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Price (in Poland):
• basic version – 29 990 PLN
• full version – 39 990 PLN

Contact: Via website form


Provided for test by: AUDIO ATELIER


translation Marek Dyba
pictures “High Fidelity”

No 237

February 1, 2024


BLADELIUS was founded in 1997 in Alingsås, Sweden, and is part of the Bladelius Design Group. Its founder is MIKE BLADELIUS, one of the best-known designers in the audio world. We're testing his latest THOR V-version integrated amplifier. It's not only an amplifier, but also a file player and DAC in one. This is its WORLD PREMIERE.

TWO YEARS AGO, BLADELIUS celebrated its 25th anniversary. Specially for the occasion it prepared the Ask integrated amplifier, and for the first time, if my memory serves me right, it also offered a file transport module for it. Together with an optional DAC module and phono preamplifier board, it resulted in a complete source and amplifier in one small chassis (more → HERE). The fifth version of the Thor amplifier repeats these choices.


| A few simple words…

owner, designer

WHEN THE BLADELIUS STORY BEGAN it was huge amounts of knowledge and experience from designing top quality High End and HiFi components over several years that lead me to founding my own brand.

First out in 2001 was the Thor mk1, which was a sledgehammer of its time! Pure, almost unheard of in those days 2 x160W output. But still it managed to stay very musical and refined. It was based on the philosophy that less is more, just like today, but a little less refined than later editions.

A few years later the THOR mk2 entered the stage carrying a beefed up power stage and a slightly more refined line stage. The design stayed mostly the same though. Even further refined was the THOR 3 when it entered the stage, but it had more to give still. It was time to start the journey towards more modern amplifiers with more functionality built into it. So the THOR 3 could be ordered as the NOVITAS edition with an onboard DAC and a RIAA stage. Both remarkably refined for such a cost effective unit.

The power output was now raised to 2*175W and a fully revised and reworked circuitry gave it impressive dynamics and musical power in spite of its moderate size. The power supply was yet again more powerful and extremely quiet.

⸜ PCB with linestage module – one channel, one branch

Many of the design features of the brand new THOR it inherited from ASK. Such as the amplifier gain section and the multi stage linear ultra low noise regulation. With its more compact format, truly packed with everything we could come up with, without any compromises in quality, it clearly can be seen as a derivative of the ASK in terms of sound quality.

The device benefits from its 2 kVA toroidal transformer and massive capacitor bank delivering an output of 2x200 Watts at 8 ohms and its peak current output of +/-68A. Which makes it capable of handling the most demanding speakers on the market with ease and full control.

From the remote the user can conveniently select to run the unit in heavy Class-A or a more standard Class A/B mode. MB


Thor Mk V

ONE OF THE absolutely first production units of the amplifier, sent from Sweden by its designer, Mike Bladelius, arrived for testing. At its time, the website had not yet been updated, and a Coming... message was displayed when the appropriate tab was chosen. So in describing its design and the solutions used in it, I will resort to emails received from Mike and whatever I was able to find out myself. The test in "High Fidelity" is the world premiere of this device.

TECHNIQUE • The Thor Mk V is the fifth version of the integrated amplifier, which in the manufacturer's lineup occupies the middle of the price scheme in this category, between the more expensive Ask and Oden models (test → HERE) on the one hand and Tyr and Brage on the other. Its predecessor, the Thor III model (the number IV was skipped, due to Asian markets) yielded 125 watts into an 8 ohm load, which has now been increased to 200 watts per channel. It is also very important that the user can choose the operating class of the device - during the test I listened to music with the amplifier working in Class A, but Class AB also worked very well.

What is immediately striking is the completely different look of the new Bladelius products. In earlier iterations of this device, the front panels were sheets of aluminum, with a volume knob in the middle and a small display (in the III version), on the right side. To this day, this design is repeated in the Tyr and Brage models. The change is that now the entire front is occupied by a large "window", with the display placed under it. The mechanical structure of the unit is much more solid than before, because instead of bent sheets forming the top and sides, we get a rigid structure made of aluminum plates bolted together.

When we plug the device in, there is a delay in activating the various sections of the device which was imposed to protect it. When the sequence completes, you will find that the display is small, and this "window" is just an element of the art design and has no other functions. Having said that, I would add that the monochrome OLED display used in this project is really nice. In large letters, it informs us about the selected input and volume level. The tiny letters underneath, in turn, show the status of the connection to the home network.

