The Reimyo amplifier is in reality a preamplifier and a power amplifier. Everything in those is as it should be – the looks, the construction, the type of the output tubes, etc. Looking at the “sevens” we know (at least I think so) that we deal with a product rising above the median of the hi-end. And even the lack of the remote does not change this opinion. At least in my case – I got used to the lack of this device, running between my sitting place and my preamplifier RS-28CX from Leben. And although the Leben and Reimyo come from the same country – Japan – and both came from the hands of exceptional people – Taku Hyodo and Kazuo Kiuchi respectively – putting them side to side shows clearly, why we need to pay a few times more for the CAT.
And the solutions used are not fully typical. So, for example, the output tube 300B from western Electric is driven by a very rare power pentode 310A, here working in triode mode. Inside many Enacom filters were used – for power lines and for amplifying circuits. After long and extensive listening sessions I know that this is one of the best sets on the market. But it is far from being universal. The comparison of the power amplifier (because this is mainly about the power amp) with another top system – Ancient Audio and the power amplifiers Silver Grand Mono, its output power is so low, that you will need to look around well to find the right speakers, having high efficiency and possibly flat impedance curve, and at the same time being good enough to show what the Reimyo can do. But this is audio and true audiophilism. I also know, that this is not the right system for a reviewer. I need to have something playing well with a wide variety of loudspeakers. If I’d buy something for myself, just for listening (and would have the money to…) then it could be the amplifier for ever and ever!
Good evening. This is your Captain.
This is the beginning and the end of the piece From The Air Laurie Anderson from the disc Big Science (the catalog data of all discs are at the end of the test). Those two fragments together describe two situations ideally: that what we do in the beginning of the audiophile journey, and that what happens when we listen to an amplifier like Reimyo, so maybe at its end. We can treat the amplifier as something final, what we strived to our life long. It is based on science, solid background, but it something that went beyond simple manufacturing, grew over the master, and now is in the region of pure art, connected to the artist. This is of course not the only solution, because the sound of Reimyo is not perfect. Affirmation of the Reimyo system without proper criticism would be a sin of omission. But at the same time we pick up the largely omitted blessing for those, that can enjoy life and that what they have in reach. Not somewhere far away, in the fog of the future, but just before us. Maybe this is not a full recap, of what the Evangelist wanted to convey, but fits our situation here.
I started the listening sessions with the mentioned disc. Just after that Speak For Yourself iMogen Heap, Aerial Kate Bush and Miasto mania Maria Peszek, one after another – all ladies are brilliant in what they do. Electronics with real instruments, splendid voices and incredible culture. Just plain talent. Those are discs I listen to for pleasure and for testing (those are usually also pleasing, but are paid work from definition, and this is always related to compulsion). So I know them really well. And the Reimyo amplifier did not discover anything new. I mean nothing in terms of better resolution, detail, etc. I thought that during the first part of the listening session. The change for better was obvious, but not everything was from the beginning so higher, deeper, further, to justify me saying I bought it immediately. In that aspect much bigger, almost instantaneous impression was done by the amplifier JAG 300B, that was much worse of course, but the sound was immediately nicer and friendlier. And in addition the load posed by the Dobermann impressed it less. But from the correspondence with its constructor, Mr. Dariusz Gryglewski, and what I underlined in the test, this was done on purpose – an amplifier priced around 5000zl will have to work with loudspeakers from the same price range and this must be taken into consideration while designing the amplifier. So a bit of the resolution and delicacy was sacrificed for better compatibility. The PAT-777 costing over ten times as much did not have such constraints, so one could go to the end and squeeze everything out of it. Compatibility is lesser, the amplifier got into clipping earlier with my loudspeakers, but the sound was splendid. Everything changed after a week of playing – probably the capacitors needed to form and the tubes needed to play their time. The clipping I mentioned disappeared – one could play really loud and only on the highest volume levels the problems with the midrange could be heard, where the Harpia speakers are the most difficult load.
