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What apart from the enclosures didn't change is designer Akira Nagai's so-called SATRI circuit described in Srajan's prior review at length. In short, this amplifier processes gain in the current domain and even offers a current-mode input on BNC though the final speaker and headphone outputs are driven in voltage mode. The back thus sports one pair of RCA and BNC inputs plus speaker terminals. The ¼” headphone port and power toggle sit on the left cheek. Single-source users won't have any issues. For the rest there's endless cable swaps unless we use a preamp. Another sign of Bakoon's minimalism is lack of the usual input selector on the front.

A small toggle in the back selects between single current/voltage mode inputs instead. Atop the front right corner sits a horizontal volume wheel which is so seamlessly integrated that you might at first miss it. Unless you unplug its power cord, the power supply is always live. Unlike the amp proper it doesn't get hot so probably won't reflect badly on your power utility bill. Both components sport single yellow power LEDs. And that's it – simple but great-looking minimalist and compact kit. Let's see how it sounds.

A selection of recording used for this review. Beethoven Symphonie No. 9, Deutsche Gramophon DG 445 503-2, CD/FLAC; Albeniz Suita Espanola, KIJC 9144, LP; AC/DC Live, EPIC E2 90553, LP; Patricia Barber Companion, Premonition/Mobile Fidelity MFSL 2-45003, 180g LP; U2 Joshua Tree, Universal, LP75094, 180g LP; The Ray Brown Trio Summer Wind, Concord Jazz CCD-4426, CD/FLAC; Rodrigo y Gabriela 11:11, EMI Music Poland 5651702, CD/FLAC; Marcus Miller A night in Monte Carlo, Concord Records B004DURSBC, CD/FLAC; Kermit Ruffins Livin' a Treme life, Basin Street B001T46TVU, CD/FLAC; Pavarotti The 50 greatest tracks, Decca 478 5944, CD/FLAC; Wycliff Gordon Dreams of New Orleans, Chesky B0090PX4U4, CD/FLAC; Leontyne Price The complete collection of operatic recital albums, RCA Red Seal, 88697940512, CD/FLAC; Arne Domnerus Jazz at the Pawnshop, Proprius/First Impression Music 012-013, XRCD.

Let's be honest. The AMP-12R is no power monger to drive just any speakers What you get is 15 watts per channel. You need to chose your speakers carefully. I guess that's why our Polish Bakoon distributor demoed this amplifier with Austrian Trenner&Friedl high-efficiency speakers and the fantastic Lumin streamer at last year's Warsaw show. And that had worked out really well. I used my Bastanis Matterhorn as well as Amphion Argon 7L. I'd run the latter for the past few months and grown to love them. Their 93dB sensitivity is quite high. Their obviously friendly impedance curve makes these boxes good partners for even low-powered tube amplifiers. That's why I could use them in my listening sessions of the Sugden IA-4. Ditto with the Bakoon and as an alternative to my 100dB Matterhorns.

Bakoon with Friedl&Trenner and Lumin at the 2013 Warsaw show

Well, I liked the Bakoon/7L combo so much that I used it over most my time with the amp. Admittedly each setup looked a bit curious when this tiny 20x20x4cm affair drove my large floorstanders. The Bastanis are actually huge and nobody would call the Finnish Argon 7L small. So there was a big visual disconnect. That changed completely once the music began to flow. Before I get to sonic impression however, I was worried about one more thing. My trusty LessLoss speaker cables are quite heavy. Each time I have to use them with small gear, I must be extra careful not to let the cables capsize things and tumble off my rack (which happened once but never again). As mentioned already and despite its small footprint, the two Bakoon casings in their rack are surprisingly weighty. Regardless of cables they'll remain steady like a mini tank. But I faced a small issue trying to connect my spade-terminated speaker cables. It'd have been so much easier were the posts longer to stick out past the edge of the rack. Banana users won't mind but spades and stiff cables require some manhandling. That's the only item I'd humbly suggest Bakoon's designers revisit. Granted, others will complain about the lack of remote control but at least that'll force 'em to at least once in a while get out of their comfy listening chairs. Or use a preamp.

Finally I started my auditions. My first impression was that it got really quiet around here. I just made quickly sure I was comfortable enough in my chair (I like it comfortable too) and a moment later I forgot all about the world and was off on a trip to a wonderful musical universe. I started with one of my latest acquisitions, a RCA Red Label 10-CD box set of my secret flame Leontyne Price. I loved how her deep rich powerful voice was shown quite close to me for an immediate connection on an emotional level. Even though I listened over speakers, I was reminded of what I'd experienced recently with my audition of Bakoon's HPA-21 matched perfectly to Sennheiser's HD800 using its current output. I was immersed in a musical reality that was almost totally different from anything I' known before. This made it quite difficult to assess it using standard criteria.