FEATURES • Same as the company's two more expensive designs, this model can be ordered with one of three optional modules, expanding its functionality.

To reiterate, one is an MC phono preamplifier, another is a DAC, and the third is a file transport. Having the last two, we get a device called streaming amplifier. I prefer to use the name ”integrated amplifier with file player”. The amplifier alone will cost you PLN 29,990, and the fully equipped version, that is, with phono preamp, file transport and "DAC" will cost PLN 39,990. Those who prefer silver version will have to add another PLN 1199 on top of that.

The transport and DAC sections are very similar to those we already know from the Tyr model. We can send a PCM signal up to 32 bits and 768 kHz or DSD up to DSD1024 to the USB input. It goes to the XMOS 216 DSP chip, which applies a in-house algorithm with digital filters. These allow the signal to be overclocked synchronously or asynchronously, and you can choose from three available filters.

The streamer section is based on a Raspberry Pi microcomputer. It supports playing music from NAS drives, USB drives and flash drives, or from streaming services such as Tidal, Qobuz and Spotify. I played music from Tidal using the Tidal Connect option; the transport does not decode MQA signals. The device is Roon Ready certified. We can also send the digital signal to it wirelessly, using Bluetooth or Airplay.

However, the primary role of this device is to amplify the signal. The Thor Mk V is an amplifier with a balanced signal path from input to output - the signal behind the RCA jacks is balanced. It operates in push-pull mode in either Class A or AB. There are four unbalanced RCA line inputs plus one balanced XLR, a phono input (optional module), a recording output and a preamp output - both on RCA jacks. Speaker outputs are single, but - unlike the line inputs - they are high-grade, screw-in jacks, somewhat reminiscent of those offered by Japan's Furutech.

Next to and slightly above it is the DAC board. There are five inputs, including two optical Toslink, two electrical S/PDIF on RCA jacks and one electrical AES/EBU on an XLR jack. On the extreme right there is a file transport board, with an Ethernet input, USB 2.0 type B for a computer and two USB type A for external USB drives.

CONTROL • There are only three elements one controls the device with. The aforementioned volume knob, with the characteristic shape once shared with Meridian devices, and two buttons - for input selection and standby function. The amplifier can also be controlled from the remote control, while the file player section can be controlled via the website or via the free Volumio app.

The remote control looks exactly like this type of accessory looked like twenty years ago - it's clunky and ugly. But it gives user access to several settings, such as dimming and turning off the display and changing the way the D/A section works. We can choose one of three digital filters (in my case it was the "slow" one), activate upsampling (I chose "double"). We can also choose whether upsampling is performed synchronously or asynchronously; I chose the latter option.

Bladelius amplifiers are designed to be ready to work as soon as they are turned on. Therefore, the preamplifier section is constantly on, and the chassis at the rear of the unit heats up a bit. It can be turned off using the mechanical switch on the rear panel. I would also add that the device when in operation gets very hot, so much so that it is difficult to keep your hand on it. It is clear that the bias has been set high, meaning that the first few watts are given off at Class A. If this bothers you, you can lower the bias current - again in the device's menu. I would, however, stay with the high one.


HOW WE LISTENED • The Bladelius Thor Mk V amplifier was tested in the "High Fidelity" reference system, in which it was compared to a split system consisting of an Ayon Audio Spheris III tube preamplifier and a Soulution 710 solid-state power amplifier. The unit stood on a carbon top shelf of the Finite Elemente Pagode Edition Mk II rack, in the Heavy Duty version. The amplifier was driving Harbeth M.40.1 speakers, with which it was connected by Crystal Cable Da Vinci cables.

The analog signal source was the Ayon Audio CD-35 HF Edition SACD player. The digital signal was routed from the RCA output of the Ayon player's transport and from the USB digital output of the Lumin T3 file player. For analog connections I used an unbalanced interconnect Crystal Cable Absolute Dream - in my system I use only unbalanced links. Digital connection was provided by Acrolink Mexcel DA-7N6300II (RCA) and TiGLON TPL-2000U (USB) cables; more about signal routing in a "High Fidelity" system. → HERE |PL|. The amplifier was powered by Harmonix X-DC350M2R Improved-Version cable.

