In the details

Audio Mirror 45 Watt Parallel SET monoblocks

When I’m trying to test a component’s handling of high frequencies, personally, I go first to The Funky Knuckles’ New Birth and the track “Wise Willis.” This album is recorded crisply, and is not short on detail. In fact, on components or speakers known to be bright or “digital,” this album can get fatiguing quickly.

In contrast, on excellent speakers, the detail rides right to the edge of what’s comfortable and the result is a very exciting. The amount of available texture within the many layers has this feel of being state-of-the-art in digital recording of a large band.

I’ll also fire up Nathaniel Smith’s wonderful Arrhythmia, which is a masterful solo cello album you must know if you’re not familiar. As it is only cello, the natural high frequencies are rolled off compared to something with a drum kit.

If I can hear nice detail on Nat Smith’s work and not be fatigued by the highs of the Funky Knuckles joint, I’m feeling good about that piece of equipment.

You might have guessed already but that’s the admirable quality I’m hearing in the gear before me: a gorgeous pair of Audio Mirror 45 Watt Parallel Single Ended monoblocks featuring 6C33C output tubes.

OK, so they can perform well on the top end. Lots of other amplifiers have their treble ducks in order, right?

Well, not really like this design. The mature, present, accurate and non-fatiguing top end is truly showing itself to be special.

These are single ended after all, and that top end is much of what SET owners gush about. What’s the usual problem with SET amps? Flea-powered - the average 300B DHSET can’t drive speakers with sensitivity below 100dB con gusto, which limits potential pairings.

At this moment, I am making my coworkers uncomfortable with the volume of the music, and my speakers are inefficient — about 84dB. While I’d say the amps will sing louder on more efficient speakers than mine, I can’t imagine most people can’t get the job done with the 45 watts per channel that these puppies bring.

Tube amplification may not be your style, but any ears can appreciate what Audio Mirror has made here. I’m thinking the investment must be in the mid-to-high four figures on solid state amplification to get this kind of top end.

Sometimes, it’s all in the details.