Dayens Ampino Stereo Integrated Amp

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lcrim

Dayens Ampino Stereo Integrated Amp
« on: 21 Aug 2009, 04:20 pm »
After reading an extremely positive review of this amp on 6 Moons http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/dayens/ampino.html I sold or returned for credit some equipment to raise the money to acquire this piece.
 
It takes a while to send a wire authorization to Serbia and to get it shipped  to NJ.  (BTW, when you have to change currencies, as in this case, my bank does this at a rate of exchange that was nothing like what was quoted online.)  All in all, w/ shipping and fees, the price for the standard version, was $501.  They also offer an upgraded version w/ a capacitor upgrade.

This is the first transistor amp I have had in nearly ten years, my reference has been single ended tube amps, both power amps and integrateds.  The Ampino is rated @ 25 watts @ 8 ohms & 40 watts @ 4 ohms.  It is driving my Omega Compact Hemps rated by Louis @ 96 dB.  There is also an Adire Rava sub connected high level.  There are two switchable inputs, so I have my  Paradisea DAC in one and my phono in the other one.
While this seems like overkill in terms of output, the character of the sound is what I was interested in trying.  From the first few notes,  the macro and micro dynamics were on a completely different level. 

The greater bandwidth the Ampino provides is one of its greatest virtues.  In the 6 Moons review, the ability of the amp to play classical music was mentioned as being  quite impressive.

The criticism of SS as sounding steely in the treble is not present here.  The unit has treble qualities that even with single driver speakers such as the Hemps, is offering new musical insights into music I know intimately. Cymbals and brush work are reproduced realistically.  I have a decent collection of Brazilian jazz and the counter rhythms played on additional percussion instruments are more properly forward in a  way that adds new insights.  Cymbals  are clearly metallic and violins sound sweet.  The Hemps are fast , cohesive speakers and the Ampino complements that character to an extreme degree. 


The retrieval of inner detail is another strong point of the Ampino.  This is a quality that drew me to single ended tube amps but it is not missing here.

The Ampino is not by any means a sterile sounding piece.  While waiting for delivery of the Ampino. I used my Decware Select with the Omega speakers and sub. At ~2 watts this terrific little EL84 amp was a smooth, less dynamic stand-in with not quite the extention at the frequency extremes. 

In comparison, with the same speaker system, the Ampino is fast, articulate and fuller bodied.  There is a bit more to be heard.  As  mentioned earlier, its ability w/ more complex classical music is quite impressive.  The early jazz music which draws me, is also more fully reproduced.  This is sometimes a trial.  The flaws present in older recordings are there more clearly reproduced too. 

Overall, I've been extremely pleased with this new addition and have been rediscovering the music from this new viewpoint.

 



Highly recommended.

« Last Edit: 10 Aug 2010, 01:57 pm by lcrim »

Wind Chaser

Re: Dayens Ampino Stereo Integrated Amp
« Reply #1 on: 24 Aug 2009, 10:31 am »
If the Ampino is in the same league as the Select, then it is indeed one truly fine amplifier.  Gave some thought to buying one myself, but opted for the Virtue Audio instead.  I want to build the smallest possible system with highest quality of sound attainable in that context.

lcrim

Re: Dayens Ampino Stereo Integrated Amp
« Reply #2 on: 24 Aug 2009, 06:55 pm »
Wind Chaser:
As it worked out, the Select was the only amp I had for a while and I was actually a bit surprised at how well it drove the Hemps.  I had sold the Glow Audio amp and the Trends TA 10.1 and had the Miniwatt amp for a short time.  I tried the Decware and the Miniwatt in both my systems and slowly I began to realize that I preferred the sound of the Select to the Miniwatt which is not to say that the Miniwatt was embarrassed, it wasn't.  The Decware is a more relaxed and at the same time detailed and clean.  I have had a number of other single ended tube amps and I'm not really sure why I wanted to try a good but inexpensive transistor amp.
I trusted that the 6Moons review was accurate and then had to be patient with the process of getting it delivered.
The dynamics of the Ampino still make me jump at times.  A Louis Armstrong trumpet solo is quite piercing now, real brass instruments do that.  I leap for the volume knob from time to time even if its only psychologically.
I thought I knew about T-Amps like the Virtue but the more I read about it the more I wonder about it.  It certainly has gotten terrific buzz.
« Last Edit: 27 Aug 2009, 12:13 pm by lcrim »

Rocket

Re: Dayens Ampino Stereo Integrated Amp
« Reply #3 on: 27 Aug 2009, 12:09 pm »
Hi Larry,

Thanks for this review I really enjoyed it.  I'm sure I read a review about this product a few months ago.  Have you had an opportunity to listen to the amplifier with less efficient speakers?  25 watt per channel should be enough to power a lot of speakers.