» Recordings used for the test ⸜ a selection

⸜ BREAKOUT, Blues, Polskie Nagrania MUZA/Warner Music Poland 50541 9 78085 3 1, „Polskie Nagrania catalogue selections - Limited Edition SACD Hybrid”, SACD/CD (1971/2023)
⸜ THE MODERN JAZZ QUARTET, Pyramid, Atlantic/Warner Music Japan WPCR-25125, „Atlantic 60th”, CD (1960/2006).
⸜ PETER GABRIEL, I/O, Virgin/Virgin Music Label and Artist Services Japan UICB-1023/4, 2 x SHM-CD (2023).
⸜ HANIA RANI, Ghosts, Gondwana Records GONDCD066, CD (2023).

⸜ REPUBLIKA, Masakra, Pomaton EMI/Tidal, FLAC MQA 16/44,1 (1998).
⸜ THE SMILE, Wall Of Eyes, XL Recordings/Tidal, FLAC 16/44,1 (2023).
⸜ JULIE CRUISE, Floating into the Night, Warner Bros./Tidal, FLAC MQA 16/44,1 (1989).
⸜ GHOST, 13 Commandments, Loma Vista/Tidal, FLAC MQA 16/44,1 (2023).
⸜ DIANA KRALL, This Dream of You, Verve Record/Tidal, FLAC 24/44,1 (2020).


AMPLIFIER • I like this kind of sound. I'm not going to say I don’t, I just do. This doesn't mean that it's a perfect sound, or anything like that, only that it puts a smile on my face. Why? - Well, because everything about it is "in tune" with itself. I play Blues by the band BREAKOUT in Damian Lipinski's latest version and I get: warm, dense guitars, nicely defined vocals, darkened and warmed drums and rich, low bass. What more do you need to enjoy the music?

Even more so, as everything smoothly flows, when it needs it gets denser, and at other times it puts some detail in the foreground. This is not a "detailed" sounding amplifier, to be clear. I would even say that it rather hides the sharp edges of details in order to show the music in an even smoother, even more "seamless" way. And this is not only in the in width, but also in depth of the stage. This is a device that defines the bodies of the instruments very well, using dynamics and timbre rather than the edge of attack.

The latter is softened. This is a thing very characteristic of the company's products, for which all those for whom brightness, or sharpness jazz are like a slap in the face (I have that) will be grateful. However, the new Thor is not "muddy", oh no it is definitely not. This is an extremely resolving device. Listening to ˻ 1 ˺ Vendome, the John Lewis' track opening the Pyramid album by THE MODERN JAZZ QUARTET, still in the Japanese version released for Atlantic Records' 60th anniversary, I had no trouble imagining the instruments on stage, even though it is, after all, a pseudo-stereo recording, with the instruments spread across the channels.

The slight withdrawal of the treble attack, not of the treble as such, as those are strong, offers much more information about the "inside" of the sound, how it changes. Usually this is covered up by details and subtleties, and here it is given in all its glory. So there is not just a sonorous vibraphone, but a vibraphone that is dense and deep, before I heard not just the bass of Jerzy Goleniewski, but also its fullness and density.

| Our albums…


Gondwana Records GONDCD066
Compact Disc ⸜ 2023

Ghosts is Hania Rani's eighth full-length album. Unlike her previous instrumental albums here her vocals come to the fore. It's also an album with special guests like Patrick Watson, Ólafur Arnalds and Duncan Bellamy (Portico Quartet). As the press materials read, Rani's lyrics are partly inspired by a two-month stay in a small studio in the Swiss mountains, where she worked on the On Giacometti soundtrack for a documentary about the famous Swiss artist.

This material was recorded by... in... Well, that's right - we don’t know. Nor is it known who prepared the mastering of the digital versions. The booklet only mentions the mixing engineer, GREG FREEMAN, and the mastering engineer who cut the lacquer for the LPs - that's JOHN DAVIS at Metropolis Studio. Both men are very good professionals, and the mastering studio is excellent.

This album was released in three formats: on Compact Disc, in 24/48 FLAC files and on vinyl - black, clear and transparent orange; the latter is limited to 500 copies. I saw it with a Japanese obi on one of the Japanese sites and immediately bought it. It wasn't until some time later that I read that the cover and album were made in the European Union, and only the obi came from Japan.

Ghosts comes in the form of a fold-out mini-LP with a booklet pasted inside, in which we find lyrics, personnel, and an English translation of an excerpt from Olga Tokarczuk's book Bieguni (2007). The disc slides into the right-side cover without any protective film. So it's worth buying anti-static envelopes from Nagaoka ("Nagaoka Anti-Static Inner CD Sleeves") right away. You can find them in CD JAPAN's online store → HERE. These are the ones I use.

