Aries Cerat Diana Forte Stereo Power Amplifier
Aries Cerat's Diana Forte amplifier arrived by truck in a large crate, its shipping weight specified at 300 pounds. Removing the amp from its crate was a challenge, as was transporting the amp to my listening room. Luckily, I know someone who owns a landscaping company, and two of his most brawny employees were nice enough to help carry it upstairs.
When speaking to Aries Cerat's US distributor, he told me that what sets this amp's design apart from others is that most tube amplifiers designs, even those that use excellent output tubes are that they under-driven in their input stage. The necessity of the amp's over-built power supply and super high-quality capacitors are to drive the output stage with much less effort, and therefore with plenty of reserves for transient musical passages. Their choices in this amp are based on the highest bandwidth and performance than the standard 211, 300, and 845 vacuum tube that are used in most single-ended amplifiers. One may ask why are there not a larger selection of tube amplifiers using the 813/814 combination as in this power amp? They told me that designing a circuit from scratch is a costly and labor intensive affair without any guarantees to the desired end result. So, it is easier to use an off the shelf circuit design and one's own twist to it. Aries Cerat claims they designed this amp using no compromises or shortcuts.
When I played the Analogue Productions SACD of Ella and Louis, it was as if I entered a sonic time machine that brought me back 60 years into the past. It was a bit strange that a monophonic recording could actually have a soundstage that enable me to see in my mind's ear Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong singing centered between my two speakers with startling reality. The Diana Forte's type of sonic wizardry is something that I've never experienced before. This is why I think most audiophile terminology might be useless in this situation. My listening notes were all about the music I was hearing, not any characteristics of the amplifier.
I would nominate both Aries Cerat owner/engineer Stravos Danos and Aries Cerat's US distributor Believe High Fidelity's Joshua Masongsong for a Nobel Prize if the Diana Forte amp sounded as good as Joshua said it would though my large electrostatic speakers. As the Norwegian Nobel Committee is responsible for the selection of eligible candidates for their prizes, I'm not sure if an e-mail to them stating that yes, the Diana Forte amp did indeed sound good, would be of any use.
If one can undertake the responsibilities associated with setting up and owning an amplifier that weighs 250 pounds, uses huge tubes that puts out enough heat to warm a large room or make a small one quite uncomfortably, takes up as much floor-space as a small refrigerator, and can afford it, I say -- go for it. I think that one would be wise to match the Aries Cerat with more appropriate speakers than electrostatic panels, because the resulting sound will be magical. This is fact, not opinion. And for that reason, I think those responsible for designing, manufacturing, and selling this power amplifier should receive a reward. And many customers.
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