions: .................... 28 x 28 x 28 cm
  • Weight: .................... 30 kg

Contact

Ubiqaudiolab

Celovška 76

1000 Ljubljana

Slovenia


Tel: + 386 (0) 41 695 029 (Igor Kante)

Tel: + 386 (0) 41 786 785 (Andrej Lakner)

Email: info@ubiqaudiolab.com

Web: https://www.ubiqaudiolab.com/