I thought I'd post on your thread because often enough good quality products don't get a lot of press unless they are the flavour of the month.

Regards


Rod

lcrim

Re: Dayens Ampino Stereo Integrated Amp
« Reply #4 on: 27 Aug 2009, 12:20 pm »
Rod:
I'm afraid I don't have any other (less efficient) speakers to try with it but I would really like to check out the DeVore speaker line, especially the Nine.

Wind Chaser

Re: Dayens Ampino Stereo Integrated Amp
« Reply #5 on: 6 Sep 2009, 04:19 am »
I thought I knew about T-Amps like the Virtue but the more I read about it the more I wonder about it.  It certainly has gotten terrific buzz.

I've got a Virtue One with the 30 volt / 90 watt power supply.  It's been in my system for about the past few weeks and the more I listen to it the more I like its  smooth, clean and detailed presentation.

With the upgraded power supply, it has the same power output as the Ampino at 4 ohms.  It would be interesting to compare the two.

How long did it take for your Ampino to arrive from the time you placed your order?

hatehifi

Re: Dayens Ampino Stereo Integrated Amp
« Reply #6 on: 8 Sep 2009, 10:48 am »
Hello Icrim,

Just happened to run into this thread. I've started some Ampino threads elsewhere. Though I don't 'know' your components first hand, I do agree with your 'speak.' I too trusted Srajan's hearing and blindly transferred my money to Serbia - and thanked Srajan repeatedly since then. Mine has the capacitor upgrade. I'm the guy in Germany Srajan mentioned in his MiniWatt review. I too own Zu's Essence (humbly recommended).

As far as 'other' (meaning lower efficiency) speakers are concerned, I did a quick test with my QLN G3 http://www.qln.se/index2.php3?page=speaker_g3&submenu=speakers (mine are modified with identically-sized 1" solid steel feet), and at 88dB, I am confident that the Ampino would not balk at even my old Celestion SL600 or even maybe my old Infinity RS2.5 (both unmerciful), but alas, they are no longer in my stall.

lcrim

Re: Dayens Ampino Stereo Integrated Amp
« Reply #7 on: 8 Sep 2009, 11:42 am »
Hi Windchaser:
As nearly as I can remember, it took a little over 3  weeks. 

Hi hatehifi:
I don't have the means to get any new speakers in the forseeable future.  The use of fairly high efficiency speakers w/ the Ampino, I think you would agree, has created a different context for hearing music than I am used to (single ended tubes.)  The treble is amazing yet never etched or grating. 
I should thank Srajan as well.  Miniwatt sent me an amp as a courtesy and after adding a capacitor to each channel to eliminate some ringing, that is an extraordinary amp as well.
« Last Edit: 11 Sep 2009, 03:09 pm by lcrim »

hatehifi

Re: Dayens Ampino Stereo Integrated Amp
« Reply #8 on: 9 Sep 2009, 09:39 am »
Hi Larry,

I've not heard your speakers but know they're well-regarded. I too am stuck on high efficiency, preferably FR speakers. Always was. Just couldn't afford Klipschorns as a kid.

SS is where I come from though I did have a 'modern' hand-built tube separates for awhile (if I mention from whom and that I sold it - nobody would take me serious again, should they ever have). Sold it because it took up so much room but more importantly, I was afraid one of my small boys would get fried. I had a factory built stock Heathkit stereo that somehow got sold without my knowing :(. A friend has a maxed-out Octave and prefers my Gryphon sound. Whatever. I don't know why Srajan mentions me in the MiniWatt (love to hear it, just no small change available), but likely it is because of the value. The MiniWatt, I take it, and the Ampino are milestones, imo. Not unlike someone discovering a new cheap renewable source of gasoline for thirty cents a gallon.

