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Ayon Audio

Manufacturer: AYON AUDIO
Price (when reviewed): 82 000 PLN/pair



Provided for test by: NAUTILUS Dystrybucja


images Wojciech Pacuła

No 214

March 1, 2022


AYON AUDIO is an Austrian company, founded in 1991. Its owner is GERHARD HIRT. It’s a company specializing in expensive and very expensive audio components: amplifiers, digital sources and loudspeakers. We test its latest amplifier, TRITON EVO MONO monoblocks featuring KT170 tubes. This is their WORLD PREMIERE.

HEN AYON AUDIO started its activity in the 1980s everyone around them suggested they were crazy. - Tubes, really? - they said - It won’t work! As its boss, Gerhard Hirt, recalls, when he first attended an audio show presenting his amplifiers, most of the visitors were surprised, and some even disgusted with the sight of the tubes. And adds: "It was the worst show in my life" ...

"What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger," says the proverb, which perfectly describes the story of Ayon Audio. In a short time, the pioneer this company was in Europe - in Japan it was the Kondo brand - became a classic and one of the most important brands manufacturing tube amplifiers, as well as tubes, in the world.

Devices from Austria for a long time had a form similar to what could later be seen in most other devices of this type. It was a small, rectangular, low chassis, most often made of stainless steel sheet, with a contrasting front and tubes on the top, behind which transformer housings were placed. A good example was the 300B integrated amplifier, which we tested in June 2008, and which was featured on the cover of this issue of our magazine (HF № 50, more HERE).

But that has changed. When we look at the shapes of the CD-3 Compact Disc Player, which was tested only a month later, we can see the form that all the company's products have taken over time: black anodized, thick aluminum elements with rounded corners, display or a backlit logo in the middle of the front and silver, often chrome-plated elements (more HERE). This is also what the latest Ayon amplifier looks like, the TRITON EVO MONO model, which we would like to tell you about this time; let's add that it is its world premiere.


THE DEVICE TESTED BY US is a tube power amplifier in a form of monoblocks - for stereo listening you need two Triton Evos. It belongs to the "Evolution" series of devices, which are development versions of earlier models. It is, let me add, a power amplifier, but the Triton Evo Integrated amplifier is also available.

We have encountered a form similar to the tested Triton before, during the test of the EPSILON EVO MONO monoblocks. It is very characteristic of this manufacturer and - I will say this - it did not get old, despite the passage of many years, and the fact that we witnessed many fashions at that time. And every day for years I have been looking at two products of the same form, the Spheris III preamplifier and the CD-35 HF Edition SACD player.

A special feature of the Triton Evo Mono is the use of the newest electron tube, the KT170 beam tetrode, which was introduced to the market only a year ago. It is the first amplifier from this manufacturer featuring this tube. This is not the first amplifier with the KT170 on the market, though. One of the first designers who used it was MICHAŁ POSIEWKA in the AUDIO REVEAL SECOND SIGNATURE |PL|. It was a particularly interesting device because these tubes were used in a single-ended circuit.

I think that there will be more and more such devices, because this tube offers high output and low distortion. Today we will see it in the lineup of the French manufacturer Jadis, model I-70, as well as in the ALLNIC AUDIO T-2000 30th ANNIVERSARY.


THE SIMPLEST TUBE POSSIBLE IS A LED, developed by Lee De Forest in 1907. If we insert a control grid into it, we get a triode, the simplest amplifying tube. It has its advantages and disadvantages - low output. Experimenting with more grids, in 1926, Bernard D.H. Tellegen developed a pentode, a tube with five elements - anode, cathode and three grids. This type is the most popular amplifier tube in audio circuits, and its most famous representatives are the EL34 and EL84. This invention has been patented by PHILIPS.

To circumvent the patent, EMI engineers, Cabot Bull and Sidney Rodda, instead of the shielding grid, placed two bent elements ("plates") in a bubble, which served the same role, ie shielding the anode from the cathode. This is how the beam tetrode was created, also called the "kinkless tetrode" - hence the "KT" in the names of this type of tubes.

The first such tube came from overseas - it was 6L6 developed in 1936 by RCA . The development of 6L6 was possible thanks to a patent agreement between MARCONI-OSRAM VALVE, a subsidiary of EMI, and GENERAL ELECTRIC COMPANY plc. Its best known versions are 6L6G, 6L6GA, 6L6GB, 5881, 5932, 7027. Initially produced in a metal cover, later they were only available in a glass bulb, which allowed for better cooling of the interior.

Immediately after the American 6L6, European tubes KT66 (already in 1937), KT77 and KT88 were introduced. Each of them is interchangeable with the corresponding pentodes and other beam tetrodes. For example: KT66 = 6L6, KT77 = EL34 and the American version of KT88, model 6CA7 = 6550. In 2012, the KT120 was introduced, which was intended to increase the power of KT88 on which it was based. Mid 2014 we got an even bigger model, the KT150. The 2020 saw the birth of the most powerful stream tetrode of the family to date, the KT170.

