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, AURALiC Vega, Aqua Hifi La Scala MkII, Fore Audio DAISy 1, Apple iPod Classic 160GB (AIFF), Astell& Kern AK100 modified by Red Wine Audio, Cambridge Audio iD100, Pro-Ject Dock Box S Digital, Pure i20, Questyle QP1R
Preamplifier: Nagra Jazz, Esoteric C-03, Vinnie Rossi LIO (AVC module), COS Engineering D1
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; AURALiC Merak [on loan]; Wyred4Sound SX-1000R [on loan]
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; Rethm Bhaava [on loan]
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: final price TBA, expected to be below $2'995/$5'499pr for stereo/mono

Partially assembled stereo version.

Monkey business? If you wanted to fool around with the species, a gorilla should be the last one you'd go at. So wagging a dismissive finger at Gorilla Amps' maiden product, for arriving locked 'n' loaded with Bruno Putzeys' nCore tech, could end poorly. At shows, Bruno's own $16'500/pr Kaluga version under his Mola Mola brand has done the funky monkey in top rooms with Vivid Audio or German Physiks speakers to garner mega props. Bel Canto Design's luxurious $55'000 Black trio drives mono nCore customized for lower gain. nCore 1200 reappears in Theta Digital's $12'000/pr Prometheus. And the same-priced Merrill Audio Veritas monos. And Acoustic Imagery's $9'995pr Atsah 1200XS, making these Brits the budgetarians of the bunch. Clearly, this take on class D is positioned at the very top of the food chain. Planet of the Apes if you will. Mike Bell, our primate host of today, means to give the hairier price tags a hair cut by selling direct. Before you predict ringy sheet-metal chassis cobbled together in a DIY garage, elevate expectations. Gorilla amps are carved from solid aluminium billet with internal chambers à la Jeff Rowland or Ayre.

Their SM suffix in the REF1200 model name isn't for sado-maso. It's stereo/mono. Either can be yours. Where the single stereo does 350/500/450wpc into 8/4/2Ω, the dual mono overdoes standard doubling. It leapfrogs to a nearly quadruple 1'200 watts into 8Ω, doubles to a square kilowatt into 4Ω. All these figures are at 1% THD. From them we see that the compact switch-mode power supply can't double into four ohms. In the case of mono conversion, 2 ohms aren't listed. Still, with such power, anyone with speakers not massaged into a limp puddle of happiness probably confused a proper living room with an aircraft hangar. If it hasn't sunk in, at 7kg and 22x7.5x32cm WxHxD, we're not talking disk-slippin' behemoths. We mean modern cool-running politically correct very high efficiency that's fashionably compact. Still, this box delivers 27 amperes of peak current and a very standard 26dB of voltage gain. The real low-balling occurs with distortion figures, noise and output impedance. They're all exceptionally faint as in, barely even there. That's a very good thing. To squeeze sonics, I'd have AURALiC's Merak monos (modified Hypex modules with linear power supplies) and Nord's best nCore 500 monos. For a gnarly load appreciative of big power, I'd use Mark & Daniel's Maximus Monitor MkII. Cue the sound of rubbing hands to create some friendly competitive static.

With Mike Bell announced for a casual lunch at downtown Westport's Chilli coffee shop—he was visiting friends in neighbouring Castlebar—I had an op for not just grilled salmon but grilling a new brand's boss on what prospective buyers might want to know. Foremost in their minds would be price. In today's climate of escalating hifi stickers, solid value could seem an endangered species like the mountain gorilla of Rwanda. Would this be a rumble in the jungle to drain the swamp? Or King Kong with just a minor kink in his grandstanding?

To educate myself, I'd already visited UK brand Nord Acoustics' website. They specialize in direct-selling Hypex and nCore amps. Above we see three MP Series* single and dual-channel 250-watt & 500-watt nCore modules with integrated PSU and the smaller HF module. The upper left one also appears in the first Gorilla shots and, in bridged mode, conforms to their specs. Nord at that point were already shipping their 250/500-watt stereo versions for £749/£849 respectively. An 8-channel version went for £1'999. Their very best £1'509 NC500-based stereo amp and equivalent £780/ea. monos spec out at 400/700/550wpc into 8/4/2Ω. That's more than a non-bridged NC1200 module. Meanwhile a bridged NC502MP closely matches a bridged NC1200 on power. Why would one spend so much bigger on those? Does that much sonic goodness separate a 1200 from its 'lesser' stable mates?

From a mid 2016 mention, there are altogether six nCore MP modules: three each stereo and mono. The 2-channel variants go by NC122MP (125w), NC252MP (250w) and NC502MP (500w); the mono versions by NC250MP (250w), NC500MP (500w) and NC100HF (100w high frequency).