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DAYENS // Integrated Amplifers / Ampino review


Ampino review by Mr. John Walton from Germany

PictureI am a greenkeeper and get paid for mowing the grass! Because of the summer overtime, I've several months free over winter. Before I was a greenkeeper I had several years stint as so-called high end salesman for a notable HiFi store in Hamburg, Germany that later became a national chain store. At that time I was an international chemical trader and self-employed. One morning I broke my turntable's stylus and decided to be cool about it, got into my car and drove to town to buy a new one (that the broken one was a MC almost new is beside the point). The Stylus Shop clerk knew me and as typical, asked me how I was doing. I surprised myself by answering, "bored!" He told me about the job he just turned down and so I ended up with my cartridge and a new job that went with along with my long-standing hobby. Those were the good old days, the '80s when HiFi sold like hotcakes. I ended up having a great time and earned equivalent to that from my chemical trading and from the one became the other. Dire Straits' Brothers in Arms just came out, Thorens' TD160 turntables and the Nacamichi tape decks flew out of our hands; ..."move those refrigerators..." Not only were we retailers, we were importers for the likes of KEF and Quad.

What does this have to do with the Dayens Ampino? I'm getting to that point. Life changes, at least for me and I left that job and went an entirely other direction that led later to my greenkeeping. With all that free time in winter. Married, no way my wife wanted me home all day all weeks so I introduce myself to the owner of an established Hanover HiFi store and ask if I could work part time. I showed him my pay slips from the Hamburg days and so I got my seasonal job. I worked five seasons or more there. Meanwhile we have the late '90s and 'HiFi' is meanwhile high class televisions, VCRs, later DVDs, with some, no harm intended, Yamaha 'Piano' Series mini stereos thrown in. Of course there were high end specialty stores but on a different scale. My boss used to sell McIntosh and lots of classics long before I was in Hamburg and wanted me to "get some action back into that stereo studio room!" So while my colleagues were writing up harman Surround Sound and B&O home entertainment installations I was trying to push NOS Mission speakers and Rotel amps. And I got some action back into that room. In all those months I didn't sell a dozen Surround Sound receivers. I sold many dozens of quality stereo components and systems because I demonstrated them.

I listen to music. Most customers wanted to downsize their [husband's] college stereos (some of which were classics!), for something unobtrusive, like Yamaha's Piano Series... In demonstrating what a good, not expensive mind you, stereo is capable of, well, I was fairly successful. Evenings I'd go home and tank up on my own stereo (Gryphon TABU amp, QLN G3 speakers, Spectral SDR-1000SL CD, audiomeca Romance turntable), to return to demonstrate the merits between some of the good Mid-Fi gear we had. We had brands like of MBL but when a [usually wife] potential customer comes in for an unobtrusive system that should not cost more than say 700, one does not immediately lead them to MBL... I sold a lot of Rotel (note: I intentionally refrain from mentioning too many brands - no brand-banging here).

Dayens Ampino, if I had this integrated amp there to sell, I guess that 90% of the customers would have bought one (note: only 30% of the customers wanted to buy something from us, the rest only wanted our opinions in order to go then directly to the cash-and-carry HiFi chain stores seen advertising on TV). I mean nine out of ten visitors were they in the market for a stereo would have bought one (two?) from me. All I needed to do was to demonstrate in A versus B, the Ampino versus XZY (that would have costed at least 600), and they would have been out of the store in ten minutes as owners of the Ampino.

Thanks for bearing with me on this but my point is that although I have not heard all the amplifiers that were ever made, I have heard quite a few of them. I am no longer selling HiFi, for five years at least, but I still occasionally audition specific gear and haunt HiFi stores when I happen to be on the road. The musical merits of the Ampino are such that if a listener wants to hear music reproduction that sounds life-like, not artificial -not 'bigger' than life, mind you- then the Ampino should be on her or his short list disregardless of price. I own an Ampino and have heard it for about four hours till now. I still have my Gryphon TABU which is warmer in the whole but even after those few hours, maybe my Gryphon is too artificially warm. This is in my opinion, insane. I am questioning the merit of a classic costing fifteen, twenty times the price of the Ampino. The famous NAD 3020 was a giant killer for its price and at the time. The Ampino is the same but on an entirely different scale ('NAD 3020 on steroids' does not even begin to do the Ampino justice). Time has marched on and quite a few advancements in HiFi have been made during my forty five years 'hobby.' The Ampino is an instant classic, in my opinion, and I can only repeat as above: compared in sonic merit, it is incredible but true, forget the price, the Ampino can hold its own with the best, again, irregardless of price. Please audition it. For your information I have received no inducement, monetary or otherwise from Dayens for this 'review,' my personal opinion. The amplifier is world-class.

P.S.: I hope I didn't bang too many brand names - but oh, they should be on their toes!!!!!!

P.P.S: Did I actually mention that I really do very much like the sound, music that this amplifier makes? Makes me get up and dance around, as long as the music signal has that swing in it.... Reminds me of that expression, "smoking!," but I should also mention that this amp runs cool, and sounds cool and is cool and is really great and...

Best regards,

John Walton




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