Bluenote S-1 Amplifier

You will unlikely meet the equipment of the Italian Bluenote in a large electronic supermarket as it is produced in very modest quantities. So, today we have the true hand-built exclusive. It is heavy, strong, with thick front panel and turned knobs.

Bluenote S-1, made on the basis of Steroid amplifier, is very simple functionally. This amp has turn on/off knob, mechanic selector for six sources, ALPS volume control with electric drive. The set includes the unusual remote control (in the shape of aluminum puck) with two knobs - "volume up and down".

The sound path is also minimal, although the engineers from Florence took a non-typical approach. First, the amp is made by the "double mono" principle. Secondly, there are no active or passive filters in a signal path. Third, input cascades of Bluenote S-1 work in Super-Class A. This innovation, patented under the trademark Mirror-Amp, allows increasing the linearity of amplification and decreasing distortion. Its essence lies in the use of double differential amplification scheme. Two very massive (unlike their output power) transformers of strange design are installed in S-1. And the last important nuance: the amp's circuits even don't have protection systems except thermal. If a big milled heat sink inside the body warms up to 80 degrees, the amp will turn off. To avoid output short circuit or input overloading you should see after it by yourself. Bluenote assumes that this makes sense - if you introduce protection elements, the sound won't be as pure as in S-1.

The Italian is beyond compare to competitors by transfer quality of atmosphere. It turns out to be so detailed and natural that the listener feels not the presence effect, but something more - the absence effect of a listening room. Let me explain. When you listen to chamber or symphonic music through S-1, there is a sudden desire to look to the side, from which some rustles are heard. It happens so only at live concert, in hall with other listeners, who sometimes distract from music by their fuss. "Visualization" of sound stage impresses very much. Although each source slightly lacks materiality (especially with low specter), it is scary to listen to the amp even with closed eyes: stereo space is built very legibly, has visible echeloning and clear localization.

The main upper range of Bluenote S-1 is played with cool tint, the middle is strict, bass seems to be a bit mushy. Emotionality and virtuosity in sound are literally naked.

We have claims to the Italian amplifier as well. Attack of drums is slightly blurred, dynamics of playback is enough only in that part where raw power is not required, damping of bass is weakened. But all these flaws are more than outweighed by the advantages.

Bluenote S-1 Amplifier photo