When you attend audio shows around the world, you get to see distinct patterns and trends in system matching. When Product X works so well with Product Y and Product Z that they are used together in shows in two or more continents, you can guarantee those products are a good match. But, few of these exercises in international system matching are as consistent as the use of Aavik electronics, with Ansuz cables and system tuning components, and Raidho loudspeakers. If you tour the shows and the demonstration rooms of dealers around the globe, this Nordic triumvirate is almost always seen together.
In no small part, this comes down to the three brands being sub-sets of Dantax A/S, a Danish audio enterprise group. Raidho – like fellow speaker brand Scansonic and TV furniture company Harmony – are intrinsically linked with Dantax, while Aavik and Ansuz are associated with the group. Nevertheless, the three are in lock-step.
You do see Raidho loudspeakers and Ansuz components used in other systems, but it’s rare to see the Aavik U-300 Unity integrated amplifier out in the wild without Ansuz and Raidho in tow. This is understandable, but unfortunate: the Aavik U-300 might get a reputation for being the ‘also ran’ in the line-up, where in reality it’s possibly the star of the show. If you do get to hear it beyond partnering with ‘The Usual Suspects’, it shows precisely what it has to offer, and it offers a heck of a lot! The Aavik U-300 is the amp needed to develop the latest ranges of Raidho loudspeakers, that require a lot of high-grade power, but it’s no engineer’s folly, no development platform, and definitely no slouch!
In fact, the Aavik U-300 Unity started out as the answer to a growing problem in today’s audio world: space management without sonic compromise. Whether it’s due to shrinking room sizes in Europe, or a growing reluctance to invest in a range of electronics boxes, the Aavik is part of a movement that sees turning the DAC, phono stage, preamp, external power supplies and power amplifiers of old into one, very high performance integrated design.
Taken at face value, this is nothing new and audio companies have been making integrated amplifiers since the 1970s. Moreover, even the high-end has moved from dismissal to tolerance, acceptance, and finally enthusiasm toward one-box solutions. Where Aavik scores is it started out with a clean sheet and considered the amplifier as a single unit from the outset.
That ‘clean sheet’ part is pivotal, because Aavik didn’t start the project with any baggage regarding design inside and out. A big part of this (both in terms of industrial and electronic design) is the volume control, mounted in the centre of the elegant matt-black amplifier. The volume control (which also doubles as a source selector and can be used with the three buttons to control aspects of the amp’s functionality) works entirely in the digital domain. It is out of signal until it registers the user adjusting the volume level, only to go back to sleep once the volume adjustment is completed.
It’s also a Class D design. Collectively, we need to get over the bias against Class D, and an increasing group of manufacturers (including Jeff Rowland and Mola-Mola) are making the sonic case for Class D with great eloquence. The Aavik joins this cool-running revolution. The key point in all things Class D seems to be channelling The Fun Boy Three and Bananarama, with their 1982 hit ‘It Ain’t What You Do (It’s The Way That You Do It)’: Class D can sound remarkable, so long as the implementation steps up to the challenge. And it’s here where the Aavik U-300 Unity shows its mettle. The amplifier is designed with careful grounding in mind (understandable given the Ansuz connection) and its clever use of passive components with high performance Class D modules not only spells great sound, but surprising amounts of power delivery. The amplifier can deliver 300W into eight ohms, but – and this is rare for a Class D design – double that power to 600W into a four ohm load.