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Power amplifier

Price: 40 000 zł (para)

Manufacturer: Ayon Audio

Gerhard Hirt | Hart 18 | A-8101 Gratkorn | Austria
tel.: +43 3124 24954 | fax: +43 3124 24955


Country of origin: Austria

WWW: Ayon Audio
Polish language www: Ayon Audio

Text: Wojciech Pacuła
Photographs: Wojciech Pacuła | Piksel Studio
Translation: Krzysztof Kalinkowski

Triton Mono is a spin-off of the integrated amplifier Triton, now available in the version II. However Triton Mono is a mono power amplifier. Although there is no “II” in the name, it is exactly the same technology as in the new integrated Triton – there was no mono version before.
So the Triton Mono is composed of two separate, tube monoblocks, with solid state power supply, with a significant power of 100W (with KT88 tubes). This power is reached with four KT88 beam tetrodes per channel, working in class A, in push-pull mode (two sets of two working in parallel). Optionally the amplifier can be ordered with the new Sovtek tubes KT120, increasing its power to 120W. For me the basic version is more interesting, because it is now supplied with the fantastic tubes Shuguang Treasure prepared for the 50st anniversary of the company (earlier Genalex Golden Lion tubes were used). Those tubes have the characteristic black glass envelope – this is a carbon layer applied from the inside. On the input equally splendid tubes were used – military grade, selected triodes JAN 6189W (12AU7) General Electric. Each monoblock has mighty boxes with power and loudspeaker transformers. And is equipped with the innovative bias control circuitry, special pride of Gerhard Hirt, the owner of Ayon.
The amplifiers are quite heavy and big. Their looks is a bit different than usual for this kind of device, because they are deeper than wide and the power tubes are placed in one row along one of the side panels – from the front to the back. The whole is amended with black, thick aluminum plates used to create the chassis. Solid job.

To date we tested the following Ayon Audio devices:

  • Compact Disc Player Ayon Audio CD-2s; review HERE
  • Compact Disc Player Ayon Audio CD-1s (in a system); review HERE
  • DAC Skylla; review HERE
  • Compact Disc Player Ayon Audio CD-1; review HERE
  • Compact Disc Player Ayon Audio CD-3; review HERE
  • Compact Disc Player Ayon Audio CD-07; review HERE
  • Integrated Amplifier Ayon Audio 300B; review HERE
  • Preamplifier Ayon Audio Polaris II; review HERE


Compact Disc

  • Depeche Mode, Remixes 81-11: 2, Mute, cdmutel18, CD.
  • Holst, The Planets, Buzz Ensemble, Mélanie barney, Fidelio Musique, FACD028, CD.
  • Jonas Knutson + Johan Norberg, Cow Cow: Norrland II, ACT Music + Vision, ACT 9425-2, CD.
  • Leszek Możdżer, Komeda, ACT Music + Vision, ACT 9516-2, CD.
  • Lisa Gerrard, The Silver Tree, 4AD/Sonic Records, SON212, CD.
  • Max Roach & Clifford Brown, Daahoud, Mainstream Records/Mobile Fidelity, MFCD826, CD.
  • Muse, The Resistance, Warner Music Japan, WPZR-30355-6, CD+DVD.
  • Nina Simone, Silk&Soul, RCA/BMG, 596202, CD.
  • Stina Nordenstam, The World Is Saved, A Walk In The Park/P-Vine Records, PVCP-8769, CD.
  • The Rolling Stones, Rolling Gold+, Decca/EMI/Universal Music K. K. (Japan), UICY-90820/1, 2 x SHM-CD.

Audio files

  • Brian Eno, Craft On A Milk Sea, Warp Records, WARPCDD207, 2 x 180 g LP + 2 x CD + 24/44,1 WAV;
  • Charlie Haden & Antonio Forcione, Heartplay, Naim Label, 24/96 FLAC.
  • Holst, The Planets, Buzz Ensemble, Mélanie Barney, Fidelio Musique, Master Flash, 24/96 WAV.
  • Kankawa, Organist, T-TOC Records, UMVD-0001-0004, Ultimate Master Vinyl, 4 x 45 rpm 180 g LP + CD-RIIα + 24/192 WAV;
  • Mikołaj Bugajak, Strange Sounds and Inconceivable Deeds, Nowe Nagrania 001, 45 rpm LP+CD+WAV 24/44,1;
  • Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto, Getz/Gilberto, Verve, 24/96 FLAC.

