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PASSION 550A PRE+DAC
"Dynamics were powerful, yet subtle when required, and fast. The quietness I’d already noted let me hear a lot of detail -- real detail, not the fake detail created by goosing up the high frequencies. Speaking of the highs, they were open and extended, with plenty of sparkle."
"Orchestral color was just gorgeous, with fully developed harmonics making the RLP sound rich and natural. I recently auditioned a DAC that made it difficult to distinguish between the solo violin and cello. The PRE550A had no such problem. Orchestral violins had a rich sheen, with abundant high-frequency extension."
To hear how the YBA reproduced a solo instrument, I cued up Ottmar Liebert’s One Guitar (24/96 FLAC, Spiral Subwave/HDtracks). The detailed realism the YBA PRE550A retrieved from this high-resolution recording was amazing. It reproduced the sound of Liebert’s guitar incredibly well -- not only the notes, but also the extraneous noises inevitably produced by a guitar being played by a master. Notes were harmonically complete, attacks and decays were extremely lifelike, and some of the initial transients were startling in their forcefulness"
"YBA’s Passion PRE550A lived up to its French origin by producing unfailingly beautiful, realistic sound. Its extended highs were gorgeously smooth, with nary a bit of peakiness. The midrange was very detailed and harmonically rich -- little to grumble about there. Very highly recommended."
Link to FULL REVIEW
Donizetti Anniversary Amplifier + Bellini Anniversary Linestage
Links to friends & equipment we HIGHLY recommend
"It has incredible grip and authority, being able to go surprisingly loud without ever losing its composure or letting loose the speakers attached.
Tori Amos being placed perfectly between my speakers and sounding truly lifelike as she sang the heartfelt break-up song Blood Roses. The accompanying harpsichord sprang from the background as fast and as jagged as Tori's words.
Separation of detail is impressive, with tracks displaying clear space in terms of depth as well as width and solidity.
With its superlative build quality, finish, aesthetics and ergonomics, this amplifier is a real class act. Then there's its seriously good sound quality and of course its undeniable flexibility you get from its various inputs."
--- Designed & handcrafted in Italy ---
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--- Maestro Anniversary Dual-Mono Integrated Amplifier ---
"It was able to power the relatively inefficient Kharma Elegance dB7-S speakers with no problem whatsoever, with massive macro-dynamics swings, very powerful pitch stable and bottomless sounding bass, and at the same time could draw me into the music with whisperingly small shifts in microdynamics, and sparkling, detailed, and agile upper treble."
"This amp easily reproduced Van Morrison's distinctive voice (on "Astral Weeks"), to the point where I could easily imagine in my mind's ear him standing in front of the microphone in a padded sound booth in the studio."
"More importantly, the Maestro Anniversary sounded as transparent as any amplifier I've ever had in this system. It also acted as an as an almost perfect attenuator rather than an amplifier."
--- AA DAC ---
After living with this converter and listening to it daily, I found that its major sonic feature of the aaDAC converter was its level of transparency to the source. Depending on which system it was used in, there were times when it was practically aurally invisible, inviting me to listen to any genre of music I chose.
Through the Audio Analogue aaDAC the sounds of every instrument and voice were made as separate as possible depending on the track and also spread out in a huge soundstage. Whether I was playing the physical SACD (Rolling Stones Beggars Banquet) or the file on my music server, the sound was just as good, letting me close my eyes and imagine I was a fly on the wall in that London studio.
The midrange was so transparent that it often made me feel as if in the audio chain there was no converter at all, and all I was left with was the music. Again, it was the mega-transparency of this converter, its midrange letting me hear not only what has been recorded, but somehow transposed into the real thing coming through my speakers and into my listening room.
"The secret of this DAC is its combination of detail and definition while delivering music on an entirely human scale, as is entirely apparent with Francesco Piemontesi's second volume of Mozart piano. The orchestra opening to No19 is sprightly and gloriously captured in the Usher Hall acoustic, and then Piemontesi's piano enters with an almost luminous tonality, albeit with each note crisply defined and a wonderful delicacy of touch.
The AAdac just loves this music, conveying it with spirit & real vivacity, maintaining excellent clarity while revealing the entirely unforced balance of the recording. This is the closest thing to having the best seat in the house.."
New 2021 YBA SIGNATURE Installations
Signature Monoblock Amplifiers
Signature Stereo Amps (Mono setup)
Much of the power amp’s weight comes from its (2) two 1200VA transformers and, again, no global feedback is used in the amplification stages. As per the Bellini Anniversary, the circuitry is fully balanced and similar through-hole, military and audio-grade components are used throughout.
In many ways, this duo is exceptional.
The first thing likely to strike you is the remarkable midband lucidity, and the expansiveness of the soundstage.
These amps have an uncanny ability to place both instruments and vocalists in their own space without the presentation as a whole feeling crowded or compressed.
What’s more, a virtual absence of background noise means that central performers stand out in stark relief, apparently on an otherwise empty stage, with musical accompaniment arranged carefully behind them.
This Anniversary pre/power also serves up an impeccable performance when it comes to the top-end - the sheer level of clarity and purity in the treble region is again, first-class, enabling you to hear the tinkle of a pin drop in even the busiest of mixes.
Cymbals in general possessed a delicious metallic sheen while more vigorous strikes on the metalwork arrived with real force before shimmering away into the distance. Equally, delicately struck hi-hats were as vivid-sounding as I have heard them, and not once did they disappear into the back of the mix.
Naturally, with the available power on tap from the Donizetti Anniversary, bass was prodigiously extended, solid and taut. Even better, it remained composed even with the amp wound up to thoroughly anti-social levels.
Where the Audio Analogue duo definitely came out on top was with its handling of recordings that varied in their quality. The Corrs’ ‘Only When I Sleep’ from their 1997 album Talk On Corners [Atlantic Recordings 7567-83051-2] is something of a sonic mess, sounding steely at best and clearly mixed to make it radio-friendly. Yet never have I heard it sound better than when played via the Bellini and Donizetti Anniversary pre/power. The amps simply cut through the nastiness, managing to impart a sense of order to the proceedings and even bring a hint of purity to the ragged top end.
The Audio Analogue Bellini & Donizetti Anniversary offer a combination of magnificent sound quality with a brute-force styling that I thoroughly enjoyed. They typically make a great job of poor recordings, too.
The rarity here is that the AAdac doesn’t flatten the life out of good recordings in the hope of making the bad ones less vexatious. Play something remarkably well recorded. However, specifically, try something like Convergence by Malia and Boris Blank [Boutique] – and you hear a rich, detailed and extremely spacious sound, with a remarkable coherence and vocal articulation. Convergence is a very ‘expansive’ sounding recording, and it can quickly become overblown and exaggerated sounding, but the AAdac plays with a near-perfect balance.
However, the combination of that refinement and spatial qualities of the AAdac does lend itself toward more naturally recorded live, acoustic instruments, which often means jazz, folk or classical music. It’s not too mellow when playing rock, and does give rock both energy and intensity it needs, but the AAdac remains at its best when making an expansive, expressive sound.
As such, I think the AAdrive and AAdac are both something of a high-end star combination in the making. They deserve to be at the front end of some extremely high-grade audio.