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A TEST of the I-880 Amplifier from Danish company Aavik showed its capabilities in the "High Fidelity" reference system. Before that, however, we met with the KRAKOW SONIC SOCIETY to evaluate its qualities and discuss them in a wider group. Our guest was MORTEN THYRRESTRUP, Audio Group Denmark's representative in Europe, who thus became a new member of KSS.

⸜ KRAKÓW/Polska


Introduction and transcription from tape WOJCIECH PACUŁA
translation Marek Dyba
images Tomasz Lechowski, „High Fidelity”


November 1, 2023

KRAKOW SONIC SOCIETY is an informal group of music lovers, audiophiles, friends, meeting to learn something new about audio products, recordings, music, etc. The idea for KSS was born in 2005, although its roots go back several years. It is its 142nd meeting.

ORTEN THYRRESTRUP has seen and heard a lot. Being the representative of Audio Group Denmark in Europe, he has dealt with absolutely top systems, both based on the products of Aavik Acoustics, Ansuz Acoustics, Børresen Acoustics and Axxess, which are part of the group, and others that AGD’s products were to replace or complement. That's why what he said coming out from my place after a listening session, which was - more or less - like this: "These are the best-playing Harbeths I've ever heard," was particularly pleasing to me.

A, along with the company's Polish representatives, Jacek and Lech → AUDIOEMOTIONS), we were going out to Tomek, where Aavik I-880 amplifier had been already installed and ready for our meeting.


A TEST OF THIS DEVICE was published in the same issue of "High Fidelity" that you are reading now. I encourage you to read it. For those who do not have time for it, I will repeat the most important information about this beautiful device.

The I-880 is an integrated amplifier that offers five RCA inputs, is an unbalanced (!) design, and operates in Class A. It offers as much as 200 watts per channel into an 8 ohm load and twice that into a 4 ohm load. Note the very large dot-matrix display, composed of white LEDs, readable even from a distance.

Its design is derived from the artistic idea of FLEMMING E. RASMUSSEN, founder of Gryphon, who has been associated with AGD since 2018. Flemming Rasmussen loves copper, so the entire inner casing was made of this material. It's heavy, so it dampens vibrations well, and above all, it has excellent shielding properties and doesn't affect closely placed electronics the way other metals do. The chassis is reinforced with another, even rarer material - titanium. It is sometimes used in turntables, but only in selected areas, as it is very expensive and difficult to work with. In the tested amplifier thick plates were screwed from the top and bottom, it was also used to make the volume knob, which works beautifully.

Aavik's two main areas of concern are inductance and noise, both electronically and mechanically generated. We have already discussed one way to minimize the former, namely cryogenic processing. The second is even more unique - this company uses Tesla coils in its devices. In the I-880 you will find as many as 132 active Tesla coils of circular cross-section and 311 coils of square cross-section. Tesla coils were also used in the analog dithering circuit. The inputs are switched not in relays, but in photoresistors (LDR - light dependent resistor). The preamplifier section was based on a circuit featuring the same components. This circuit uses one of the four power supplies used in the I-800.

The power supplies used in the I-880 are of switched mode type. The company refers to them as: factor corrected resonant mode power supplies, and their design is said to translate into significantly lower noise generated by such a power supply. Unlike other power supplies with a fixed switching frequency and "hard", rectangular control, this solution allowed lower interference generated during operation.

The Aavik I-880 amplifier appeared on our October cover, and you will receive a printed version of the test at the Audio Video Show 2023 along with the catalog.

The meeting began with Morten talking about the amplifier.


| A few simple words

Audio Group Denmark

FIRST OF ALL, I would like to thank you for inviting me to the Krakow Sonic Society meeting, it means a lot to me. Even more so because you surprised me with a certificate and membership - I promise that I will represent KSS with dignity all over the world :) Today I brought the I-880 amplifier with me, which I would like to introduce to you.

An amplifier of this size with such high power is usually a class-D design. We have such devices in our lineup and we know that well-designed, well-used devices offer really very good sound. On the other hand, however, if it is to be a top sound, there is no other choice and you have to reach for an amplifier working in class A. That is why the I-880 works in this class. It is called "effective class A" because the bias current that defines the class of operation is not constant in it, but is always a small percentage higher than the voltage at the current draw.

The amplifier was created as a collaboration between Flemming Rasmussen and Michael Børresen, one of the founders of Audio Group Denmark. The idea behind this device was to create the best amplifier we could offer, without regardless of the cost. That may sound a bit arrogant, but that was really our approach to this project - Michael and Flemming were given a full rein. The idea was to see how high the sound quality could be pushed if we were not limited by anything.

