Raising the Bar (a preview): AudioNet Stern preamplifier and Heisenberg monoblock power amplifiers

Solid-state power amplifiers,
Solid-state preamplifiers
AudioNet Heisenberg,
AudioNet Stern,
YG Acoustics Sonja XV

As you might expect, Stern and Heisenberg both offer exemplary performance specifications and incredibly beautiful industrial designs. Key performance metrics for the Stern include:

·      Frequency response: 0Hz – 2.2MHz (-3dB)

·      THD + N: < -104dB @ 20kHz, < -116dB @ 1kHz

·      SNR: > 123dB, 4Vrms

·      Channel separation: > 144dB, 20Hz – 20kHz

Performance metrics for the Heisenberg include:

·      Power output: 530W @ 8 ohms; 1,050W @ 4 ohms; 2,100W @ 2 ohms

·      Frequency response: 0Hz – 700kHz (-3dB)

·      Damping factor: > 1,800 @ 10Hz; >10,000 @ 100Hz

·      Harmonic distortion:

o   k2 typ. -117dB for 25W @ 4 ohms

o   k3 typ. -123dB for 25W @ 4 ohms

·      Intermodulation distortion: < -110dB SMPTE 100Hz: 20kHZ, 4: 1, 50w @ 4 ohms

·      THD + N: > -106dB @ 1kHz, 25W to 700W @ 4 ohms

·       SNR> 125dB

Hartmut Esslinger, founder of Frogdesign and creator of the designs for several of Apple’s most iconic products, personally developed the striking industrial designs for both Stern and Heisenberg. The look of both components is visually striking and highly thought-provoking, thanks in part to a patented design technique that gives the illusion that the side and top panels of the preamp and amplifier chassis ‘float’ in close proximity to one another, but without actually touching! Both designs combine rectilinear shapes with ridged cooling vents that are triangular in cross section, as are the support bars that serve as the ‘feet’ of the components.  In case you’re wondering, I’m not the only one who finds these components beautiful; in fact, the Stern is now on display as part of the Smithsonian’s National Gallery. Both the Stern and Heisenberg are offered in two colours (silver and black) and in two chassis formats (vertical and horizontal). Candidly, the vertical models have (to my eyes) a more striking visual presence, but the horizontal models are much easier to place on typical audio racks, so that simple pragmatism way wind up carrying the day for many prospective buyers.

The bottom line is that Stern and Heisenberg have, in my opinion, raised the performance bar for high-end audio electronics, and I say this having heard top-tier components from Audio Research, Constellation, Dan D’Agostino Master Audio Systems, Naim Audio, Pass Labs, Soulution, and others). They also serve admirably as audio objets d’arts that are, in a very literal sense, of museum quality. Therefore, I would encourage listeners to go hear and see the Audionet components, if only for a glimpse of what’s possible when performance constraints are removed.

For more information visit Audionet at www.en.audionet.de or GTT Audio & Video at www.gttaudio.com.

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