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This review first appeared in the November 2010 issue of hi-end hifi magazine of Germany. You can also read this review of the HiFiAkademie separates in its original German version. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with the publishers. 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 fairaudio or Gryphon Audio- Ed.

Reviewer: Jochen Reinecke
Source: Digital - Marantz SA 7001 CD/SACD, Yamaha CD-S 1000; analog -  Pro-Ject Xpression III with Ortofon OM 30 Super
Amplification: Funk LAP-2 preamp, Myryad MXA 2150 power amp, Yamaha A-S2000 , Harman Kardon HK670, Trends Audio TA-10.2 SE, Yarland FV-34C III, Miniwatt M1
Loudspeakers: Nubert nuBox 681, Nubert nuBox 101 with AW 441 subwoofer, DIY TL with F120A widebander
Cables: AVI Deep Blue interconnect, Kimber 4 VS speaker cable
Review component retail: €820 preamp, €765 power amp

Smart double. The Badener township of Leimen should be familiar to tennis fans. It was home to Boris Becker after all who today is its honorable citizen. But one or the other hifi fan might recognize it too. That’s where the HifiAkademie is located. No worries though. That’s the end of today's history lesson already. This really is a review about a pre/power combo available as kit or turnkey assembled.

Initially the two components caused conflicting emotions. The first impression was very good and of solidly packed, nicely simple and rather heavy machines with flawless aluminium fascias that would look fine in any rack. But firing things up elicited head scratching.

"Why a bloody touch panel? I want knobs to twirl and buttons to push." That was the arch conservative value assessor of my personality speaking. Once I familiarized myself with the machines and history of the HiFiAkademie, it all made sense. Off to another mini lesson if you don’t mind.

Originally the entire output of the academy—today this includes the Netplayer streaming client, a CD/DAC and a DSP module—was conceptualized for the audiophile DIY sector. Funky kits with monstrous power specs and criminal sonics were commonplace with the big electronic mail-order houses already. The various HiFiAkademie projects wanted to add quality. The specific degree of self involvement and required skills was always very flexible but today fully finished gear makes up about 90% of the company’s annual turnover.

Whoever owns a multimeter, Oszi (not Osbourne), a steady hand and isn’t afraid of a solder iron may acquire an access code to the inner workings of the company website for €50. This opens up detailed information about each machine’s functions, schematics and specific parts lists. It’s a really excellent investment. One doesn’t merely learn an awful lot (the name HiFiAkademie is no exaggeration – this level of detailed documentation is rare) but a registered ‘student’ also saves bread on subsequent DIY module purchases.

Because HiFiAkademie’s circuits are free of voodoo, healing soil and animated crystal waters to rely instead on widely available parts, the DIYer so inclined can be off sourcing the relevant bits to stuff and solder the circuit boards himself. Or, one could buy fully stuffed boards from the academy for one’s own chassis. Should that still prove too difficult or unattractive—that apparently describes the majority of today’s clientele—there are fully assembled components instead.

Pricing obviously differs depending on these options. The fully finished PreAmp in stereo guise goes for €820, the PowerAmp for €765. The solder jock can acquire the raw boards for €380 and €105 respectively but needs to factor for added parts costs. Should you want assembled boards for your own enclosures, the price becomes €560 and €410 for the PreAmp and PowerAmp.