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Integrated amplifier

Audia Flight
FLS 10

Manufacturer: AUDIA SNC
Price (when reviewed): 42 950 zł

Via delle Azalee 13/E
00053 Civitavecchia - Rm - Italy


Provided for test by AUDIO ANATOMY


very once in a while, the idea of the superintegrated amplifier is coming back to the mainstream - an integrated amplifier with high output power, extended functionality and high or very high price. My first contact with this type of devices was limited to McIntosh products, specifically the MC6850. It conquered markets, including Poland's, in the late 1990s.

I found out about its success personally selling a dozen or so units - at that time I was working for a Polish distributor of the brand, the Audioholic. Once I sold it to a man who came to our shop in his old, dilapidated "Maluch" (Fiat 126p). The amplifier cost ten times more than the car, and yet the buyer seemed the happiest man in the world.

At the time, such a purchase was a bit risky idea, because a for similar amount of money one could buy a system of separates consisting of a preamplifier and power amplifier - either from McIntosh or one of many other producers. The Superintegrated was for some a kind of aberration, and for others it was simply an extravagant choice. Since then, a lot has changed and now it is usually an ideal compromise.

| Separates or integrated?

Let's think for a moment about the point of dividing amplifiers into two, sometimes even more, separate units. Such a superior reason, from which more detailed ones arise, is striving for the best possible separation of the voltage section (preamplifier) from the current section (power amplifier).

The most important element is the power supply separation - a power amplifier requires a high power power supply, flexible in terms of fast reactions for peak requirements of power consumption, and the preamplifier needs lower power and its power consumption i constant. Equally important is the controlling of electromagnetic radiation - higher in the case of the power amplifier and smaller in the preamplifier. And finally there is the matter of vibrations - the power amp requires a different mechanical construction than the preamplifier.

However, there also are downsides of such a solution. The most obvious is the more space requirement since it's occupied by a two-unit system. From the technical side, however, it seems more important to separate electronic circuits, including ground and power supply systems, into two independent circuits, which is not entirely beneficial. When the amplifier is designed as a whole, engineers can optimize ground and power supply for the entire circuit.

The advantage is also the elimination of interconnects (and contact areas) between the preamplifier and the power amplifier. And finally there is an economic factor - even if the separates system costs the same as the integrated, we still need to spend money for a power cable and interconnects.

| Superintegrated

For years, integrated amplifiers were considered to be inferior to their separates counterparts. With amplifiers like MC6850, the trend, started probably in 1989 by the Kondo Ongaku, which cost - both back then and now – a lot of money, was initiated namely, the desire to eliminate the disadvantages of integrated amplifiers and use their advantages. And that had to cost a lot.

Thus, devices such as: Soulution 530 were introduced, an amplifier with the size of a small refrigerator, or the aforementioned McIntosh, whose modern equivalent is the MA8000 offering 300 W per channel, reviewed by us in April this year (HF | No. 168), the Gold Note IS1000, or Accuphase E-650 (HF | No. 166) - all expensive and very expensive, offering high output, good and very good functionality, but above all guaranteeing sound that surpasses most separates systems offered for similar money. One of the newest representatives of this "genre" of amplifiers is the FLS 10 model from the Italian company AUDIA FLIGHT.

| FLS 10

This is the latest addition to the manufacturer's series (company materials also use the name F S L with spaces). Its full name is: "FSL10 Balanced Stereo Integrated Amplifier" - as you can see, the manufacturer underlines in its name its fully balanced design. It's a big device, measuring 450 x 180 x 440 mm, and really heavy - 36 kg. It offers high output power of 200/380/700W at (respectively) 8/4/2 Ω, so it meets the basic "requirements" for the superintegrated. But also other electrical parameters seem to point to that - very high damping factor at >600 (8 Ω) and very wide frequency range - from 0.3 Hz to 500 kHz.

