Purism lifted its fussy little head during power on/off.
After ramping up with the rear-mounted mains, the fat donut irons allowed themselves a bit of hum. This quickly reduces and levels out to where only ear on cover would hear anything. Powering off elicited a saucy plop, presumably because our gents in France’s south dislike muting relays for sonic reasons. One is advised to engage standby by remote. The turn-off fart can be bypassed altogether with a toggle between the binding posts if triggered before one hits the power mains. Of course you better remember to switch that back for the next session. Or start a long frantic hunt for why there’s no sound when everything seems peachy. Don’t ask how I know. Entirely anti puritanical is the subject of volume. The Maverick’s creator not only finds an attenuator sonically harmless but downright useful -  if implemented properly. Highs and lows can be separately adjusted as tone controls via remote just as can overall level, switching between the four inputs and standby and mute. Meanwhile a balance control is MIA.


After having friended our deck’s general features and its remote in particular, it was time to take its sonic measure. For that I kicked off with Lali Puna’s Faking the Books. This outstandingly variegated dynamic electro pop from Korea's songstress/keyboardist Valerie Trebeljahr woke up my Geithhain ME 150 speakers with such gusto that a wide grin syndicated itself for a rerun. Boring is one thing the La Rosita amp surely ain’t. Pedal to the metal, breaks are for sissies. The world is one curve, buckle up and carve it. At least that was my first impression. The basses of "Small Things" careened full of energy and speed through the room. This crackled with control and vigor. That was proper bass but – hadn’t I heard it go lower before? And with a whiff more blackness? Yes on both counts. Or so said my Musical Fidelity AMS 35i which additionally mines about another half octave of reach. How so? I think that the La Rosita’s reins are exceptionally tight to perhaps overdamp the Geithain just a tad. Those are fine on a leash more generous. As a result, the very low bass on "Samba Saravah" from Stacey Kent’s Dreamer in Concert was barely intuited over the Maverick yet still properly growling with the Musical Fidelity.


But all iron-firsted control the La Rosita wasn’t in the bass. For that there was far too much speed and bouncy swing, simply a bit slimmer textures than with the Brit. Since I had the opportunity, I swapped out the Geithains for a pair of Diapason Adamantes in on assignment. This reshuffled the deck. Driven by the Maverick, the Italians actually competed on reach and precision with the Musical Fidelity/Geithain combo. This was likely down to the interaction between amp and boxes. To me the low rumble on "Samba Saravah" seems to occur right at the Geithains’ port tuning frequency. That means crazy impedance swings in typical saddle response. The Diapason probably made for better work conditions. Which tells us two things. One, Austria’s Romeo Barisic whose firm handles La Rosita’s German market was spot on when he said that the Maverick likes speakers which like valves, i.e. a flatter more high-ohm impedance. Two, the interface of amp to speaker remains as important as it ever was.

Once my attention departed the lowest reach of the speakers, the Maverick Mk2 kicked fully into its cracking character. Here I noticed how the French amp seemed to ‘model’ the acoustic radiation differently. This is a bit tough to describe. Where the MF portrayed low tones as waves propagating from the speakers, with the La Rosita the same range seemed like more of a sphere which expanded into the room from between the boxes. Regardless, this bass had clear personality and one I could really get used or addicted to. With such whip-like control yet still proper bounce, I’d willingly give up that last iota of blackness.


Because they’re familiar work horses, for the following I stuck with the Geithain. The lower midrange is obviously vital for voices. To suss out this band, I thus cued up a long vocal playlist. The first thing I noted was how precisely resolved it got for detail and dynamics. The Maverick tracked the smallest voltage gradations of fine inflections to even better the Musical Fidelity which is already quite strong there. By contrast, the MF illustrated how on tone colour the La Rosita held back just a bit. This meant that depending on singer, I’d gravitate toward one or the other amp. For Feist’s The Reminder, the Maverick was the clear favourite.  It teased out the spry voice with such intensity that the song really went under my skin. Combined with the unbelievably wiry bass just to remind us, this was truly something. Meanwhile Gregory Porter’s more sonorous subtly timbre-shifted vocalizing on Liquid Spirit profited more from the richer color palette of the class A muscle amp. On Lucinda Williams’ World Without Tears, I couldn’t decide. On the more bluesy numbers the AMS 35i had my vote, on the rockier ones the Maverick. Even in this price class you won’t get everything.