As of now I have had the Ampino for 8 days. With a little more than 50 hours of total running time and modest ancillaries I’m in no position to concur or dispute to the full extent of Srajan’s ultra enthusiastic review. However what I can say is the Ampino is one extraordinary high definition amplifier. Even at low volumes, music is released with such a high level of integrity that is sooooooo captivating the volume control is forgotten! This is hard to explain so bear with me.
In the same way high definition video images are incredibly sharper and more vivid with greater depth of field than DVD videos; music flowing from the Ampino in the same way is crystal clear, unfettered and uninhibited. The localization of every nuance is distinct and separate from every other sound. That is not to say it sounds analytical in the T amp / Tripath style. No, this is warmer, easier on the ears without any artificial or forced excitement. Call it liberated. The soundscape is deep and wide, and everything within it embodies it’s own space.
What I find most interesting is how nimble this amp remains when things get busy. Complex orchestrations are handled with the same prompt grace as simple arrangements. Only when it begins to run out of steam does the Ampino blend in with the crowd and seem like a common amplifier. However within it’s capacity, the dynamic swing between soft and loud passages is remarkable… As the amp continues to log more running time, I notice the tone becoming richer. With less than 100 hours it’s still very early and I’m sure the best is yet to come.
I don’t have anything relevant on hand to compare with it. The last half decent amp I had in the house was a Virtue Audio One (Tripath) with an upgraded power supply. I’ve always liked the Tripath sound, which in my opinion is easily identifiable. That is not to say they all the same, but they do share the same characteristics. Tripath / T-amps are lively and detailed at the expense of warmth. What they do well, they do remarkably well. The Virtue and DIY Charlize are my personal favorites of seven different Tripath amplifiers I have owned, but I still prefer something with some warmth. Warmth is good
To my ears, the Ampino is a sure step up from the Tripath sound, the obvious difference being in temperament. All the Tripath amplifiers I’ve heard / owned sound ‘high strung’ and ‘in your face’ by comparison. Putting a tube in front either as a buffer or a preamp, helps mitigate the edginess, but it doesn’t change the inherent nature of the Tripath sound. The signature of Ampino is more relaxed and at ease. It may be a matter of preference or system synergy, but the personality of the Dayens is more ‘easy going’ than the choleric nature of the Tripath.
If 25 watts (40 watts at 4 ohms) is enough oomph to drive your speakers, I can’t imagine anyone not being very, very satisfied with the Dayens Ampino. Over the years I’ve owned a few SETs, EL84 and 2A3, some Pass Labs, Levinson and Audio Research Stereophile class A rated amplifiers and all of them very good… But the Ampino, well it’s so inexpensive by comparison, and yet I seriously think it has the potential to embarrass all of the above. It is one very musical instrument.