ALLUXITY – INT ONE
Meet the Int one, possibly the most interesting Alluxity product to Lotus customers and the first one that we will cover here in the blogs. I don’t want to labour on the brand and the aesthetics too much. When most people see the units in the flesh the reaction is usually really positive and brings about a smile or a strong level of inquisitiveness. Alluxity looks like little else in the marketplace and the Scandanavian elegance the product exudes, especially in the white finish, I find really rather appealing.
What the pictures don’t tell you is just how high quality the chassis feels. The one piece aluminium has been beautifully milled. Pick up any of these units and it may be a surpise just how heavy they are. Especially attractive are the generous edge bevels, the embossed logo in the top plate and in the case of the integrated, the large countersunk heatsink holes machined down both sides.
There is a an elegance and a smoothness to the chassis which perhaps in a way foreshadows what you are about to hear. No spikyness, an absence of hard sharp edges or gnarly controls, a sense of purity, you get the impression that the sonic presentation will be the echo of the handsome luxuriant looks.
INT ONE – INTEGRATED AMPLIFIER
The Int One was the very first Alluxity product I trialled here. At first I rigged it up with a set of Avalon IDEA speakers and both the Exogal Comet DAC, Allnic D5000 tube DAC and Vitus RCD-101 DAC, all fed by a Melco N1ZH streamer/server. I had it sat on a reference Pro Audio Bono suspended platform which typically gives a really nice natural sound to an amp with good soundstaging and air. Cables were from HFC, again very neutral and open.
The first thing that struck me about the Int One is that it’s a big and bold sound. Music catapults away from the speakers and fills the room in a natural but slightly pressurised manner. I had heard reports of the special midrange that the Alluxity brand has but any worries that this might come with a general sleepiness or lack of grunt were dispelled within the first minutes of music. The Int One has vibrancy and bounce that grabs you almost immediately and whether that is experienced as a high amount of presence on say solo vocals, or as the rhythmical bob of a melody or tune, this is definitely an amp that has ‘musicality’ written all over it. It engages and seems to cut straight to the heart of the tune from the very first note.
As well as good bandwidth and dynamics, I think that part of what helps this musical hook is the fact that the amp has a certain roundness to its presentation. Now that shouldn’t be read in a negative way because the Int One has big levels of resolution especially for its modest price tag. No, this roundness is a positive thing. Whilst the detail is all there and not abbreviated in any way, it is prioritised in the overall mix so that the fluidity of the music comes first. The result is a sound that is very liquid and tuneful and just flows along in a very arresting manner. If you don’t like obsessing about different parts of the music, what the hifi is or isn’t doing etc. and you just want to get on and allow your system to make you nod your head, sing along, even get up and dance then you’re definitely in the right place with this brand. We know that Alexander is first and foremost a musician and I would say that this definitely shines through.
The next big thing about the Int One is the famed midrange. Here we have a very open sound with superb layering and soundstaging but the tonality is definitely a bit more saturated than what you’d expect even from the Vitus camp (which itself is already a lot richer than most solid state). So whilst the amp can only be described as neutral, there is a lovely strong concentration when it comes to textures, timbres, harmonics and fine details on instruments. I guess it’s the difference between sitting in the front row at a recital and a number of rows back. I am sure Valve amplifier lovers will adore the Int One. It gives almost nothing up to a good push pull or Triode amp in terms of that sumptuous tactile midrange yet it also posesses most of the precision, cleanliness and image stability that you’d expect from a Vitus amp (and could never get from any valve amp).
I have to listen to lots of equipment as part of my job and truth be told I never really get much time to really sit down and enjoy things properly, certainly not within working hours in any case. With the Alluxity though I honestly found myself wandering off the task in hand and just playing track after track, enjoying the tunes, the amp’s audacious delivery and of course that wonderful midrange. My atmospheric, introspective music sounded hypnotically beguiling and the equal of almost any tube amp in this respect but then when I played something more up front – Ozric tentacles, Andre Indiana, Muse, GoGo Penguin – it was big, dynamic, pacey and as energetic as I’d ever wish for. Despite the slimline form factor this is a powerful amp for certain and will surely drive all but the most demanding of speakers.
After a while into my listening sessions it actually dawned on me that for me and my tastes in music, maybe I would actually prefer this amp over the more expensive Vitus RI-100 Integrated. Curiosity got the better of me and after a few hours with the Int One I switched over to an RI-100 in the same system and played many of the same tracks.