The I-880 is the result of this approach. This project was not just about designing the best possible electronics. It was also important to us to design the chassis in the best possible way. We did a lot of material-related research used in audio and how they affect the signal, and therefore the sound, or how we experience music.

After years of working with cables, electronics, speakers, etc., we have come to the conclusion that the aluminum commonly used for enclosures is not a very good material. It is relatively easy to work with and can be finished in a way that will make the device look great. However, aluminum creates a magnetic field, or hysteresis. And that's not good. The cool thing about this material, however, is that it is a good conductor of heat.

Therefore, Michael asked Flemming to design an enclosure with a minimal amount of aluminum. As you can see, it remained in the form of side elements, which are also heat sinks. After them we have eight millimeters of copper, on both sides. The bottom and top are made of the same material. All electronics are thus shielded with copper. That's not all, however. We wanted to improve the mechanical integrity of the enclosure as well. So Flemming suggested using pure titanium plates for this. These were found on the top and bottom.

From a physics point of view, it is not easy to answer why titanium works well in musical devices. But after many experiments, an idea has crystallized in us, although it is an idea, not a proof: titanium resonates in a way that serves music. What's more, the material works very well as an implant, "cooperating" well with our bodies. It's as if it "resonates" well with it. For us, this is important, even though it is not scientific proof.

Minimizing noise is also important to us. Based on our experience with speakers and cables, we used Tesla coils in the I-880. And it started with research on minimizing power supply noise. It has to be said that we are not fans of power conditioners, even though they can eliminate a large percentage of noise. And noise reduction means that there is more musical signal in the system, and therefore music. And that's what we strive for.

⸜ Morten (on the left) receiving the signed Krakow Sonic Society’s certificate from yours truly

Most conditioners, however, do more than just reduce noise. They use a lot of inductors in their circuits, and the problem with them is that inductors "don't like" changes in current draw. And yet, in an amplifier, the current draw changes again and again. That's why we use Tesla coils to reduce power supply noise. They help minimize all the "peaks" in the power supply, and there are plenty of them, without the current flow problems that classic coils have. By the way, we also use them in speakers and cables. These coils work in parallel to the current flow, and not in the signal path.

An important part of the amplifier is the dithering circuit. Michael has been working on it for a long time, and became familiar with the concept while working for telecommunications-related companies. The idea has been around since World War II. Studies conducted at the time showed that radars work better, with greater resolution, when mounted aboard a ship than when standing on land.

As it turned out, hull vibrations, or noise and resonances, added to the radar signal caused very low amplitude signals to be "pushed" above the background noise. And thus were visible to operators. We use a similar technique in an amplifier, inducing specially selected noise into the signal. We also use it in top speakers. That's why they require power, even though they are passive designs. MT



⸜ HOW WE LISTENED • The meeting took place at Tomek F’s using his system. The amplifier replaced two devices in it: the preamplifier section of the Ayon Audio Stratos DAC and the Accuphase P-7300 power amplifier. During the test we listened exclusively to LPs. The listening session was divided into two parts. In the first we listened to Tomek's system, and in the second we listened to the system with the Aavik amplifier.


1 ˺ BENNY CARTER, Jazz Giant, Contemporary Records/Analogue Productions AJAZ 7555, „Top 100 Jazz, 45 RPM Limited Edition #0404”, 2 x 180 g, 45 rpm LP (1958/?).
2 ˺ BILL EVANS TRIO, Waltz For Debby, Riverside Records/Analogue Productions AJAZ 9399, „Top 25 Jazz, 45 RPM Limited Edition #0703”, 2 x 180 g, 45 rpm LP (1961/2002).
3 ˺ TSUYOSHI YAMAMOTO TRIO, Midnight Sugar, Three Blind Mice/Cisco Music TBM-23-45, „Limited Edition S/N: 0080/1000”, 45 rpm, 2 x 180 g LP (1974/2004).

4 ˺ THE ART ENSEMBLE OF CHICAGO, The Spiritual, Freedom/ORG Music RGM-2121, „Record Store Day 2019”, Limited Edition, 180 g RED WAX LP (1972/2019).

5 ˺ DEPECHE MODE, Behind The Wheel (Remix), Mute 12 BONG 15, 45 rpm maxi-SP, LP (1987).
6 ˺ BRENDAN PERRY, Ark, Cooking Vinyl/Vinyl 180 VIN180LP040, 2 x 180 g LP (2010/2011).
7 ˺ METALLICA, Master Of Puppets, Universal 0600753101162, „Metallica 45 RPM Series”, 2 x 45 RPM, 180 g LP (1987/2008).