Japanese versions of the discs available on CD Japan.

Frankly speaking, although for years I respected Ayon amplifiers, I appreciated the amount of work Gerhard and his team put into them, I did not really “catch” their concept. I tried to evaluate them in a maximally honest and unbiased way, show their strong sides, but despite there were a lot of them, and the units found their happy owners, I cannot say, that I would like to own one of those amplifiers. An exception was the - no longer manufactured – model 300B, which only confirmed the rule.
It was different with the digital sources – from the very beginning, from their first generation I knew, that Ayon, with the support from the specialists from StreamUnlimited (former Philips engineers), created something special. Subsequent generations, with the ‘s’ and ‘sc’ suffixes only confirmed my observations. And Gerhard turned out to be a splendid “listener”, reacting to comments coming from their customers and distributors – whom he treats incredibly honestly and helps them as much as he can – and also from the press. I am not saying that this is only my merit, but in many products I see improvements I postulated in earlier in my reviews. And probably not only I did that.
So the Ayon offering was in some way divided for me, divided from the point of view of my priorities and choices, into the digital part (I have to add the Polaris III preamplifier to that section, which is a vital part of my reference system for some time) and the amplification part. I did not really know the loudspeakers, so it is hard to form an opinion about them.
Like I wrote in the test of the model Spirit III, which was published in the magazine “Audio” (6/2011), something changed in the third generation of the amplifiers – and this was a diametrical change, this was not a slow evolution, but an immediate jump, as if the company would pass some threshold and go to a completely different level. Is it the revolutionary tube calibration circuitry (for sure it is), or the improvements made to the power supply (also important), or the better tubes (maybe) – I do not know for sure. Probably it is the accumulation of those changes, many times small improvements, the fine tuning of the circuitry. All this resulted in something completely new.

If I would exemplify this statement with some device, then it could be the Triton Mono. And although this is not the primary characteristic of this device, the changes I am talking about are best discussed while talking about changing the working mode of the power tubes.
In almost all (if not all) amplifiers of this Austrian company we have the option, to switch between tetrode mode (this mode is described as “pentode mode”, but this probably due to associations – the KT88 are beam tetrodes and not pentodes; KT = “Kinkless Tetrode”) or triode mode. In the last mode one of the meshes is connected to the ground, and the tube works like a classic triode.
Gerhard used those two modes due to the radically different sound we got due to them. The SET and high efficiency loudspeakers fanatics always chose the triode mode, showing – rightfully – that it has a better presentation of the vocals and better transfer of energy in the middle of the sound spectrum. For me, although I share those observations, in this mode the sound had little coherence of the sound, not so good control of the sound band edges and a general “viscosity” of such sound. This is why I preferred the pentode mode. This one was also not free of shortcomings – at least for me. It was usually about a slight brightening of the sound and lack of saturation in the lowest bass. Despite that, in a well balanced, or slightly warm system, in this mode a much better organized sound could be achieved than in triode mode. And because my choice was always confirmed by measurements (I am talking about the tests in “Audio”), my opinion was well founded.
Until now. For the first time I heard that in the Spirit III, but here it can be heard even better: the triode mode is as good as the pentode mode. (I apologize to those of you, who thought that I will change my opinion by 180°, yet this is not about splurging, but about a reliable description). Those modes sound differently, but their level, quality, etc, are similar, and only our system, taste – and maybe mood – will decide about what we choose on a given day, to a given disc.

