Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac (4GHz quad-core with Turbo boost, 32GB RAM, 3TB FusionDrive, OSX Yosemite. iTunes 12.2), PureMusic 3.02, Qobuz Hifi, Tidal Hifi, Fore Audio DAISy1, COS Engineering D1, Aqua Hifi La Scala MkII, Metrum Hex, AURALiC Vega
Preamplifier: Nagra Jazz, Esoteric C-03, Vinnie Rossi LIO (DHT module)
Power & integrated amplifiers: Pass Labs XA30.8; FirstWatt SIT1, F5, F6, F7; S.A.Lab Blackbird SE; Crayon Audio CFA-1.2; Goldmund Job 225; Gato Audio DIA-250; Aura Note Premier; Wyred4Sound mINT; AURALiC Merak [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
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: 5.5 x 15 metre rectangular space with double-high vaulted ceiling and stone-over-concrete flooring
Review component retail: TBA

Early prototypes on the bench.

Got milk? How about a whole cow? The path from transformer winder to valve kit maker could seem preordained. Be it TruLife Audio from Greece or Octave from Germany, 3rd-gen family biz in industrial transformer manufacture led to tube audio gear to serve as proof for output transformer excellence. Trafomatic of Serbia led to Trafomatic Audio, Toroidy in Poland to Fezz. There are more such precedents. But what if your core competency were anchored in fine hifi capacitors instead? If you're Mundorf, it'd lead you to Zendo boutique silver/gold cables; to a bespoke air-motion transformer popular with Gryphon and Kaiser; and to very busy OEM work assembling crossovers for top speaker brands. If you're Georg Arsin of Germany's Rike Audio capacitor brand in Fürth, you take up the first path. So you announce multiple MM and MM/MC phono stages, small and big line stages, a €3'500 push/pull integrated with GU50 pentodes for 25/50wpc of triode/ultralinear power, a €4'990 EL34/KT88 push/pull integrated of 35wpc ultralinear power and a 16-watt 6C33C integrated. That very announcement came down the unexpectant pike on September 18th, 2016. A far earlier albeit brutally priced effort in that direction had been spotted in the 2013 Munich HighEnd show's newcomer exhibits.

From my report of it, "Georg Arsin of Rike Audio showed off his €380'000 four-piece Edzard amps, total weight 200kg. Whilst chatting with him, Avantgarde Acoustic designer Matthias Ruff stopped by to categorically declare the Rike Audio capacitors the industry's very best; and to express a great desire to hear these statement monos. Matthias is a very clever designer. His unexpected endorsement spoke volumes. These 50-watt SETs run a Siemens/Telefunken 3Cm input, KR Audio 300B driver and KR1610 output triode with special paper-in-oil Rike capacitors, silver output and interstage transformers, novel bias circuitry and a hi-tech material sourced from the Fraunhofer Institute to attenuate parasitic mechanical vibrations (the big black layers). A mono volume control is set into the casing of each output transformer. The power supplies are external. The below photo shows how massive they are squatting on the floor next to the display table; plus two capacitor specimens."

"About the Fraunhofer IFAM Dresden operation, I'd picked up a profile flier to educate myself. They carry out fundamental and applied research to develop new sintered and composite materials as well as cellular metallic materials derived from powder metallurgy. This includes particle and fiber-reinforced materials with tailored properties, nanostructured materials, friction/sliding and high-temperature materials. Doesn't it seem timely that the best of hifi should begin to incorporate the most current hi-tech materials?" Back to the future of Q3 2016, by now established Rike Audio capacitors had led to Rogue-priced tube components to show off what exactly... capacitors? Far from an obvious connection seeing how transistor gear and loudspeakers use capacitors too, I would have to have an extensive email chat with Georg to learn more about this developing story and why the focus on brand-new valve kit. Also, how would his slogan 'ultra high end made in Germany' relate to it? Stay tuned!

... to be continued in mid October...

Rike Audio website