Its extensive functionality is also important. The FSL 10 is a microprocessor-controlled device, so the settings are saved in its memory and called on demand. So one can change the brightness of the display, or turn it off, one can name inputs, determine which are active and which are not (less noise), choose the input to integrate the amplifier with the home theater system, i.e. omitting the preamplifier section and so on.

The amplifier offers five line inputs, two of them are balanced, as well as two preamplifier outputs - RCA and XLR - and a tape/recording output (RCA). There are also two pairs of loudspeaker outputs and an independent headphone amplifier with a ¼ TRS output on the front panel. There are two large grilles on the back. After unscrewing them, one can install optional cards/modules in the amplifier - a solution known for example from devices by Accuphase, CH Precision and others. So one can customized the amplifier according to one's needs.

There are for options/modules:

  • MM/MC phonostage with RCA inputs,
  • MM/MC with XLR inputs,
  • two additional RCA inputs,
  • D/A Converter with 6 digital inputs: Toslink, AES/EBU, dual RCA (S/PDIF), USB and a special connector for company's own SACD player; USB accepts PCM signal up to 32/768 and DSD up to DSD256.
I would not be surprised if, in a while, there is also a module with streamer, and maybe even a Bluetooth receiver.

| Operation

The FLS 10 integrated amplifier is large and heavy - it requires two people to move it freely. It is operated either with a remote control or with small buttons on the front panel. The buttons in the remote control and on the front are the same, i.e. metal, and have a clear operating point. The volume can also be adjusted using a large knob on the front. The volume is changed in 0.5 dB steps in the range from -90 to +10 dB. Additionally, you can set the gain for each input in the range +/- 6 dB. Besides, there are more nice features, such as: when you want to turn the amplifier off and go to the standby mode, after pressing the power button the amplifier first smoothly mutes the outputs, which can be seen on the display and only then disconnects the power supply.

Information are presented on a small blue OLED display. It allows user to read the volume level and selected input. To tell you the truth, I'd rather have the letters bigger. On the front panel, as I mentioned, there is also a headphone output. Since the FLS 10 is equipped with an independent headphone amplifier, plugging cans in does not disconnect speakers - one has to do it oneself with a small button labeled "SPK". Above there is a blue LED that indicates its use. Its ignition when disconnecting speakers is not intuitive - after the diode lits up at the button described in this way, I would rather expect that speakers are turned ON not off.

The amplifier takes 200 W while idle, which means it has a high bias current for the output transistors and that the first watts it delivers in class A. The disadvantage of this solution is that it is always warm - with an intensive use it gets even very warm. So it should be placed on the top shelf of the rack.

To sum up this part - the amplifier's functionality is above average, it is easy and pleasant to use.

The amplifier was tested in the "High Fidelity" reference system, i.e. with the Ayon Audio CD-35 HF Edition player as the source and the Harbeth M40.1 speakers. Because this is a fully balanced amplifier I used only balanced outputs from the player; devices were connected using the 1.5-meter Acoustic Revive XLR-1.5 Triple-C FM interconnect. Also the power cable came from this company - it was the Power Reference Triple-C model, plugged into the RPT-4eu Ultimate power strip. Speaker cables were mu trusted Siltech Triple Crown.

The amplifier was so large that I decided to placed it for the in front of the Finite Elemente rack on the wooden box, it was delivered in. In truth, it looked great on it. However, the box required several modifications. I put it on four Vibrapods, and another Vibrapods were placed under the amplifier. The interior of the chest was stuffed with damping material.

For the headphone part of the test I used three cans: planar-magnetic HiFiMAN HE-1000 V2 and Edition X V2, and also dynamic Sennheiser HD800.

