pl | en

Power amplifier | monaural


Price (when reviewed): 38 990 PLN/pair

Via website


Provided for test by:


Images: Wojciech Pacuła | PikselStudio
Translation: Marek Dyba

No 203

April 1, 2021


The BLADELIUS company was founded in 1997 in Alingsås, Sweden and belongs to the Bladelius Design Group. Its founder is Mike Bladelius, one of the most famous designers in the audio world. We are testing his latest product, the LOKE monaural power amplifiers.

RITING IN APRIL 2019 ABOUT THE INTEGRATED AMPLIFIER Oden by Bladelius, I mentioned the extremely rich professional experience of its creator, Mike Bladelius. He worked for such well-known and respected companies as: Threshold and Pass Labs, Classé Audio and Ultra Analog. I assume that he was satisfied with each of these projects, within the limits of what any designer can be completely satisfied with any of his works. Nevertheless, it would probably not be an abuse if I say that the products bearing his name are the most precious ones to him.

Two things draw our attention in Bladelius products: their names and appearance. The first ones come from Germanic mythology and are known mainly from Scandinavian myths. The ODEN integrated amplifier, tested previously, was named so in honor of one of the most important gods, the king of Asgard. Sir Anthony Hopkins plays him in the Thor Odin series (Thor: 2011, dir. Kenneth Branagh | Thor: The Dark World, 2013, dir. Alan Taylor | Thor: Ragnarok, 2017, directed by Taika Waititi; the fourth part of the saga has already been announced).

It is no coincidence that I recalled this Marvel movie franchise from the Avengers series, because - as I have already written - it organizes modern consciousness. And in the series of films in question, not only the forces of good seem interesting. One could even say that the one equally fascinating and at the same time having the most complex personality, is the adopted son of Odin - LOKE. Known in Norse mythology as a giant, god, symbol of fire, deception and mischief, in the Marvel world (where he is known as Loki Laufeyson), he is brilliantly played by Tom Hiddleston. Let me add that the version of the name "Loke" is known from the Poetic Edda, the oldest piece of Icelandic literature, dating back to the 9th century AD.


A few simple words…

Owner, designer

WOJCIECH PACUŁA Do you like designing class A amplifiers? When did you start designing them? Was it during your work as an engineer at Threshold or at Pass Labs?
MIKE BLADELIUS I designed my first class A in 1989 working for Nelson Pass at Threshold in California and ever since it has always been giving me great a pleasure to design class A amps. When doing so I get the feeling that sound comes first hand and everything else is 2nd priority.

WP Is Loke a fully balanced design?
MB Yes, Loke is fully balanced from input to output (both speaker terminals are hot) with no conversion if a balanced signal is connected. If an unbalanced signal is connected the signal is converted to balanced internally. By keeping the signal balanced all the way to the speakers, distortion is being reduced without the use of heavy feedback (common distortion gets canceled in the speakers).

WP Is there anything particularly interesting about this amplifier’s design?
MB What´s interesting about Loke is that it´s truly balanced, has reduced bias when on but not playing, has short signal paths, on the input stage is a pair of Jfet transistors in a foldback cascade arrangement which gives a very linear performance regardless of the music level.

Also worth mentioning is that all the voltage gain is in 1st transistor to get the highest performance and most stable amplifier design possible due to one pole which makes it much harder to design, but the sound benefits are immense.

WP How long did the development of this amplifier take?
MB I have been wanting to design a new class A for quiet some time and have been working with Loke on and off for about a year.

WP Can you tell the „High Fidelity” Readers anything about products you’re currently working on? Is there anything new coming still this year for Bladelius fans?
MB We have several new products in the works, you can expect to see three new integrated amplifiers as well as a new flagship DAC/streamer!



LOKE, JAKO PRZYBRANY SYN ODYNA, nie może być równie potężny, a przynajmniej nie może się z tym afiszować – ostatecznie król Asgardu ma rodzonego syna, który ma przej±ć po nim władzę. Dlatego też monobloki o tej nazwie maj± moc „zaledwie” 90 W (przy 8 Ω), podczas kiedy Odyn oferował 400 W przy 8 Ω i aż 800 W przy 4 Ω. Trzeba jednak wiedzieć, że była to jednak moc uzyskana z klasycznego wzmacniacza pracuj±cego w klasie AB, a te 90 watów Lokiego to moc oddawana w klasie A. Wprawdzie z „pływaj±cym” biasem, ale jednak w klasie, która znana jest z dużej ilo¶ci ciepła odbieranego od tranzystorów przez radiatory. Co jest paradoksem, bo Loki pochodzi z mroĽnej planety Lodowych Olbrzymów.