The naturalness of the set is breathtaking. The sources are three-dimensional, but not in the common sense, showing only the depth information and ability to get them out of the flat recording. Reimyo goes further. I do not need to write about three-dimensionality, with the “sevens” it is the way of presentation that is known from reality – one does not notice it, because its there, and one notices other things. In this case, the music and the way of recording. The CAT and the PAT show the recordings from their best side, but at the same time we get to know more about them, than with other, even most resolving, devices. Because here it is not about the detail, but about the fact, a happening that took place. This is why even so small differences, like the glued in fragments of the voice track of Maria Peszek, are instantly heard. Not because they differ with something from the rest of the phrase – this is a fantastic production, and there is no room for error – but because one hears things resulting from the minimally different microphone position versus the singer, slightly different phrasing, breath – I don’t know what exactly myself. It can be heard very well with Reimyo. But we do not hear this as an error. To make things clear: a disc, a recording, is a creation, and we can get to the bottom of it, meaning the studio. And Reimyo deos that well, and gives at the same time a musical spectacle, that those details are a part of. A small, but important, from the point of view of the perception of the piece. This was also true earlier, with the disc from iMogene, where we have a lot of information in counterphase. The Japanese amplifier could show it in complete detachment from what was happening in front of us, there was no “smearing”, “threads” between the front and the back, just two realities connected together by a superior structure - the musical piece.
This ability to differentiate is really shocking. Almost as much, as the fact, that it does not matter. This is a typical paradox, but in hi-end I think it all is about the following: getting more information about the timbre, dynamics, distortion, errors, etc, we are not getting further away from the original, but we are able to immerse better in what we hear. Instead of pinching, like in most systems with a very detailed, thorough sound, such way of playing catches. And we are talking about really extraordinary abilities. Because when from the loudspeakers sounds the piece Mam kota Maria Peszek, it can be heard, that the guitar is a bit boosted on my system, warmed, etc, and in reality it is quite far behind the voice, that it is really warm, but is not that near. And in the voice I heard slight sparks in the voice, delicate “shorts” that indicated, this is really a commercial recording – fantastic, but it can be done better. But I could not repeat this absolute three-dimensionality I know from the Ancient Audio system, Sonus Faber Electa Amator speakers and Tara Labs cabling (Omega +ISM The 0.8). In my system the voices of Laurie Allyn from Paradise and Chris Connor from Sings Lullabys of Birdland were a bit bigger and not as dissected from the background. Everything in their voices was fantastic, it was know, what they are about, but a part of “being there” disappeared. Because I know what my loudspeakers and cables are capable of. I changed the latter (this is always easier) to the top Acrolink and everything got more open. But still not fully. And I am sure, that I reached the end of the capabilities of my loudspeakers. They cannot do better. To know if it can be done better we will have to use a complete Reimyo system with the dedicated loudspeakers Bravo! Special. My remarks are in the article The Sum of all Desires.
Maybe the things I will write now will be in contradiction to what I wrote before, but this Japanese system sounded warmer, than my, also Japanese, system (Leben RS-28CX + Luxman M-800A). Although more can be heard, and more precise. It turns out, that the Beatles discs from the Toshiba-EMI re-edition are brilliant, but even those have too much of the upper midrange. And they are brilliant for keeping an incredible amount of information, otherwise only available on vinyl. I heard it like this with the SME 10A turntable, I tested in parallel. When the boys from Liverpool start singing: Baby, can you drive my car (…) from the song with the same title, placed on the disc Rubber Soul, at the same time with the vocals a piano enters on the same channel. In my system I heard this only on vinyl, and now this was audible from a digital source. This was not cutting the instrument out of the background to show it better, not showing off, but presenting the whole information about the sound at once (of course I am referring to the “whole” as based on my knowledge and experience, and not to what can be truly heard from the disc).