AUDIA FLIGHT in “High Fidelity”
  • REVIEW: Audia Flight FLS-1 | preamplifier
  • REVIEW: Audia Flight FL Phono | phonostage
  • AWARD | Best Sound 2016: Audia Flight FLS-4 | power amplifier
  • REVIEW: Audia Flight FLS-4 | power amplifier
  • AWARD | Best Sound 2015: Audia Flight FL THREE S | integrated amplifier
  • REVIEW: Audia Flight FL THREE S | integrated amplifier
  • REVIEW: Audia Flight 100 | power amplifier

  • Recordings used for the test (a selec- tion):

    • Rudolf Firkusny, Rudolf Firkusny Plays Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Sugano Disc SCD-833001, CD (1983)
    • Blade Runner, soundtrack, reż. Ridley Scott, Atlantic Records/Audio Fidelity AFZ 154, „Limited Numbered Edition | No. 2398”, SACD/CD (1982/2013)
    • Patricia Barber, Companion, Premonition/Mobile Fidelity UDSACD 2023, SACD/CD (1999/2003)
    • Chick Corea/Gary Burton, Cristal Silence, ECM/Tower Records PROZ-1091, SACD/CD (1973/2017)
    • Eva Cassidy, Songbird, Blix Street Records/JVC VICJ-010-0045, XRCD24 (1998/2010)
    • Fauré, Requiem, dyr. Michel Corboz, Erato/Warner Music Japan WPCS-12545, SACD/CD (1972/2012)
    • Yes, Close to the Edge, Atlantic/Warner Music Japan WPCR-15905, 7” SACD/CD (1972/2014)
    • Mozart, String Quartets KV 387/KV 421, Tacet S 233, SACD/CD (2018)

    Japanese issues available at

    This amplifier can not be mistaken with any other. It has its own, quickly recognizable sound signature, performing in a special way that is a response to prayers of many, surprisingly many music lovers and audiophiles who are usually ashamed to ask for it directly. It's an amplifier that plays in an extremely emotional way. It is primarily about transferring the listener to another world - the world of recording. Analysis? Cool assessment? Not in this case - the FLS 10 invites you to listen to music and experiencing it at the same time at full speed.

    At first you can feel overwhelmed by such a presentation. Here everything comes at you at once, strong, revealing, dense. Accustomed to elegant, selective systems, we may feel confused for a moment, because this is not a calculated performance. One starts a concert by Patricia Barber from the Green Mill in Chicago, known from the Companion, and the concert space appears in our room. Not so much as "appears", but rather "bubbles away".

    The foreground with Audia Flight is placed close to us, just like the entire performance - it's a direct attack on our senses. We feel like the performer stands right in front of us and sings only for us. Even if it is a recording from the early 1970s, in which the vocal was a bit distant, like fin the Close to the Edge by Yes, it is more present with the Italian amplifier, more tangible. Differentiation in this respect is very good.

    It is not about unifying everything, this amplifier does not do it. Barber was very close to me, because she had a close-up microphone - like on the stage - and Anderson was not very far away, because the whole presentation was saturated, which made him sound like that. But it absolutely is not a monotonous device that plays every recording in the same fashion. I mean something like a common approach, that this device proposes to us, a common interpretation for different - and shown as differing from each other - events.

    The "presence" of instruments is unbelievable, they affect listener almost sensually, as if they were really in front of us. This is mainly due to warm and rich presentation. With this "warmth" it is so that one would not be able to distinguish this sound form one presented by a tube amplifier using EL34, KT88 or KT150. Here and now, however, it was more open, because I never had the impression of treble being withdrawn or rolled off. On the contrary - the amplifier seems to be playing in an extremely sonorous way, as if the harmonics were in line with the basic sound, creating together something more than each of them separately.

    Let's look for it in the wonderful SACD release of the Gary Burton and Chick Corea Crystal Silence by the Japanese Tower Records. The vibrancy of the vibraphone and the power of the piano correlated with it were outstanding. The fact that Audia Flight presents large phantom images contributed obviously, here everything has its importance and role to play, there are no irrelevant elements. It is able to deliver in an interesting and entertaining the listener way both, the aforementioned duo, the Auryn Quartet playing Stradivari, Amati and Guarnieri instruments, as well as the power of the opening soundtrack on Vangelis Blade Runner.

