I traveled last August to Istanbul, Turkey, to attend the annual dealer, distributor, and press event hosted by high-end manufacturer Absolare. The company wanted to demonstrate its products and communicate its technical and aesthetic thinking to a diverse group from around the world.
Absolare is an unusual company in many respects. Although the company’s founder, Kerem Kucukaslan, is based in Istanbul where some of the design work takes place, Absolare products are created by an international team of the best minds in specific areas of audio. For example, the Passion Preamplifier and Passion 845 Amplifier were designed by the legendary Noriyasu Komuro, the author of many Japanese artisanal audio amplifiers over the past 25 years. The AC power distribution system was developed in conjunction with Jack Bybee and features his technology. The electronics are manufactured in New Hampshire, and the equipment racks and acoustic panels are built in Turkey. Absolare is also unusual in that it focuses its efforts on one preamplifier and one power amplifier model rather than a broad line. This approach fits with its deep emphasis on system synergy—on creating a complete music system that works together as a whole.
In Istanbul I attended a presentation of all the products in the Absolare line, as well as enjoying some listening time with an Absolare system that included Rockport Aquila loudspeaker (one step down from the phenomenal Altair that I reviewed in Issue 214).
Looking first at the products, the $25,000 Absolare Passion Preamplifier is an all-tube unit built on a chassis machined from a solid block of aircraft-grade aluminum. The rectangular chassis, wider than it is deep, features a center opening that showcases and provides access to the tubes. The top and bottom panels are clad in a rich, luxurious leather with exquisitely fine stitching. The minimalist Passion sports two front-panel knobs and three unbalanced inputs and two unbalanced outputs (balanced inputs and outputs are optional). The Passion is built around two ECC82 (12AU7) dual-triode tubes and realized in a cost-no-object implementation with the finest passive components (including gold tube sockets). The milled-aluminum chassis is designed to be non-resonant as well as to isolate the audio signal from noise. The transformer is mounted on Pallisander wood for resonance control. Very sophisticated isolation feet were created specifically for the product to further reduce resonance.
The matching Passion 845 monoblock power amplifier ($37,000 per pair) is a 52W single-ended triode design. Two 845 triodes are run in parallel with zero feedback (local or global). The audio circuit is extremely minimalist, supported by a very sophisticated power supply. The power and output transformers are hand-wound. As with the Passion Preamplifier, much attention was paid to resonance control and keeping noise out of the audio signal. The Passion 845’s solid-aluminum chassis is also clad in beautiful leather. Internal wiring features the same conductors used in Echole’s top-of-the-line Obsession Signature interconnects (Echole is a sister company to Absolare). The Passion Preamplifier and Passion 845 power amplifier together present a pure Class A, all-triode signal path, and are designed as a single amplification structure that happens to be housed in two chassis.
Absolare has teamed up with Jack Bybee to offer Bybee’s technology in the Absolare Bullets as well as the Absolare Bybee Purifier AC-purifying device. To complete the system, Absolare also offers aesthetically and technically matched equipment racks and architectural acoustic panels.
As previously noted, I had an opportunity to hear the complete Absolare system for an extended audition with my own reference music, both analog and digital. The magic that only single-ended triodes seem to capture was evident—in spades. The system had a palpability of timbre and sense of presence that were remarkable. Instrumental images and voices hung in transparent space completely detached from the loudspeakers. The sound had a rare musical coherence and “rightness” that were captivating. Moreover, unlike many SETs that have shortcomings at the frequency extremes, the Passion 845 had solid bass performance and an airy and extended treble to complement its gorgeous midrange liquidity. I was also impressed by the Passion 845’s robust power delivery—52W of SET power is substantial, and makes the Passion 845 compatible with a wider range of loudspeakers than many SETs.
The products are distributed by Absolare USA of Nashua, New Hampshire. Watch for my review of the Passion Preamplifier and Passion 845 Single-Ended Triode Amplifier in an upcoming issue.