HANI RANI's latest album is quite different from what we've become accustomed to. It's a largely electronic album with vocals. However, it's still meditative and "imaginative" music rather than fast-paced background music. And it's incredibly wide - both in terms of panorama and bandwidth. Already the entering at 0:32 in ˻ 1 ˺ Oltre Terra, and then at 1:50 in ˻ 4 ˺ 24.03 low bass "sets up" our perception of it. It will allow us to test even very large speakers, as it has a compact character, yet is soft enough to not be just a buzz.

The master of this material relies more on transparency than density. But, to reiterate, that bass... The pulsating sequence that begins the ˻ 2 ˺ Hello track sounds fantastic. The piano is not as dark and soft as in Rani's earlier recordings, but - this is my impression - that was the point here. And it's still not the penetrating, bright sound of the instrument that we know from many other reproductions.

The vocals are presented so that they are not too clear. In the sense that it has been infused with reverb, effects, etc. It reminds me of what I know from the albums of the Cocteau Twins duo, and a bit of the way Stina Nordenstam sings. Lots of air in it, high notes, etc. I don't know if I'm right, but I have the impression that it was treated like another instrument. Admittedly, in ˻ 3 ˺ Don’t Break My Heart it plays a more important role, it's around it that the whole track is built, but the impression I'm talking about remains.

Ghosts is an interesting stylistic turn in this artist's work. Her earlier albums, which I like a lot, have become too similar over time. So perhaps stepping out of her familiar „safe haven" is a step in the right direction. I like this album very much, and it is, in addition, very well realized.

THE BASS OF THE TESTED AMPLIFIER is full rather than clearly defined. I had no problems with it, the Harbeths - difficult to drive, after all - responded very nicely to quick pulses at the bottom of the band. But you should know that this range is full, powerful and rather warm. It supports everything above very nicely, reminding me of the sound of a tube amplifier - not just any amplifier, but Leben CS-600X. The Bladelius goes lower, it's ultimately a powerful solid-state unit, but it's similar energy and sound shaping.

But it's precisely this kind of amplifier character that makes the presentation so big, that its volume surprises. And when you listen to something with really low bass, with a wide panorama and multiple timbral planes, like 1 ˺ Panopticon from PETER GABRIEL's I/O album (so far I'm still listening only to the Dark-Side Mix version by Tchad Blake), you'll see before you a massive wall of sound, not only wide and deep, but also high. And it's here that we can hear best, that the highs are reproduced strongly and precisely by this device, that there is no question of their blurring or obliteration of sonority.

Perhaps that's why the spatial relationship is above average with this device. But in a good, healthy way. No flashiness, instead showing depth of stage, and when it needs to, as with the chorus in ˻ 2 ˺ The Court, a track from Gabriel's album, surrounding us with sound. Listen to this piece and you'll be surprised at how coherent it sounds, as if you were sitting in surround sound headphones.

DAC • The DAC card installed in the Bladelius amp modifies the presentation a little, or maybe more than "a little". It's still a somewhat warm, saturated playing, but with a more powerful leading edge of the sound, with harder bass and a more closely positioned foreground. That's why the instruments on The Modern Jazz Quartet's album, the aforementioned choir singing "the court..." on a long reverb, as well as with the electronics on HANI RANI's latest album entitled Ghosts, it was all more "here and now," it was clearer.

Interestingly, this was achieved not by making the sound lighter, but by making it stiffer. The idea is to give information in such a way that it is in close relation to each other and, as it were, "one behind the other." The reference player does this in a much softer way, with more thought. In this respect, the DAC in the Thor Mk V would resemble the playing of the dCS players, it would be more of a KT120 tube than an EL34, more of a stage sound than a studio sound.

It is, to say the least, a very good sound. Listening to this set, I sometimes forgot that it is, after all, just an addition to the amplifier, not the main device. And that, after all, it does not cost that much. And it offers a great convenience in the selection of sound sources. It modifies the presentation of the system going in the direction of precision and clear imaging. Although it is far from brightness or sharpness.

FILE PLAYER • The file transport section is permanently connected to the DAC, so we can talk about a complete file player integrated into the amplifier. And the sound of the files will largely be shaped just by the DAC, in addition to the intrinsic characteristics of the transport itself.

Lumin T3 I compared it to, both via analog and digital output, confirmed that in this duo it is the digital-to-analog conversion that gives the whole thing character. And it is slightly dark, but also "stiff" in energy delivery. It is not a very resolving presentation, nor is it selective. Instead, it is internally coherent and well-arranged. Both ˻ 3 ˺ Odchodząc, a beautiful REPUBLIKA track from the Masakra album, and ˻ 1 ˺ Wall Of Eyes by THE SMILE, a group established by Radiohead musicians, though so different in their music, had a similar "flow," and I had a similar sense of calm, enjoyable playing.