    And that's because a low-centered presentation with lots of information, in which the bass plays the main role. Mentioning at the beginning the fulfilled prayers, I also meant this element - we will never lack the power of bass, its extension, fleshiness and massiveness. This range is played a bit in the “Italian fashion”, i.e. without obsessive control over the attack and decay, but also without problems with these elements. It is a smooth, soft sound in which the rhythm is perfectly kept, with which any recording pulsates and draws listener in. It won't make you sleepy, even though the tonal balance could have led to it - there is so much going on here that we put sleeping aside for another day.

    The bass extension on the Vangelis album was presented in such a moving way that I did not need anything else. The very bottom is not completely controlled, but it is never late and does not mix with other subranges. The energy of the bass is amazing and reminiscent of live performance, where the definition is not the most important factor. More important is the timbre/tone and rhythm - here presented in an outstanding way.

    Watch the second part of the Blade Runner, i.e. Blade Runner 2049 (directed by Denis Villeneuve, 2017), and you will hear bass extension organizing the majority of this film in such a way that you fell fell shivers moving down your spine. Watch Sicario next, directed by the same man two years earlier ( 2015), where the section of double basses and cellos builds tension in a similar way, and goose-bumps are guarantied.

    | Headphones

    This is an absolutely unique case, where the sound of the amplifier is of an equally high-quality whether one uses loudspeaker or headphone outputs. What's more, in this these two presentations are very similar, were built from the same elements and a very similar effect was achieved. Plain and simple: this is one of the best headphone amplifiers I know of.

    It is very resolving - maybe not as much as with speakers, but still. This is something that with planar-magnetic headphones such as the HiFiMAN HE-1000 v2 that I use, is particularly important, because I can hear almost everything. The Italian amplifier turned out to be outstanding in this respect and only my Ayon Audio HA-3 with 45 triodes in the output shows something extra at the very top of the band. But at the bottom, the Italian integrated was unmatched. Only once did I hear the headphones of this company delivering such a good bass performance and it was during the presentation of the HiFiMAN ShangRi La system, costing 50,000 US dollars.

    I could also clearly hear something that was clear to me while listening through the speakers, but I did not pay much attention to it - the amplifier does not hide the details from the recording. Which was obvious for example when I listened to Barber's voice that was emphasized in a stronger way then usually, resulting from the use of stage microphones, or with slightly brightened sibilants in the voice of Eva Cassidy from the Songbird album, compiled, among others, from concert recordings, etc.

    When listening through the loudspeakers, my attention was pulled away from this element by the aura, density and presence of the recording in my room. It did not happen with headphones, so I automatically paid more attention to what we are talking about. So what we get is a more open sound with low bass and warm midrange. This can be corrected by the choice of headphones – one could use Audeze LCD-3, or HiFiMAN Edition X V2 - warmer and denser than the HE-1000 V2 model.

    Both with headphones and speakers, one has to get used to the way FLS 10 treats space. It's an amplifier that builds something like a "bubble", moving artists and instruments along with their acoustic ambiance to us, into a room where we listen to music. Because the foreground is placed close to us, and the presentation is intense, whatever happens deeper on the stage is less important. This is not a very deep soundstage. Events far behind foreground are as intense as those in the front and they are not much inferior to them in volume - hence the sense of their closeness.

    The instruments are beautifully differentiated in their tonalities, which gives them an extremely individual feature, they are shown as "separate beings”, thickening as we focus on them. The amplifier treats them as something holistic, so they will not be "cut" from the background, making it difficult to "analyze" them. Because it is not an airy, pastel presentation. It's a warm, burned out in the midday sun, presentation and with an incredible bass extension. The latter is not always as perfectly defined as in the case of my reference amplifier. In turn, the upper treble is slightly warm and always in servitude to the midrange. Each of these elements can be used as both "for" and "against" features, depending on your preferences.


    I will say, however, that one would have to have a lot of ill will not to appreciate the beauty that the Audia Flight amplifier brings to one's live. Because beauty and experiencing emotions that's what music is all about. The FLS 10 delivers an intense presentation activating emotions in listeners, extracting reflexes from our bodies that are dormant when listening to other devices. If I say that in terms of sonic character it is very similar to what I heard in the same system with the Kondo Ongaku, I will not by exaggerating much. The Japanese integrated is of course a whole different world, but the Italian amplifier evokes similar emotions in us. A beautiful amplifier greatly designed with unique functionality, there is but one choice left for me: RED Fingerprint.