The Vitus is £3000 more and twice the size so you expect it to be different. There is an immediate sense of precision, neutrality and lower end stability and control. It does all these things a smidge better then and its fairly obvious right from the get go. You feel like you are peering right through the music more. The Vitus is also more staccato though, more propulsive versus the flow and roundness of the Alluxity. On some music I have to confess I found myself missing the more fluidic, relaxed nature of the Alluxity and the extra indulgence of its midband, the stronger tonal colours and greater deliberation on the timbral and harmonic surface of the note. It then struck me that this Int One possibly has more in common with the £19,000 Vitus Class A integrated than the RI-100 and that is some praise indeed.
As I powered the Vitus amp down and switched back over to the Int One it occurred me that if I had to pick one for the bulk of my music I could well go for the cheaper amp and pocket the change to deploy elsewhere in the system. The RI is a better amp and so it should be at almost 1.5 times the money but depending on your music tastes and how you like to listen, the Alluxity has a very compelling and captivating way of going about its business and I can easily envisage some folk opting for it in preference.
Whilst the RI comparison is an obvious one and something that i’m sure many customers will be curious about, the truth is the little integrated from Alluxity really does stand on its own two feet and offers so much here that is different and newfangled, that there is easily enough space in a dealer portfolio for both amplifiers. I really enjoyed listening to music through the Int One; much like Vitus it has a very natural refined presentation and a way of surreptitiously directing your thoughts more toward the artist rather than the hifi. What really grabbed me though was it’s buoyant, spirited delivery and that gorgeous melliflous midrange. Chet baker, Manu Katche, Laura Veirs, Radka Toneff, Bela Fleck, Anni DiFranco …. they all sounded just so sweet and full of life.
After the RI experiment and whilst I was in comparison mode I decided to swap in the Allnic T1500 integrated amp into the mix. Now we have quite a large suite of excellent integrateds here at Lotus in part because that’s what the buying public want now and companies like Vitus have proven that when designed right they give nothing away to an equivalent pre and power. I thought that having a quick listen to a good valve amp might go further in helping us understand the Alluxity.
The Allnic is a 12 watt triode amp so a more limited piece in terms of system building although it does drive a set of Ideas just beautifully. Being an Allnic design it has great bass, really good extension at the top end and is a very lively gutsy sound that might really surprise someone used to a traditional 300b amp. Whilst the tonal and textural qualities were very similar to the Alluxity as was the very appealing sense of pressurisation in the delivery of the music, the T1500 in the same system gave us a new level in terms of space and intimacy. On certain recordings it was almost as if the sound was coming from way outside the extents of the room. The sense of holography was also equally as spooky at times. Although the Alluxity has a really delightful ease and looseness to its presentation – a welcome relief when so many solid state amps sound too artificially taut – the Allnic was another step on its terms of relaxation between the instruments and overall sense of liberation, though it must be said that the price for this was ultimately a simultaneous loss of precision and focus and in these areas it fell short of the Danish amp. The T1500 also could not match the Alluxity’s stability in the image, it’s sense of groundedness in the lower frequencies and most absent of all, that Danish cleanliness and purity and freedom from grain.
Surprise surprise then that this comparison followed much of the fundamental ying and yang between valves and transistors. As ever personal taste will come into it and probably the best way to conclude this tangent is to say that the T1500 at £5500 is an absolute bargain and whilst it’s not necessarily an amp that can do full justice to all musical genres as the Alluxity can, it’s still a stunning product in its own right.
Alluxity negatives ? Well the touchscreen is very simple, clean and easy to read and use. I really like it. It has 3 brightness levels but I would like to see an option to turn it off completely. EDIT – this apparently is possible so i’m told by simply holding down the brightness icon so good to go on that.
Below the fascia, affixed to the underside of the amp is a small black reciever for the remote as well and from some angles and if you are looking, you can see this. It fouls the clean silhouette a little and personally I would rather it wasn’t there.
The final thing I did in my sessions was to place a £660 pack of three Ultra SS stillpoint feet underneath the Alluxity. As well as the usual increase in air, space and transient speed that you get with stillpoints, it also tightened up the bass, increased it’s potency, depth and sense of propulsion. I would say that the improvement was even greater than usually encountered with stillpoints under an amp. They would be a no brainer purchase for me adding at least another 20% to the performance and closing the gap further still on an RI-100.
The last point to mention is how the Int One performs in tandem with the Media One. There is a great deal of synergy between these two and it increased my admiration for the Int One even further when I heard the pair together. I will cover the superb Media One in a separate blog very soon so be sure to have a read.