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So who is Wyred4Sound and why are they making you such an attractive proposition? Wyred4Sound has fast gained a reputation for offering high-quality high-value product. Even though the name may be unfamiliar, the California-based company is no stranger to High End. Operated by the team of Rick Cullen and EJ Sarmento, the parent firm Cullen Circuits has long been the OEM facility for more familiar audiophile brands as well as being a respected modifier. Cullen Circuits decided to lend their vast technical expertise to the creation of an independent product line, Wyred4Sound, selling their own designs Internet direct and through select dealers. This approach allows them to offer the public a performance level unheard of for their modest price.

What’s in the box
. When the STI 1000 arrives, one would be forgiven for wondering if Wyred4Sound had shipped the preamplifier by mistake. The appearance and weight are almost identical. Only the ST Integrated designation on the faceplate sets it apart. There is certainly nothing to hint at the 500 watts per channel hidden under the hood of this 21lbs unit.

The lightweight plastic remote is identical to that of the standalone preamp – simple, functional, batteries included. Supplied are a detachable power cord and a cable for the DC trigger. A manual is included. The styling of the STI 1000 is different from most standard boxes. The standard faceplate is replaced by a single-piece folded thick metal case which comprises top, front and 2 sides. It is exceptionally rigid, fastened to the chassis with a multitude of Torx screws and internally damped. Two angled black pillars on the front corners provide both accent trim and functional anchor points. The front panel is minimalist and intuitive in function and incorporates a dimmable vacuum fluorescent display. The cosmetics are in the form-follows-function camp and quite attractive.

On/off function is available by various methods, via remote or by pressing the large black volume control (really an optical rotary encoder). The unit can also be powered up from an outside processor via the DC trigger input. Additionally, there is a power switch on the back. Connectivity is generous. The back panel has four pairs of high-quality custom gold-plated copper alloy unbalanced RCA inputs and one pair of gold-plated Neutrik XLR balanced inputs. There is a pair of unbalanced RCA outputs which allows loop through. Speaker binding posts are plastic shrouded, custom gold-plated copper alloy which accept, spades, bare wire or banana connectors. Since this is a line stage, those who require phono capability will need to supply their own. There is also a DC trigger input and output. The incorporation of the DC trigger affords some unique capabilities.

"….You can connect a DC trigger cable to your Pre/Pro (and set up the proper input in the setup menu) to automatically configure the unit for HT use. When an input is selected to be used as the HT input, the DC trigger can be activated by your Pre/Pro to "power up" the unit and automatically set the volume to unity gain. This allows for all volume control to be made through the surround processor. When the processor is shut down, so is the STI and connected gear through the DC trigger output. When 2ch listening is desired, manual operation can be executed from the front of the unit or through the remote.

Most parameters are selectable on the front panel but some are only accessible via the remote. The manual gives concise information on how to navigate through any set-up possibility and the operation is simple and intuitive.

Subwoofer and crossover were removed for the first battery of listening tests to evaluate the amplifier driving the Apogees full range. The system was configured for biwire operation with Audio Art SE speaker cables. Both Audio Art SE and Signal Cable Silver Reference interconnects were used at various stages to the CD source, with various resonance control devices to check for both the unit’s inherent isolation properties and best compatibility as a system. The best match was obtained with the Equarack Footers. A bundle of CDs were brought out to challenge the system. Here is a sampling:

"Robert Johnson: Defiled is my Name" from i furiosi baroque ensemble Defiled is My (middle) Name  IF001]. This talented ensemble borrows from the membership of the legendary Tafelmusik Orchestra to strike out in new and exciting directions. Soaring vocals with amazing presence captured in the acoustic of a church. Complex information with rich decay.

"Johann Rosenmuller: Sonata Prima" from the same CD. Astonishingly detailed and delicate interplays held in focus despite being awash in hall acoustics. Full range of rich instrumental timbre and performance captured with convincing authority.

