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This review first appeared in the February 2011 issue of hi-end hifi magazine of Germany. You can also read this review of the Plinius 9200 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 Audio-Technica - Ed.

Reviewer: Ralph Werner
Sources: Analog – deck - Acoustic Solid MPX, VPI Scout II; tone arms - Phonotools Vivid-Two, SME M2 12-inch, VPI JMW-9; pickups - Denon DL-103, Ortofon MC Rondo Bronce, Zu Audio DL-103; phono pre - SAC Gamma Sym; digital – deck - HIFIAkademie cdPlayer, Luxman D-05; Computer & Co - Logitech Squeezebox 3, Readynas Duo NAS-Server,
HP Notebook; D/A converter - Benchmark DAC1 USB
Amplification: Pre - Octave HP300; power - Electrocompaniet AW180; integrated – Denon PMA-2010AE, Fonel Emotion
Loudspeakers: Ascendo System F, Thiel SCS4
Sundry cables, racks etc
Review component retail
: €4.150

By air
a direct line drawn between Plinius Audio’s Christchurch New Zealand digs and German importer Expolinear Elektroakustik of Berlin would stretch to 18.000km. Traveling much farther is nearly impossible. The Far East is our halfway stop; and Expolinear’s boss Jörg Henning-Reunelt really does insist on airfreight since the slow boat would take three months. With NZ legislature well aware of their country’s isolated position, freight costs are subsidized to where such ship fees apparently aren’t much higher than with the usual imports from China & Co. Nice on ya, Kiwis.

I couldn’t run off many hifi brands of New Zealand origins. Having been in biz for more than 30 years, Plinius is probably the most well known especially so for us Germans since it’s been domestically available since 1986. As mostly an amplifier firm a few readers might right away flash on absolutely massive über amps like the top SA Reference at right but we’ll save that for a rainy day. Today is about the stable’s smallest integrated amp, the very conventionally dimensioned Plinius 9200 whose 14kg should wreck nobody’s back.

The 9200 is a pretty sight. The minimalist 7mm aluminium front sports just three controls for record, source and volume whilst otherwise drawing attention to a quite large deeply engraved logo and of course those rounded corners. By strict definition the Plinius actually doesn’t have a front plate. The machine uses a twin chassis whose inner blue sheet metal cage is surrounded by a J-shaped thick aluminium profile. This outer metal coat does include the front but also the entire right side whilst ending in carrying handles in the rear. The left cheek gets interrupted where the top cover is bolted down on that side. Though it might sound complicated, it’s actually simple and elegant. The photos explain it best.

This unusual twin-skin scheme isn’t only for cosmetic snazz. Plinius claims minimized chassis resonance and thus lower microphony for the internal parts. Fanciers of Ford can get black anodized. So we’ve got pretty and solid covered. But the minimalist makeup also has shadow sides. While sins are mild, I’ll grab my pen to cover nits. Cough. A power mains switch belongs up front, not in the back. I got frustrated each time I was forced shoulder deep into the rack to fumble for the switch in the dark. You might protest. The front mentions standby after all. Why bother with the obscurely placed on/off switch?