The bandwidth is wide, there are both deep bass and quite open upper treble. However, our attention is focused on the midrange and the upper bass. Let's listen to ˻ 6 ˺ Into The Night by JULIE CRUISE, cue in Zenith by the GHOST, and you’ll see what I mean. If we don't expect reference resolution, we won't have a problem with it. Maybe not as a main source, but as something like a radio, that is, a device in which we check CDs before buying, for example, on Tidal, it will be a super addition to the amplifier.


THOR V VERSION is a great sounding device. Smooth, fluid, with high energy. It is able to "get into" the sound, opening up its deeper layers, enriching the sense of naturalness and realism. It's a sound with a wide bandwidth, but shaped so that we are drawn into the world of recordings, not attacked by them.

The bass is soft and colorful, while going very low. The treble, on the other hand, is remarkably sonorous and resolving, showing sustain rather than attack. The soundstage is excellent, in all three dimensions, surrounding us with sound when needed, and at other times showing precisely the sound sources far ahead.

The DAC section modifies this presentation going towards clarity and precision, but still with very similar tonality. The file player sounds in a nice, immersive way, so much so that without the ambition to be the main source of sound in this system, it's a very good addition to it.

The most important component though, is the amplifier itself, with beautiful tones, natural attack shaping, long decay and excellent resolution. Consider speakers that don't require bass discipline, or monitors, and it will be a great match.


AS WE'VE WRITTEN, the body of the Thor Mk V amplifier is determined by perpendicular aluminum plates bolted internally to elongated aluminum beams. And to top it off, there is a large acrylic plate on the front. This gives the look a bit Bauhaus-style and a bit hi-tech. The amplifier stands on four rubber feet, which are worth replacing with some better ones.

INSIDE • The electronic circuits have been arranged on several, specialized printed circuit boards. Hidden under the aluminum shields are the file transport and DAC, while the IC-based phono preamp works without a shielding. At the rear panel, you will find an input section with RCA jacks (not gold-plated ones) and an IC-based volume control - an analog digitally controlled resistor ladder.

The preamplifier section is particularly interesting. It is built with four small boards plugged into the main board via gold-plated pins. Each of them handles one signal branch - two per channel, in a balanced arrangement. These modules were made using classic transistors and surface-mount resistors. As the designer says, hand-selected JFET transistors in current mode are used. The circuit he chose is called a "foldback cascade" and was used in the Oden model and is supposed to provide linear operation regardless of the level of the music signal.

The stereo power amplifier was assembled on a single circuit board. It is bolted vertically to a sizable heat-sink running transversely across the entire width of the case. It features only high-quality, through-hole passive components and four pairs of transistors per channel, operating in push-pull in class A or AB; selection is made with a button on the remote control. The circuit features a current feedback loop.

The power supply deserves a separate paragraph. Its base is a powerful, really very large toroidal transformer from Noratel. The center of the toroid was flooded with epoxy resin and decoupled from the bottom of the chassis, thus minimizing vibrations. Both channels of the power amplifier share a common secondary winding, accompanied by six large, very good capacitors from the British company Kemet, decoupled with small polypropylene capacitors. This is done to improve the linearity of these components at high frequencies (reduce noise).

A separate power supply is provided for the preamplifier, and yet another for the auxiliary boards and microprocessor. On the preamplifier board you can see two more capacitors, the same as in the amplifier, and four of smaller capacitance. This is a really elaborate power supply circuit and very interesting electronic components.

Technical specifications (according to the manufacturer)

Nominal output: 2 x 400 W/4 Ω | 2 x 200 W/8 Ω
Max peak current: +/- 68 A
THD: <0.01%
S/N: >124 dB
Frequency range: 1 Hz-100 kHz | +0/-3 dB
Dimensions (W x H x D): 430 x 125 x 440 mm

Polish distributor


phone: + 48 606 276 001

THIS TEST HAS BEEN DESIGNED ACCORDING TO THE GUIDELINES adopted by the Association of International Audiophile Publications, an international audio press association concerned with ethical and professional standards in our industry, of which HIGH FIDELITY is a founding member. More about the association and its constituent titles → HERE.


The text included an affiliate link of the CD JAPAN online store.


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