The sound of those monoblocks is very even, consistent. Because the frequency response is even, dynamics is high and the sound stage big and expansive. I did not hear a situation, when this device would lack a certain “kick”, because the amplifier handled even very “bass loaded” material well, like some of the recordings from the disc The Silver Tree Lisa Gerrard. Many times bass sounds reach very low there just to be joined with something in the middle, usually her voice. Those two elements were shown separately, each in their own acoustical surroundings, with good texture and individual “pressure”, a fingerprint left in our ears. I think, besides a nice timbre the key role in creating the sound is played by the high dynamics. And this comes directly from high current output and good pairing of the tubes. Many times I heard high quality devices with tubes, which were paired, and yet not really identical, and the effect of this mismatch was always lower dynamics and losing energy of the sound.
In contrast – the Triton Mono is incredibly dynamic. Please listen to the opening of the two first pieces from the disc The Resistance Muse, or something new from the compilation disc Rolled Gold + The Rolling Stones (issued on a SHM-CD), and you will hear what I am talking about. The sound seemed always to be suspended between the loudspeakers, stronger passages, low notes did not compress the sound, unless – like in the case of Muse – the sound engineer did that. The limitations were of course visible, especially compared with my Soulution 710, but in subjective evaluation, compared to other tube amplifiers, the abilities of those monoblocks turned out to be exceptional.

I talked about an even frequency response. Of course I thought about a leveled frequency response for a tube amplifier, especially a tube amplifier with tubes of that kind. In this way, finally, I introduce the differentiation between the two modes of the power stage.
Usually the ‘P’ mode (this is how I will talk about the “pentode” mode) is quicker, more precise, it controls the bass better and presents the edges of the sound spectrum stronger. On the other hand the ‘T’ mode (“triode”) sounds in a softer way, warmer, handling the sound band edges less well. Writing about the Triton Mono this stereotype must be modified. Both modes are very strong and energetic in the Ayon. Dynamics is very comparable. In the triode mode the vocals and guitars are shown stronger. But not because the sound is warmed, but because in that mode we have better vividness, better depth of the sound and more natural closer planes. The voices seem stronger and more three-dimensional; but not the voices, because this is also true for the mentioned guitars, saxophones, etc. The treble is more vivid and better organized, and at the same time it is more rounded. The cymbals are shown a bit deeper, but they have a better organized harmonic structure, what is shown as a deeper and less punctual sound. The resolution of the treble is good, we have a nice holography, although this is not the strongest point of this construction.

The lower octaves are shown extremely different, especially with the loudspeakers Avalon Transcendent and Ayon GyrFalcon, so with quite big ones. In the ‘P’ mode bass is much bigger. In my opinion little too big. Tightness and control are very good, I did not have the impression of dealing with a tube amplifier, I did not need to forgive it anything, to adjust to the technology used. But I think, that the amount of bass was upped a bit compared to the midrange. Due to that we get an incredibly attractive and big sound. It can be heard for sure, that this is what the constructors wanted. And this will work well in big and very big rooms. In smaller ones, like mine, or there, where we want to have a very well balanced sound, there will be too much of the bass. With smaller ensembles, like the duo Cow Cow: Norrland II Knutsson and Norberg (ACT), or Daahound Roach and Brown, where there is no lower bass, it will not be disturbing. It will even help in creating a big, solid sound. But when we play something with a synthetic bass, like the mentioned The Silver Tree, or the new disc from Depeche Mode with re-mixes of their pieces, and we will cross the borderline of good taste. This is why the ‘T’ mode seemed so attractive to me. I got there better vividness, bass in a better proportion to the rest of the frequency spectrum, and all this without softening and without any problems with control. This is how I listened to the rest of the discs, including the breath taking The Planets Holst, performed by Buzz Ensemble, recorded by Fidelio. I received this recording in the form of a CD and Master Flash 24/96 WAV and in both cases the verve, the size of the church, where the disc was recorded, were evident with the Tritons. I did not hear power limitations, and although the Soulution 710 showed how Gerhard did that, I had a clean, big sound with splendid dynamics.

