Ayon Audio Scorpio Integrated Amplifier
Since the turn of the century, Ayon Audio have been a stalwart of the high end hi-fi shows. The Scorpio Integrated Amplifier is a great example of how far they have come.
Building on the lessons of the past; signal paths have been shortened, solid state components removed, protection circuits added and soft-start power to protect the tubes. These changes have made their ranges robust while enhancing their sonic capabilities. The attention to detail in the Scorpio’s design has driven them to even shorten the signal paths on the printed circuit boards!
The Scorpio is a stereo class-A valve amplifier, it features four line inputs and has switchable options between pentode and triode valve architecture. The switch allows for system and room matching, while using KT88’s to drive the loads (either 45w pentode, or 35w triode). The choice of signal and power tubes has a massive impact on the end results, the added option to switch the modes allows this amp to be at home in very demanding systems. Ayon have even redesigned the sockets the valves sit in, using beryllium and copper in combination to create mechanical grip and electrical compliance. Their Auto-Fixed-Bias system along with the protection circuits, soft start mode and auto sequencing features make swapping, upgrading or simply rolling valves a much less painstaking and nerve-racking experience.
The attention to detail does not end at their custom tubes. The mechanical design is first rate. The chassis is hand built from high grade aluminium, anodised black. It has been used for its non-magnetic and anti-resonance properties. The Ayon logo is carved out of the front panel allowing the red backlight to glow through. Even the control knobs have been custom made for this device. The power supply of the Scorpio has had some considerable attention. Aside from using top quality components Ayon have; isolated the input stage from the output stage, enhanced AC line noise filtration and increased the size of the capacitors.
All this work in the factory has produced a fantastic sounding amp. Presented with a pair of Blumenhofer Acoustics Tempesta 20’s the Scorpio had no difficulty filling the room, sounding precise and agile. The noise floor is very quiet, even for low level listening transients remained fast and exciting. The controlled sound from such a large speaker, albeit in pentode mode, was impressive, especially so at low levels. Swapping to an old pair of Quad 22L’s, known for being a touch slow sounding with transistor amplifiers, the Ayon Scorpio’s tubes drove them beautifully. The noise floor stayed quiet, voices softened by the silk tweeter were still sweet as intended while claps and bass were well defined and controlled. The music was not so much slow as relaxed and listenable. The warmth that would have been evident with a Quad valve setup was was nowhere in earshot. The Ayon kept the 22L’s sounding sweet without adding colour from the tubes or haze from the power supply, the Scorpio let the music breathe with a pleasing ease and pace. All round a solid recommendation, well worth a listen.
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