And now for something completely different…

At the other end of the scale, the Coltrane penned ‘Naima’ is poised and graceful, the beautiful phrases effortlessly clear and perfectly placed against the backdrop of the stacked mono staging. The Integrale 2000 might not match the resolution and dimensionality of big systems, but an apparently simple track like this demonstrates just how right it gets the all-important sense of rhythm, temporal security and musical coherence. Coltrane’s elongated notes and lines, McCoy Tyner’s perfectly placed and weighted contribution are things of genuine beauty, the little Konus amp allowing you to hear past the notes to the emotional and musical chemistry driving them. I’ve long wondered why Tyner, so adept beside Coltrane has left me so cold as a leader – and here was yet more evidence. It’s a perfect example of how the Integrale 2000 is about more than just sound: it does sense too – and that’s where its high-end credentials are firmly rooted.

The stark musical architecture of the title track on Gillian Welch’s album, Time (The Revelator) (Acony ACNY-0103) brooks no disturbance or distortion. The clean, simple immediacy of the recording should be as arresting as it is involving, David Rawlings poised, incisive guitar rapier quick and agile. The Konus amp does nothing to diminish the sheer presence and incisive quality of this recording, revelling in the virtues of its musical and emotional directness – qualities that so mirror the amplifier’s own nature. It’s an object lesson in doing the important things well and it’s a performance built on an incredibly low noise floor. You hear it in the sense of space and the incidental noises that precede the opening notes of the Gillian Welch track; you hear it in the amp’s ability to live (and thrive) in the exacting company of the Vimberg Mino; but most of all you hear it in the sheer clarity with which notes start and stop, their explicit placement and the space between them. Location is explicit, even if dimensionality is ultimately limited by the system bandwidth. It’s suggests an absence of noise that stretches beyond the realms of signal to noise ratio and into the more purely mechanical. The solid, purposeful feel that you get handling the Integrale 2000 carries over into its sonic and musical presentation – and that makes for a remarkably rewarding and enjoyable performance, a performance that extends well beyond the product’s modest price.