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October 2018
Enjoy the Music.com Review Magazine
World Premiere Review!
Audio Mirror Reflection Monoblock SET Amplifiers
Music is about stirring emotions, images, and feelings

Review By Ron Nagle

 

Audio Mirror Reflection Monoblock SET Amplifiers Review

 

  Not very long ago I received an e-mail from a 20 year old company called Audio Mirror. They manufacture some stunning tube powered audio amplifiers. They apparently had one of my business cards from the AXPONA 2018 show in Chicago. Ever curious I set out to familiarize myself with this company. A search of some of the popular audio chat rooms revealed a very interesting thread generated by some very committed audiophiles. They were talking about Audio Mirror amplifiers and comparing them to some very well-known and very expensive tube based competition.

This convinced me that something seriously significant was afoot. And in part the conversation was about a pair of SET (Single Ended Triodes) Monoblocks powered by 6C33 Russian Triodes. OK, I'm hooked, curiosity won the day as have always been curious about those 6C33 tubes. There is a very interesting story to be told about the origin of these tubes.

The 6C33 Triode was a Russian secret until 1976. The West only discovered this tube when a defecting Soviet pilot Viktor Belenko landed his MiG-25 in Hokkaido, Japan. Lieutenant Belenko was a pilot with the Soviet Air Defense Forces and his defection provided the West with its first close examination of a MiG-25. The Japanese invited the USA to dismantle and study the fighter jet piece by piece. In fact Lieutenant Belenko had brought along with him the airplanes operations manual. After a few weeks the Japanese were courteous enough to offer the return of the jet plane to the USSR in 30 crates filled with MiG 25 parts! Apparently they also invoiced the Soviets $40,000 for the packing expenses. Some people have called the Soviet 6C33 a super tube. It was designed to be super rugged to withstand high G-forces and to resist the effects of (atomic) radiation.

 

Hollow State Audio Mirror
These are totally new re-designed amplifiers that look similar to a previous version. As an example of industrial design they are stunning looking. They have a shining chrome chassis with two large gold tinted transformer enclosures. On the face of the first transformer enclosure has a metal label that proclaims, Audio Mirror the audiophiles choice. In a darkened room the blue glow from the tubes glass envelopes projects a sense of raw power.

These are SET (single ended tube) Class A all triode mono blocks, rated at 45 Watts into 8 Ohms. The font end is based on 6SN7 driver and 6SL7 input tubes. The two 6C33C output tubes are connected in parallel mode. There is a unique proprietary biasing circuit but the details remain copyrighted. "I can only say I use MOSFETs to keep the tubes working at there most linear point. This allows very high dynamic and transient response coupled with a fast and tight well controlled low end. I also use proprietary protection, these 6C33C tubes are famous with their tendency to run away. After many years fighting with this I finally tamed the beasts. Circuit protection monitors the output tubes for over biasing, over voltage, arcing, and over driving. If any of this occurs it will shut down the HT (B+) and will indicate which tube is malfunctioning. The output transformers are custom made and hand wired. The first two amplifier stages are DC coupled. They are using Clarity XMR series high-end caps for the driver / power tubes connection. And additionally, I use a Choke regulated power supply." -- Vladimir Bazelkov of Audio Mirror.

 

Audio Mirror Reflection Monoblock SET Amplifiers

 

Installation
The amplifiers came in two large cardboard boxes each weighing 45 pounds and total cost is $ 4999 for the pair. There was no owner’s manual or set up instructions. The two Monoblocks are mirror images of each other. With respect to the amplifiers two driver tubes and single ended input jacks along with the speaker output connections. Set up side by side the preamplifier RCA input jacks would be on the top inside of the chassis just opposite each other. Therefore the speaker connections are setup on top the chassis outside surface for the left side monoblock. The installation was pretty straight forward with the exception of two unlabeled small toggle switches situated in a narrow space between the two transformer covers. This is where we find something unique.

The switch closer to the speaker terminal side on both monoblocks is a high voltage cut off. More precisely, it disables the one minute timed delay relay that switches on the B+ (high voltage) power to the 6C33 tubes. So if you have brand new 6C33-C power tubes, you will indeed need to burn them in. They need a burn in period between 15 and 24 hrs. So if you flip that switch you won’t have high voltage, you will only have the filaments powered on. That’s how you burn in your power tubes. Flip the switch, leave the power tubes in the sockets, and you’re good to go there. The other two driver tubes you can leave in place or remove them it doesn’t matter.

Turn on the amps and leave them in this condition. You won’t hear a click from the delay relay after one minute. After you finished the 15 to 24 hour burn in, flip the switch back. If you flip the switch while the amps are working you will lose the high voltage and they’ll stop producing sound. Nothing else will happen. You won’t damage anything. Both amplifiers are mirrored so are the two switches positions. When both switches are pointing toward the speaker connection side of the amplifiers, that is for normal operational. What about the other switch placed right next to that B + cutoff? That switch is a Ground Lift switch only to be used if you experience a ground hum problem.

