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2022 Golden Ear: Aavik P-580 Stereo Power Amplifier

2022 Golden Ear: Aavik P-580 Stereo Power Amplifier

Aavik P-580 Stereo Power Amplifier

$30,000

There is a lot of proprietary technology packed into Michael Børresen’s new 300Wpc into 8 ohms (600Wpc into 4 ohms) stereo power amplifier, which is undoubtedly one reason why the P-580 is the first Class D amplifier I can recommend without the usual reservations. Thanks in part to Aavik’s unique distortion-reduction circuitry, “resonant-mode” power supply, and high-bandwidth/low-noise UMAC Class D amplifier module (from the Danish pro-audio firm Pascal), the P-580 does not have the usual, digital-like upper-mid/lower-treble glare or brickwall-like top-octave cut-off that Class D amps of the past have evinced. Instead, it is rather soft, sweet, and dark in the brilliance range, like a Class A amp. Of course, it is phenomenal in the bass (all Class D amps have been, due largely to their very high damping factor) and quite appealingly warm, grainless, and grit free in the midband. It is also surprisingly three-dimensional in its imaging. Though not as finely detailed, as 3-D, as richly colored, or as brimming with energy and nuance as my reference power amplifier, the still unsurpassed Soulution 711, the P-580 costs half of what the 711 does, is much smaller in form factor, weighs about 120 pounds less, and runs as cool as a cuke. While the P-580 isn’t going to replace Soulution in my system, it is something I could live with pleasurably long-term, which (for me) is a first in a Class D amp and the reason for this year’s Golden Ear Award.

Tags: AAVIK AMPLIFIER AWARDS GOLDEN EAR POWER SOLID-STATE

By Jonathan Valin

I’ve been a creative writer for most of life. Throughout the 80s and 90s, I wrote eleven novels and many stories—some of which were nominated for (and won) prizes, one of which was made into a not-very-good movie by Paramount, and all of which are still available hardbound and via download on Amazon. At the same time I taught creative writing at a couple of universities and worked brief stints in Hollywood. It looked as if teaching and writing more novels, stories, reviews, and scripts was going to be my life. Then HP called me up out of the blue, and everything changed. I’ve told this story several times, but it’s worth repeating because the second half of my life hinged on it. I’d been an audiophile since I was in my mid-teens, and did all the things a young audiophile did back then, buying what I could afford (mainly on the used market), hanging with audiophile friends almost exclusively, and poring over J. Gordon Holt’s Stereophile and Harry Pearson’s Absolute Sound. Come the early 90s, I took a year and a half off from writing my next novel and, music lover that I was, researched and wrote a book (now out of print) about my favorite classical records on the RCA label. Somehow Harry found out about that book (The RCA Bible), got my phone number (which was unlisted, so to this day I don’t know how he unearthed it), and called. Since I’d been reading him since I was a kid, I was shocked. “I feel like I’m talking to God,” I told him. “No,” said he, in that deep rumbling voice of his, “God is talking to you.” I laughed, of course. But in a way it worked out to be true, since from almost that moment forward I’ve devoted my life to writing about audio and music—first for Harry at TAS, then for Fi (the magazine I founded alongside Wayne Garcia), and in the new millennium at TAS again, when HP hired me back after Fi folded. It’s been an odd and, for the most part, serendipitous career, in which things have simply come my way, like Harry’s phone call, without me planning for them. For better and worse I’ve just gone with them on instinct and my talent to spin words, which is as close to being musical as I come.

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