The new Aavik flagship, the 880 series of amplifiers
The engineer and the artist
Aavik expands its range of amplifiers with their new flagship Aavik 880 series. The 880 series is Aavik’s most innovative and sophisticated amplifier production to date. The new series consists of the Aavik I-880 integrated amplifier, the C-880 control amplifier, and the P-880 power amplifier. The primary development goal of this series was to create a powerful non-switching pure Class A amplifier with the lowest possible output impedance that would contribute to a better signal and less noise, thus improving speaker performance, resulting in a much more organic sound and more musicality.
In mid-2021, Flemming Erik Rasmussen, founder and former owner of Gryphon Audio, became a full-time member of Audio Group Denmark’s design and development team. With more than 35 years of experience in creating and realizing “dreams” and his artistic passion for designing hi-fi equipment, he was the perfect fit for Aavik. This was the beginning of a dynamic, and productive collaboration between Michael Børresen’s with his innovative approach, and Flemming Erik Rasmussen’s artistic and aesthetic design touch. He and Michael Børresen embarked on designing and developing a new innovative Aavik amplifier that would elevate the quality of musical authenticity into a new dimension. The result is the new Aavik 880 amplifier flagship series.
The power section
Aavik’s unwavering quest to break new ground
Through a long and intensive research and development process, Aavik’s engineering team identified several characteristic elements in the traditional Class A amplifier design that could definitely be improved.
To avoid switching, Class A amplifiers typically apply a high constant current to the output devices. This approach is not only associated with high power consumption but also adversely affects sound quality. The traditional Class A power supply consists of a large transformer and large capacitor banks. This large transformer has two downsides. First, the many windings create undue induction, which in turn means transient delay. Second, these many windings create stray capacitances, which cause high-frequency noise from the mains to enter the amplifier. Michael Børresen and his team of engineers took on the challenge and found another way to prevent the power amplifier from switching over.
They designed a circuitry that constantly keeps the bias spread 0,63 V above the required current, no matter where it is in the cycle. So, no matter how much current the power amp requires to perform, it always stays in Class A up to an impressive 2×200 W into 8 ohms, while at the same time not consuming unnecessary power.
This significant reduction in the power requirements of the amplifier allowed Aavik to design the capacitors as smaller units and place them locally, so that essentially each of the eight pairs of output transistors has its own capacitor bank right next to it. This means that the current does not have to flow through long wire harnesses and long circuit boards. The current is always directly at the output transistor, which means a shorter signal path and therefore less noise. In addition, this innovative Aavik design also means that the 880 amplifiers do not get as hot as conventional Class A amplifiers, resulting in higher efficiency.
The power supply for Aavik’s 880 series amplifiers is designed with Aavik’s resonant-mode power supplies, which ensure sufficient power resources with extremely low noise. The noise floor in the raw power supply is extremely low, but is further reduced by the ultra-low noise regulators that power the various parts of the circuit. The smaller size of the power supply also means fewer windings and therefore less induction and lower transient delay, which has a positive effect on the soundstage and musicality.
The control section
To create the best and most effective control section, Aavik’s engineering department has carefully tested and evaluated each electronic component to ensure both the lowest possible noise floor and further refinement of the signal. The ultimate goal of this thorough approach is for the amplifier to unlock a dynamic musical range that projects even the smallest musical details onto a palpably larger soundstage with an extremely quiet background.
Volume Control – Influences the sound experience
The Aavik 880 amplifier features a unique inverted amplifier topology with virtual ground for maximum stability. Feedback becomes so strong that the signal can be attenuated to a gain of less than 1. This maintains the full signal with the lowest signal-to-noise ratio, whether the volume is turned up or down. This provides the speakers with a clear and distinct flow of information, making even the subtlest nuances of timbre and texture audible against an extremely quiet soundstage.
Optical LDR based components
The LDR (Light Dependent Resistor) is extremely quiet thanks to its switchless principle. This significantly reduces the noise floor and ensures a natural sound without suppressing subtle sound details. The traditional MOS-FET switch arrays and relays create much more noise. They suppress subtle sound details and unnaturally color the tone. The 880 series includes the following components, Switchless optical input board – LDR-based and Switchless optical gain selection.
Dedicated power supply for the control section
The separate power supply in the Aavik 880 amplifier ensures sufficient power resources with extremely low noise. The result is more control and seemingly unlimited dynamic headroom. When more power is needed, the operating frequency increases, which in turn has the advantage of also increasing power density, allowing for higher peak power when the music demands it. The noise floor of the raw power supply is extremely low and is further reduced by the ultra-low noise regulators that power the various parts of the circuit.
Aavik’s analog crossover ensures precise timing when routing audio signals to the receiving components. This is important to avoid harsh and compressed sound. The Aavik crossover is designed to either drive a subwoofer very precisely or to drive a 2.1 home theater system with the integrated low and high pass filter. Alternatively, the Aavik analog crossover can also serve as an analog room correction control.
1. Excellent and absolutely precise subwoofer control
Since the crossover is analog there is no latency. The timing of the signal transmission to both the speakers and the subwoofer is absolutely precise. The result is an utmost pristine and authentic sound.
2. Control your home theater and 2.1 audio setup
Use the low-pass and high-pass filters to optimize the sound performance of each speaker. When the low frequencies are routed to the subwoofer, more power is delivered to the main speakers. To ensure an even volume of the speakers and the subwoofer, the gain of the high-pass and low-pass filters can be controlled separately.
3. Analog room correction – prevent “room boom”, the annoying pressure resonance
Room correction is about detecting and eliminating room resonances. The one specific resonance that creates an unpleasant and annoying sound is a pressure resonance that results from the given room size – subjectively, it is felt as a “boom” coming from the speakers. To eliminate this room-specific resonance, the Aavik 880 amplifiers can match their audio output to the room size. Both the low-pass and high-pass filters allow the listener to adjust the exact frequency response around those low frequencies that cause this annoying “boom” effect.
A study of materials and shapes
The exterior design of the Aavik 880 amplifier is the result of Flemming Erik Rasmussen’s artistic and aesthetic work. However, his design philosophy is and always has been that design must serve purpose.
The cabinet of the Aavik 880 amplifier was designed primarily with the goal of maintaining the best audio characteristics of the electrical design, i.e. the lowest inductance, reducing hysteresis to an absolute minimum, and ensuring excellent resonance control. In addition, since this was a Class A amplifier that was to be developed, there were some predefined premises for the design. With these goals in mind, the design process became a study of shapes and materials that opened up a unique and constructive synergy between Flemming Erik Rasmussen and Michael Børresen.
Based on Flemming Erik Rasmussen’s fascination with copper for its visual appearance and feel, and Michael Børresen’s insight into the sonic properties of copper, this material was chosen as a fundamental component of the design. As a result, the Aavik 880 amplifiers feature a solid copper enclosure. This results in a further reduction in hysteresis, lower output impedance, lower inductance, a positive effect on the damping factor, and cooler operation of the amplifier. All these components ensure that the music is reproduced with more energy and power.
In addition, the amplifier features cooling elements on the sides and top that clearly bear Flemming’s design signature. The volume button is covered with a rubber layer, and the control panel was designed as a large LCD touchscreen display.
The bottom plate is designed as a sandwich construction with a copper plate, a heavy compact laminate plate, and a titanium layer on the bottom. This unique sandwich construction ensures minimum resonance and supports a natural and organic sound.
The choice of materials, as well as the interior and exterior design, are the result of Fleming and Michael’s collaboration and are characterized by functionality, but also by a very aesthetic and elegant design.
Valuable exchange of knowledge and technology
Ansuz Tesla coil technology
When Aavik designs new audio equipment, one of the main tasks is always to eliminate as much unwanted noise as possible to provide uncompromising musical authenticity. This, of course, also applies to Aavik’s new 880 series. In pursuing this goal, Audio Group Denmark has learned that many technologically groundbreaking advances in product development of its three individual brands, Ansuz, Aavik and Børresen, can often be leveraged across brands. The knowledge and technology sharing that takes place between the three brands has proven to be extremely insightful and valuable. Therefore, Audio Group Denmark has integrated its most effective Tesla coil technologies from the most advanced products of their three brands into the Aavik 880 series. For example the active Tesla coil technology, which is by far the most effective Ansuz technology for noise reduction.
Tesla coil technology aims to remove as much unwanted noise as possible from any musical performance to ensure uncompromised musical authenticity. The principle of Tesla coil technology is based on two coils wound against each other: a coil and a counter coil. In Ansuz’s words, “a double inverted coil” – the two coils both carry voltage. When the Tesla coil encounters a voltage spike, a counter coil is activated to eliminate the noise. Since noise spikes are pure voltage and carry virtually no charge, cancellation is quite good, but still not 100%. However, when multiple P-TC coils are connected in parallel, their ability to cancel noise increases significantly, reducing the noise level to unprecedented levels. This significantly improves the perceived blackness of the music background.
Analog dither – 3rd generation
Analog dither technology originates from radar, where it provides a stronger signal and thus a much greater range. Active Tesla coils emit pulsating signals with precisely defined frequencies. These signals are sent in anti-phase. This significantly amplifies the music signal and eliminates background noise.
Many Ansuz audio products are equipped with this analog dither technology, as it has proven to be amazingly sound enhancing. Recently, Ansuz has introduced a 3rd generation of this Ansuz analog dither technology. An even more advanced and sophisticated version that reflects Ansuz’s recent research efforts to refine this technology by calibrating the pulsating frequencies even more accurately. The result is a musical authenticity articulated in a strikingly balanced and natural soundstage. Of course, the new Aavik 880 series also features this latest version of Ansuz’s analog dither technology.
Four Ansuz Darkz Z2S included
Each of the Aavik 880’s four feet is designed to accommodate an Ansuz Darkz resonance control device. Four Ansuz Darkz Z2s are therefore always included when you buy an Aavik 880 model. Ansuz Darkz resonance control devices absorb vibrations that are not directly related to the signal path. The absorption results in an audible vibration feedback, which affects the sound quality. Ansuz Darkz consist of 3 discs separated by 3 titanium interlayer balls. The Ansuz Darkz Z2S is unique due to the zirconium which is used in it. The resonance control from using zirconium results in an outstanding musical refinement. The Darkz Z2 Signature is further acoustically optimized with the exclusive Ansuz Signature coating on each disc. Finally, the interalyer balls are in Tungsten, which is a premium material in terms of stability and resonance control. The result is an amazing natural soundstage, unrivalled in its purity, precision, and attention to musical details.
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