My Ampino arrived almost exactly a year ago. I was so delighted with it, I dashed off an email to Dayens so filled with such delirious praise that when Dayens asked for permission to post it to their website, I was too embarrassed to reply. To their credit, they kept their promise not to publish without my permission.
Here is what I wrote:
Wow! I've had my Ampino for almost two weeks... and I haven't connected any of my other amps since I first connected my Ampino!
It arrived in great shape.
It is the most beautiful sounding amplifier I have ever heard. I never thought I could own something like this. The last time I heard such sound was many years ago at a Stereophile show in California... where the system cost more than I earned in a year.
The Ampino does so much more than make the instruments sound great, it makes them sound /individual/. With another amp, I might think "that's a wonderful piano sound", but with the Ampino, I think "that piano sounds like a Bechstein". Or in a quartet, the first violin has a different sound than the second violin.
With vocalists, it's more than a familiar voice: "that sounds like Joe Strummer". The emotion comes though: "That's Joe Strummer and he's feeling /this/". Backup voices are clearly separated where before they sounded "welded together". But most astonishing is the percussion. Cymbals seem to go on forever. I'm constantly turning and looking because the sound is so real.
Congratulations on such an outstanding product. Best wishes for your continued success. You guys deserve it.
It's been a year now, and my enthusiasm for the Ampino is undiminished.
The difference is readily apparent. Shortly after I first connected the Ampino, my daughter stepped into the room and asked "Did you get new speakers?".
I asked her why she thought I had changed my system, and she replied that she could now clearly hear the distinct timbre of each of the heads in the drummer's kit. I had to smile... it wasn't just my imagination.
The overall effect is natural and revealing. The performance comes through, whether the source is a recording from the 1930s or a recent, 24/96 digital file. The sound makes "auditory sense": timbres are accurate, voices are separate and localized in the sound-stage. Most of all, the listening experience is immersive because of the realism of percussion: the sound of a piano's action; the handling of stringed instruments; a performer setting his instrument down to pick up another. It is easy to get caught up in the music.
My Ampino drives a pair of vintage Nelson-Reed 50-2/CM speakers. At 84 dB, they are not particularly sensitive, but the Ampino drives them effortlessly.
At a Stereophile show in the late 1980s, I heard a system I never forgot. Counterpoint pre-amp, Mark Levinson mono-blocks driving the remarkable Apogee 'Diva' ribbon speakers. Insanely expensive. For me, nothing else at the show came close to providing such a sense of simply 'being there'.
I remembered that demo the moment I first turned on the Ampino. I felt that the music was three-dimensional; that I was present at the venue.
The Ampino gives the sense of experiencing the performance rather than listening to a system.
The Ampino is exceptional. It's more than a terrific amplifier in its price class. It's a terrific amplifier, period.