Aries Cerat Ianus Essentia Amplifiers Review


I try to avoid hyperbolic language and words as much as possible. It is too easy to lapse into excess and create a universe of hyperbole where each new iteration of writing becomes just another exploration of flowery language. Still... With Danos Stavros Aries Cerat's proud creations, it's hard to contain and bottle my enthusiasm. 

I know Stavros Danos for a very long time. It must have been more than a decade ago, and I remember well his early attempts with "unconventional" high-end creations. 

He has come a long way with his brand and products. Much further than some of his competitors expected or would have liked.

I have a lot of respect for the fact that he chose the uncertain path and did not trade it for the high-level, well-paying job in the aerospace industry that was offered to him when he was at a crossroads after finishing the university. At the time, the path was unclear, but more than 10 years later, he has managed to become one of the most daring and forward-thinking high-end audio designers.

With each new product I have had the pleasure and privilege of experiencing, there is a clear evolution and progress. Not only in sonic performance but also in bold and unexplored ideas.

When Danos told me about the new Ianus line and shared his enthusiasm with me, I was naturally interested, but somehow could not understand and relate to his excitement. Well, as you can read further, only until the Aries Cerat Ianous Essentia Triodefet amplifiers arrived at my place.

The design concept

The Ianus Essentia amplifier is not only single-ended but also single-stage! Remarkably, there is no driver stage and no input stage! This extremely spartan topology is, in Aries Cerat's opinion, a breakthrough in amplifier design that has been an utterly difficult goal to achieve in their research lab.

It is only possible because finally an active element that has the specifications needed for this purpose can be used: extremely high linearity, high voltage gain, high current gain, and very high input impedance.

The Essentia consists of only one TriodeFet stage, directly fed and used as a simple single-ended amplifier, and uses the "essence" of flagship Geminea technology. 

Triode or solid state?

The TriodeFet's triode-like transfer curves indicate that the Ianus Essentia sounds very much like the best single-ended tube amplifier, which translates into excellent mids and highs, accurate timbres, and the extended soundstage you'd expect from ample tube amps. 

The Ianus Essentia can also deliver more current and is essentially maintenance-free, as the internal tubes used to generate the curves have a 10,000-hour life. Its unique single-stage nature means that it is as sonically transparent as it gets. The amplifier's output power is 40W (8 ohms) in full Class A.

While this may not be enough to drive to the nth degree particular power-hungry largest speakers, the Essentia amps still provide a secure grip for multiple monitors and floor standers. 

Operational


Essentia is a full-blown sonic chameleon. Imagine a multitude of different amplifiers in a single box, with the ability to permute the inner gut so that the amplifier can sound completely transformed and match the surrounding system. Yes, there were a few amps that explored the singular particular ideas to a certain degree, but nothing so far, that I know of came even remotely close.


This is possible because of the unique "virtual" element that I am slowly trying to comprehend. I have been around and done my share of soldering and peeking under the hood of various electronics, but I can not even remotely fathom Danos' brainiac proprietary concept.

The Essentia allows two different types of tubes to be used at the same time. Danos supplied Valvo 280,  Siemens 282F, and 280F tubes. Up to nine different equivalent tubes from the same family can be used and mixed. 


The circuit is designed to accept tubes of the same type as well as two different tubes or a single tube at one time. This requires setting the current, which is a simple matter once you get used to it. The dual display on the front always shows the current and current idle percentage status.  

The propriety TriodeFet active element is a very different topology, being a single-ended design. The single-ended SET amplifier does not exist in reality. That's why it's called a virtual element/circuit. In an earthly language, the harmonic structure of the distortion is similar to a single-ended SET amplifier.


So with about nine types of compatible tubes, there are about 81 tube combinations!

To get even deeper into fringe science, if a single tube is used, the tube's transfer curves are copied and magnified. Yes, I know... :).

But, that's not all. There is another unusual feature that has been seen but not implemented in this form. Essentia offers four different feedback settings.;0 dB, 6 dB, 12 dB and 16 dB. 


Here another realm is opening, with tinkering with the sphere of second-order harmonics and more. More is not disclosed as it is a business secret, but it's not the typical feedback adjustment, that could be found elsewhere. 


And. there's more. The two settings of current (T1 and T2) can be adjusted for each tube combination. 

