The name of the company itself "Absoluta Sound and Space" is meant to express the company’s philosophy. Absoluta represents the result of a quest to create units that express beauty and style both when they play music ‘Sound’ and when they are simply displayed on a rack ‘Space’. With this unique approach Absoluta’s founders wanted to create a new approach to listening, not only with one’s ears but with one’s eyes as well. They wanted to transform the listening experience into a total experience, that involves all the senses.
In order to achieve this ambitious goal a team of architects, engineers and technicians has put an extensive amount of time and investments into research and development. A country like Italy, which is synonymous with, and famous for design and style has offered a fertile turf. Generations of outstanding craftsmen have made our country famous worldwide for their unique creative abilities. Absoluta’s products want to be an homage to this most valued tradition and be among the outstanding representatives of ‘made in Italy’ in the world.
Nothing is left to chance or treated as less important. Every single detail is thought through and carried through with thesebasic principles in mind: quality, performance, design, beauty. The remote control, that complements our units, is a perfect example of this philosophy. Carved out of one single piece of solid wood by numerically controlled milling of last generation able to stroke with millimetric precision. The housing of the control buttons is shaped to the tenth of a millimeter. The buttons themselves are made from hypoallergenic stainless steel and hand polished by the skilled hands of Tuscan craftsmen in the same area of Tuscany famous for its work for world renowned designers and stylists. The painting and polishing of the remote are performed using the best polyester lacquering techniques used in the polishing of pianos.
This approach is very unusual in the hi fi world and has often raised the eyebrows of people who think that the design of our products is not matched by an equal quality in the electronics. Our goal since our company has reached the market place has been that of dismissing this claim with success. The same principles of quality, performance and design have been applied to our electronics. Nothing has been left to chance down to the smallest detail and when one opens one of our units one understands the amount of work that has been invested in the choice of top quality components, in the design of the circuits and in the assembly of the units. And for those who are still doubtful our suggestion is ‘come to listen and to see’!
'Absoluta Sound and Space' is an exciting new consumer electronics company based out of Padova/Italy, 30 kilometers inland from Venice.
They specialize in DC-coupled 300kHz bandwidth fully differential circuits which combine valves and bipolar transistors. Those are then clothed in hot-swappable curvaceous covers crafted from solid wood or stone and finished in a variety of matte or gloss colors and species.
Designed and built completely in Italy, Absoluta components even look quintessentially Italian, strongly influenced of the culture and history, which this company quite inevitably pooled into its artisanal offerings.
The company's core team is led by CEO Giulio Salerno, who also runs 'Artú Haloservice', an architectural design firm embedded in the Artufficio s.r.l. Group, which specializes in bank interiors.
The technical team at Absoluta consists of CTO Elia Piras and technical advisor Marco Manunta, who also runs M2Tech, the firm which recently set the PC audio world on its ears with the hiFace USB-to-S/PDIF interface. He previously co-founded Northstar, then spent five years at Audio Analogue. Today, companies like Norma, Audia Flight, Wyred4Sound, Empirical, MSB and NuForce have already expressed interest in his OEM version of the hiFace. Andrea Canaletti is responsible for mechanical and cosmetic design. His day job is with an engineering firm currently involved with a retractable yacht keel that will allow owners of luxury boats to move a lot closer to shore and safely into shallow waters.
Then there's CMO Massimo Lucchesi, a childhood friend of Elia's. They sang and played guitar together in a rock band when young. Massimo's occupation in the real world outside hifi is in sales and marketing within the jewelry/fine watch industry. Alessandro Pagani is the resident assembler and only present full-time employee besides Elia Piras. Everyone else is a contractor to Absoluta until the company's growth warrants otherwise. There are also a number of quiet investors who have helped bankroll the significant expenditures of the present R&D. It's worth pointing out that unlike so many audio firms started by one passionate designer out of a basement and with little if any business sense, the team at Absoluta is strategically composed of money people, business men, marketing experts and experienced electronics designers. In this sector, that's rather uncommon.