LOKE, AS ODIN'S ADOPTED SON, cannot be as powerful, or at least he cannot flaunt it - after all, the king of Asgard has already a son destined to take power over from him at some point. Therefore, monoblocks carrying his name offer an output of "only" 90 W (@ 8 Ω), while Odin offered 400 W @ 8 Ω and as much as 800 W at 4 Ω. You have to know, however, that it was the power from a classic amplifier AB class, and the 90 watts of Loke are class A ones. Although with a "floating" bias, but still in a class that is known for a large amount of heat transferred from transistors to large heat sinks. Which is a paradox because Loki comes from the frosty planet of the Ice Giants.

The tested amplifier is also a classic example of a Scandinavian, restrained design. On its front wall, made of a aluminum slab, there is only a blue LED and a deeply engraved company logo - one may say: in eternal ice ... The back of the device is equally minimalist, although it can be expanded. There are two line inputs - XLR and RCA - selected with a toggle switch, a pair of speaker terminals and an IEC power socket with a mechanical switch.

There are two input sockets, because the Loke amplifier is a balance design - therefore the XLR input should be the preferred one. For convenience, however, we also have an RCA input at our disposal. As it seems from the technical specifications, the gain for both inputs is identical, so after the RCA input there must be a re-balancing and pre-amplifying circuit. However, you can order the Loke amplifier with an additional pair of speaker terminals (for bi-wiring) and with RCA and / or XLR OUTPUTS. The latter will then be called „bypasses”, and a user will be able to connect more monoblocks with short cables and power the speakers in bi-amping mode.

The chassis of the device is entirely made of aluminum, and the electronic components - as you will see while reading the section devoted to the design - are of high quality. It is built using a custom-made, large power transformer with multiple secondary windings and electrolytic capacitors with low ESR (equivalent series resistance; more HERE, accessed 03/09/2021). The device is extremely modest, but also characteristic, which is a common feature of utility products from Scandinavia.


HOW WE LISTENED The Bladelius Loke monoblocks were placed on the top of the Finite Elemente Master Reference Pagode Edition rack. In the same place I tested the THÖRESS EHT MONO monoblocks some time ago and, just like then, the Ayon Audio CD-35 HF Edition SACD player, which usually stands on one of these shelves, was placed on a temporary stand consisting of a Sonus faber stand and a pneumatic Acoustic Revive RAF-48H (HF № 198 | 10/16/2020; test HERE ) platform.

Bladelius amplifiers were powered by two identical Acoustic Revive Absolute Power cables, each 2 m long. The signal to the HARBETH M40.1 loudspeakers was sent using the SILTECH TRIPLE CROWN cable, but - again - I achieved very good results with the NOS WESTERN ELECTRIC WE16GA cables.

The line signal to the amplifiers was sent using the ACOUSTIC REVIVE XLR-1.5 TRIPLE C-FM (1.8x1.4) balanced interconnect from the Ayon Audio Spheris III balanced preamplifier output. However, one could go about it differently - the Audio Atelier, a Bladelius distributor, also offers LUMÏN file players (we tested the Lumïn T2 and Lumïn X1), which can be connected directly to the inputs of these power amplifiers.

The LUMÏN players offer outputs with fixed or variable level; Their volume control is a performed in the digital domain. In my system almost an external preamplifier sounds better, and I don't like digital volume control either. However the latest software update of these players, includes the LEEDH PROCESSING VOLUME CONTROL algorithm. It was prepared by the French company ACOUSTICAL BEAUTY, it is one of the most interesting solutions of this type. Apart from the Lumïn, they can also be found in devices from 3D Lab and Vermeer Audio.

Recordings used for the test | a selection

⸜ ALAN PARSONS PROJECT, I Robot, Arista/Sony Music Japan SICP 30168, 2 x BSCD2 CD (1977/2013)
⸜ JOHN SCOFIELD, Swallow Tales, ECM Records/Universal Music LLC (Japan) UCCE-1183, CD (2020);
⸜ LAURIE ANDERSON, Homeland, Nonesuch 524055-2, CD + DVD (2010);
⸜ MAYO NAKANO PIANO TRIO, MIWAKU, Briphonic BRPN-7007GL, Extreme Hard Glass CD-R (2017);
⸜ PATRICIA BARBER, Companion, Premonition Records/Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab UDSACD 2023, SACD/CD (1999/2003);
⸜ TSUYOSHI YAMAMOTO TRIO, Midnight Sugar, Three Blind Mice/Impex Records IMP8308, Gold HDCD (1974/2004)
⸜ WAGNER/GLEN GOULD, Glenn Gould Conducts & Plays Wagner, Sony Classical/ Sony Music Japan SICC-10205, „Glen Gould Ultimate SA-CD Hybrid Series”, SACD/CD (1990/2014)


