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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, OSX 10.8.2, PureMusic 1.89a in hybrid memory play with pre-allocated RAM and AIFF files up to 24/192; Audirvana 2.4 in direct/integer mode, Metrum Hex, SOtM dX-USB HD with Super-clock upgrade & mBPS-d2s
Preamp/Integrated: ModWright LS-100 with Psvane tubes, Esoteric C-03, Bent Audio Tap-X, TruLife Audio Athena, Bakoon AMP-11R, Wyred4Sound mINT, Black Pearls Birth 100 [on review]
: First Watt SIT1, FirstWatt SIT2, ModWright KWA100SE
Speakers: Aries Cerat Gladius, Boenicke Aud
io B10, Zu Audio Druid V, AudioSolutions Rhapsody 200
Cables: Complete loom of Zu Audio Event
Artesania Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with TT glass shelf, Rajasthani solid hardwood console for amps
Powerline conditioning: GigaWatt PF2
on amps,GigaWatt PC-3 SE Evo on front-end components

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: €3.500

Just what to call your new hifi company? Konstantinos Papachristou from Athens/Greece decided on Black Pearls Audio and the catchy byline dive deep into your senses. Once you consider just how the so-called black or Tahitian pearl is produced—cultured by inserting a shell bead into the gonad of a Pinctada margaritafera mollusk which then grows the desired pearl around this core—one can't help but detect some artifice. Yet the entire stereo illusion is about highly polished artifice. And that makes the name eminently sensible.

The company's first product is an attractively styled substantially made 5-input 70/110wpc into 8/4Ω integrated with remote control and 6.3mm headphone socket called Birth 100.
Its minimalist zero feedback current buffer runs two Exicon ECW20/2OZ Mosfets as single n- and p-channel output devices per side in what I've seen some makers refer to as a single-ended (non-paralleled) push/pull array. Filter capacitance is via ten KMQ 63V/2.200uF electrolytic capacitors for each channel. The five RCA inputs—input 5 is paralleled by a convenience XLR—are switched with Takamisawa relays via small push buttons on the front but also controlled from the included small credit-card remote.

Volume is by 100KΩ motorized Alps pot for the same reason (and the wand includes a convenient 'mute' too). Unusually the power supply consists of four 150VA toroidal transformers. Those are from Greece's T. Giatras and mounted across the entire width of the amp right behind its half-inch aluminum fascia.

Two of those transformers supply 2 x 30V each, two of them terminate as 85V secondaries. This 'quad mono' scheme supplies the class A single-ended voltage gain stage and the "high class A-biased" class AB output stage discretely and per channel. Additionally there's a small encapsulated Thai Lin 9V filter coil per side. Input impedance is 90KΩ and slew rate is specified as 14.9V/us. Frequency response is 20Hz to 100kHz ±0.5dB, output impedance is 0.47Ω.

The beefy casing is 2.5mm painted steel to be reassuringly heavy. The power and input indicator LED light up red whilst seven clock markers around the massive central volume control plus its embedded position indicator are black pearls of the artificial variety. As it should be, the power mains is on the front.

My outside/in-spection concluded that despite the brand's unproven track record, Konstantinos had created a surprisingly mature machine. Functionally complete except for its lack of subwoofer pre-out, cosmetics, fit'n'finish and overall build quality did not suggest a newcomer but rather an experienced old hand.

To appreciate the how, what and why of the Birth's birth—given 2013's global recession and Greece's own economy hit hard by austerity measures, particularly the why—I sent Mr. Papachristou (does that make his middle name Jacob?) a list of questions to paint us the bigger picture. Discovering a new brand means being first to tell its story. That goes on record to automatically qualify all subsequent perception. Best to properly cover all the bases beyond just the box. Dive deeper.