⸜ RYSIEK B. (KTS) • This was one of the most difficult KSS meetings in my history. Note the large price difference, which somewhat weakens this comparison. But I'll give it a try... I don't want to comment on albums that I would call jazzy rather than musical, and will focus only on those that were musical. Based on the first four discs, I believe that the Aavik has a significant advantage in terms of dynamics. Its scaling was much greater with it.

The second thing - the I-880 has the ability to better focus instruments and build larger, holographic spaces. Which is not to say that this always results in improved listening comfort. This strong focusing of sound bothered me a bit with the Aavik on the CARTER’S 1 ˺ album, and the increase in dynamics that imposed an upper midrange advantage on the brass instruments was a bit bothersome to me.

What sounded sensational, however, was 2 ˺ BILL EVANS. It was amazing because so transparent, there was a lot going on and the curtain was lifted between me and the performance. And, again, with 4 ˺ The Spiritual the Accuphase played more pleasantly. The Japanese amplifier showed a bigger "halo" around the instruments. It sounded like I had to have two different systems for different records. I have two pairs of speakers at home, and I would like to have a second amplifier. If it was Aavik, I would be happy, because I would match the system to a particular record.

In conclusion, I would like to add that the noise (Rysiek here refers to the 5 ˺ DEPECHE MODE and 7 ˺ METALLICA - ed.) sounded much better on Aavik. I was still suffering, but not as much.

⸜ JULIAN SOJA (Soyaton, KTS) • I really like the design of this amplifier, it is beautiful. The story about the titanium also got to me, it's a cool story. As for the sound, I largely agree with what Rysiek said. Aavik has excellent dynamics, speed, precision etc. - it is amazing at it. It also amazingly well builds a three-dimensional, truly holographic space.

For me, however, it pays too much attention to the edges of the sound, both in the bass and treble areas. In my opinion, some of the charm that the Accuphase offered in the midrange has also disappeared. Personally, unlike Rysiek, I would choose the Accuphase amplifier for small ensembles and more intimate music, and the Aavik amplifier for powerful music like rock or electronica.

⸜ WICIU (KTS) • I must say that the Danish amplifier is absolutely fantastic. I am very familiar with Evan’s 2 ˺ Waltz For Debby, and I really liked how the Aavik played this album. When I listened to it with Accuphase I was a bit disappointed. The bass section in particular appealed to me - I am sensitive to this and it is important to me. With all albums this range was better with the Aavik. The bass was more transparent, more accurate, better controlled with it. I am very impressed with this device.

⸜ MARCIN (KTS) • I really like Tom's system and it has always sounded great. But today something happened - it was, in my opinion, one of the biggest differences between the products that I heard here. It was very big. I didn’t need to focus to hear the difference.

Dynamics, including micro-dynamics, slam, tempo - all of this from the I-880 was mind-blowing for me. I listened to it like was some kind of a phenomenon, because it's been a long time since I've heard such good internally "complex" music, even on the first four albums, that are not my cup of tea. When it played 5 ˺ DEPECHE MODE (Behind The Wheel (Remix)) I was done. Metallica played better on Aavik, even much better, although it's a very poor recording. And the design - I also like it very much.

⸜ RAFAŁ (KTS) • I'll start with the appearance, because it's an important part of this device. It is beautiful. And moving on to the sound, I will say that the Aavik was much better with each album, or at least not worse.

The differences were not always big for me, but when they did occur, they brought many valuable elements to the sound. The dynamics were very good - as everyone has already noted - and the sound was amazingly clear. Importantly for me, the bass was excellent, it was very lively. With the Accuphase it was flatter and less interesting.

⸜ TOMEK L. • I'm a big fan of the Accuphase brand and it's hard for me to say that something outperformed it. This time, however, I have to admit that the Aavik performed very well here.

I'll start with the "noise" that Rysiek was talking about, namely 7 ˺ Metallica. With Accuphase it was impossible to listen to it, it was a tragedy and a slaughterhouse. But already with Aavik it was possible to listen to it and nothing hurt. I say this even though I'm not a fan of metal. I also liked the fact that the Danish amplifier plays in a very coherent way. It does not expose the extremes of the band, and the stage is very wide.

The classical understanding of Class A attributes it to jazz recordings, small ensembles. Here 5 ˺ Depeche Mode played in an amazingly dynamic way. In every aspect this amplifier enhanced the sound for me, it's really a great device.