Of course we will find some limitations and modifications to the sound. A few times I called upon my reference amplifier. The power amplifier Soulution 710 is a solid state amp with shockingly low distortion and wide frequency response. One of the opinions least understood by me is, that it is a “cold” amplifier, very clean, but “dry”. Interestingly those opinions are told by people who never heard it, not even mentioning the 700 monoblocks. And in fact it is exactly the other way round. Lowering the distortion, I am talking also about the TIM distortion, not only THD and RF noise, not only in the audible band, results in this, more natural, so subjectively warmer sound. The Soulution illustrates this thesis splendidly. This is why when somebody tells me, that it sounds “cold” I do not dispute, because I do not have a platform for discussion – you cannot argue with ignorant people.
Anyway – the Triton sounds a bit brighter than the Soulution. Not in the whole sound band, because in the lower octaves and in a part of the midrange it has a tonal balance very close to my amplifier. The Swiss amplifier reaches much lower, it controls everything better and shows the depth of the sound stage much better, but when talking about tonal balance I had something very similar. The upper treble is withdrawn and softened in the Ayon, but its part around 3-5kHz is stronger than in my amp.
And this is the only element, that should be leveled in some way. But unfortunately, I do not know how. In most cases this is not audible. Because in fact, this is a deviation coming not from the timbre itself, but rather from the way how the constructor handled embossing of the sounds and widening of the sound stage. In the Soulution this happens due to the phenomenal resolution. Ayon is no demon in that aspect, so it had to be done differently. And this is probably the reason, that a part of the treble I wrote about is slightly stronger. There is no trace of sharpening sibilants there, only a bit fresher, brighter accenting of the attack, a slightly elevated element from the “throat” in opposition to the element from the “midriff”, we have in the Soulution.

The Triton Mono Ayon Audio is a very successful amplifier. Dynamic, well balanced, mostly in the triode mode, ergonomic and functional. It fared well connected directly to the variable output of my Ancient Audio Air player and to the output of the CD-5s Special from Ayon (the ‘s’ version has a built-in preamplifier). The switch on the back plate increases sensitivity by 6dB and was very handy. I got then a slightly lighter, but cleaner, more resolved sound with better acoustics. The latter, especially in further planes, is averaged by the Triton in a system with a preamplifier. The volume of the sound is very nice, big and full. This results in the impression of dealing with the real performer – Nina Simone in The Look of Love really stood between the loudspeakers. This is a very good device, that will perform well with a large variety of loudspeakers – it is current and voltage efficient, keeping a sufficient distance from clipping, even at high volume levels, to not compress the sound. A very, very good device.


The Triton Mono from Ayon Audio is a power amplifier in the form of monoblocks. The device, in the input section, bases on four low power double triodes JAN 6189W General Electric (military grade, from American stock), the equivalents of the 12AU7. In the power stage we have four KT88 tubes in push-pull, two per channel. All tubes work in pure class A, and the power tubes can work in “pentode” and “triode” mode. In the latter, the output power falls from 100W to the still mighty 70W. The output tubes are the beautiful, black Shuguang KT-88-Z Treasure 50th Anniversary.
On the front panel, made from very thick, aluminum segments of the cabinet, the Ayon logo is milled, backlit with red light. After plugging-in the unit to the mains (a mechanical switch on the bottom, near the fascia) a special circuit prolonging the tube life is activated. First the heat voltage is soft started, and then the anode voltage is also soft started. At the same time a second circuit tests the power tubes. This is performed by a unique, innovative automatic bias circuit. Its initial calibration is done by the manufacturer or distributor. We can also do it ourselves, for example after exchanging the tubes, but it is worth reading the manual or consult the dealer – this is not an easy task. But when we do it, then the tubes always work in optimal conditions, with the right bias level and anode voltage. Even if they wear off. I will just add, that near the output tubes we have a selector for the working mode. Let me just add, that the transformers are sealed with a material damping vibration and protecting from RF radiation and were closed in brass, chromed cans. The same cans were placed on the two big capacitors from the power supply, visible n the back plate, behind the transformers.