T1 sets the amount of current and T2 is a percentage of a given quiescent current. The factory-recommended settings are providing the optimum operating point of the tube or tube combination. From there, the sonic discovery and journey begin. Even a small readjustment of the current and current idle percentage creates a different sonic imprint and changes the character of the Essentia. 


It's mind-blowing how many sonic permutations Aries Cerat Essentia amp allows, and so far my dopamine and adrenaline levels are constantly high, thrusting me to explore as much as possible and share my experiences with you. 

With all the combinations Essentia allows, new circuits can be virtually created that were not possible before and I am completely blown away by the effect. 

It's not like I am theorizing about different types of sound impressions. With the various combinations, I have already managed to morph through a staggering amount of different new virtual combinations, all of which produce an instantly remarkable and easily identifiable sonic signature. 

Most strikingly, these results do not sound the same at all or offer a slight change. They sound rather like new and different amps. 

The Music

The initial hours of listening and a sleepless night were followed by more controlled listening sessions. As usual, here are some of the albums and tracks that extoll the merits of the Aries Cerat Essentia power amplifier.

"Jean Pierre" by Marcus Miller from the album Free is a sonic and musical triumph with so many underlying attributes that can be completely hidden if the amplifiers are not at the proper level and can deliver the needed vigor.

I saw Miller at the Montreux Jazz Festival a few years ago and can still remember the spirited magnetism. Miller puts his heart and mind into his performance to dispatch the message to the audience. 

And that's exactly how I felt about the Essentia amplifiers. They were devised to deliver the musical message unaltered, retain the sonic energy without straying from the sonic course or adding their imprint, and, above all, they were destined to capture the listener's inner core.

The disappearance of technology is a too-often repeated marketing clichĂ©, but the Essentia amplifiers stand out from the crowd with their particular aural intricacy and sonic excellence. They are able to stimulate the inner sensors and unapologetically bypass the triggering of fatigue detectors. 

The Essentia amplifier reproduces "Jean Pierre" with gallant quality, with no sonic thinness or unrealism, something that cannot be said of many far more expensive amplifiers, whether solid state or tube. This virtue alone makes the Aries Cerat Ianus series amplifiers truly unique.

Many amplifiers are capable of imitating the pulsating and dramatic "Main Theme I - Opening" by Shigeru Umebayashi - Nathaniel Mechaly from The Grandmaster (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), but few manage to sound as good as the Essentia amplifiers on every level. They excel in their ability to truly reflect the inner workings of the "Main Theme I - Opening" without distorting it. 

Another challenge for any amplifier is to reproduce the music beyond the mind and mere theory of a particular audio designer. Aries Cerat Essentia proved with "Bluesville" by Count Basie & His Orchestra from the album 88 Basie Street that Essentia amplifiers have a unique mainstay acting as pillars of music reproduction and operating as far more than just a sum of electronic processes, which cannot be said for many amplifiers regardless of the price.  

"Volver, volver" by Buika, from the album Nina De Fuego engraves to the soul and cuts its path through the sonic cloth with out-of-the-world intensity. It is one of those tracks where the amplifiers make or break by rendering the sheer intensity of Buika's majestic magic. 

When everything in the system is set up properly and the amplifiers are at their best and in sync with the rest of the system, Buika's sensibility and luminosity can fully unfold.

The Aries Cerat Essentia amplifiers had no problem bringing to life a unique blend of flamenco, jazz, and copla via the Nina De Fuego. The Essentias purrs the emotions, made the hair "stand up" and repeatedly raised goosebumps. A triple check/test that is not exactly Deja Vu.

Here, even amplifiers far more expensive than Essentia usually fail to bring fiery magic and enchantments to life. Aries Cerat Triodefet amps are the exact opposite of bland, boring, and tedious. They have a heady, intoxicating, soul-stirring quality that is hard to forget once you have experienced them.

David Amram - The David Amram Jazz Quintet - Howard Weiss - Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra "Triple Concerto: I. Allegro con brio" from the album David Amram: Triple Concerto & Elegy for Violin and Orchestra, released by Flying Fish in 1977, was a particularly fitting testament to the Aries Cerat Essentia amplifier's ability to handle dynamic shifts and contrasts while keeping the essence of timbre, tone, and color intact.

