Cuttin-Edge, On-the-Spot Reporting

Have You Seen?


Today the SoundStage! crew made a jaunt over to Audio Video Show’s main location, PGE Narodowy. It’s Warsaw’s national stadium, and this weekend it’s hosting a bevy of the world’s best-known audio and home-theater brands. I saw a lot there today—keep an eye out for more—but one of the highlights was Norwegian electronics manufacturer Electrocompaniet.


Though officially announced earlier this week, the Electrocompaniet AW 300 M monoblock power amplifier made its in-person debut at Audio Video Show. The room that Hi-Fi Club, Electrocompaniet’s Polish distributor, had put together was nothing short of stunning. In addition to the AW 300 M (zł54,400, all prices in Polish zlotys), the stack had Electrocompaniet’s reference preamp, the EC 4.8 MKII (zł18,800), and the ECM 1 MKII DAC/streamer (zł19,400). The EMC 1 MKV SE Reference CD player (zł25,800) was at the top of the rack, but only the ECM 1 MKII was playing while I visited the room.

The AW 300 M monoblocks were the main attraction, but what’s an amplifier without a speaker to drive? The folks at Hi-Fi Club brought a pair of Cygnus loudspeakers by US-based Rockport Technologies (zł428,000 per pair). This showstopper of a loudspeaker was reviewed several years back by former SoundStage! Ultra senior editor Jeff Fritz. An aluminum/MDF hybrid cabinet, carbon-fiber composite drivers, a beryllium tweeter fitted in a custom waveguide—you’d expect a pair of Cygnus speakers to sound great, and you’d be dead right.


The AW 300 M features a direct-coupled design with high-speed amplifier stages to get a very high slew rate and wide bandwidth. Additionally, its circuit design involves a trick technique that isolates the output stage from the input and driver stages, simplifying the feedback circuit and preventing issues at the output from influencing earlier amplification stages. The amplifier features a large toroidal transformer and 110,000µF of power-supply capacitance. Electrocompaniet says the AW 300 M delivers 300W into 8 ohms and then doubles down to 600W into 4 ohms—and then nearly doubles once again to 1000W into 2 ohms. Plus, the Norwegian company claims a truly cutting-edge THD+N figure of just 0.0006%. A pair of these things ought to have enough horsepower on reserve to crank nearly any speaker to uncomfortable levels and remain totally unperturbed.

And they do. The AW 300 Ms in that room drove the big Rockports with the graceful punch of the proverbial iron fist in a velvet glove. A stunningly deep and wide soundstage begot sonic images of credible size and weight, along with tight, deep, slamming bass. High frequencies were precise but delicate, and the midrange was just tidy clean. In other words, the system sounded stellar, and it did a wonderful job of displaying the AW 300 Ms at work.

Did I mention that the amplifier looks fantastic? At this level and price class, one expects diamond-cut precision, but the Norwegians delivered, and then some.

With the brand new, fantastically upper-echelon Electrocompaniet amplifier, Hi-Fi Club’s room sounded stunning. But the AW 300 M was just one of a metric barge-load (technical term, look it up) of noteworthy hi-fi components presented at PGE Narodowy. We’ll have more for you to ogle in the very near future.

Matt Bonaccio
Contributor, SoundStage!