The TRITON EVO MONO, TESTED BY US, is, as we have already said, a power amplifier. It has a large and very heavy chassis as it measures 350 x 560 x 260 mm and weighs 42 kg (one channel). On the front there is a laser-cut, illuminated logo that informs about the device being turned on, and by flashing about the calibration of the auto-bias system. The device is fully balanced (!), From the input to the output, and capable of delivering on output of up to 120 W in the pentode mode and as much as 80 W in the triode mode. What's more, in the former it works in the AB class, but in the latter - in the A class. The switch used to change the operating mode is located on the rear panel.

The input stage features double triodes - the 12AU7W (input buffer), 6SL7 and two 6SN7, driving output tubes. And the latter are the four KT170s, although the manufacturer says that the KT150 can also be used instead (the amplifier costs PLN 75,000 then). The welfare of the tubes is ensured by an advanced, microprocessor-controlled, proprietary Auto-fixed-bias circuit, which slowly turns the tubes on and just as slowly turns them off, as well as adjusting the voltages on the anodes and grids to the supply voltage - measures them and then changes the power supply parameters so that the tubes always work in optimal conditions.

You will see a characteristic indicator on the top panel. This is a voltmeter that shows if the tubes are properly powered; we can choose an individual KT170 using a small knob on the back panel. And while we're there, let's add that there is also a switch to disconnect the ground from the chassis, a socket for external ground, an auto-bias display, a switch to select the active input - RCA or XLR - as well as three loudspeaker sockets for 4 and 8 Ω speakers. And there is one more, very important switch called: "damping", which we use to set the damping value of the amplifier's output.

The device looks very serious and professional. It is one of the most refined amplifiers of this company and it uses solutions polished over the years, now at their best. This is the latest version of the auto-bias circuit, designed especially for KT170 tubes, requiring much higher currents, and the very extensive power supply itself. Although it is a monoblock, it uses a very large power transformer, a separate transformer for filament and two chokes. The first two, along with the output transformer, were housed in large shielding cans on top and filled with vibration damping material.

All these solutions provided not only high power, but also a wide frequency response and low noise - 6 Hz - 70 kHz (- 3 dB) and S / N = 98 dB, respectively. And there is no negative feedback.


⸤ HOW WE LISTENED I tested the newest Ayon Audio monoblocks in almost identical conditions, in which the EPSILON EVO MONO monoblocks worked in my room before. The devices have similar dimensions, weight and connectors.

⸜ SETUP The Triton Evo monoblocks are large and heavy - I already mentioned that. As they are too long to be placed on the Finite Elemente Master Reference Pagode Edition Mk II rack, I placed them where the other large amplifiers usually land, i.e. in front of the rack. They are too long for the anti-vibration platforms I have, so they stood directly on the floor, and I put Acoustic Revive RKI-5005 pads under the feet. So it is certain that they will play even better with the right platforms.

⸜ REFERENCE SYSTEM Two Ayon Audio devices have been working in my system for years: the SACD AYON AUDIO CD-35 HF EDITION Player (№ 1/50) and the AYON AUDIO SPHERIS III line preamplifier, hence the tested amplifier worked in a friendly environment. I compared it directly to the Soulution 710 stereo power amplifier. Both devices - the tested ones and the reference one - drove the HARBETH M40.1.

⸜ CABLES The Austrian monoblocks are equipped with two types of line inputs: RCA (unbalanced) and XLR (balanced). As it is a fully balanced amplifier, I used balanced cables Acoustic Revive XLR 1.5 Triple C-FM (1.8 × 1.4 mm) to connect it to the preamplifier. It was connected to the loudspeakers with the SILTECH TRIPLE CROWN cables. I also listened to it with the Western Electric WA310 NOS cable (it worked great!).

Recordings used for the test | a selection

⸜ STAN GETZ/JOAO GILBERTO, Getz/Gilberto, Verve/Lasting Impression Music LIM K2HD 036, K2HD Mastering, „24 Gold Direct-from-Master Edition UDM”, Master CD-R (1964/2009).
⸜ CHET BAKER, Baker’s Holiday, Verve Records B0003279-16/SUHD 009960, Test Press SACD (1965/2004).
⸜ EVA CASSIDY, Songbird, Blix Street Records/JVC VICJ-010-0045, XRCD24 (1998/2010).
⸜ SONNY ROLLINS, Plus 4, Prestige Records/Mobile Fidelity UDSACD 2006, SACD/CD (1957/2002).
⸜ YES, Fragile, Atlantic Records/Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab UDCD 766, Gold-CD (1972/2006).
⸜ PINK FLOYD, The Dark Side Of The Moon, EMI Records/EMI Music Japan TOGP-15001, SACD/CD (1973/2003).
⸜ SUPERTRAMP, Some things never change, EMI Records 4 89989 2, HDCD (1997).


EQUIPING THE AYON AUDIO MONOBLOCKS with two switches, "damping" and "triode / pentode mode", both changing the character of the sound allows to some extent to adjust their sound to your own system and needs. I would suggest starting listening with a combination of damping to "OFF" (down) and "triode", and then try „damping” alone.