Lets say I confess to being crazy [about enjoying this hobby]; then there are people who have been much, far more crazy about it than I. For decades, typically the 'better' [sounding] unit was the more expensive. And the 'somewhat better' sounding units were dis-proportionately 'more' expensive than the better ones.

A friend and I are convinced that the 'strongest' link in a HiFi chain is the amplifier. Another friend just happened to purchase a new SS amp combination from one of my preferred designers (re-read above paragraph), for a 'steal' at roughly 20k EURO. I don't doubt its sonic qualities and that, ad hoc, the price is justified. Be it the MiniWatt (I assume), or the Ampino (IMO, no question), amplifiers are available which offer the listener "7th row center" seats for enjoying music at bargain savings such as I have never witnessed in forty five years in this hobby.

Add, e.g., a vintage turntable (from reputable source unless you know your way around - otherwise 'Goodwill')... What am I at here? Most readers will know what they want. The Ampino is one amazingly 'right'-sounding, stable, economic and fun -inducing amplifier!

Enjoy!

Cheers!
John
« Last Edit: 10 Sep 2009, 05:01 pm by hatehifi »

Wind Chaser

Re: Dayens Ampino Stereo Integrated Amp
« Reply #9 on: 9 Sep 2009, 11:15 am »
John, based on your experience, what would you compare / liken the Ampino to?  Just trying to get a better idea of what this amp sounds like, especially in terms sound staging and imaging.  Does it have a forward or laid back presentation?

Thanks - John.

hatehifi

Re: Dayens Ampino Stereo Integrated Amp
« Reply #10 on: 10 Sep 2009, 08:26 am »
Hi John,

Thanks for your interest and I wish that were an easy question to answer. AC has a reputation for peer pressure (?), so I don't care to make a dunce of myself here.

First hurdle is my 'reference' amplifier for the past decade, the Gryphon TABU Century, especially purchased for their PS1 phono prepre. They just happened to throw in, imo, a darned good amp to boot! It bears to the 'warm' side but gets so many things right so, well, let the 'sun' shine in! Never ever has a 'tube' aficionado (not that there's line in front of my house), questioned its sonic thumb print (mostly, quite the opposite). Also, other than Saturday visits at my 'favorite' HiFi shop (Offenes Ohr, Berlin) when in town, most of my second-hand-listening these years was with Pass' products.

Second hurdle is my ability to remember sounds. It is above-average and has yet always (informally) been underscored by 'better' ears than mine.

Third is that I've only logged in about four hours with my Ampino till now. This said:

On the Richter scale of "one to ten," I'd say the Ampino rates at least an 'eight' if not 'ten' on both accounts, sound staging and imaging! I would also classify it as laid back but, it creates a presence that is, imo, beguiling without 'artificial' aftertaste.

I've recently auditioned the Crayon CFA-1 in my home and still think it may 'better' my Gryphon. In ten days I've scheduled another home audition, this one for the AtmaSphere M60III & M30III (Promitheus TVC & Tube step up - German High End XLR). My MWI Sony 9100ES SigTruth TubePS will have to suffice as source but I know it well (my TT still 'ups' my CDP). I mainly use Zu cables, btw.

What gets me excited (and one of the reasons for 'waiting' before bringing the Ampino back on line), is that the Ampino has me wondering whether it may actually do things 'equal' (if not even 'better'?!) to amps which not only cost a far sight more, but, imo, are in many disciplines still sota. Note: my TABU still reigns but inasmuch as I am aware how 'fast' one can adopt a new [good / adequate] 'sound', were it gone, I'd not 'miss' it like I do my '50s Raleigh alloy 10-speed, with all the Campagnello...  :wink:

Cheers!
John


P.S.: For the life of me I really have no gut feeling as to 'how' or 'which' [amp] to liken the Ampino to. I like to think that I have a grip on 'integrateds' but -no name-bashing intended or inferred!- whether NAIM, Brinkmann, Krell, micromega... I personally just don't know of one - sorry! Note: this is not to say that the Ampino is 'better', different tastes is one of the spices in life.

Wind Chaser

Re: Dayens Ampino Stereo Integrated Amp
« Reply #11 on: 10 Sep 2009, 11:38 pm »

Thanks for your interest and I wish that were an easy question to answer.