This is the reason why the saxophone from the basic jazz disc Saxophone Colossus from Sonny Rollins – in a full, soft, and at the same time “hoarse”, strong way. And the drums and percussion – delicious! The cymbals were sweet, but also strong and vibrant, probably just as they should be. In my system they sounded more pronounced, but at the same time more mechanical, with too strongly accented attack and without such realistic sustain and decay. How much worse Warne Marsh’ saxophone from Art Peppers disc …the way it was! Despite being recorded by the unrivalled Roy DuNann it was not as precise. But also with this disc the shrewdness of Reimyo in deciphering the most important things was visible. Although the differences in quality of the recordings from distinct sessions were clear, they seemed not to matter. As if this would not be important. Because it was about showing, that the whole has only one “father” – Pepper – and it was his spirit that moved everything, and that the recordings were made by one person – DuNann.
And in this way I run dry. I do not think that I can push forward the understanding of the Reimyo amplifier by any more writing. This is just an incredible piece of machinery. Music never sounded better in my home. With the Lektor Prime as the source it was fantastic, but the SME 10A moved the borders further away and reminded me of the differences between the Prime and the Grand SE, favoring the latter. And this is probably the reason why I think, that the instrument can be more real than in my system. At Janusz’s, the owner of the Ancient Audio system, one can hear more air behind the performers, who are also placed further away, against the laws of physics and boundaries of the room. At my place this is also impossible due to physics – the Harpia loudspeakers are much closer to the back wall than Janusz’s Electas. But this what I achieved with what I have would be enough for me for a long time, under the condition that I would find floor standing boxes, at least as resolving and neutral as the Harpia (or better) and at the same time friendlier to low power. Interestingly, the amplifier showed exactly the spot, where the Dobermann have their weakness, and why it is worth it to pay more (a lot more, but this in not the discussion) for example for the Wilson Audio Sophie Series 2, or – maybe a better comparison – Watt Puppy 8. It is about the upper midrange. I mentioned that a few times, but now I got this served on a silver dish – a part of it is risen, and this looses somewhat the depth of the sound, together with a part of the noblesse and resolution. Earlier, with many other good amplifier, this element was a little masked. Here, although the Reimyo is – in a word – an incredibly soft, even warm (although this is not the right word) device, this peculiarity was immediately clear. The same is true for the source: Prime is a splendid player, but there are better ones. And for example the AMR CD-77 could sound more coherent, and the Grand SE showed the recordings with better vividness and more noblesse. This is maybe not much, but placed the system a few classes higher. Putting the signal from the Reimyo source – CDT-777 + DAP-999EX - on the input moved it another step forward. Yes, as if the amplifier would not have any limits.
The device, despite the small power (7W per channel) sounds loud, without clipping, even with full band loudspeakers, like the Harpia Acoustics Dobermann. Even better, the amplifier produced realistic levels of sound (with a strong bass!) with such small loudspeakers like the closed cabinet bookshelves Bravo! Special. You can of course look for a construction with higher sensitivity, but they should be as neutral as possible. No thin things, etc. Of course some things the Reimyo cannot pass, and such a brilliant, phenomenal and absolutely unbelievable bass like from the Krell EVO 402 it will not achieve, but the sound is built here on something different, not on accurateness – as this is absolutely splendid – but on absolute coherence and a holistic approach to everything with a synchronized, like an atomic clock, sound system. This is like falling into the bulls-eye of music. We know, this is looking from a distance, that we are not in the middle of a real event, but we do not protest, put this knowledge aside, and say “yes”. And our “yes” is a true “yes”.
Discs used in the test:
Although Reimyo is a small manufacture, their products do not resemble garage work in any way, so popular in the Country of the Cherry Blossom. Both units are packed in aluminum element, fitting together ideally, tightened together by many, very many screws. Interestingly, the preamplifier and the power amplifier are not fully coherent stylistically. They look similar, the enclosures are from scratched aluminum, in the middle of the front panel there is a signaling LED, indicating if the devices warmed up (anode current is not turned on with delay, this is just an indicator) and a painted logo. But the mechanical power switches differ (the one in the CAT-777 it is nicer), also the color of the screws differs – in the preamplifier those are gold, in the power amp black. Also the description of the model is different – in the power amp it is on a small plate screwed to the side, on the preamp only the logo is printed in the middle of the front panel. Despite this, the devices look nice, and can be liked.
