Reviewer: 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 3.0.1, Tidal & Qobuz lossless streaming, Fore Audio DAISy 1, COS Engineering D1, Metrum Hex, AURALiC Vega, Aqua Hifi La Scala MkII, Apple iPod Classic 160GB (AIFF), Astell& Kern AK100 modified by Red Wine Audio, Cambridge Audio iD100, Pro-Ject Dock Box S Digital, Pure i20
Preamplifiers: Nagra Jazz, Esoteric C-03, COS Engineering D1, Clones Audio AP1 [on loan]
Power & integrated amplifiers: Pass Labs XA30.8, FirstWatt S1, F6; Crayon Audio CFA-1.2; Goldmund Job 225; Gato Audio DIA-250; Aura Note Premier; Wyred4Sound mINT; April Music Stello S100 MkII, Vinnie Rossi Lio, AURALiC Merak [on loan], Clones Audio 55pm [on loan]
Loudspeakers: EnigmAcoustics M1, Albedo Audio Aptica, soundkaos Wave 40, Boenicke Audio W5se, Zu Audio Submission; German Physiks HRS-120, Eversound Essence, Gallo Strada II w. TR-3D subwoofer
Cables: Complete loom of Zu Event; KingRex uArt double-header USB; Tombo Trøn S/PDIF; van den Hul AES/EBU; AudioQuest Diamond glass-fibre Toslink; Arkana Research XLR/RCA and speaker cables [on loan]
Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all components
Equipment rack: Artesania Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Krion amp shelf
Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators
Room: Irregularly shaped 9.5 x 10m open floor plan with additional 2nd-floor loft; wood-paneled sloping ceiling; parquet flooring; lots of non-parallel surfaces (pictorial tour here)
Review component retail in Hong Kong: $8'290/8'690 HK for AP2/25iR (~€980/1'025 using currency converter at publication time)

Norwegian importer Hagto Audio show off the compact Clones trio to good effect.

War of the Clones. "I would like to invite you to trial our new generation of amplifiers. You were the first to test the 25i and have experience with the AP1 and 55pm. So I think you would be one of the best writers to describe the difference between old and new and be a witness also to the growth of our brand. I would thus ask that you look at the AP2 or 25iR. These are not just remote versions of the old models. They are in fact something new, with the AP2 a complete redesign." The email's sender was Funjoe, the nom de guerre or plume of the man behind Clones Audio. He'd started after hours, with a regular day job 'on the side'. His then boss wasn't supposed to learn of these extracurricular activities lest he believe that his employee really reserved his best work for after dark. Whilst our gent has long since gone full-time on hifi design and manufacture to be his own boss, the name stuck. So Funjoe it still is.

Name stickum also happened to the brand. Clones Audio suggests copycatting yet this was true only in the beginning. It refers to the 47lab Gaincard, a near legendary Japanese amplifier box with opamp outputs. Its very high retail vs. ultra simplistic circuit inspired countless clones. Those became known as Gainclones or chip amps. Some of them broke out of the DIY confines and went commercial, often changing the original's recipe and with that, its sound. Funjoe's initial intent was to recreate the Gaincard's sonics precisely, just in a different enclosure and assembly and do so for pennies on the dollar. Not being the cheeky sort, he also wanted to give full credit where due, hence Clones Audio. He didn't foresee subsequent expansion into preamps, D/A converters and more which introduced original designs of his own to make the brand name less and less fitting. Yet unexpected success meant that it too would have to stick. So Clones Audio it remains. Originals by Clones Audio wouldn't quite have the right ring even where it applies. Nothing fails like success?

Another Hagto system with the three small black bricks from Hong Kong fronting Emme Da Vinci 3-way monitors.