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The new kid on the block is here and making very large waves. That would be Mystère, a division of Durob Audio, producer of high-quality, high-end audio equipment for more than 30 years. Located in The Netherlands, Durob Audio also designs and manufactures the highly-acclaimed sister brand, PrimaLuna.
The Mystère line consists of two preamplifiers, the CA11 at $1795 and the CA21 at $2295, two power amplifiers, the PA11 at $1995 and the PA21 at $2995, and two integrated amplifiers, the IA11 at $1995 and the IA21 at $2995.
In a word, Mystère engineering can best be described as minimalist. For instance, the integrated amplifiers and preamplifiers have only an input selector and volume control. There is no remote. This is because volume is controlled by a stepped attenuator, a type of volume control which precludes the use of remote control. As you turn the volume knob, you will feel it click through a series of notches or detents, 24 in all. Each step has a single resistor per channel for the signal to pass through, and each contact is constructed with heavy silver plating. Such stepped volume controls are quite labor intensive to manufacture, but sonically, vastly superior to conventional volume controls. First one must hand-trim and mount 46 resistors. Then one must make 48 perfect solder joints, all in the name of purity and left/right channel signal tracking. The engineering and build quality exemplified by this type of volume control would normally be equated to products that are far more expensive. Look inside the chassis of any Mystère component, and you will see other examples of its exquisite engineering. These include some of the finest point-to-point wiring workmanship in the world with even the internal wiring dressed in silk. This type of construction is more expensive but is designed and crafted to last a lifetime. There is only one circuit board inside any Mystère product: the proprietary Adaptive AutoBias, a Durob Audio exclusive. This ingenious innovation reduces distortion by up to 50% by continuously monitoring each tube and constantly tweaking it to its optimum performance point. Also, with this circuit, you never have to bias or adjust the tubes; it's all done automatically. Finally, this circuit allows you to use a huge variety of different tubes to match your musical tastes or changes in your room's sonics, loudspeakers, or other gear. Of course there are many other aspects to the Mystère quality story such as their exceptional audio output transformers, but this should give you an idea of the quality of this line of products.
The fit and finish are equally impressive. The chassis of each model is heavy-duty and constructed with tight tolerances. The finish is hand-rubbed and epoxy-based with a silkiness and luster that is worthy of the most expensive automobiles. So, years from now, it will shine like new with minimal care.
Sonically, the Mystère components are rich, clear, and dynamic with deep and broad imaging and exquisite detail and clarity. These products offer a tremendous level of value for their very modest prices, and the superb reviews that are starting to accumulate show that we are not alone in this opinion. For example, the CA21 won the prestigious Preamplifier of the Year award for 2010 from The Absolute Sound. That's quite an accomplishment for a brand new product costing only $2295 from a brand new line. Perhaps there should be a Mystère component in your future?
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