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Accessorizers should wonder why Patrick Tang decided on bamboo and slate-grey trim for his subwoofer. Clearly, the new speakers' lacquers are meant to match the amp glosses. That leaves the sub the odd man out. And instead of a honey oak color to mimic the bamboo tone as in the previous photos, the natural Voice Ones as delivered sported a reddish mahogany stain to boot.


Patrick explained that he will offer two wood finishes. One will be natural, i.e. a quasi beech-type color. This shows up the imperfections in the recycled materials more but also more closely matches the subwoofer. The darker stain on my loaners shows imperfections rather less. The choice is yours.


The speaker grill with integral trim ring mounts magnetically. It can be replaced very easily with the included spare trim rings for those who prefer to go nude and want to see the driver unprotected [below].

A visually distinguishing feature of the 2009 Amp One is the second switch on the back end of its right cheek. That switch defeats the backlit rainbow ring around the volume control which otherwise cycles through six colors every few seconds.


As a USB/RCA 2-input integrated, the absence of a source selector indicates auto sensing. With a USB cable plugged in, the amp automatically defaults to that input even if there's no signal. If you're doggedly feeding signal to the RCAs and wonder why you hear nothing, unplug the USB cable and presto. It's a somewhat half-hearted implementation of signal sensing that could frustrate more than a few.


"Originally intended as an auxiliary or bedroom/office system, the thinking was that folks would probably run one or the other input, switching infrequently. But now we find that more and more customers are using the Glow as their main system despite the limited input options. We hope to address this in the Amp Two by providing more versatile input options."
To run the Sub One off the Amp One means speaker level since there's no line-level output on the integrated. The only way to go RCA into the sub would be Y'd out of a variable source but in this price segment, such a source is highly unlikely.

No, the intended way to add the sub is speaker level. Because real estate on the business end of the Amp One is at a premium, you'll want a banana/spade combo. Shot-gun biwire works too. To banana the sub, simply pull out the EU-approved stoppers from its binding posts.


Incidentally, I'm suspicious that the Z-coupler on the sub's high-level inputs unnecessarily shelves down the signal. For its rated 95dB sensitivity, I was surprised that I had to advance the sub's level control to about 1:00 o'clock to get proper output. Unless its volume taper is very shallow and/or the sensitivity spec way off, the subwoofer should come 'on song' a lot sooner (but I've encountered unexpected discrepancies between line- and speaker-level feeds in subwoofers before where the line input produced a lot more output).


For desk-top duty, the Voice One's tripod footer system is smartly conceived but poorly executed. As is, the speaker fires straight ahead instead of upwards. This puts the phase plug tip about four inches above the table top, i.e. far too low. Instead of aiming at your ears, it aims at your - ahem, nipples. Without dedicated tweeters, that's no audiophile turn-on. Off axis, the treble clearly diminishes. What's needed are rather longer front footers to build in the requisite rake. So I flipped over my usual Ikea plant ware right-side up and nested the Voice One in the openings. Perfect.


"While we are developing floor-based speaker stands to be made here in the USA, we have not developed a stand that specifically addresses the desktop issue you mention other than some preliminary notions. Food for thought. The enclosures by the way sound much better than the single-piece smooth interior versions we tried. Based on the comparisons we've done, we really think the faceted interior is responsible for the clean, fast and open sound.


"The headphone socket now is better quality and made from stronger material to assure a more precise fit. Also, the circuit has been improved so that the headphone output has a more useful range to mate better with a wider variety of headphones. The DAC is the same C-Media unit as in the '08 version. We prefer it to most other converters in our price range, better even than the 24-bit varieties we have tried. What happened last time is that we identified a stability or grounding issue with the pre-production DAC circuit even though it sounded great. And in fixing that, the engineers inadvertently compromised the DAC's performance on the production version. It just did not sound as transparent as it should have - not terrible but certainly not as good as the pre-production version I auditioned at length. Our QC guys were focusing on the stability and grounding issue and having addressed that, missed the subtle change in performance the fix caused. For the '09 version, we went back to the drawing board and the circuit was redesigned. A fairly simple fix, the DAC now has a more natural, transparent sound that we think is the equal of any outboard DAC in the <$200 bracket."


To not disfigure the face with a hole, the headphone port remains on the left check right behind the fascia where it is still easily reached from the front.


For headphone listening, the Amp One automatically mutes its other outputs as soon as it senses the 1/4" socket occupied. Unlike with the USB slot, you needn't disconnect anything.


As the interior subwoofer photo above showed, the cavity is lined with wadding and the passive radiator has a metal weight glued to the backside of its flat membrane to assist self-damping.


Unlike the 110/220V slider on the amp's belly, conversion for the sub from the pre-set US voltage requires pulling out its mains fuse
holder next to the IEC, then reinserting it 180 degrees rotated. Should you relocate, be sure to not fire up the amp or subwoofer before 'converting' them to the proper new voltage. This is a super feature to have. Just don't forget it.