 

Audio Mirror Reflection Monoblock SET Amplifiers Review

 

Listening
Push two round buttons on the front panel left and right amplifiers to power on. Then wait a full minute and hear a loud, "clack" sound, that's the high voltage relays closing. The first time I heard that noise I jumped. Vladimir Bezelkov previously informed me that all the tubes were broken in and everything was set to go. So with power on let the amplifier run ten minutes while streaming some Pandora oldies. Even while listening to piped in music, from the very first moments, you can plainly hear the sound of tubes singing songs at you. To fully appreciate what this amplifier does you should want what tubes do best, Image! It is possible people, to craft an audio system that paints a sound stage that can turn your room into a performance space. No and not just between your ears, it will paint three realistic dimensions including Height, something that ear-gizmo's just cant get right. Did you ever surprise yourself by finding something you forgot you owned? Such is Basia Trzetrzelewska's vinyl album London, Warsaw, New York [Epic E-45472], and damn this woman can sing!

Using the Acoustic Signature Double X Turntable sample I just finished reviewing. It came with the Acoustic Signature TA 2000 tone arm and a Dynavector XX-2 moving coil cartridge. I played the Basia track, "Until You Come Back To Me", which was wonderfully Dynamic with a great flowing presence and with image depth you could throw a rock into. What a very complex multi-layered vocal and instrumental score this is. It seems to me tubes and vinyl recordings have a certain very logical affinity to each other. I seriously considered stopping right here and not describing anything more about sound. Most recordings just will not be of a high enough quality to challenge the performance of this SET amplifier. Then I remembered that great Nils Lofgren's SACD album, Acoustic Live. The body of Nils acoustic guitar strings is the something that hollow state tubes do better than stiff state amplifiers. It’s all about that halo afterglow of wooden overtones that gradually fades from the guitars resonant body. If there is anything lacking it would be down below 120 Hz. Razor sharp bass transients tubes cannot due what some solid state muscle amplifiers can do. About these low frequencies I do not give a hoot about them. My reference is the sound of human voice.

 

Rational
Times like this when I wonder why you would want any other home music system. You can by judicious tube swapping alter the sound of your system to match your new speaker cables or maybe even your new phono cartridge. Remember the days (Or maybe not) when your old TV would quit? Just take yourself to your local drug stores tube tester and buy a new tube. Same basic idea now, it still works even though it’s a bit more complicated.

 

Audio Mirror Reflection Monoblock SET Amplifiers

 

End Speak
If you ever possessed a sub conscious reaction that tells you something your hearing is subtly unsettling, then you’re the guy worth talking too. Nine out of ten times you are absolutely correct. Tubes especially Class A single-ended triode vacuum tube amplifiers portray sound with Soul. The word Soul in this context tells you like it is. It refers to a real life organic sense of warm blooded life. In audiophile speak the paper bound press might tell you it portrays a "Palpable Presence!" What a horse shit misuse of the English language that would be, absolutely sterile. Music is about stirring emotions, images, and feelings. The Audio Mirror Amplifiers can dig deep into the source and make you happy or sad. Without reservations buy them if you can afford them.

 

Remember to enjoy the music, and from me, Semper Hi-Fi.

 

Reference System
Sources:
Acoustic Signature Double X Turntable with TA-2000 Arm and Dynavector MC XX-2 
Sony UHP-U1 Universal disc player.
Music Hall upsampling DAC 25.3 with headphone amplifier, Yamaha WXC-5 Wi-Fi Blue tooth receiver. 
Reference Amplification: 
Sanders ESL power Amplifier
Speakers: 
Aurum Cantus V30M, Mark Daniels Omni Harmonizer tweeters.
Speaker Cables:
Kimber Kable 12TC @ 11 foot and a Kimber Kable 8TC 18" to tweeter speaker.
Interconnect Cables:
Monster Reference 4 pairs, two-0.5 meter, 1 meter and 1.5 meters, Nordost Red Dawn 
1 meter, Audioquest Cinnamon XLR 1 meter.
Chord Silver Siren 1 meter, Homemade Teflon RCA 1 meter, Autobahn ½ meter digital
Power Conditioning: 
Wire World 10 gauge IEC line cord, Power Cords: Kaplan Cables 12 gauge IEC
Power conditioning:
Islatrol Industrial 20 amp ac line conditioner, Richard Gray 20 Amp Sub Station
Alpha Core Balanced Transformer Power Supply, Audio Power PE-1 power enhancer,
APC Power Block, Triad 2-Ampere isolation transformer. 
Alpha Core Balanced Transformer Power Supply, Triad 2 Amp. isolation transformer.

 

 

Tonality

Sub–bass (10Hz – 60Hz)

Mid–bass (80Hz – 200Hz)

Midrange (200Hz – 3,000Hz)

High Frequencies (3,000Hz On Up)

Attack

Decay

Inner Resolution

Soundscape Width Front

Soundscape Width Rear
Soundscape Depth Behind Speakers

Soundscape Extension Into Room

Imaging

Fit And Finish

Self Noise

Value For The Money

 

Specifications
Type: Single-ended triode vacuum tube monoblock amplifier
Note: that the Reflection is a single ended amp. 
Power tubes are run at 180V plate voltage and are biased at 220ma each.
Output Power: 45 Watts at 8 Ohms.
Frequency Response: 34 Hz to 41 kHz (-1dB), 25 Hz to 58 kHz (-3dB)
THD: 0.8% at 40 Watts at 8 Ohms
SNR: 90dB
RCA Input Resistance: 1V / 47 kOhm
XLR balanced inputs are available
Weight: 42 lbs each monoblock
Warranty: Two year warranty
Retail price $4999

 

Manufacturer
Audio Mirror
7236 Ticonderoga TRI.
Eden Prairie MN 55346

E-mail: contact@audiomirror.com 
Website: www.AudioMirror.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
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