Audio Mirror’s “REFLECTION” monoblocks deliver a very healthy 45 Watts per channel and offer the potential to be a fusion of visual elegance and auditory excellence. At their heart are the fairly unusual 6C33C power tubes. The 6C33C is a high-power, triode vacuum tube renowned for its robust design and audio performance. Originating from Russia, it features a unique construction with a graphite anode and is capable of delivering substantial power output. The tube isn’t really that common in audio amplifier applications, the only well-known tube amp manufacturer that springs to mind who has used this tube in their designs is BAT, though I’m sure there are others. (If you happen to own and operate a MiG fighter jet, then it’s likely you’re familiar with this tube as it’s an integral component in your radar scope.)
The 6C33C’s distinctive characteristics include low internal resistance, making it suitable for direct coupling in audio circuits, and its ability to handle high voltages. The 6C33C’s design contributes to its reputation for producing warm, dynamic, and detailed sound in audio amplifier circuits.
The Audio Mirror’s REFLECTION monoblocks adhere to a triode design, featuring DC-coupled input and driver stages, and employ a distinctive biasing methodology. Paraphrasing from the Audio Mirror website: This meticulous engineering yields a sound characterized by remarkable dynamism, finely controlled bass, rapid transients, and robust dynamic power, peaking at 100 watts without clipping. (According to the manufacturer, Audio Mirror – link to website)
Signal transmission in the Audio Mirror’s REFLECTION monoblocks is facilitated by point-to-point silver wire, complemented by high-end capacitors, resistors, and custom wound output transformers. Company owner and product designer Vladimir Bazelkov (Vlad, to his friends), says these amplifiers derive their greatness from exhaustive critical listening sessions, resulting in nuanced adjustments to deliver a warm, lively sound that defies specification descriptions. While technical specifications offer insights into certain characteristics, subjective attributes such as warmth, airiness, and liveliness can only be fully appreciated through auditory perception.
The Audio Mirror’s REFLECTION monoblocks are designed for speakers with a sensitivity of 88dB and above, the monoblocks can function successfully with less efficient speakers, but for optimal performance at higher volumes, speakers with 89dB sensitivity or higher are recommended. According to the manufacturer, a recent redesign of the output transformers has significantly enhanced detail and tonality, yielding improvements in low-end articulation, clearer highs, and refined midrange and vocals. (The Reflection monoblocks are currently listed as a ‘Legacy Product’ on the Audio Mirror website, and Vlad tells me that he is working on a new version of the amp.)
The amps are self-biasing and the utilization of 6C33C Russian tubes contributes to the powerful and superior sound, albeit with occasional quality control challenges. To address this, built-in protection mechanisms monitor the output tubes for over-biasing, overvoltage, arcing, and overdriving, automatically shutting down the high tension (HT) in the event of problems, and providing for a visual indication of the faulty tube.
Constructed from stainless steel, the monoblocks exhibit a striking visual aesthetic, as you can see in the photos below.
The Audio Mirror’s REFLECTION monoblock Specifications
|45 watts per channel at 8 ohms
|90db S/N ratio
|0.8% T.H.D. at 45W
|input signal 1v/47kohm
|optional balanced input
|dimensions 9x18x9 inches
I purchased these with the intent of bringing them in for review and then using them in my second or third system. The ‘second system’ is presently a bust. I’ve had a pair of Emerald Physics CS2P speakers for many months that have required new drivers, and they were set to be at the heart of system two. About a week ago I replaced the blown woofers with brand new units and the speakers play, but with some HF distortion. I haven’t gotten to the source of that issue yet, as I’ve too much on my plate with various projects.
So the second system is on hold for now, but I’ll continue to work on the Audio Mirror amps and report on progress here, regardless.
Both monoblocks powered up fine when I tested them briefly before purchasing, and they seemed to play OK though with some very audible hiss through the speakers. They appeared to have been stored for some time in a dusty basement, as they needed a thorough cleaning, inside and out.
Getting them home I pulled the 6SN7 and 6SL7 tubes and tested them on the B&K 700, and both tested well below functional specs. So the first order of business was to replace those. I went to Early Bender at HiFi Town for replacements, as Early is a very knowledgeable guy when it comes to anything to do with tubes and vintage gear, so a big shout out to Early, whose Website can be found here. He fixed me up with some nice vintage tubes that test well and should hopefully last a long time.
The amps came with a dozen of the 6C33C tubes, condition unknown. Testing these isn’t possible with my B&K 700, in fact, there aren’t really any stock testers that will test these as they need to be tested. Even the Amplitrex AT1000 tester isn’t able to test this tube up to its rated limits. To test these properly with a view to establishing their operating life and for matching purposes, it seems the only way is to set up a manual test rig with a variable HV power supply for biasing, a Multimeter to measure plate current, and a variable DC/AC power supply for the B+. There’s a useful video I found on YouTube, that walks you through the process https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6sO3kXFpZWg
Since Vlad at Audio Mirror has designed these amps with belt and braces safety, to protect the amps from being damaged by out-of-spec tubes, I’m tempted to just insert the 4 tubes I know to be working, and see what shakes out. What’s the worst that could happen?
More to follow.
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