Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Sources: 27" iMac with 5K Retina display, 4GHz quad-core engine with 4.4GHz turbo boost, 3TB Fusion Drive, 32GB SDRAM, OSX Yosemite, PureMusic 3.01, Tidal & Qobuz lossless streaming, COS Engineering D1, AURALiC Vega, Aqua Hifi Formula, Fore Audio DAISy 1, Apple iPod Classic 160GB (AIFF), Astell& Kern AK100 modified by Red Wine Audio, Cambridge Audio iD100, Pro-Ject Dock Box S Digital, Pure i20, Questyle QP1R, Soundaware D100 Pro Deluxe, LessLoss Echo's End Reference [on review]
Preamplifier: Nagra Jazz, Esoteric C-03, Vinnie Rossi LIO (AVC module), COS Engineering D1, Wyred4Sound STP-SE II, Nagra Classic [on review]
Power & integrated amplifiers: Pass Labs XA30.8; FirstWatt SIT1, F5, F6, F7; Crayon Audio CFA-1.2; Goldmund Job 225; Aura Note Premier; Wyred4Sound mINT; Nord Acoustics UP SE NC500MB; LinnenberG Audio Allegro monos; LinnenberG Audio Liszt monos [on review]; Pass Labs XA25 [on review]
Loudspeakers: Audio Physic Codex; EnigmAcoustics Mythology 1; Boenicke Audio W5se; Zu Audio Druid V & Submission; German Physiks HRS-120; Eversound Essence
Cables: Complete loom of Zu Event; KingRex uArt, Zu and LightHarmonic LightSpeed double-header USB cables; Tombo Trøn S/PDIF; van den Hul AES/EBU; AudioQuest Diamond glass-fibre Toslink; Black Cat Cable redlevel Lupo; Ocellia OCC Silver; Titan Audio Eros cords
Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all components, 5m cords to amp/s + sub
Equipment rack: Artesania Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Exoteryc Krion and glass amp stands [on loan]
Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators
Room: 4 x 6m with high gabled beam ceiling opening into 4 x 8m kitchen and 5 x 8m living room, hence no wall behind the listening chairs
Review component retail in UK: £22'000/pr [incl. VAT]

The Audio Valve Baldur 300 monos first launched in 2005. Why review 'em 13 years after? Because, after my review of his Assistent 50 integrated, designer Helmut Becker asked me to. The note came via Mark Cargill, his busy UK importer in Scotland. He had dispatched the first loaner. So would these arrive, formally preconditioned. The same email inquiry had included the word "new". Presumably these Baldurs were revised from the originals born so many moons ago. In Viking mythology, Baldur was Odin's second son by Frigg. He was much beloved and known as the fairest and handsomest of their kind. He was killed by Loki's poisoned arrow but is believed to come back after Ragnarök, their end of the world.

In Audio Valve mythology, the Baldur 300 are their most powerful triode mono amplifiers. If we apply 1% THD as our reference, the name's number overshoots nominal 8Ω power by 60. Then max mono output is a still boffo 240 watts generated by 10 x 6AS7G twin triodes. That rating drops to 100 watts at 0.3% THD and 10 watts at 0.15% total harmonic distortion. S/NR is billed as a low 84dB, gain a high 30dB. Bandwidth is 10Hz-60kHz. The XLR input is openly described as fake, i.e. a pure convenience feature.

With dimensions of 49x52x43cm WxDxH and weighing in at a stout 55kg/ea., these were hulking amps which would travel palletized for extra transit protection. Was this then their second coming? Had Ragnarök come and gone without notice? Even the Mayan calender had been misinterpreted. Off went an email to Helmut for the lowdown on the 2018 incarnation. As an obvious statement effort, I was sure he'd have little to keep on the down low, especially on his famous precision auto bias. Similar to PrimaLuna, it controls each tube individually. Here that means ten discretely regulated circuits per channel [one of ten associated opamps at right].

Of course I needed no confirmation from the designer to appreciate that these were fiendishly powerful and big triode amps. Frog marching them over to their amp stands took a bit of doing. And they barely fit as shown next, making the central Pass Labs XA-30.8 look positively petite.

The light show on the front displays of my loaners mirrored international traffic light conventions: red logo and name for standby, green for go.