 "I Can’t Give You Anything But Love" from the Judy and the Jazzmakers album Keeping out of Mischief  [Coherent Recordings CD501]. The musical recording arm of Morrison Audio, bearer of the torch for the Stewart Hegeman omni loudspeaker design. Purist two microphone recording of a live acoustical jazz group recorded in a church. Reference for image placement and soundstaging. Holographic. Transparent. Warm acoustic. Intimate details and wide dynamic swings well captured.

"Beethoven: Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli in C Major from the Variations - Robert Silverman performs Beethoven Piano Music Stereophile CD [STPH017-2]. This is only the briefest snippet of a wonderful recording using an IsoMike configuration. Accurately captures the complexity of the instrument. Delicacy. Sweetness. Warmth. Full range from the upper to lowest octaves with the interplay of instrument reverberation.

"Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue" from Gershwin Centennial Edition [Telarc 2CD-80445]. Trademark wide dynamics with an exceptional warmth and delicacy in the high frequencies. Captures the proportions and placement of the piano well in relation to the rest of the orchestra.

Jerry Goldsmith, Original Soundtrack Recoding Legend The Jerry Goldsmith Score [Silva Screen FILMCD 045]. Almost lost in history. this is Goldsmith playing dangerous. Subtle ethereal delicacy, recorded distortion, primitive synthesizer effects from a time when each effect was difficult and had to be earned. A remarkable recovery of dynamic information creating "aliveness" and transparency in the recording.

 "Devil May Care" [Diana Krall, When I look in Your Eyes Verve IMPD-304]. Tremendous dynamic bounce makes the music come alive. The flavor of the electric guitar is well captured and the vocal is playful and seductive. Excellent detail and articulation separate the orchestral lines.

Tafelmusik, Tafelmusik Popular Masterworks of the Baroque [Reference Recordings RR-13CD]. Keith Johnson in a church capturing a great Baroque Orchestra. Chestnut pieces yes but this recording makes them sound fresh and new. Captured with textbook placement, soundstage and warmth. Huge cushions of air and acoustic. The individual characters of the instruments are preserved. Dynamic inflections, interplay. Visceral and real.

 "Juicy Lucy" [Dave Young Side By side Volume 3 Justin Time JUST 91-2] One cut of a cornucopia of piano jazz talent performing with bassist Dave Young. On this cut Ellis Marsalis performs. Interplay and delicacy give an intimate and engaging performance. Wide frequency range and instrumental weight. An excellent tool to gauge how accurately your system’s tonal balance is weighted.

 "Respighi/ Queen of Sheba Suite/War Dance" from This K2 HD Sound  [FIM K2 HD 078]  A Keith Johnson engineered piece with enormous driving power and rapid fire dynamic changes. Shimmer, presence, detail, hall, dimensionality, air. All captured perfectly.

Integrated evaluation
. Wyred4Sound recommends a 300-hour break-in period. In the initial stages the unit was dry and thin and there was sibilance riding on vocals adding a slight lisp to performances. That anomaly quickly disappeared and over time the amplifier gained transparency and respectable dimensionality in the midrange. Soundstaging prowess increased over this period exhibiting excellent width and acceptable depth with some foreshortening especially at higher frequencies.

There was leanness in the bass through lower midrange that did not disappear. This frequency balance accentuated detailing and transparency over weight and dimensionality. Suspecting that the power supply might not be enjoying the combination of low impedance, low sensitivity and high current demands of the Apogees, I replaced the stock power cable with the Audio Art SE power cord. There was an immediate rise in level in the affected frequency range which reaped vast improvements in subjective warmth as well as detail and dynamics. A saner load will probably not initiate this problem but if you hear a similar shortcoming, it is easily solved.

In the course of the listening sessions, the ST Integrated proved capable of revealing large amounts of information. There was a wonderful delicacy which goes against preconceptions about high power. The amplifier was surprisingly fast on its feet, exhibiting none of the sluggishness that many would associate with such massive horsepower. It handled complex dynamic passages easily. Macro bombast and fine micro detailing were convincingly portrayed.