BLADELIUS HAS DEVELOPED, I have no doubts about it, its own, easily recognizable "style", both in terms of appearance and sound. Purists can turn their noses, because audio devices should not contribute anything themselves to the sound, realists, however, will immediately ask: "what style is this?", knowing that the purist approach is an ideological one that does not work in the real world, it is often counterproductive.

And, in short, it's a style of a strong, energetic sound, in which the foreground is close to us and in which the timbres are the most important elements of the presentation. This was immediately clear with the opening track on the THE ALAN PARSONS PROJECT’s I Robot. It is built on the principle of adding layer after layer - both in the physical planes and in the tonal plane, in which it resembles a bit the Tubular Bells by MIKE OLDFIELD.

Anyway, the successive planes brought the sound closer to me, building a depth towards ME. The depth of the stage itself was very good, the planes were clearly presented, vivid, but also the vocalization entering at 1:09 was much closer than with the Soulution 710 amplifier, reminding me of what I heard earlier with the Thöress EMT Mono hybrid amplifiers, and in general - with good tube amplifiers. It was similar with the vocal of LAURIE ANDERSON, singing "Maybe if I fall ..." in the song Falling, which was close to me, almost at my fingertips.

| Our albums


Arista/Sony Music Japan SICP 30168
2 x BSCD2 CD (1977/2013)

THE ALAN PARSONS PROJECT is - nomen-omen - a studio project (although there was also a concert version) of ALAN PARSONS British sound engineer, musician and music producer. He produced classic rock albums such as: The Beatles Abbey Road and The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd.

The Alan Parsons Project is a progressive rock group formed jointly by Parsons with Erik Woolfson, the songwriter and composer of most of the songs. The first album was the 1976 concept album Tales of Mystery and Imagination with adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe's literary themes, the last one in 1990, when it fell apart. The I Robot was released on July 1, 1977 and was the band's second title.

At the center of this story were the issues raised by Isaac Asimov, the author of science-fiction novels, especially problems related to artificial intelligence. Its cover was designed by Hipgnosis, known, among others, from covers of Pink Floyd albums. The album was reissued many times, also by Mobile Fidelity, both on standard vinyl and in the tasteful UHQR version; DVD-A with 24/96 files is also available.

The version I propose was released on two BSCD2 discs by the Japanese branch of Sony, the owner of Arista Records. This material was remastered in 2013 for the "Legacy Edition". The first album includes the original album, while the second one includes working versions, demos and alternate takes.

DAVE DONNELY and Parsons are responsible for the remaster, and it was prepared in the DNA Mastering in Woodland Hills, California. This is a studio owned by Donnely, winner of the 2019 Grammy Award for the TAPP’s Eye in The Sky album, in which the albums of Aerosmith, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Miley Cyrus, Chicago, George Michael, Blink 182, Slash, Motley Crue as well as soundtracks from Shrek 2 and Forrest Gump received their final form.

SO WE HAVE A CLOSE FOREGROUND. It is energetic in the sense that it does not emphasize any part of the band and extinguish the rest - no, this is not the point at all. The strong foreground here is to show a large volume of events on the axis, conveying the entire complex dynamic structure and harmonics of the piece. This is not an emphasis on one selected band, while extinguishing the others, it is absolutely not the point. The Loke amplifier perfectly shows both the upper midrange and the bass, but by saturating the elements on the axis, slightly enlarging them, it makes us think that they are closer to us, that they are - let me repeat - at our fingertips.

So the tested amplifier does not withdraw the extremes of the band, while playing a nice, saturated bass. But this is also the bass, which is does not go very low nor is extremely well controlled - it offers a good average in this price range, although some devices, such as the Mark Levinson and Accuphase integrated amplifiers do it better, with more resolution. Only that they cannot connect this range in such a smooth, natural way with the rest of the frequency range as the Bladelius does, which means that - ultimately - that the amplifier sounds nice, pleasant and very dense.

