When Demetris Baklavas, the understated chief designer of Ypsilon electronics, flew from Athens this weekend to visit me in Washington, DC, he was visibly chuffed, as the British say, by the review his PST-100 preamplifier Mk. II and Aelius amplifier had just received in the German magazine pithily called “Audio.” The ancient Gods and philosophers have not disappeared from Greece, the magazine suggested. Instead, “they are guiding a particularly industrious amplifier builder by the hand.”
This is high praise indeed. Fortunately, I had a chance to see the recipient of it at work. The main purpose of Baklavas’ visit was to perform some surgery to the SET-100 Ultimate amplifiers that I have recently had in my system together with the Wilson Alexandria XLF loudspeaker. Baklavas had devised a way to run the protection circuitry in the output stage in parallel, thereby removing it from intruding upon the signal path. After several hours of labor—very clean solder work, I can testify--Baklavas pronounced himself satisfied that it was safe to fire them up. After a few nervous jokes about exploding amplifiers, we did. And they worked fine. Actually, that isn’t quite right. It was better than fine. The sonic improvements in dimensionality, weight, and refinement were quite apparent.
What this episode reminded me of once again was the outsized effect that seemingly small changes can have upon the sound. On several excellent records that Baklavas had transported with him, particularly several that his father had bought on the old Melodiya label, which flourished during the Soviet era, we heard a number of distinct improvements that translated into largely forgetting about the mechanical nature of recorded sound and just going with the flow. I can’t say whether or not the Greek Gods remain in action, but Ypsilon does appear to be performing heavenly work.