On the back we have LEDs, a DIP switch and a button – elements of the mentioned auto-bias circuit. Attention is called by big, gold plated loudspeaker terminals made by Ayon, with separate outputs for 4 and 8Ω. This is important – Ayon manufactures their amplifiers on its own, from the beginning to the end (except for the passive elements, semiconductors and tubes). Recently Gerhard Hirt bought a factory in Hong Kong, placed precision CNC machines there and makes all the mechanical elements needed for the amplifiers. So he controls the production from the beginning to the end – I repeat myself, despite the fact, that nominally many components are made in China. We have an XLR and RCA input at our disposal (the latter could be a bit better), a switch selecting one of them, a damper (by 6dB) and a switch cutting of grounding from the unit. The company materials say the following about the latter:
“The modification of the grounding topology leads to increased rejection of noise from the power supply and other areas. The dual grounding topology used in all of our amplifiers is quite unique to the whole hi-end tube amplification industry. Such extensive topology provides for quieter backdrop for which the music can unfold in its entirety. It further establishes the quick and controlled bass response and the full bodied expression of the high frequency. The ground leg of the signal has not been neglected and given meticulous attention in its implementation. The importance of proper grounding cannot be over emphasized. Ground switch
Central one-point star earth grounding
Dual grounding system (switchable – separately for the sound path and power supply)”
The amplifiers in the test had subsequent serial numbers. They look identical, and they could be a mirror image of themselves, as they are destined to work in stereo.

The amplifier is mounted on many, specialized PCBs, and those are interconnected with cables and gold plated jumpers. The company writes, that this setup allows for quicker servicing.
Most worked out is the power supply with eight big capacitors and two shielded chokes for the output tubes and another capacitors and choke for the input section. Although this is invisible, the company declares, that in the can with the transformer, there are in fact two toroidal transformers. They output three separate secondary windings – for the anode voltage of the input tubes, output tubes and heating. Near the power socket we see a worked out mains filter.
The coupling capacitors for the individual stages are polypropylene, but have no markings on them. The resistors used are film, metalized and precise.
The signal goes from the back with long, shielded cables to the front, to the input PCB. Maybe it could be placed somewhere near the back? It would make the cable obsolete… The signal from the RCA and XLR is transmitted separately, the selector (a relay) is on the input PCB. The grounding is led to a common point near the back plate with thick cables. There is a lot of cables inside, especially from and to the PCBs with the auto-bias and protection circuits. The amplifier works without a feedback loop.

Technical data (according to manufacturer):

Type: triode or pentode mode, pure class A
Output tubes: KT88 or KT120
Load impedance: 4 & 8Ω
Output power (pentode mode KT88/KT120): 1 x 100W/1 x 120W
Output power (triode mode KT88/KT120): 1 x 60W/1 x 70W
Input sensitivity: 400mV (with a -6dB switch)
Frequency response (0dB): 10Hz - 60kHz
Input impedance (1 Hz): 100kΩ
SNR (full power): 98dB
NFB: 0dB
Inputs: RCA + XLR
Dimensions (WxDxH): 270 x 530 x 250mm
Weight: 31kg

Distribution in Poland: Eter Audio

Eter Audio
ul. Malborska 24
30-646 Kraków

tel./fax: 0048 12 425 51 20/30
tel. kom.: 0048 507 011 858



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  • Phono preamplifier: RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC (tested HERE)
  • Cartridges: Air Tight Supreme, tested HERE, Miyajima Laboratory Waza, tested HERE.
  • Preamplifier: Ayon Audio Polaris III with Re-generator Power Supply; version II tested HERE)
  • Power amplifier: Tenor Audio 175S, tested HERE and Soulution 710
  • Integrated amplifier/headphone amplifier: Leben CS300 XS Custom version (reviewed HERE)
  • Loudspeakers: Harpia Acoustics Dobermann (tested HERE)
  • Headphones: Sennheiser HD800, AKG K701, Ultrasone PROLine 2500, Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro, 600 Ω version (reviewed HERE, HERE, and HERE)
  • Interconnect: CD-preamp: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-DA6300, article HERE), preamp-power amp: Wireworld Platinum Eclipse
  • Speaker cable: Tara Labs Omega Onyx, tested HERE
  • Power cables AC (all equipment): Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9300
  • Power conditioning: Gigawatt PF-2 Filtering Power Strip (reviewed HERE)
  • Audio stand Base – under all components
  • Resonance control: Finite Elemente Ceraball under the CD (article HERE)
  • Pro Audio Bono platform under CD