Roksan Audio’s Oxygene integrated amplifier will anger reactionary audio enthusiasts as a result of it being nothing like an amplifier from a bygone age. It does not have a big, comforting volume knob on the front panel. It avoids the bank of switchgear to show off how many sources you own. It doesn’t even follow a series of decades-old design cues to make a product that you – and only you – can understand.
Currently, the range comprises this Oxygene integrated amplifier and a matching CD player, with the possibility of future products in the pipeline. Because of their distinctive no-button, top-mounted control surfaces, the products do not lend themselves to being stacked on top of one another or even on a shelving unit. They should be side-by-side with plenty of access to the top plate.
Instead, the Oxygene is the centrepiece of a design-aware high-concept range of electronics (and eventually loudspeakers). Today, that means ‘Jony Ive’ as well as ‘Dieter Rams’; control surfaces that are no longer hard buttons, but devices that respond to human interaction in clever ways. Which is why the Oxygene does without knobs, buttons and dials and replaces them with the words ‘less is more’ on the top plate. Press ‘less’ and the volume decreases, press ‘more’ and it increases, and press ‘is’ and those controls work through the list of inputs. You do need to press these words quite firmly though. The front panel is instead given over to a white display board, with basic information on show. Once you understand how to drive the amp – and that understating process will take most people seconds and ends with an ‘aha!’ moment – the interface is almost impossible to forget how to use. There is also a basic remote, but this is lacking the elegance of the amp itself (it does however allow the user to dim the front panel display). Even the packaging itself – faintly reminiscent of the boxes used by Apple for its MacBook products – and the black, white or (for a premium) brushed silver chrome finish options all exude a distinct 21st Century design ethic.
That design brief extends to the connectivity of the product. Alongside the three analogue inputs, the Oxygene integrated amplifier features a 16 channel AptX Bluetooth connection. It’s easy to access; your Bluetooth device can be paired easily (it appears as ‘Roksan’ and you enter the code ‘0000’), there are enough channels available for it to reconnect without ever having to pair the two devices again, and AptX is a high-quality digital audio pathway. Once paired, you connect or disconnect from the host Bluetooth device, and only one device can be paired at any one time.