TRATTO DAL REPORTAGE DI SIXMOONS A MONACO
On the transistor side of things, I'd already beaten Avantgarde's super-talented engineer Matthias Ruff to the punch. He was electrified. "Did you see the Digital Do Main amps on the Lansche plasma tweeter speakers? They use completely new transistors. Brilliant design. And the sound was absolutely fantastic." First off, Linnman had penned a RoadTour visiting Digital Do Main's Kazuhiko Nishi in his Japanese headquarters in October 2008. Secondly, I'd already heard this year's exhibit to have come away equally impressed. But as a reviewer, not engineer, it was most gratifying to hear a very gifted competitor's engineer bestow such high praise on a new design also from a technical perspective.
You can see the discharge light of Lansche's Corona tweeter in the right speaker
Nishi-San's B-1a amplifiers are built around so-called Static Induction transistors (SIT) which were invented in Japan by Mr. Nishi's teacher's teacher during the early 70s and documented in a theoretical framework in academic journals. From Linnman's article, "...Mr. Nishi benchmarks the performance of his amplifiers to real music far more than competitors of similarly priced amps. Mr. Nishi is very familiar with the tonality of Steinway pianos made at different periods. He moved on to draw a sketch showing the relationship between the key, hammer and string inside a section of a Steinway Grand where a single touch on the key will first generate the tone at 1000Hz immediately followed by a 2nd string which generates overtones at 7000Hz.
"This is what makes a modern Steinway different from those made earlier and why the tonality of vintage Steinways is unique. Nishi-San asked me to focus on the unique timbre of master pianist Martha Argerich's instrument. I am no expert on Steinways but when I closed my eyes, the microdynamics of the instrument were conveyed with speed, clarity and nobility. The varying weight of the pianist's fingers could be felt. The development from pianissimo to fortissimo was very well structured, allowing me to follow the lyrical lines easily..."
"...The SIT-based output stages are packaged in cases of very low resonance and thermal resistance. They are then secured to a large gold-plated pure copper heatsink to allow quick dissipation of the class-A circuit's heat and minimization of thermal distortion. Each B1-a can be configured to bridged mono to increase output power to 300 watts. What surprised me the most was the spirit behind the development of the B1-a. Although there has been continuous coverage of this amplifier for almost 18 months by different Japanese media (I even thought those articles were actual reviews), it is still not available for sale as of my writing this! Mr. Nishi is very serious about the B-1a and won't rush it to market. As far as I know, a senior ex-Yamaha engineer, Mochida-San, has been performing repeat beta tests for more than 1.5 years to take into account many critics' feedback. Sugano-san of Stereo Sound also compliments the achievement of this amplifier and serial number 001 will be delivered to him for the first formal review...."
If my brief listening impressions and Matthias Ruff's instincts are anything to go by, Nichi-San's Digital Do Main B1-a might have been the most relevant new transistor amplifier technology introduction at this show. I'm sure forthcoming press coverage in 2009 will explore this topic at greater length to fill in the tantalizing bits 'n' bobs.
This just leaves digital and cable samples for our surprise section of this report before the regular alphabetical coverage commences.