The Aries Cerat Essentia amplifier is inherently predisposed to getting to the heart of the music, and "Triple Concerto: I. Allegro con brio" is a perfect example of how profoundly the Ianus Triodefet amplifier weaves, sustains, and perpetuates the sonic sphere. 

The Conclusion

I am not sure what Danos' original idea was with Ianus Essenta and its bigger siblings Ianus QuintEssence and Gemini, but Essentia is an extremely flexible amp that acquaints something that is both evolutionary and revolutionary.

There have been a few attempts at similar ideas, but I have yet to see or use anything that even comes close to the technical simplicity and sonic and musical directness of the Essentia.

We consistently talk about simplicity and purism in high-end audio. As simple as possible is always the forte of any purist, but even for Aries Cerat, such an approach has not been possible before. 

By implementing an active virtual element, extremely high linearity is achieved in combination with a high voltage gain, high current gain, and very high input impedance. This ensures a purity that is utterly hind to find and can be easily used within different audio systems. 

The Essentia as the name implies essential and consists of only one TriodeFet stage fed directly and is used as a simple SE amplifier. It employs the very essence of the Ianus series technology.

Since the landing of Aries Cerat Essentia amps, there were numerous inquiries about them. This write-up should give a clearer view and acknowledgment of the tantalizing quality of Essentia.

To put it succinctly. These are the dream devices. Not just for the reviewer, where every new component or wiring disrupts the system synergy and brings a new equation. In general, there is always a lengthy, difficult, and challenging path in finding the right system fit when any, even the slightest change in the high-end audio system occurs.

With Aries Cerat Essentia I can imagine distributors loving this kind of music machine because they can practically show how it can transform and adopt the system sound hands-on. Perhaps even more importantly, the professional audio advisor can adjust the Essentia on-site at the customer's home at the coveted performance level and find a proper system synergy. That alone is worthy of all the high-praising. 

Whatever the setting, the familiar and much-appreciated Aries Cerat leitmotif is preserved at all times. Yes, it can sound like an Aries Cerat amplifier, but also like a tube amp, or solid-state amp. 

Essentia has by default the well-known and appreciated Aries Cerat fine upper-level resolution, the firm instantly locking lower range, and can instantly tune in to the unsurpassed Aries Cerat system gain. Still. It doesn't sound like any other Aries Cerat amplifier.

Aries Cerat Essentia power amplifiers feature a genuine grande sonnerie quality, that by each minute reflects in the pure music intake, unlike anything I've come across so far.

Like all of the Aries Cerat products, Essentia is brazen and unapologetic in its raison d'ĂȘtre. I'm both smitten and struck by the Essentia juxtaposition ability to offer a sonic reality so riveting.

Every change attracts immediate, non-forcing attention, and Essentia is literary of all stripes. In its diversity, the stars align easily never in the harm of resolution, speed, dynamism, and most importantly the music.  

After experiencing Aries Cerat Essentia amplifiers in different system permutations and by driving various speakers I'm ready, to sum up my findings with the notable 2023 Editors Choice Award for these unconventional and forward-thinking expertly conceptualized one-of-the-kind sonic gems. 

Despite the crazy times we have experienced over the past two years, as you can see from the photo above, this journey began with excellent high-octane and remained amazingly exciting to this day. 

Matej Isak

Price

  • 40.500 EUR (with VAT)
  • 1200 EUR TVC input 

Technical Specifications

  • Power Output (Class A operation):
  • 40W @ 8ohm 70W @ 4ohm
  • Stable operation down to 1 ohm
  • Zero feedback design
  • Gain Stage: Single Stage. Single Ended.
  • Gain: 26db (26-22-18-14-10-6)db (gain switch using TVC system)
  • Signal to Noise Ratio: 100db with reference 0db
  • Full power bandwidth: 5Hz - 60Khz (upper range limited with oscillation prevention limiters)
  • Damping Factor: User Switchable
  • Idle power consumption per channel:
  • 100W depending on the bias setting
  • Inputs: RCA X1, TVC X 1 , AC link X1, XLR (optional)
  • Maximum dimensions (excluding plinth): 420mm H x 400mm W x 310mm D
  • Weight unpacked: 80kg per monoblock

Contact


Aries Cerat LTD

52 Vasileos Pavlou A’

Limassol, 3052

Cyprus 

Webwww.aries-cerat.eu

Emailinfo@aries-cerat.eu

Fax: +357 25565916

Mobile: +357 99307099