I?m not familiar with any of the other amps you?ve referenced, but you?ve articulated enough to give an impression and that is all anyone can expect from a review.  The final verdict can never rest for me until I have my own experience.  If Mariusz puts together a demo tour, I?d be inclined to give the Ampino a go. 

Right now I?m considering three inexpensive amps.  I have a Virtue One with an upgraded power supply.  I really like this amp and a second one would allow me to bridge them for more power. However they are no longer in production and used ones are very scarce.  Then there is the Miniwatt.  It?s hard to ignore the buzz on this flea amp.  The Ampino a little more money and much bigger, but it may well be the best of the lot.  That it has two inputs is a big plus.  It most definitely deserves consideration and I?m glad there are more reports (all of them consistent) coming forward. 

hatehifi

Re: Dayens Ampino Stereo Integrated Amp
« Reply #12 on: 11 Sep 2009, 07:31 am »
I wasn't aware the Virtue has stopped production - always liked the name! I had a Sonic Impact (T-amp / Class D) less than a week before ordering Vinnie's Red Wine Audio Sig30. I heard some very promising 'clues' (?) from the SI that I wanted to investigate further. The RWA 'trounced' the SI (despite high quality PS). But there was a price difference, ratio involvolved, that for many years would have put the RWA simply beyond my budget. And I suppose many readers here know exactly where I'm coming from. Not only do I "hate HiFi," (not really), it is the financial outlay that irritates me and at times has even kept me awake at night. I could kick the 'habit' if it just was only 'candy.' The aural 'highs,' appreciation of the arts through music, the muse, are a major joy in my life.

The amps I mentioned are all transistor-based (SS), Class A/B and the micromega is the only sub $2,000 one listed. I appreciate it because it gives its more expensive brethern a run for the money. And here comes a $500 Serbian that gets me wondering if it might rival or even top the one or the other, irregardless of price. Usurp the lot? No, but the one or the other maybe. At that price, "no brainer," comes to mind.

Power: I ran into a no-name excellent German Class A/B amp years ago (still in production, btw), that reminds me of the Ampino as far as output power is concerned. Only 35W into 8Ohms it still sounded (into Energy speakers as well as my Cellestion SL600), like it had unlimited reserve. Of course it did not, but with serious power supply, the volume rarely exceeded nine o'clock and ten o'clock was party time! The Ampino reminds me of this capacity.

I experimented with my Heathkit once. I played a mono recording on vinyl, even switched the amp to mono, and didn't experience the 'dead center' image I am used to with solid state, even on stereo amps with no mono-stereo selector (could be part fault of my stereo cartridge). The Ampino reminds me more of the Heathkit than SS, but only a little, here. I can not explain why, nor do I care, but to me, it is as if the Ampino is accomplished at getting several [to me, important] cues so right, that others, even at ten times the price, perhaps have not accomplished so well.

What do you say Icrim? This is your thread and your territory Please excuse my butting in  :duh:!

Enjoy your music!

John

wilsynet

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Re: Dayens Ampino Stereo Integrated Amp
« Reply #13 on: 11 Sep 2009, 11:31 am »
Note that Virtue Audio is not out of business, just out of stock.  Also they are revamping the line-up, adding some more products.

lcrim

Re: Dayens Ampino Stereo Integrated Amp
« Reply #14 on: 11 Sep 2009, 12:53 pm »
John:
I don't feel like you butted in.  Apparently, the online review @ 6moons plus my own impressions didn't offer sufficient insight into the Ampino.
I've been using single ended tube amplifiers solely for nearly ten years and to have a transistor amp that adds fuller dynamics and extension at the frequency extremes is a good thing to me.  The fact that detail retrieval and accurate timbre of voice and instruments are not lost either, is quite new for me. 
I have a system in my bedroom with a Miniwatt Stereo Integrated driving high efficiency speakers as well, and that is also very satisfying but the scale is better for the much smaller room. 

My backup amp is an older Decware Select which has a volume control and utilizes EL84 tubes offering a slightly smoother and lusher perspective w/o losing speed or clarity. 
If there is any conclusion to be drawn from this, its that when properly implemented, either tubes or transistors can provide stunning playback.  It needn't be one or the other.  In addition, the cost of such quality needn't be out of reach to the mainstream.

