Californian creator of very-high-performance audio, Aesthetix, has crafted its first integrated amplifier. “For years, our customers begged us to combine our Calypso linestage and Atlas power amplifier,” says chief engineer and company head, Jim White. “We listened, and got to work.” Four years in development, the Mimas integrated amplifier is now available to audiophiles and music lovers in the UK.
Aesthetix’ new Mimas integrated amplifier was conceived to bridge the gap between ultra high-end separates and mass market components, and is intended for high performance audio and home cinema systems. Capable of 150W into 8 ohms, and nearly double that into 4 ohms, it is a hybrid design with a valve input stage and a solid-state output stage.
The preamplifier section uses one 6DJ8 (6922) valve per channel in a fully differential, balanced configuration. Borrowing from Aesthetix’ award-winning Calypso preamplifier, it features Roederstein plate load resistors from Germany, Reliable Capacitor coupling capacitors from California, and a discrete solid-state current source. Valves are burned in for more than 100 hours before Aesthetix’ rigorous testing procedure, which includes full FFT distortion analysis, gain matching to within 0.1dB, microphonics and noise levels.
The Mimas also features the same volume control as used in the Calypso. It consists of 88 1dB steps, using individual switched 1% metal film resistors. “The volume control is one of the most difficult design challenges of a preamplifier,” explains White. “As a result, many designs fall back on compromises.” Some rely on potentiometers, which have the unfortunate side-effect of a loss of musical detail, while others use inexpensive integrated circuit-based volume controls which tend to give a harshness and glare to the sound. The Aesthetix volume control avoids these pitfalls. It’s costly for sure, but absolutely worth it,” says White.
Power amplification borrows from the output section of Aesthetix’ mighty Atlas amplifier, another award-winning design. The Mimas’ power output section is a fully discrete (no integrated circuits), fully differential, zero-feedback, DC-coupled, balanced bridge output design, operating in Class AB. Aesthetix painstakingly matches individual FET input devices to ensure channel matching, linearity and stability when driving any speaker load.
A key part of the renowned Aesthetix sound is the company’s devotion to overbuilt, advanced technology power supplies. The Mimas incorporates seven fully regulated power supplies, in which the 800VA power transformer is designed and manufactured completely in-house by Aesthetix.
Despite its seemingly simple design, the Mimas sports a wide array of features, albeit based on a singular Aesthetix condition: “We take a no-compromise approach to features,” says White. “A feature is only included if it will not impede performance in any way.”
There are five line-level analogue inputs, each of which can be used as either single-ended or balanced, plus the option of adding a fully discrete, FET-based, MM / MC phono input card with variable gain options, and/or a DAC card (with two coaxial and two optical SPDIF inputs, plus a USB input capable of 24/384 PCM, DSD and DSD2 operation). Each analogue input can be defined as a home theatre bypass input, allowing easy incorporation into a more complex theatre system while maintaining pure two-channel sound quality.
In addition, the Mimas’ fully balanced, actively buffered preamplifier output can be used to drive a subwoofer or a separate power amplifier.
The Mimas comes with a standard headphone output of 1/3 watt into 32 ohms, which can be optionally upgraded to a fully discrete 1-watt-into-32-ohm amplifier, with Mogami headphone wiring.
For decades Aesthetix has been renowned for valve-laden, multi-chassis amplifiers of the highest quality that deliver a bewitchingly natural sound. Now, with the introduction of the Mimas, that natural beauty can be enjoyed by a whole new audience requiring simple flexible operation in one neat, affordable and user-friendly integrated amp.