We are talking about a high level, about high-end, so the differences I mentioned are not as big as they would be in the basic price ranges. But they are there. The amplifier behaves similarly in the treble region, showing it in an extremely pleasant way. This is not a warmed up sound to be clear. Yes, I compared the tested amplifier to tube devices and yes, I mentioned Thöress, thus setting up the reception of my comments on Loke's timbre. But its sound is absolutely not tube-like, it just has some features that have been used to achieve this particular sonic effect.

Therefore, although we are talking about a large presentation with a large volume and momentum, about a sound with a strong, close foreground, it does not flood us with a syrupy warmth, it does not "immobilize" the sounds in a golden "bubble". Its sound is strong because its upper midrange is strong. Already on the Parsons album, in the song entitled I Wouldn't Want to Be Like You, when the vocals entered, I could hear that it is an open sound, that the voices are energetic and "lively".

It was similar with the PATRICIA BARBER’s Companion. The cymbals were shown clearly, vividly and strongly. Although the song Like TJ, recorded directly on a CD-R, because the ADAT tape recorders "failed" then, it was shown closer and the reverbs added live by Jim Anderson had less significance. Despite that, its sound with the Loke monoblocks was extremely dynamic and energetic. Also, non-musical elements such as the tape noise, clearly audible, for example in the introduction to the title track from the TSUYOSHI YAMAMOTO TRIO’s Midnight Sugar, will be audible well, just as it should be.

So there is a close foreground, warm - but not warmed up - presentation, there is also density and open midrange. In a word - it is a really refined sound. Although it is not particularly detailed, at least at first glance, it has a very good resolution, so we will not miss any tonal shades, no details. Despite the closeness, I did not feel „attacked” by this sound, which sometimes happens when the sound is presented close.

This is because it is a very spacious sound. Already with Anderson I heard perfectly rendered elements in out-of-phase, the sounds surrounding the listening position in a good, clear, but also intended way. It happened again with Barber, and then it hit me even harder on the Yamamoto album on Three Blind Mice. Thanks to this the presentation of the Loke amplifier is natural, dense in meaning, and yet unobtrusive. So one will appreciate the dynamics that the amplifier offers - it is exceptional. The Harbeth M40.1 loudspeakers I use, are incredibly good in this respect, but they also immediately show the weaknesses in this regard of other components of the system. They seemed to be completely "satisfied" with the tested devices.


SO I ASSUME THAT YOU WILL BE satisfied with the tested monoblocks. Because they are great devices, combining elements that we love and are looking for in the sound, that is: density and opening, speed and lack of brightening, nice timbre, but without warming it up. They have an output that will allow one to drive most of the loudspeakers available on the market and will do it with style.

They are not masters of selectivity, nor will they pump big bass into our room. But that's not what their presentation is about either. It is about balance and the ability to convey both the rock, dense "wall of sound" from Parsons' recordings as well as sophisticated GLEN GOULD recordings, for example from the Glenn Gould Conducts & Plays Wagner in SACD version, which is currently spinning in the Ayon player. All that Loke does with ease and lightness. The Bladelius is a great amplifier, that's why we decided to award it with our REDFINGERPRINT.



The BLADELIUS LOKE AMPLIFIER is a design based on another product of this manufacturer - the TYR III integrated amplifier. On the Loke PCB you can see elements for his integrated kin, but without inputs - it's like taking two Tyr III amplifiers, running signal through a balanced path and equipping them with single line inputs, without volume control. Mike Bladelius told me that from the beginning the platform was designed in such a way to made it possible to build different models on it.

The chassis of the tested device is made entirely of aluminum. It is a material that has good shielding properties and does not produce eddy currents on the same scale as steel does (these are the currents that influence the useful signal). The front is made of a thick sheet of aluminum, and the other walls are made of bent aluminum sheet. The top is large and it vibrates, so one could think about damping it, for example with the Verictum EMI / RFI X Block filter. The amplifier rests on rubber feet, so one could have a lot of fun trying out the specialized anti-vibration feet.

In the front there is only a small blue power LED, and a standby switch. The main mechanical switch is integrated into the IEC power socket on the rear panel. You can also see the XLR and RCA inputs, of a good quality, next to them there is a mechanical switch to select an active input. Next to it you can see the very good WBT-0708 speaker terminals with a minimized amount of metal. The sockets sit very close to each other, so I would be careful with the spades - in this case it is better to use banana plugs.

I would also like to add that there are additional holes on the rear panel (with nice plugs). They are there because, upon order, one can buy a second pair of speaker outputs (for bi-wiring) and a "bypass" output, both XLR and RCA; the latter will be useful when two amplifiers (bi-amping) are placed close to each other, because it is enough to lead the signal with a long interconnect to one of them, and to send the same signal to the other with a shorter cable.


