Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Sources: 27" iMac with 5K Retina display, 4GHz quad-core engine with 4.4GHz turbo boost, 3TB Fusion Drive, 16GB SDRAM, OSX Yosemite, PureMusic 3.01, Tidal & Qobuz lossless streaming, COS Engineering D1 & H1, AURALiC Vega, Aqua Hifi Formula, Fore Audio DAISy 1, Questyle QP1R, Soundaware Esther Pro & D100 Pro
Preamplifier: Nagra Jazz, Esoteric C-03, Vinnie Rossi LIO (AVC module), COS Engineering D1, Wyred4Sound STP-SE Stage 2
Power & integrated amplifiers: Pass Labs XA30.8; FirstWatt SIT1, F5, F6, F7; Crayon Audio CFA-1.2; Goldmund Job 225; Aura Note Premier; Wyred4Sound mINT; Nord Acoustics One SE UP NC500MB; Linnenberg Audio Allegro monos
Loudspeakers: Albedo Audio Aptica; EnigmAcoustics Mythology 1; Sounddeco Sigma 2; soundkaos Wave 40; Boenicke Audio W5se; Zu Audio Druid V & Submission; German Physiks HRS-120; Eversound Essence]
Cables: Complete loom of Zu Event; KingRex uArt, Zu and LightHarmonic LightSpeed double-header USB cables; Tombo Trøn S/PDIF; van den Hul AES/EBU; AudioQuest Diamond glass-fibre Toslink; Arkana Research XLR/RCA and speaker cables [on loan]; Sablon Audio Petit Corona power cords [on loan], Black Cat Cable redlevel Lupo
Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all components, 5m cords to amp/s + sub
Equipment rack: Artesania Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Exoteryc Krion and glass amp stands [on loan]
Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators
Room: Rectangular 5.5 x 15m open floor plan with two-storey gabled ceiling, wood-sleeved steel trusses and stone-over-concrete flooring
Review component retail: £4,224

The Audio Valve Baldur 300 monos first launched in 2005.
Why review 'em 12 years after? Because, after my review of his Assistent 50 integrated, designer Helmut Becker asked me to. The note came via Mark Cargill, his UK importer. He had dispatched the first loaner. These would ship directly from the Germany factory. The same email inquiry had included the word "new". Presumably this didn't mean virgin (I insist on proper break-in before delivery) but revised from those originals born so many moons ago. In Viking mythology, Baldur was the second son of Odin by Frigg. He was much beloved and known as the fairest most handsome of their lot. He was killed by Loki's poisoned arrow but believed to come back after Ragnarök, their end of the world. In Audio Valve mythology, it's their most powerful triode amplifier. The number in the name reflects maximum 8Ω power. Nominal output is 240 watts at 1% THD. That drops to 0.3% at 100W and half that at 10W. Was my pair the second coming of Baldur? Had the world ended and begun again? Heck, even popular interpretation of the Mayan calendar had gotten that wrong. But then I'm a deep sleeper. Perhaps I'd slept right through the change. Was it really a new age?

If so, I was keen not to miss out again. After all, I'd never met the original Baldur. Off went an email to Helmut for the lowdown on this latest incarnation.