    The integrated amplifier FLS 10 from the Italian company Audia Flight is a solid, heavy, well-made device. Its chassis is made of thick aluminum plates in such a way that no screws are seen anywhere. I found some only at the back and underneath. The amplifier stands on four aluminum feet with rubber hemispheres underneath.

    | Front and back

    The front is the thickest and profiled so that the wavy line divides it into two horizontal parts and introduces the "movement" element. There is an oblong window above this line, and there is an OLED display with a blue filter in it. On the right side there is a flat, but large volume knob, and at the bottom silver, small, metal buttons. The device works well with them, because they have a clear trigger point. On the right side there is also a headphone jack ¼ TRS (large 6.3 mm jack), and next to it a button, which switches the loudspeaker outputs off.

    There are two pairs of them, positioned vertically on both sides of the back panel It is quite obvious that it is a symmetrical design - it is not only about it being balanced, but also about the mechanical design. Same as in the devices of the Danish company Gryphon, both channels were arranged symmetrically in relation to the axis of division, i.e., input number 1 is the closest to the center, and the next ones diverge from it towards both sides.

    There are five inputs, two of them balanced; there are also three outputs - two from the preamplifier section with an adjustable signal level - RCA and XLR - and an unbalanced RCA with a fixed signal, intended for recording. The EIC power socket is placed slightly to the side and a mechanical switch is integrated in it. Below the input sockets one can see two, unscreweable plated that can be replaced with optional cards – there are two plates, so I assume that one can put two different module at the same time.

    | Inside

    When unscrewing the top cover, it is not difficult to notice that it is in fact the FSL 4 power amplifier with a slightly modified input section and preamplifier. This is a modular device, with two output sections on the sides, screwed directly to the heat sinks, a power supply in the middle and a preamplifier on the two PCBs at the back.

    The preamplifier consists of two sections - the input one, where the relays change the inputs, and the amplifying one above. The latter consists of four modules with the CFA15 designations assembled using the surface mounting technique closed with plastic covers; this is a similar solution to the one found in the Marantz HDAM modules and some others, for example by NAD. These are transistor circuits working in Class A. This section has its own power supply with a toroidal transformer. It seems that the volume level is regulated in resistor ladder integrated circuits, one per channel.

    This one was bolted on a PCB placed above one of the largest toroidal transformers, that I saw in audio devices - it has a power of 2000 W and was flooded with resin and shielded. The entire power supply consists of twelve, separately rectified and filtered lines; there are a lot of medium-sized capacitors in it with a total capacity of 288,000 μF.

    32 transistors operate in the output section, in a parallel push-pull system - 16 per channel. These are bipolar ON transistors: MJL1302A (PNP) + MJL3281A (NPN). The signal goes from them to the sockets on the back panel with copper braids with a large cross-section - 5.2 mm2 - originally intended for power cable). The loudspeaker sockets are gold plated, but the endings of the wires are not.

    | Remote

    The remote control is made of aluminum and works with the Philips RC-5 code; indeed, the company's chip is its "heart". The buttons are the same as in the amplifier, which is a nice thing. The remote control has almost all the functions of an amplifier, apart from switching off the loudspeaker outputs. The volume control, of course, is adjusted using two buttons. The set includes a Phillips screwdriver, which will be used to replaced the battery.

    It's very nicely made, with heart and big knowledge device.

