Audionet PRE G2 Linestage and MAX Monoblock Amplifiers

Two for the Ages

Equipment report
Solid-state power amplifiers
AudioNet MAX,
AudioNet PRE G2
Audionet PRE G2 Linestage and MAX Monoblock Amplifiers

Deeply extended bass, down into the lowest regions typically mined by instruments like contrabassoon, upright bass, and pipe organ, was seemingly effortlessly and clearly delivered. This speed and resolution were matched by weight and impact, making for some of the most believable bass I’ve yet heard in my room. I was taken with the near non-existence of any discernible hint of slurring or blurring, at any volume.

I was hearing subtleties in the deepest bass performance in recordings I’ve been listening to for decades, as diverse as Janis Ian’s Breaking Silence [Analogue Productions],  Roger Waters Amused to Death [Columbia], and Saint-Saëns Symphony No. 3 “Organ” [Mercury]. My system was now revealing pitch definition and transient detail in the lowest octave and a half in a manner reminiscent of systems using both much pricier electronics and speakers than mine does. In this respect, the Audionet pairing is so reminiscent of the prowess of the original Soulution 700 monos or the darTZeel NHB-458 monos, that I was nearly speechless. I’ve not heard such low-frequency transparency, detail, and focus from any pairing even close to this price range prior to the arrival of the Audionet gear.

Resurrected passages from the depths of the previously mentioned Mercury Saint-Saëns Symphony No. 3, were simply weightier, fuller, and better defined than I’ve ever experienced from that record. The room completely pressurized when that lowest organ key was hit near the opening to the second movement. Keeping in mind that this recording is nowhere near the end-all in bass performance, this linestage and pair of mono amps still recreated it well beyond the capabilities of any electronics I can recall at this price point.

Moving to midbass, the Audionet duo breathed life into every musical genre from any format—LP, Red Book CD, SACD, DVD-A, PCM or DSD files—I fed them. In this all-important region, typically referred to as the power range, comprising roughly the third and fourth lowest musical octaves (from about 80–320Hz or so), where the propulsive energy and body of the music dwell, and where much of the music’s overall organic warmth and texture reside, the Audionets really step it up. Their remarkable performance in this crucial range again called to mind that of gear pairings costing well into six-figure territory, as the MAXes clearly offered a monumental step up over any previous electronics I’ve had in house.

The midrange was sublimely magical, a near-unparalleled combination of instrumental body and bloom with timbral and textural accuracy that can only be described as wholly organic. They absolutely excelled at capturing the individual brilliance or sheen of voices, from the wily charm of Rickie Lee Jones on her eponymous album [Warner], to the robust, charismatic voice of Stevie Ray Vaughan (all too often overlooked in favor of his obvious guitar mastery) on “Tin Pan Alley” from Couldn’t Stand the Weather [Epic]. The tone and texture of Johnny Cash’s voice on “Bird on a Wire” from American Recordings [American Recordings] was so chesty, so full and textured, so chillingly authentic, I’d never before been more convinced that he was alive and in my room. The same was true of Henryk Szeryng’s violin on the Lalo Symphonie Espagnole [RCA]. The purity and naturalness of its timbre were undeniable.

Essentially, the midrange was blustering with life, rich in detail, and full of harmonic bloom. Instrument fundamentals from piano, violin, guitar, human voice, etc.,  had a lifelike quality, even with recordings I had previously considered mediocre. This was some of the most engaging and articulate midrange I have had the pleasure of hearing: fluid, smooth, and expressive.

The PRE G2 and MAXes offered a notable increase in resolution and transparency in the treble, too. With the Audionet combo, the top end was focused and detailed, yet smooth and without any etched sterility. The pair delivered an unbelievably open and dramatically airy top end, with vivid attacks. I’m not sure I have ever heard significantly better from any pairing to date.

Cymbals or, more notably, triangles and chimes decayed seemingly forever (recording permitting), and with a clarity, texture, and tone redolent of what I hear from the likes of Constellation. In sum, from the lowest bass to their uppermost extension, the Audionet gear displayed one of the most remarkable tonal balances I’ve encountered.