BTW-my moniker is Lcrim not Icrim.  Lcrim or lcrim (for Larry Crimmins) has been my account name both here and everywhere else, including work for well over ten years.  I keep wondering why this is getting confused recently.

hatehifi

Re: Dayens Ampino Stereo Integrated Amp
« Reply #15 on: 11 Sep 2009, 05:54 pm »
Probably because I was not paying attention Larry, 'lcrim!' It has happened before.

Off subject: The AtmaSphere rep will be here this weekend. I am very interested to hear OTL on my Zu Essence. The power amp costs more than ten times... BTW, I've just tried out [and subsequently purchased] the HRT MUSIC Streamer+ also seen on 6moons and like the Ampino, it is imo, rediculously inexpensive for its prowess. I've got a RFQ (already answered) for Entreq's USB cable.

Please pardon my error!

- John
« Last Edit: 11 Sep 2009, 09:47 pm by hatehifi »

hatehifi

Re: Dayens Ampino Stereo Integrated Amp
« Reply #16 on: 18 Sep 2009, 11:06 pm »
Here's one for you Larry, and those interested! I'm moving forward to exchange my Gryphon for the Atma-Sphere S-30Mk3.1 w/caps (~8x the Ampino price - don't tell my wife).

My game plan is to side-by-side it with the Ampino as my main system. I've got upgraded Promitheus' TVC & Tube Gain Stage which I was trying to sell but am glad I didn't. I have a cable arsenal (mostly Zu) to boot. With my 12 Ohm Zu Essence there is no question as to which [amp] (A-S OTL vs. Dayens) sounds 'better,' but the A-S OTL needs a half hour to start to interest me (warm up), but at fifty minutes is so 'tube'-beguiling (new to me on this scale), that it is a real treat, no, truly magnificent. This has been 'reviewed' by assorted "Press." I agree. Again, it takes an hour before rapture.

However, I'm not deep-pocketed (keep the A-S on 24/7) and another trait, most of the time I only listen to music for an hour. The Ampino is 'there' almost at turn-on! Therefore, I'm having my loudspeaker cables re-tipped with (amp side) bananas and will use the Ampino for my on-the-fly enjoyment. I mentioned [proudly] owning a MWI Sony 9100 SigTruth CDP. FYI, I also have a micromega DUO.Pro dac (sounds good to me) that I run parallel, that is, on-the-fly I listen to the micromega dac as converter (because the tube output takes twenty to 'warm up'). Sounds darned good for a 'quickie', imo (just not as good as the 'stock' MWI when warm - by a long shot, like the Ampino but...). Make any sense? My (Gryphon PS1) phono will be rebuilt with a massive PS and I have a RWA S3 switch box from Vinnie and enough ICs to do justice for the set up.

I am sure that some will think I'm bragging. I am sorry if you think so. I'll be 56 years old this month and five years ago I never would have dreamed that I could 'afford' such luxury. If the Ampino had not turned up, I could not have. And this might be my last 'redecorating' in my lifetime.

Be that as it may -to get back to the Ampino- for me it is a keeper! If the other does not realize, I can live happily with my Serbian "friend." 

Any comments anybody?

lcrim

Re: Dayens Ampino Stereo Integrated Amp
« Reply #17 on: 20 Sep 2009, 06:31 am »
John:
Since you are asking for an opinion, using the Ampino until the OTL amp and all its tubes get warm enough to sound good, seems a bit extravagant to me. 
I'm not being critical but there are cheaper ways to heat a room than the Atma-Sphere amps :).  How about using the Ampino in the summer and the OTL's for cold weather listening? 
As I have two systems and shift things around from time to time, I do understand the need to change things up from time to time. 
Let us know how it all works out for you.


hatehifi

Re: Dayens Ampino Stereo Integrated Amp
« Reply #18 on: 20 Sep 2009, 02:19 pm »
Will do. BTW, I have a second, bedroom hi-fi as well as a harman-based TV -surround set up. This is my primary music appreciation system. I'll let you know if and how it works out but I don't consider it too extravagant. And summers are rarely above the low nineties here.

hatehifi

Re: Dayens Ampino Stereo Integrated Amp
« Reply #19 on: 25 Oct 2009, 04:15 pm »
Afterthought...

Let's call it a paradigm but I thought those interested in 'what' the Ampino is and sounds like might find this link useful. It starts off about the MiniWatt... http://www.lencoheaven.net/forum/index.php?topic=1238.0