    Specifications (according to manufacturer)

    Nominal output: 200/380/700 (8/4/Ω) 
    Inputs: 3 x RCA, 2 x XLR
    Outputs: 1 x RCA, 1 x XLR, 1 x REC RCA
    Volume control range: -90dB to +10 dB
    Frequency range (-3 dB): 0,3 Hz - 500 kHz
    THD: < 0.05%
    S/N: 110dB
    Input impedance: 47kΩ
    Damping factor (8Ω): > 650
    Power consumption in standby: <1 W
    Power consumption (200W RMS, 8Ω, both channels driven): 840W
    Dimensions (W x H x D): 450 x 180 x 440mm
    Weight: 36kg



    - Turntable: AVID HIFI Acutus SP [Custom Version]
    - Cartridges: Miyajima Laboratory KANSUI, review HERE | Miyajima Laboratory SHILABE, review HERE | Miyajima Laboratory ZERO (mono) | Denon DL-103SA, review HERE
    - Phono stage: RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC, review HERE

    - Compact Disc Player: Ancient Audio AIR V-edition, review HERE

    - Line Preamplifier: Polaris III [Custom Version] + AC Regenerator, regular version review (in Polish) HERE
    - Power amplifier: Soulution 710
    - Integrated Amplifier: Leben CS300XS Custom Version, review HERE

    - Stand mount Loudspeakers: Harbeth M40.1 Domestic, review HERE
    - Stands for Harbeths: Acoustic Revive Custom Series Loudspeaker Stands
    - Real-Sound Processor: SPEC RSP-101/GL
    - Integrated Amplifier/Headphone amplifier: Leben CS300XS Custom Version, review HERE
    - Headphones: HIFIMAN HE-6, review HERE | HIFIMAN HE-500, review HERE | HIFIMAN HE-300, review HERE | Sennheiser HD800 | AKG K701, review (in Polish) HERE | Ultrasone PROLine 2500, Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro, version 600 - reviews (in Polish): HERE, HERE, HERE
    - Headphone Stands: Klutz Design CanCans (x 3), review (in Polish) HERE
    - Headphone Cables: Entreq Konstantin 2010/Sennheiser HD800/HIFIMAN HE-500, review HERE

    - Portable Player: HIFIMAN HM-801
    - USB Cables: Acoustic Revive USB-1.0SP (1 m) | Acoustic Revive USB-5.0PL (5 m), review HERE
    - LAN Cables: Acoustic Revive LAN-1.0 PA (kable ) | RLI-1 (filtry), review HERE
    - Router: Liksys WAG320N
    - NAS: Synology DS410j/8 TB
    System I
    - Interconnects: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-DA6300, review HERE | preamplifier-power amplifier: Acrolink 8N-A2080III Evo, review HERE
    - Loudspeaker Cables: Tara Labs Omega Onyx, review (in Polish) HERE
    System II
    - Interconnects: Acoustic Revive RCA-1.0PA | XLR-1.0PA II
    - Loudspeaker Cables: Acoustic Revive SPC-PA

    System I
    - Power Cables: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9300, all system, review HERE
    - Power Distributor: Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu Ultimate, review HERE
    - Power Line: power cable Oyaide Tunami Nigo (6m); wall sockets 3 x Furutech FT-SWS (R)
    System II
    - Power Cables: Harmonix X-DC350M2R Improved-Version, review (in Polish) HERE | Oyaide GPX-R (x 4 ), review HERE
    - Power Distributor: Oyaide MTS-4e, review HERE
    - Stolik: SolidBase IV Custom, read HERE/all system
    - Anti-vibration Platforms: Acoustic Revive RAF-48H, review HERE/digital sources | Pro Audio Bono [Custom Version]/headphone amplifier/integrated amplifier, review HERE | Acoustic Revive RST-38H/loudspeakers under review/stands for loudspeakers under review
    - Anti-vibration Feets: Franc Audio Accessories Ceramic Disc/ CD Player/Ayon Polaris II Power Supply /products under review, review HERE | Finite Elemente CeraPuc/ products under review, review HERE | Audio Replas OPT-30HG-SC/PL HR Quartz, review HERE
    - Anti-vibration accsories: Audio Replas CNS-7000SZ/power cable, review HERE
    - Quartz Isolators: Acoustic Revive RIQ-5010/CP-4

    - FM Radio: Tivoli Audio Model One