The above three products represent the first three years of Absoluta's history and genetic coding - a massive valve preamp with outboard power supply and two kinds of valve monos, one pair around 4 x 6C33Cs per channel, the other around a pair of rare Tung-Sol 7241s. The latter is a triple triode with 100-watt total anode dissipation, three cathodes with single grid and plate connections and a 7-pin giant base. It has seen ultra-reliable industrial employ as a series regulator in power supplies for huge particle accelerators. The two lower images show the top and bottom of one channel's power supply.
Absoluta eventually determined that the sell price necessitated by the labor and parts costs involved in these products would be quite beyond what they could realistically launch with. These eventual top offering were thus shelved. The last two years were instead spent developing the current 'middle' range. This consists of a valve preamplifier with inbuilt phono stage; a bridgeable stereo amp; bridgeable mono amps; and a forthcoming integrated amplifier that won't be 'based on' but actually combine, in full, the present valve preamp and bipolar stereo amp in one scaled-up chassis. And before you ask, yes, that's the one I shall review later in the year. But first things first...
The resident system ran the preamp flanked by the monos on the top of a 3-tier marble stand, Northstar integrated and separated digital on the middle shelf and the stereo amp on the bottom.
Absoluta wrote its own IR code and as these images show, their remote control really is a piece of art. Identifying Italian subcontractors who could carve it from solid wood to the desired tolerances and finish consumed serious time and money.
But beauty here is decidedly more than skin deep. Consider the preamp with its floating 6-valve board removed.
The preferred valves are Siemens 6922s particularly for the phono section.
MM and MC have six loading options each and the dedicated phono level control also offers six adjustments. The resident speaker harem includes Armonia line sources and large custom 4-ways—more on both later—while one wall shelf showed numerous covers in a number of finishes.
The burn-in protocol presently spans a full month.
Elia Piras went through extensive topology experiments to arrive at his final circuit and parts choices. His music background and that of his wife serve him well. He knows the sound of real instruments, particularly cello, piano and the human voice. While Marco Manunta might wire up a prototype circuit for a new Absoluta project, he'll address on Elia for the specific type capacitor to use. Depending on the circuit junction, Elia knows exactly what part will achieve the sonics he pursues.
The volume control is a high-quality dual-differential Alps unit.
Transformer and rest components evaluation was extensive.
Circuit boards feature extra-thick traces.
The final transformer's choice outperformed Plitron and others and is encased in thick Mu metal, then potted in a red canister.
Sourcing the chunky knobs as designed was its own adventure but the outcome is truly luxurious. The special touch are the ball bearings which convey ultra smooth operation with rock-solid reliability. Identifiers are of course laser-etched, not silk-screened.
Even power supply fuse holders carry extra specifications while those in the signal path are in another class altogether. It's really no surprise then that Absoluta would have that topic properly covered too.
The lab is home to the full-time Absolutists...
Even the packaging is a clear cut above. To protect their gear in transit, it is securely bolted to a thick Plywood base to not shift, then covered in a custom Chamois covers. This is surrounded by thick impact foam and finally topped by more foam.
More images of the showroom models in gloss Cherry...
As mentioned, remote polarity inversion—which is easily achieved on front-to-back dual-differential circuits—is indicated by a red instead of blue LED on the input selector. The chosen input is confirmed on the back panel with a yellow LED.
Because the amplifiers are fully balanced as well, they sport RCA inputs for either polarity. In normal mode, the unused input is shorted with a plug to minimize noise. For strapped mono mode, this input connects to the other amp. Elia explained that he "measured this amplifier circuit to 1MHz with no stability issues. Naturally we had to restrict that bandwidth or you'd be listening to FM radio. All our electronics have 300kHz bandwidth, not that easy with tubes in the signal path."
Read the sixmoons.com review.
And the final products...
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