⸜ DOMINIKA • Since I am "raised" on this equipment it is difficult for me to be objective, because for me it is THE right sound. And to some things, even though they are better, you have to get used to to accept them as "yours".

But there is no denying that with the Aavik the bass was much better controlled. I felt that it was better guided. In Tomek's system it is big, too big for some, and the amplifier we are talking about disciplined and equalized it. But sometimes I liked it better with the Accuphase. It was interesting to me that with the first 1 ˺ album (Benny Carter, Jazz Giant) with the Danish amp, the travel noise was heard more strongly. And, I agree that 7 ˺ Metallica was more bearable with it.

I liked the album 6 ˺ BRENDAN PERRY’S Ark the most. With both amplifiers it was a journey for me, this piece took me somewhere. For me, there was very little difference in class between the two units, even though it was a different sound. But the cosmetics, the finish offered by the Aavik caused it to extract from this recording what is coolest about it, which is just that - a story. In contrast, the bass in the 5 ˺ Depeche Mode recording was too tightly controlled for me, and I liked the Accuphase version better.

It is certainly something different, it was fun to listen to Aavik, it is different from Tomek's system, but there are not colossal differences for me.

⸜ MORTEN THYRRESTRUP (AGD, KTS) • First of all, I must say that Tomek has a very good system. What I look for in a new system is whether it can play music. If I hear bass, midrange and treble, it means that this is not the system for me And here - this is a system that plays MUSIC. Respect!

Keep in mind that I make my living selling these amplifiers, so I may be biased in my opinions. The Accuphase has its advantages, there is no doubt about that. But when the bass started to play, the Aavik made it come alive. It was accurate, it was precise and it had clear edges. As for the mids and highs, I agree - the Aavik is very "alive" in these ranges. In my opinion, this is what happens when you exclude noise from the system: you hear more detail.

It allowed better control of the speakers than the Accuphase did. And, overall, it was a better musical experience for me. But that's not to say that the system with the Accuphase played badly, absolutely not. It's just that the Aavik, in my opinion, is better.

By the way, I could never sell products that I don't like. It's as simple as that. But just because I work for one company doesn't mean I don't feel respect for the products of others. We're still fairly new to the audio world, and we know that music is not just science, but more importantly, emotion. What matters is how you feel about the music. And if you feel good listening to it with Accuphase - buy it, for it will be a good choice. That's why this industry is so great - there is room for many different opinions.

⸜ LECH (AudioEmotions) • In this kind of situation I have a problem - my audio world is built around the 300B tube, which is something else entirely. I'm aware that my way of listening to music is unfashionable - it's more of a listening by the way, and listening to equipment the way, as we do here, means looking for advantages and disadvantages. It's a race I don't participate in.

In my search for good sound, I try to find balance between racing and enjoyment. And, I must say, I like what I hear from the Aavik. Somehow it all is better controlled and "comes together" better. It was hard with Metallica, especially the first time. It's a great recording, because it allows you to see what you can get out of it with specific equipment. And Aavik did it better.

I really liked the "three mice" 3 ˺ (TSUYOSHI YAMAMOTO TRIO, Midnight Sugar). In this recording, you could see bodies, sound layers, etc. It sounded a bit better with the Aavik than with the Accuphase. But, as I say, I prefer calmer, softer playing.

⸜ JACEK (AudioEmotions) • I am an IT man, but I also play the violin and am an electronics engineer. That's why I was led to the decision to deal with Audio Group Denmark brands by many small things. And it was not just a business decision, but also an emotional one. Because what inspires us is the name of our company: Audio Emotions.

As Lech said, what we do here is a bit like car racing. The Accuphase is perhaps a faster car, taking corners a bit more aggressively. But I found "driving" Aavik better. This is my opinion, of course, and I'm biased a bit by the fact that I sell these devices. But that's why I sell them, because I like their sound and the design philosophy behind them.

Having said that, I must add that I am surprised that the Accuphase sounded more lively and offensive in this comparison. The Aavik played more relaxed music. For a while I thought the turntable slowed down as the sound with the Danish amplifier was slower. The Accuphase made everything stronger and more forward.

And again - Tomek's system absolutely surprised me. With its maturity, size of sound and dynamics. This situation in which I found myself, that is, people sitting in front of the system and discussing music is something wonderful for me. I regret it, but we don't have anything like that, such a group in Warsaw.

⸜ DAMIAN • To be honest, the gap between the two listening sessions was too big for me to say anything with absolute certainty. But, in general, I would say that for dynamic music, like Depeche Mode or Metallica, I would choose the Aavik amplifier, while for jazz recordings I would prefer the Accuphase. I'm not sure why I perceive it that way, but that's what I think.

