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This review first appeared in the August 2009 issue of hi-end hifi magazine High Fidelity of Poland. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with publisher Wojciech Pacula. As is customary for our own reviews, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of High Fidelity. - Ed.

Reviewer: Wojciech Pacula
Review system: Go here
Review component retail: 45,000 and 49,000 PLN without volume control and as reviewed respectively

The Jota amplifier has been among Art Audio’s offerings for a long time. The machine is available in many different versions to be very versatile and while certain details have been tweaked over time, the core platform has remained the same for years. The amplifier is available in the following versions: power amplifier with RCA inputs; power amplifier with XLR inputs; power amplifier with volume control. The amp can be delivered with KR VV32B tubes (24wpc), KR300B-XLS (20wpc) or AVVT 320VSL (20wpc). For this review, the amp was supplied with the Aleša Vaic tubes, RCA input, attenuator and single speaker terminals.

The Jota is a classic SET. All tubes—and there are three in the signal path—work in class A. At the input we have a E88CC double triode by Philips in the splendid SQ version (this is one of the best versions of this tube I heard), followed by a further double triode, a 12BH7A EH made by Electro-Harmonix working as cathode follower and output tube driver. The power stage consisted of the big Aleša Vaic Vacuum Tube Technology AV 320B SL. This is a derivative from the classic 300B designed to work in older VAIC amplifiers. This is what the maker stated about this now NOS tube:

"..this is a Vaic construction named super linear anodes based on a proprietary patent. In classic tubes the ‘cold’ end of the heater introduces significant distortion. In this tube this ending is mounted in the anode in four little pits. Those pits are covered by elements containing nickel visible from the outside.

"Those eliminate the electron flow in the anode, thus eliminating the emission from the cold end of the heater. The 16-ribbon heater shape is patented for better linearity. There are two additional big getters, the glass is thick and unbreakable, we include anti-vibration elements and the base is ceramic with gold-plated pins."

The amplifier uses no negative feedback and is in fact a dual-mono construction in a shared enclosure. The only other common part is the power transformer. One of the main advantages of this amplifier against competitors are the split-core type transformers made by the company itself and which are different from classic cut designs. The iron is wound in England by people who specialize in that kind of construction and have signed an exclusive contract with Art Audio.

The following discs were used during testing: Madeleine Peyroux, Bare Bones, Rounder/Universal Music Japan, UCCU-1188, CD; Vivaldi, Laudate Pueri, Magda Kalmar/LFCO, Hungaroton, HCD 11632, CD; Cecilia Bartoli, Opera Proibita, Decca, 475 7029, CD; Kathleen Battle, Grace, Sony Classical/Sony Music Japan, SICC-20023, Blu-spec CD; Firenze 1616, Le Poème Harmonique, dyr. Vincent Dumestre, Alpha 120, CD; Milt Jackson Sextet, Invitation, Riverside/Mobile Fidelity, UDSACD 2031, ACD/CD; Denielsson/Dell/Landgren, Salzau Music On The Water, ACT Music + Vision, ACT 9445-2, CD; Depeche Mode, Sounds Of The Universe, Mute/EMI Music Japan, TOCP-66878, CD+DVD; Jim Hall Trio, ”These Rooms”, Denon, CY-30002, CD; Julie London, Around Midnight, Liberty/EMI Music Japan, TOCJ-90026, HQCD; Akiko Grace, Momentum, Savoy/Columbia Music Entertainment, COCB-53547, CD.

Sound: Before I switch on the review, I want to digress a bit to set the internal zoom to what is most important in this review. One of the main requirements for successful system integration is to choose the individual components— electronics, loudspeakers, cables, accessories etc—to interact optimally by making the whole exceed the simple sum of its elements. This is something impossible in mathematics or logic but quite basic in audio. This point of view heretic in terms of common sense is necessary if we want to arrive at living and breathing music as the result of combining particular machines. Audio is a sphere where the result is important, not the means of achieving it. So we talk about synergy. What is that? It is a certain attribute of the sound that brings satisfaction, that allows us to forget we are listening to a mechanical reproduction divorced from any semblance with live musicians. This is about the illusion of their presence in our room. To achieve that, we need to have the knowledge and skill to combine the individual components – a skill very similar to cooking.