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This review first appeared in the May 2009 issue of hifi & stereo magazine You can also read this review of the Fonel Emotion in its original German version. We translated it through a syndication arrangement with our German colleagues. 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 or Advance Acoustic. - Ed.

Reviewer: Jörg Dames
Sources: Fonel Simplicité (variable outputs), Audiomeca Obsession II, Wadia 170i Transport & Apple iPod & Benchmark DAC1 USB
Amplification: pre/power - Myyrad MXA 2150, Funk LAP-2.V2, Glockenklang Bugatti, SAC il piccolo monos, Octave HP 300 MKII; integrated - Accuphase E212, Lua 4040C, Electrocompaniet Prelude PI-2
Loudspeakers: Thiel CS 2.4, Sehring S 703 SE, Quadral Rondo, Thiel SCS4, Elac 330 CE
Cables: Low-level Straight Wire Virtuoso, high-level HMS Fortissimo, Reson LSC 350
Review component retail: € 4.699

Globalization is a beast of many facets. It's not as clear-cut as recent Sino shifts suggest. In hifi today, development often is domestic, assembly 9000 kilometers east. News to me was that a 2000km distance in this scheme could be sufficient. And in reverse, going West. What's more, "Made in Germany" need not be invalidated despite border crossings. For example, Fonel's Emotion integrated is built in Germany, Berlin to be exact. But development and design occurs in the Ukrainian city of Severodonezk, home to 125.000 souls. Admittedly, Fonel's division of duties is anything but the norm. This flows into our tester's cosmetics too which aren't typical either. It does not look off the rack. But at 30kg, it'd be too heavy to hang off a rack in the first place...

Mr. Vladimir Kaplun, one of the eight spiritual fathers of Fonel's Emotion in the Ukraine

Tech & Concept
Nine kilos alone go to the 2 x 360V toroidal transformer whose secondaries supply each mono channel discretely. Further weight is absorbed by the enclosure which doesn't follow the ubiquitous trend of fat face place hiding a bent sheet metal derrière. This one runs 5mm steel stock all around, then applies solid wood planks for cosmetics and to minimize self resonance. The wood appliqué has various trim options. The darker species are likely a more general match with other equipment but I personally was very fond of the blond wood.

Fonel's propaganda talks dual mono even though the single tranny despite its twin windings could be interpreted differently. But let's not criticize specific descriptions since Fonel's Emotion otherwise is built up in perfect channel symmetry (good for channel separation and accurate soundstaging). In fact, it is fully dual-differential. Because this increases circuit complexity by a factor of two, it's quite uncommon even for components with XLR inputs. Fonel's Emotion processes its XLR signals in true balanced fashion.

For power and control, this machine's spec sheet reads like bear - RMS power of 2 x 300 watts into 4 ohm (ca. 200 into 8), 10milli-ohm output impedance for a damping factor of 800 into 8 ohm (to promise control of even challenging loads), suitability into 1 ohm impedances. For inputs, there's three RCA and one XLR. For a €100 surcharge, the Emotion can be had with a pre-in feature to become a dedicated power amp. Very cleverly, each of the four source inputs (including the XLR) can then be programmed via a few button commands to become the external preamp's input.

Headphonistas get a 6.3mm input, regular speaker listeners two discretely switchable A/B outputs with eight 5-way terminals spaced widely to accommodate beefier cables. And before I forget it, the Emotion is available as a pure transistor or valve machine. The latter looks identical but outputs only 25wpc. Fonel's general corporate allegiance lies with valves which could explain why the transistor variant runs metal oxide semiconductor field-effect transistors aka Mosfets. Their superiority of course is no more universally agreed upon than tubes.

Unlike the more common bipolar transistors (some of which also are to be found in the Fonel Emotion), Mosfets and FETs in general work with just a bias current and electrical field similar to tubes. Unlike in the latter, the electrons needn't jump a vacuum barrier but move through a semi-conductor to not require heater supplies. The general operational resemblance also shows up in behavioral and measurable overlap. Those interested in the subject might reference Wikipedia and Electrons traveling through Mosfets needn't overcome the resistive layers of bipolar transistors which, according to Fonel, makes for lower harmonic and other distortion but also lower gain. Fonel thus believes that the solution is in the right mix of devices. In the three-stage Emotion, only the output stage is free of all bipolars. The other stages employ both kinds of transistors. The four output Mosfets per channel are tightly matched and operate in class A up to 15 watts before transitioning into the more energy-efficient class B.