I really liked the dynamics in the Aavik, it's an amplifier that sounds in some aspects like a Class D amplifier, which I like, that Class A and AB amps can't do. I don't like it when the bass is slurred, not fully controlled. And the Danish amplifier does that perfectly. This is, of course, a system assembled for the Accuphase amplifier, so I thought to myself that it would sound better here, which was not the case. But the differences were not big, in my opinion.

⸜ DOMINIKA • If I may, I would like to say one more thing that occurred to me during the following statements. And I think it plagued me. It concerns a track from the 4 ˺ The Art Ensemble Of Chicago The Spiritual. In the first listening, with the Accuphase amplifier, I heard a lot of sounds that I saw like builders on a construction site - there was excitement, something was happening, there was discussion. With the Aavik it wasn't an argument, it was a conversation. I think that's what differentiates these devices from each other.

⸜ TOMEK F. (KSS, host) • I wanted to point out that we all talk about Accuphase amplifier, and this is a split system, with a "DAC" and Ayon Audio preamplifier and Accuphase power amplifier. I decided not to use an external preamplifier and use the Ayon's volume control. This is a mental shortcut and I understand it, but it's worth mentioning.

As I started listening to these records one by one, I thought to myself how well this turntable plays, and although I've been listening mostly to streaming for a long time, I need to come back to it more often, back to the real record. Everything we played on my system, with Ayon and Accuphase, all the way up to Metallica, I liked very much. I was delighted with how it sounded. Except for Metallica, which sounded horribly. Admittedly, what I listen to is 90% metal, but building a system for this type of music would be a mistake. I want this system to play everything well, not just metal.

After switching to the Aavik amplifier, I was completely at a loss. I was also surprised by the complete silence between tracks. After all, it's never like that here, there's always something someone is commenting on, disagreeing or agreeing with, and here - a complete silence, as if everyone is waiting for the next track, for what else is going to happen. It was clear that everyone was hung up on which way the "bomb" suspended between us would explode. I think everyone was surprised by how Aavik sounds like and was curious about that sound. This happens very rarely with us, and if it does, it's not in such a pronounced way.

And still, what struck me most, from the first bars I heard with Aavik, was that my amplifier, a Class AB amplifier, played as if it were working in Class A, while the Aavik, Class A device, sounded exactly as if it were a Class AB amplifier. It was fast, dynamic in the build-up of sound. Its bass was controlled and tight. However, it took me a long time to acclimate to this sound, so completely different, and then to answer myself whether I liked it, whether I would like to live with such a sound.

I started to analyze everything and immediately knew that this is an amplifier from the highest high-end league, which shows a lot of subtleties. There is no doubt that it is a powerful performer. Upon reflection, however, I came to the conclusion that I liked all the albums, up to 6 ˺ Brendan Perry, better with my Accuphase. They were warmer, more pleasant, with more interesting space. The things got less obvious with 5 ˺ Depeche Mode, and 7 ˺ Metallica that sounded much better with Aavik.

In summary: I am very positively surprised by how well my system played today, but I am glad to host such a great amplifier. It allowed me to understand in which direction my system should go in order to grow. The Aavik has qualities that I've never heard before in my system. Maybe this is a bit contradictory to what I said earlier, but that's audio, it's impossible to judge everything clearly.

I make no secret of the fact that after twelve years I have in my mind a move towards more technical and analytical sounding amplifiers than the Accuphase. That's why I'm so pleased with this listening experience. The I-880 is a wonderful device, a very interesting top high-end experience. And it is, after all, "just" an integrated amplifier. And among other "super-integrateds", the Aavik performs about three levels higher than all the others.

OK, I'll say it, although I had to grow into it a bit: after getting used to the aesthetics of the I-880's sound, because visually it's an incredibly refined product, I could certainly live with it, it's a unique device. It would be worthy of consideration.


System odsłuchowy

⸜ FILE TRANSPORT: Aurender N20; test → HERE
⸜ TURNTABLE: Transrotor ALTO TMD; test → HERE
⸜ PHONO STAGE: Phasemation EA-350
⸜ POWER AMPLIFIER: Accuphase P-7300; test →

Speaker: Acrolink 7N-S8000 ANNIVERSARIO (2 x 3 m)
Analog interconnect XLR: Siltech Classic Legend 880i Oyaide Focus XLR
Digital interconnect AES/EBU: Acrolink 7N-DA2090 SPECIALE (1,5 m)
Phono interconnect: Siltech Classic Legend PHONO 680i