High-End audio has many paths and roads. Some of the pathways can also lead towards the uncharted-sonic territories. The vastness of the global high-end audio community has allowed the expenditure of grand aural canvas to be painted with multiple audiophile products from anywhere in the world. Even the most remote places. There are still many gems hidden to the usual eyes and ears within this massive high-end audio universe.
The reviewers… We’re a bit of a different breed… Our unique and luxurious fate (yes, we do cherish it) let us discovering new, intriguing and interesting products from all around the world. Of course not everything is worthy of prolonged attention or diving deeper into the momentum. Yet, its more then worthy to keep an open mind and hearth. Sometimes this search reminds on the traditional gold panning quest. There is a lot of shiny quartz out there and not so much gold. Still… The prolonged panning do bring results….
So another, luckily pleasant story had unveiled… Panagiotis Kominos the owner of the Porfyra Audio from Greece contacted me if I would be interested to review the ARPA tube preamplifier and STTS1100 pure Class A solid state, 100 W mono blocks. He explained a bit about them and ensured me, how they are something special and worthy of exploring.
There was more than enough triggers to ignite my interest. We’ve scheduled the test and review samples arrived few weeks later in four aluminium flight cases.
Hundred watts of pure Class A operation?
My reference Class A monoblocks are still the LAMM M1.2 reference power amplifiers and they’re not going anywhere. There is a little competition, when it comes to the LAMM M1.2 Reference vibrant, powerful and engaging performance regardless of the price. Despite being on market for such a long time, these hybrid power amplifiers are still something extraordinary. When it comes to the Class A operation (and general performance) they’re my reference to start and end with any evaluation.
So how did STTS1100 performed compared to the LAMMs? STTS1100 heart is more close to the DNA of pure class tube SET amplifier, but with the mightier power energy reserve and delivery. I might be wrong, but I have a strong feeling, that this was Panagiotis Kominos’ attention from the start; to create a modern, solid state power amplifier with the virtues of single ended tube amps, but with the positive attributes of solid state. The flow, rendition of music’s energy and vibrant nature is closely related to the valve realms. The solid state’s speed and transparency attributes blends seamlessly in a highly lively STTS1100 potency.
ARPA tube preamplifier comes with 23 dB gain and uses two 6SN7 tubes in the gain stage and 5Z3 tube rectifier in the power supply. There are two outputs and four line inputs. Everything is silver wired and the volume duties are carried by the ALPS potentiometer. But thats not all. Soft start and high voltage delay circuit preserves the tubes life span and smoothing chokes as well as oil capacitors adds an exotic flavour to the ARPA.
The first thing that comes to mind with ARPA onic wise is the organic flow, that translates to the tonal richness, information density and balanced sonic delivery across complete frequency range. All that combined forms a highly captivating and involving listening experience, that calls for a happy returns with the qualities lurking towards the upper and pricer ranges of tube preamplifiers.
I’ve tried both Porfyra Audio STTS1100 and ARPA on their own (in quite few different combinations) and as an intended, matching pair. As you’ll read on, they’re both acting strongly as sole acts, but when these two are combined, a special potency is in motion. This was evident across many different albums and genres, but did excel with the classical music and albums like Itzak Perlman – Daniel Barenboim (Violin Concerto Ludwig van Beethoven).
There are many great violinist, but for this particular Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D major, op. 61, I do prefer Itzak Perlman playing to the Zubin Mehta and the LA Philharmonic orchestra.
While this recording clearly focuses on the violin propulsion, the instrument still blends nicely with the orchestra and allow the full rendition of the sound massiveness.
On its own and in a combination with the The Bespoke Audio Company Ultimate Silver preamplifier, Grandinote Genesi and MSB Technology Select’s internal preamplifier Porfyra Audio STTS1100 power amplifiers have shown the great ability to provide an extensive space to bloom. They’ve projected both the orchestra and violin with much needed strength, sense of the power, articulation and delicacy.
There is still something very right when it comes to the tube preamplifiers. Especially (some) of the contemporary valve preamplifiers are finally capable of delivering the attributes, that escapes the “traditional” tinted or saturated sound (despite highly glorified measurements with some of the products). The sound of the tube preamplifier heavily relies on the circuit and tube implementation. Porfyra Audio ARPA avoids the typical sonic traits and focuses on timbre, tone and colour with a extended density and transparency. These are not only the positive attributes. It’s a clear sign of a properly voiced design.
Porfyra Audio ARPA has provided a well weighted, balanced and very involving rendition of the Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D major. My listening notes have highlighted the same blurb more than once… When properly matched, the ARPA won’t get in a way of the music’s delivery. It allowed the fluid transfer from the source without adding its own, hefty aural signature. Both Perlman’s violin and orchestra were portrayed in a objective and believable way and in absence of the overblowing the three dimensional realistically sized instruments’ forms.