The electronic circuit is mounted on a single printed circuit board, together with a power supply - or rather power supplies. Although very good components attract attention, the most important here is the extensive power supply.

Its base is a very large Noratel toroidal transformer. It was mounted and mechanically damped in a classic way, that is, it was screwed through a rubber spacer, and the inside was filled with epoxy resin. This is a good standard, but - to be honest - I wonder why companies so rarely use more sophisticated systems that mechanically decouple the transformer from the housing, and thus also other components - this comment applies to 99% of devices available on the market. Let me add that the chassis has been split with a heat sink in half, separating the audio circuits from the transformer.

Several secondary windings come out of the transformer, even though it is a monophonic power amplifier... The current section is powered separately, and so are the input section and protection circuits. The first one uses six large-sized Kemet capacitors, so-called "split foil". It is a technique that eliminates eddy currents in aluminum cladding. The input circuits are in turn powered by the stabilizing circuits.

At the input there are JFET transistors with surface mounted elements, which - similarly to those in the section controlling the output transistors, b>work in class A. In the power amplifier - also working in class A - we find four pairs of Sanken 2SA2223A + 2SC6145A transistors. From their arrangement it can be concluded that this is a power amplifier working in a balanced bridge arrangement. As the manufacturer of the amplifier declares it works with low feedback.

Nice, well-thought-out system with very good components.

Technical specifications (according to the manufacturer)

Nominal output: 90 W/8 Ω
THD: <0.02%
S/N: >126 dB
Frequency range: DC-100 kHz | +0.5 dB
Gain: 26.5 dB


Reference system 2021

1) Loudspeakers: HARBETH M40.1 |REVIEW|
2) Line preamplifier: AYON AUDIO Spheris III Linestage |REVIEW|
3) Super Audio CD Player: AYON AUDIO CD-35 HF Edition No. 01/50 |REVIEW|
4) Stands (loudspeakers): ACOUSTIC REVIVE (custom) |ABOUT|
5) Power amplifier: SOULUTION 710
6) Loudspeaker filter: SPEC REAL-SOUND PROCESSOR RSP-AZ9EX (prototype) |REVIEW|
7) Hi-Fi rack: FINITE ELEMENTE Pagode Edition |ABOUT|


Analog interconnect SACD Player - Line preamplifier: SILTECH Triple Crown (1 m) |ABOUT|
Analog interconnect Line preamplifier - Power amplifier: ACOUSTIC REVIVE RCA-1.0 Absolute-FM (1 m) |REVIEW|
Speaker cable: SILTECH Triple Crown (2.5 m) |ABOUT|

AC Power

Power cable | Mains Power Distribution Block - SACD Player: SILTECH Triple Crown
Power (2 m) |ARTICLE|
Power cable | Mains Power Distribution Block - Line preamplifier - ACOUSTIC REVIVE
Power Reference Triple-C (2 m) |REVIEW|
Power cable | Mains Power Distribution Block - Power amplifier - ACROLINK Mexcel 7N-PC9500 |ARTICLE|
Power cable | Power Receptacle - Mains Power Distribution Block: ACROLINK Mexcel 7N-PC9500 (2 m) |ARTICLE|
Power Receptacle: Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu ULTIMATE |REVIEW|
Anti-vibration platform under Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu ULTIMATE: Asura QUALITY RECOVERY SYSTEM Level 1 |REVIEW|
Power Supply Conditioner: Acoustic Revive RPC-1 |REVIEW|
Power Supply Conditioner: Acoustic Revive RAS-14 Triple-C |REVIEW|
Passive filter EMI/RFI: VERICTUM Block |REVIEW|


Speaker stands: ACOUSTIC REVIVE (custom)
Hi-Fi rack: FINITE ELEMENTE Pagode Edition |ABOUT|
Anti-vibration platforms: ACOUSTIC REVIVE RAF-48H |ARTICLE|

  • HARMONIX TU-666M "BeauTone" MILLION MAESTRO 20th Anniversary Edition |REVIEW|


Phono preamplifier: Phono cartridges: Tonearm (12"): Reed 3P |REVIEW|

Clamp: PATHE WINGS Titanium PW-Ti 770 | Limited Edition

Record mats:


Headphone amplifier: AYON AUDIO HA-3 |REVIEW|

Headphones: Headphone Cables: Forza AudioWorks NOIR HYBRID HPC