Aavik 880 – Class A with a twist

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Aavik is expanding its range of amplifiers with the flagship Aavik 880 series, the company’s most innovative and sophisticated amplifier to date. The new series consists of the Aavik I-880 integrated amplifier, the C-880 control amplifier, and the P-880 power amplifier. The primary development goal of this series was to create a powerful non-switching pure Class A amplifier with the lowest possible output impedance that would contribute to better signal to noise, thus “improving speaker performance and resulting in a much more organic sound and more musicality”.

In mid-2021, Flemming Erik Rasmussen, founder and former owner of Gryphon Audio, became a full-time member of Audio Group Denmark’s design and development team. With more than 35 years of experience in creating and realizing “dreams” and his artistic passion for designing hi-fi equipment, he was the perfect fit for Aavik. This was the beginning of a dynamic, and productive collaboration between Michael Børresen’s with his innovative approach, and Flemming Erik Rasmussen’s artistic and aesthetic design touch. He and Michael Børresen embarked on designing and developing a new Aavik amplifier that would elevate the quality of musical authenticity into a new dimension. The result is the Aavik 880 amplifier flagship series.

The power amplifier
To avoid switching, Class A amplifiers typically apply a high constant current to the output devices. This approach is not only associated with high power consumption but also adversely affects sound quality. The traditional Class A power supply consists of a large transformer and large capacitor banks. This large transformer has two downsides. First, the many windings create undue induction, “which in turn means transient delay”. Second, these many windings create “stray capacitance, which cause high-frequency noise from the mains to enter the amplifier”. Michael Børresen and his team of engineers took on the challenge and found another way to prevent the power amplifier from switching over.

They designed a circuitry that constantly keeps the bias spread 0.63 V above the required current, no matter where it is in the cycle. So, no matter how much current the power amp requires, it always stays in Class A up to 200 W into 8 ohms, while at the same time not consuming unnecessary power.

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This significant reduction in the power requirements of the amplifier allowed Aavik to design the capacitors as smaller units and place them locally, each of the eight pairs of output transistors has its own capacitor bank right next to it. This means that the current does not have to flow through long wire harnesses and long circuit boards. The current is always directly at the output transistor, which means a shorter signal path and therefore less noise. In addition, this innovative Aavik design also means that the 880 amplifiers do not get as hot as conventional Class A amplifiers, resulting in higher efficiency.

The power supply for Aavik’s 880 series amplifiers is designed with Aavik’s resonant-mode power supplies, which ensure sufficient power resources with “extremely low noise. The noise floor in the raw power supply is extremely low, but is further reduced by the ultra-low noise regulators that power the various parts of the circuit. The smaller size of the power supply also means fewer windings and therefore less induction and lower transient delay, which has “a positive effect on the soundstage and musicality”.

Volume control
The Aavik 880 amplifier features a unique inverted amplifier topology with virtual ground for maximum stability. Feedback becomes so strong that the signal can be attenuated to a gain of less than 1. This maintains the full signal with the highest signal-to-noise ratio, whether the volume is turned up or down. This provides the speakers with a clear and distinct flow of information, making even the subtlest nuances of timbre and texture audible against an extremely quiet soundstage.The optical LDR (light dependent resistor) volume control is extremely quiet thanks to its switchless principle. This significantly reduces the noise floor and ensures a natural sound without suppressing subtle details.

The control section has separate power supply in the Aavik 880 amplifier to ensure sufficient power resources with extremely low noise. The result is more control and seemingly unlimited dynamic headroom. When more power is needed, the operating frequency increases, which in turn has the advantage of also increasing power density, allowing for higher peak power when the music demands it.

Analogue crossover
The I-880 includes an  analogue crossover to ensure precise timing when routing signals to either a subwoofer or a 2.1 channel home theater system with the integrated low and high pass filters. Alternatively, the Aavik crossover can also serve as an analogue room correction control.

The Aavik I-880 is available now for $70, 000/€67.000. The Aavik C-880 preamp and P- 880 power amp are expected to be available in January 2023.

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