The preamplifier makes especially good impression. This is a big, high device, with a big, incredibly handy, volume knob on the right side, and two small knobs for setting the balance more to the middle, and a row of LEDs indicating the active one of the four inputs. This is not much… And actually this is it. But the placement of the knobs and buttons works out well.
On the back we’ll see high quality RCA sockets, looking like WBT, but I think, they’re from another manufacturer. There are also three preamplifier outputs, a grounding terminal (this is typical for Japanese devices) and an IEC socket. The inputs and outputs are placed symmetrical to the main axis and quite far apart. This suggests dual mono setup. It should be noticed, that even the closest sockets are so far apart, that I could not connect the grounds on the Harmonix cables – they were too short. The device is supported by wide cones – a Harmonix patent, tuning the preamplifier’s sound. But I saw on the pictures from a Japan show, that those got exchanged for the very expensive supports TU-606ZX.
Inside the preamplifier looks even more impressive than on the outside. The CAT-777 is in fact dual mono. In the middle we have the power supply, separate for each channel, and to the sides, separated with thick shields, the amplifying circuits. It turns out, that the RCA sockets have fantastic connections inside. From those, with shielded cables (Harmonix) the signal goes to the input PCB. The input is chosen by sealed relays, packed in small metal shields. From there the signal goes to single Alps potentiometers (the small knobs) going through a medium sized (1µF) polypropylene capacitor Wonder InfiniCap Signature. From the smaller potentiometers the signal goes to the large, double one from Cosmos. I do not know, if it is good to have two potentiometers in the path – it is probably best to set the small ones to full and use only the big one. From there we go back to the tubes, mounted horizontally. In each channel we have two small double triodes – 12AU7, in a very good version from Matsushita (Japan) and in the input buffer the 12BH7A coming from the same manufacturer. The coupling is handled by the same capacitors as in the input, only bigger (4µF). There is no feedback loop. In the middle we have the power supply, which – like in all good products – occupies most part of the enclosure. Every channel has its own transformer and choke. The heating current is rectified and stabilized. In the anode power supply we have Philips ECG JAN 6X4WA tubes, a tube rectifier from military NOS supplies. Next to those we find tw big capacitors filtering the anode current and a few smaller ones for the heaters. On the input we have a 2Pi mains filter and Enacom, another brand from Combak Corporation. Then, on the output of the power supply, we have another two such filters. This part of the preamplifier is mounted on a PCB, but the signal section, except for the inputs, is mounted point-to-point.
The power amplifier is built from the outside like other devices of that kind – on the top cover we have tubes – in the input a big, nice tube from Western Electric, the 310A, and in the output single, direct heated 300B triodes from the same company. Most interesting is the first one – this is a power pentode, very rare, working here in triode mode. The anode voltage is supplied by an external cable (Harmonix) and a cap visible on the pictures. Probably Mr. Kiuchi thought, that the 300B must be driven with high power, a thing heard here and there, In the middle, in front of a big power transformer there is a big rectifying tubem JAN 5R4WGB from Cetron. It gets quite hot, so there is a metal heat sink placed on the tube, screwed tight with three big screws. On the back we will find single RCA inputs – beautiful WBT – and speaker terminals from the same manufacturer – separate for 2, 4 and 8Ω impedances.
In difference to other tube power amplifiers, here you have to unscrew the top cover. The bottom is a very thick aluminum plate, and all sections are mounted to it. The circuit is quite simple. As usual the power supply and output transformers take most space of the inside. In the power supply we have many filters (2Pi, Enacom, and a big industrial looking element). The filtering capacitors Elna Cerafine (separate for each channel and each tube) are coupled by polypropylene capacitors Wonder InfiniCap Signature. The heating of both signal tubes is rectified and stabilized. The circuit is mounted point-to-point. The IEC socket is from Furutech.
CDs FROM JAPAN
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