This is Aaron’s pre-power system, but it’s a system with a twist. While the No 3. Millennium power amplifier is a stereo design, the preamp – the No 22. Cineast – is designed to handle multichannel inputs alongside stereo line sources. While that would normally have audiophiles reaching for the ‘off’ button, the twist is there is no digital processing going on inside the preamp. It simply handles six channel sources, in the same way it handles two channel sources.
Aaron is the value end of German high-end brand Aaron & Sovereign. The company has both a direct mail and distributor-based way of working. Direct mail includes a financing plan, which makes these affordable amplifiers easy to acquire. However, it also provides very scant information on its site, preferring instead for prospective clients to request a PDF datasheet. I’m not totally convinced of this idea, as I feel it loses potential buyers at the starting gates, but it does sift out those with only a passing interest.
As discussed, the Cineast preamplifier is a multichannel preamp, with two sets of six channel inputs alongside the six stereo line inputs, and one set of multichannel outputs (for two-channel users, plug your power amplifier into the ‘FL’ and ‘FR’ channels). Any digital surround sound processing is performed in the source component itself, the Cineast’s multichannel functions are limited to individual channel attenuation and the provision for turning off specific channels. Controls are simple; left knob runs through the sources, and if you push the knob, it goes into set-up mode, while the right hand dial controls volume and pushing it in puts the preamp into standby. A large, two-deck fluro display sits usefully between the two knobs. There’s a chunky remote control, and a pithy Aaron identifier plate on the top panel.
The Millennium has the same dimensions, save for the control knobs (actually, control cones). The amp itself is extremely well made, featuring all discrete, hand-selected and matched components, with no capacitors in the short signal path. The big bank of capacitors under the hood are in the power supply, and there’s a lot of air between the large toroidal transformer, the power regulation block, and the twin output stages. These output stages work in a collector-follower circuit and the amp is capable of delivering 100W per channel into eight ohms, 180 into four and right down to 550 into one ohm. Both amplifiers can be powered on permanently (and don’t draw a great deal of current in standby mode), and are fully conditioned and at their best 48 hours after being plugged in. They don’t run warm, or make a noise through the loudspeakers when not in use. In other words, they are the perfect audio houseguests.