In my system, this is with the Harbeth M40, I got the best sound when playing in this configuration. The damping switch pushed up made the sound more disciplined, but went in the wrong direction - towards a brighter and less saturated image. I had a similar impression when listening to the amplifier in the "pentode" mode, but then it was more about impoverishing the color palette. The changes were not very big, but so important that I had no doubts: damping off plus "triode".

This is how the STAN GETZ / JOAO GILBERTO’s Getz / Gilberto listened to from the Master CD-R ("24 Gold Direct-from-Master Edition UDM"), i.e. in the master version prepared in 2009 by Mr. Winston Ma for his label First Impression Music, sounded very energetic. This is probably the first thing we note after the tested amplifier is ready to play and when we press the "start" button in the player.

The instruments were shown in a more direct, closer way than with the Soulution 710. Unlike with "warm" devices - and Ayon Audio is not an amplifier that plays "warm" - it is not about emphasizing the lower midrange. This way you can quite easily bring to the fore and emphasize the "body" of instruments or performers. This is a good method to create an intimate atmosphere and it gives great results, but we are talking about coloration of the sound.

The Triton Evo monoblocks are different. They do not boost the lower midrange, they do not boost the mid bass, but the effect is similar. This is because their energy is so high. Each component of the presentation is therefore clearer, stronger and more active with them. Both João Gilberto's vocal from the above-mentioned album and CHET BAKER's voice from the test single-layer pressing of the Baker's Holiday disc were shown in a large, full way. But they were also placed BEHIND the line connecting the speakers, not BEFORE it, giving the listener (i.e. me) a breath and not causing the reflex to move away from the speakers.

With both discs I heard something that interested me, because it is quite rare - a combination of resolution and smoothness. It is about colors, well differentiated, and holography, which is really pretty. It gets more interesting, however, when we look at performers without the burden and "compulsion" of analysis. It will then turn out that all of this is important, yet it does not mean anything in itself. The Ayon does something more, because it binds these elements together and puts a sound of extraordinary plasticity in front of us.

And this is probably the key to this sound. There is an energy here that makes the sound open, lively and powerful. There is also a resolution, thanks to which we will not only perfectly hear the place where the "master" tape is glued together at 2:59 in the Corcovado track from the Getz / Gilberto, but most of all " we will see "the performer, as I "saw" EVA CASSIDY singing on the Songbird, released in 2010 by JVC on the XRCD24 disc.

It was similar with the acoustic guitar opening the Fragile album by YES. It had an amazing shape and "presence". The band's entry destroyed this illusion of "presence", which was not changed even by the fact that I listened to it in the version prepared in 2006 by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab and released on a gold disc. The tested amplifier showed this difference immediately, i.e. the strong compression imposed on the band.

So it is not be a device that would in any way "save" a badly set up system, covering for its problems. I would even say that it will emphasize them. It is an extremely honest device with high resolution and energy, and also with well-filled colors. Its tonal balance, however, is not warm and in this respect it is a completely different device than, say, the LEBEN CS-600X and the KONDO OVERTURE II.

The Yes album showed it well, and I confirmed it later with the HDCD version of the Some things never change by SUPERTRAMP, for which the master was prepared by Bob Ludwig. It was with the latter that all the advantages of the Triton Evo monoblocks came out to the fullest. The album begins with a fretless bass solo with a delicate background of synthesizers. Ayon played bass strong and low, but in a disciplined and punctual way. I had great depth, great differentiation of fragments in which the vocal had a long reverb and short fragments in which it was almost completely devoid of it.


THE TESTED AYON AMPLIFIER was built to best reflect the energy of the recordings. A difficult thing and sought after by people who know the sound of instruments listened to live. Triton Evo Mono does not warm up the presentation, so it will not be a "patch" for problems and will not cover any of them. It needs a balanced, maybe even a bit warm system with high dynamics.

Its timbre does not allow you to immediately recognize that it is a tube amplifier. However, the complex structure of the sound and its plasticity may suggest something like that. It is not a micro-cosmos known from SET tubes, it cannot be achieved in any other way. The difference, however, is not big, and with the Ayon we get excellent control over the speakers, large volume and incredible freedom in creating the presentation, also when there is a lot of bass in it. So - energy, vividness, control. And on top of that this exceptional resolution. That’s what the newest Gerhard Hirt’s amplifier had to offer.

SPECIFICATIONS (according to the manufacturer)

- Pentode mode: Class AB
- Triode mode: Class A
Frequency range:
6 Hz – 70 kHz (-3 dB) | 5 Hz – 80 kHz (-6 dB)
- Pentode mode: 1 x 120 W
- Triode mode: 1 x 80 W
Input sensitivity (@ full power): 750 mV
S/N: 98 dB
Input impedance (1 kHz): 100 kΩ
NFB: 0 dB
Dimensions (W x D x H): 350 x 560 x 260 mm/pc.
Weight: 42 kg/pc.


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