Entotem are a UK based company that burst onto the audio scene at last year’s Bristol Show with Plato, a product that will not only stream your music and video but will also automatically digitize your vinyl for you. Ian Ringstead reviewed it for Hifi Pig and loved it but the company haven’t rested on their laurels and have continued to innovate and introduce new products. At this years High End Show they had the original Plato, Plato Lite and Plato Pre on show. As well as the new Plato they’ve improved and developed the app, introduced Hi Res Audio download service and also introduced a Class A amplifier to their range of products. Hifi Pig caught up with Andy Hughes from Entotem at their very busy stand at High End.

Hifi Pig: It’s been a whirlwind year I suspect for Entotem with you making your debut appearance here at Munich only last year. How is the buying public reacting to Plato? 

Andy Hughes: General feedback is very positive. Coming back for our second year makes a huge difference, as people are taking us more seriously now. The product is more mature, and we are better known, so have to spend less time telling everyone who we are.

Obviously the press have supported us well and we have some excellent reviews out there, as well as some high profile awards – including the latest Eins Null award given at the show.  

Hifi Pig: Audiophiles are a funny lot at times and can be resistant to new concepts such as digitizing vinyl, how have you overcome some of their objections, if there have been any?

Andy Hughes: The easiest way to counter objections is to demo the unit. Generally people are amazed when the see the product in action, especially the automatic recording. Once we explain just how much Plato can do, and demonstrate how easy it is to use the penny drops.

The concept of Plato is to bring together old and new worlds, we have built in a very good phono stage so we are not suggesting people stop playing records, just trying to provide a more convenient way of maximising the investment. Once we explain what is possible, it all starts to make sense. Entotem_high_end_munich_2016_2

The high level of integration raises a few eyebrows, and sometimes leads to pre-conceptions about audio performance in particular. But we have spent a great deal of effort producing a genuine HiFi product. We were very honoured to be approached by AvantGarde Acoustics at Munich who needed a new DAC to use in their demo system at Munich. In this case we had to find a quick solution so took an optical output from a PC holding their music library. This played through our DAC, out of our pre-amp outputs, which was then feed into their pre-power system. The sound was fantastic, and the guys at Avantgarde were very happy continuing to use Plato for the rest of the show. 

Hifi Pig: Plato isn’t just about digitizing vinyl, what else can it do and why should I consider one? 

Andy Hughes: As I have hinted above Plato is a lot more than a vinyl recording system, albeit a very good one! The core concept was to provide a high performance, fully integrated solution which combines legacy analogue sources, with the convenience of modern network streaming.Entotem_plato_munich_high_end_2016_1

So briefly, Plato can act as a full media server, digital streaming device, analogue amplifier, and recording device..! Of course all this is controlled using an intuitive Android or iOS app which my wife is as happy to use as my teenage daughter..! Plato’s ability to store and stream video also helps keep the teenagers happy…

Hifi Pig: You have launched a trimmed down version of Plato. Tell Hifi Pig readers about this concept. 

Andy Hughes: We find some customer out there who are very interested in the recording or streaming aspects of Plato, but have already invested heavily in power amplifiers and phono stages, and broadly speaking have a sound they are happy with. Plato-Lite is a perfect solution for them. We build Plato on a highly modular platform which means we are able to tailor the system at different price-points to satisfy different requirements from different customers.

The current Plato range consists of 3 products: full Plato, Plato-Pre and Plato-Lite

Plato-Pre comes without the power amplifier module, but with fully loaded pre-amplifier. Plato-Lite simplifies the pre-amplifier, removing the phono stage, and the direct analogue path (analogue inputs go through AD-DA conversion before analogue output) for the lowest cost entry point.

We are also offering different finishes – Satin and high gloss, to broaden the range of price points, and broaden the appeal.

Hifi Pig: You have a Class A amp out. Tell us about this and why you chose to go this route. 

Andy Hughes: I agree a Class A design looks like a very odd choice in today’s world of high power Class D amplifier designs, particularly given the small form factor…

Our current Plato amplifier is biased in class B mode. We did some quick Friday afternoon experiments rebiasing the existing design into Class A mode and were amazed by the results, but also ran into some difficulties with heat as you can imagine. However this was enough to show what could be possible.

The whole amplifier design was re-evaluated and enhanced with cleaner signal paths and core component upgrades. Then we began looking for a solution to make Class A operation possible using the chassis we had. We came up with a new solution which uses continuously variable biasing of the output transistors based on sampling the input data, to ensure the signal fits in class A mode. By reducing the bias for smaller amplitude input signals we do not waste energy in biasing beyond the signal, so the net heat output is reduced..!

We are very pleased with the results and due to begin shipping in the next couple of months…

Hifi Pig: Any other products in the pipeline? 

Andy Hughes: Could not possibly say…

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