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This review first appeared in the December 2013 issue of hi-end hifi magazine High Fidelity of Poland. You can also read it in its original Polish version here. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with publisher Wojciech Pacula. As is customary for our own articles, 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 or Bakoon. - Ed

Reviewer: Marek Dyba
CD player: Oppo BDP-83SE modified by Dan Wright
DAC: TeddyDAC, Hegel HD11
USB converter: Berkeley Audio Design Alpha USB, Lampizator
Analogue: TransFi Salvation and T3Pro Tomahawk, AT33PTG MC, Koetsu Black Gold Line (MC), Goldring 2100 (MM), ESELabs Nibiru MC, iPhono MM/MC
Preamplifier: ModWright LS100
Power amplifier: Art Audio Symphony II, ModWright KWA100SE
Loudspeakers: Bastanis Matterhorn
Headphones: Audeze LCD3
Headphone amp: Schitt Lyr
Interconnects: LessLoss Anchorwave, Gabriel Gold Extreme MkII, Antipodes Komako
USB: AudioQuest Carbon
Speaker cable: Tara Labs Omega Onyx
Power cables (all equipment): LessLoss DFPC Signature, GigaWatt LC-3
Power delivery: GigaWatt PF-2 MkII, Furutech TP-609e, GigaWatt LC-Y & G-044 Schuko, Furutech FT-SWS.D (R)
Stand: Rogoz Audio 4SN2N
Review component retail in Poland: 25'900

Little over a year ago Wojciech kicked off his review of Bakoon's AMP-11R with this quote from its maker: "The design goal of the AMP-11R is to be the world's best compact high-end amplifier." A year passed and I received the AMP-12R which replaces the AMP-11R. Did this imply that the earlier bold declaration was false or had lost its meaning? Absolutely not. Bakoon's designers created the best product they could a year ago. Whilst the product was highly acclaimed, these guys worked hard to make it even better. Such perfectionism really is one of the best attitudes hifi engineers and designers in general could possess.

In our case 'perfection' should be understood as sound reproduction as close to the original performance as possible. It can't ever be perfect but driven designers never stop looking for ways to improve their circuits. For us consumers that's an obvious benefit. Such obsessive commitment to quality seems even more important with small to mid-size companies which are usually run by truly passionate folks who don't design for corporate approval, consensus by committee or predefined profitability schemes. If they discover a particular part or circuit which improves the sound, they use it. And that' reflects in the final price. If they chance upon a number of improvements over a previous design, they release a new version or model.

Bakoon shares little information on exactly what improvements the 12 implements. Just looking at the machine or published specs won't tell you anything. For me this was even harder as I never heard the AMP-11R. I'll thus focus solely on appearance, build quality and sound though not without prefacing that with the little I did learn from Soo In Chae, managing director of Bakoon Products International. “The AMP-12R’s biggest performance upgrade over the previous 11R is from a completely revised bias circuit. The new circuit controls the Mosfet pairs simultaneously to achieve far greater stability and linearity over the previous circuit. This results in more precision and sonic detail.” About the current input and solitary voltage input, “for the SATRI-LINK current input we now have the EQA-12R phono stage but we do plan to introduce more models like a DAC and preamplifier though we can't guarantee release dates. The AMP-12R is actually a variable-output power amplifier, hence its limited number of input connectors.” As to their website now archiving the rack previously available separately, “the same RCK-11 rack comes standard with the AMP-12. We simply removed it from the product list as we no longer offer it as a separate item.”

On to appearance. The Bakoon looks great! Over the past few years more and more Korean companies have proven that they really know how to produce perfectly finished aluminium casings. Just think Eximus DP1, Stello U3 or Calyx 24/192. When looking at the last two and Bakoon products we find some inspiration from Apple products like the Mac Mini. In my book that's not a bad thing. If you look for inspiration, go after the best and simply make sure you can do it as well. All of these companies really can.

The Bakoon arrives in two casings, the gain/power circuit and the power supply. Both look very much alike and are of the same size, shape and finish machined from solid aluminium stock finished in either bead-blasted silver or a very dark grey bordering on black. Based on my experience with it and the silver HPA-21 headphone amp from Bakoon which I recently reviewed, I'd go with black. Someone else will favor the silver. The important thing is having a choice. Exactly as Srajan and Wojciech reviewed the AMP-11R, I received mine with the two-tier mini rack which requires minimal assembly.

This rack again is mostly aluminium, performs very well and offers the bonus of vertical stacking as a simple but well-executed solution. It occupies a small footprint, probably lends itself to future expansion for new Bakoon products and allows for proper room to radiate heat. The amplifier on the top gets quite hot. Not so the always-on PSU below. Their umbilical is a short aggressively red (why red?) leash. Again, it all looks bloody marvelous and, surprise, weighs a lot. The rack terminates in large solid pointy spikes which I rested in Franc Accessories Ceramic Discs to avoid deep holes in my own rack. I was too lazy and scared for the finish of my rack to see whether it would sound better with or without the Ceramic Discs. Those simply never failed me before whether under electronics or speakers.