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Srajan Ebaen
Financial Interests: click here
27" iMac with 3.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i7, 16GB 1.333MHz RAM, 2TB hard disc, 256GB SSD drive, ADM Radeon HD 6970M with 2GB of GDDR5 memory, PureMusic 1.84 in hybrid memory play with pre-allocated RAM and AIFF files up to 24/192; Audirvana, April Music Eximus DP1, Esoteric/APL Hifi UX1/NWO-M w. Audiophilleo 2
Preamp/Integrated: ModWright LS-100 with Synergy Hifi tubes, Esoteric C-03, Bent Audio Tap-X, Trafomatic SM-101Dn [on loan]
: First Watt SIT1
Speakers: Aries Cerat Gladius, Boenicke Aud
io B10, Voxativ Ampeggio
Cables: Complete loom of Zu Audio Event,
KingRex uCraft USB cable with UPower battery supply
Artesania Esoteric double-wide 3-tier with TT glass shelf
, 2 x ASI HeartSong amp stands
Powerline conditioning: 1 x GigaWatt PF2, 1 x Furutech RTP-6
Sundry accessories: Extensive use of Acoustic System Resonators, noise filters and phase inverters
Room size: 5m x 11.5m W x D, 2.6m ceiling with exposed wooden cross beams every 60cm, plaster over brick walls, suspended wood floor with Tatami-type throw rugs. The listening space opens into the second storey via a staircase and the kitchen/dining room are behind the main listening chair. The latter is thus positioned in the middle of this open floor plan without the usual nearby back wall.
Review Component Retail: SEK 43.990 in Sweden (this price includes the custom miniature rack)

What follows was penned already two years ago anticipating a review. Now the story resumes in June 2012 with the next-gen amplifier. Since the intro remains valid we'll use it to catch up to the present.

February 2010. Of moles and men
. Maurizio 'El Gelato' Galati—my mole inside the Italian audio embassy—had news. His friend Giulio Salvioni had become importer for Bakoon. As globe-trotting hifi ambassador from my arm chair, I'd come across this very esoteric underground line from designer Akira Nagai before. But only in passing via forum praise. There wasn't a single English review on the brand. A contraction of Baku (a supernatural creature from Japanese mythology associated with dreams) and Un (luck), Bakoon denotes lucky dreams. Their core Satri circuit meanwhile is named after the Japanese satori for enlightenment. Highly suggestive stuff. Bakoon launched in Kumamoto Japan in 1991. As of 2009 they've been headquartered in Seoul, Korea. Was I interested in a tête à tête? Assolutamente. Galati promised to pass my interest to Salvioni.

No buffoon.
Even a cursory glance at the amp's specs makes clear how this is no lemming design. There's bandwidth from 10Hz to 1 Megahertz and a S/N ratio of less than 50μV noise without feedback. And two analog BNC inputs called Satri-Link which allow for low-impedance current-mode signal transfer between Bakoon gear. Eluding power corruption, there's an 8Ω rating of just 15 watts. Flipping a finger at mass for respect too, shipping weight is a mere 10.5kg. Equally middling are dimensions of 270 x 75 x 340mm WxHxD. With a DC offset of less than 1mV and exploded bandwidth, one assumes a DC-coupled ultra high-speed circuit. But that's just the beginning.

Bakoon's Satri is a proprietary current-mode integrated circuit whose gain factor is set by the ratio of input to output resistor; whose linearity requires no global feedback; whose S/N ratio remains constant regardless of gain; and whose operating point is fixed inside the chip to be unaffected by outside thermal conditions. The first Satri IC appeared in 1998 inside an epoxy molding. It used surface-mount dual transistors and carbon resistors. Two years later, its SMD dual transistors became standard audio transistors. By 2002, the chip resistors became 0.1% precision metal film units. The current V9.0 Mosfet generation dates back to 2007. It relies on a discrete current mirror, adds 12 transistors and expands the former 2-layer circuit board to four layers. This reduced distortion by a claimed 1:10 factor.

No baboon. The 14-pin Satri Super Precision chip measures 14 x 30.5mm and can run on from ±3 to ±25 supply voltages. Voltage and bias currents are below 150mW. Input impedance is less than 10 ohms while output impedance is a colossal 100 mega ohms. Definitely not another lemming design! With the latest AMP 31, there's also a headphone socket, remote control and new industrial design to distract from pure hair shirt appeal. Forum chatter talked of SET-type purity. And there was excitement. Bakoon was finally available outside Japan. Visions of 47lab and FirstWatt perhaps?

June 2012. For reasons I don't remember, that review never materialized. But some things are meant to be. Now I'd gotten a press release from Klutz Design's Michael Hollesen in Sweden. He had a spiffy new leather-covered headphone stand. Logging onto his site I spotted a link to Our Imports (Hifi). This led to Trenner and Friedl speakers and Bakoon Products Intl. The latter rang the bell. But I didn't recognize the AMP-11R displayed. Skipping to Bakoon's own website I realized why. The AMP 31 had been discontinued in December 2011. Obviously I'd not come across its replacement earlier. Perusing specs and glorious gutted pix, I noticed that the company still hadn't a single English review. Feeling cheeky or perhaps predatory—these days I barely keep up with review solicits and rarely do any soliciting myself—I asked Michael whether he'd be interested in supplying a review sample and thus end the English embargo.

AMP 31

He checked with Soo In at Bakoon Int'l. The response was "thrilled". We were on. Here was a product that on paper looked immaculately built, thoroughly unique and had a very interesting back story reinforced by a lengthy designer interview that hadn't been up two years ago. Now forget all about the AMP 31 above. It's been discontinued. Feast your eyes on its sleek two-box replacement: