Block Audio: A Chance Encounter!
Of the many hundreds of eye catching electronics on display at Munich’s annual High End show, one component captured my attention more than most (by that, I mean a product that had me returning each day for another look and listen). That product was the new high-end electronics manufacturer Block Audio of the Czech Republic. In my Munich High End 2017 report, I took photos of their Line (battery powered) preamp and Power Block mono amplifiers (here photos below), which unfortunately was only on static display. I wouldn’t hesitate to take a large wager, based solely on their appearance and build quality, that they’re going to be in a few rooms at this year’s High End.
Massively built heatsinks adorn the sides of these 200 lbs Power Block pure-Class A mono amplifiers. The powder-grey and low-profiled Line preamplifier (equipped with its separate battery-powered power-supply), also had captured much attention due to its user menu and slick LED interface. Each Power Block amplifier is capable of 200 watts per chassis compliments of eight high-grade capacitors and a specially-made 2,500 VA toroidal transformer. The Power Block boasts zero caps in its signal path to insure signal purity.The Line preamplifier is built on the same mono circuitry as the amplifiers in that each channel is totally separated. So much in fact, that each channel requires its own AC power cord – including its external battery power supply!
Since the company only launched back in 2013, pardon the pun, they’re considered the new kids on the block. In the vast and mostly confusing world of high end audio, the last thing this hobby needs is another big amplifier. Yet, there was something special in this design that left an indelible mark long after I left Munich. So much in fact, that I got in touch with Michal Sevcik, Sales and Acqusitions Director and mentioned my enthusiam particularly, because I had never actually heard what they sound like. I wanted to know if he had any dealers and whether the product had made it into the United States. Fortunately for me, I was informed the company’s US importer was located only a few miles away from my NJ home in Staten Island, NY.
Velery Savchenko is owner and operator of Golden Audio Illusion Inc., while he also serves as a local dealer for Esoteric, Marantz, Parasound, KEF Audio, JL Audio, Anthem and Triangle loudspeakers just to name but a few. When I reached out to Savchenko about the possibility to review the Block Audio electronics, he invited over for a listen due to the fact that these 200 lbs behemoths are just too damn heavy to move, much less attempt to get up two flights of stairs into my listening room. There was not much argument out of me! I made a date to visit instead. Personally, since I rarely visit Staten Island, I was surprised by how fast I was able to reach Savchenko’s posh Staten Island home. Located only a few hundred yards off the frozen NYC bay, Savchenko’s home was also left mostly under water as a result of hit of Hurricane Sandy. Totally rebuilt from the ground up only a few years ago, the Savenchenko home has a new feel and an attractive Mediterranean look that is important since it also serves as his up and coming audio business.
Valery Savchenko as well as his pet sheepdog greeted me with a firm handshake and a bark, then welcomed into in his dedicated listening room.
One of the things that impressed me most even before I sat to listen – was how quiet his listening room was compliments of room GIK Acoustics room treatments I presumed. Savchenko agreed wholeheartedly. The other thing I noticed was his choice of electronics. Nothing I’ve seen at any dealer here in the NYC area. No Magico. No Wison. No Soulution. Something refreshingly different, mostly unknown in these parts and intriguing. In addition, they arrived from all over Europe i.e., Rockna digital of Romania, Triangle Audio of France, Siltech cables of the Netherlands and Block Audio of the Czech Republic. Of course I was impressed. I was actually going to hear some high-end audio products that I hadn’t heard before.
Amazingly, this is what I experienced here. The Triangle Grand Concert loudspeakers are hard to hide due to their size, bright color and appearance. Yet, disappear is exactly what they did. I’ve heard them before and never really came away impressed. To me, Triangle either sounded like a good budget loudspeaker but nothing of reference calibre. Not the Grand Concerts wired exclusively with Siltech cables and strapped to a pair of Block Audio Power Block mono amplifiers. I believe these are the best Triangle manufactures and I heard it immediately through their well-focused and relaxed yet live sounding presentation. When I asked their price, Savchenko said “about $70k!” I thought to myself, “how affordable considering their size and quality of performance.” Of course, my mind went immediately over to the Block Audio electronics and wondered how much they were contributing? Interestingly enough, there really wasn’t any particular sound this system conveyed. Which I think is a perfect illustration of what a system should perform like. Every product I pursued had one job: to sound as neutrel as possible. And that’s what I detected here. Voices were visceral, yet life-like with that in-the-room level of transparency. Instruments had a feel and vibrancy to them with an added measure of authenticity I seldom run across in audio salons. If the Block Audio Line preamp is doing its job running in full battery-power mode, then it contributing greatly when it comes to removing AC contaminants.
Was the system perfect? No! What system is?
There was the big screen between the loudspeakers that I felt slightly exaggerated the high frequencies on certain recordings. As good as those room treatments were, they couldn’t completely tame that one area. Bass, though excellent wasn’t as extended as what I get at home. Soundstage was excellent, yet the sense of depth could have been improved due to speaker proximity to the front wall and the sitting position. But that’s picking nits and in the final analysis, this system performed way beyond what I expected. I actually congratulated Savchenko and said “wow, you’ve really got something special here.” As good as his electronics sounded, nothing betters a good selection of music and Savchenko’s music library impressed me as much as his system did!
I could immediately tell that Valery Savchenko knew what he had when he chose the Block Audio electronics as his source of amplification. I left his home about 2 hours later more impressed than I had anticipated considering I didn’t know what to expect. Block Audio, to me, sounds like the real deal. At nearly $80k for the system, it is far from affordable. But when you’re in the business of finding that consumate design you can retire with, then you too should give the Block Audio a listen. I did and came away very, very impressed. My goal is to get back there with the gang. I am certain they’re going to be as impressed by music and all these uncommon high-end components. If you happen to live in the Tri-state area, and looking for that most unusual state of the art performance, you too should visit Golden Audio Illusion Inc.
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