At this price point, ARPA checks all the needed critical criteria and extends with the virtue of igniting more than just mere interesting of the record. ARPA s ability to reveal a mightier dosage of micro and macro detailing is another act worthy of noting.
STTS1100 and ARPA
When combined, the STTS1100 power amplifiers and ARPA preamplifier have easily expanded on the sound canvas. Potent rendition of micro and macro details have gained even a bigger step up and expanded with greater sense of space and dynamics. The orchestra formed a much needed harmony and sense of oneness even more straightforward. The Porfyra Audio mighty combo have managed to deliver the rare sense of “bubble” effect, closely reflecting the real world inner workings, where orchestra energy moves towards the listener as one giant form.
As you know by now, I’m always trying to focus on the positive remarks, that in the end benefits the reader and audiophiles/music lovers i search of particular virtues. Porfyra Audio STTS1100 and ARPA have exhibited a great synergy, that have persuasively illustrated the Ludwig van Beethoven’s iconic violin concerto.
When manufacturer insists to send jointly power amplifiers and preamplifier for a review, this usually means, that a lot of attention, energy and time were dedicated to the synergy between the two and how designer clearly wants a reviewer to experience it.
Finding a proper match between preamplifier and power amplifier in high-end audio is in most cases quite a hit and miss affair. Unlike the pro-audio segment, where there are certain fixed rules, our niche market offers so many different components with such diversity of non standard preamplifier (mV) outputs, that the proper matching too often feels like a lottery…
Panagiotis Kominos’ most anticipated question over our email correspondency was if STTS1100s and ARPA do stick out of the crowd?. Yes, they do!
The exotic array of electronic parts and Panagiotis Kominos’ own selection of the part, proprietary circuitry and non the less voicing brought quite a different and somehow non expected performance. Porfyra Audio power amplifiers and preamplifier have exhibit a unique organic flow with the music always being in focus. Such organic flow is usually reserved for more exuberantly priced ultra high-end audio product. Quite a big thumb up!
Especially with the acoustical instruments the Porfyra’s recognising DNA had exhibited repeatedly the same vibrancy, that instantly draws you into the music no matter if STTS1100s and ARPA were used as a matching system or performing their dedicated individual duties.
To start with, combining a full tube loaded preamplifier and pure Class A power amplifier certainly promises a lot. On the the other hand nothing is mandatory these days… Especially the expected quality. The global high-end market had brought us almost an endless amount of audio gear to choose from. Trust me;… in this high-end audio market of an endless possibilities not every tube preamplifier and Class A amplifiers are good. What to talk about being great…
Too many products have passed my den over the years that have a little or nothing to do with the high-end audio labelling. Great specs, marketing blurb, impressive chassises, intriguing circuit concepts etc. Yes, those are the attention grabbers. But… At the end of the day, they need first and foremost perform at the certain level to be worthy of any high-end designation. Especially if such products come with the over used high-end sticker.
Panagiotis Kominos did his homework more then just fine. Porfyra Audio STTS1100 and ARPA are a highly involving and musical performers, both with their own set of virtues and potent attributes. I’m happy, that I’ve excepted the Panagiotis Kominos’ request to evaluate his proud creations. This was more than just the ordinary introduction of the brand to me and nonetheless to the readers of Mono and Stereo. The Porfyra Audio way surely stands out with its own gestalt.
Many have tried to conquer the path of minimalistic approach, that can deliver the maximum aural potency. Some have succeeded, some have failed. Panagiotis Kominos is vividly following his dream to create a unique and esoteric high-end audio creations, that stand out of the crowd. His passion and pin-pointed direction are clearly exhibited with STTS1100 Class A power amplifiers and ARPA tube preamplifier. They, without a hesitation ignites a high (octan-gain) interest for the music being served to them.
STTS1100: 9700 EUR – price FOR pair (without VAT)
HARAR1.1: 5645 EUR (without VAT)
Single ended amplifier 100W / 8 Ohm , pure class A with 8 parallel transistors (PNP), without feedback.
Frequency response : 12 Hz – 130 Khz +-3dB.
Totaly capacity of power supply : 2x 82000uF = 164000
Gain: 23 dB
Tubes: 2 x 6SN7
Response: 10Hz-150KHz (+-3dB)
Inputs: 4 line
Outputs: 2x pre out
Power supply: 5Z3 tube rectifier, smoothing chokes, oil capacitors, soft start, high voltage delay.
Main Preamplifier: Stabilisation of high voltage threads, choke for uplift load, remote control, ALPS potentiometer, silver wiring.
Tel: +30 6978.292004