Hifi Pig has waited a long time and fought hard to bring you this review. The manufacturers have kept the pressure on us to not announce this World exclusive review anywhere and it has been tough. Imagine the excitement at being offered the very latest incarnation of what is widely regarded as being the very best in valve amplification in the world, but not being allowed to say anything.
Security has been kept tight, the documents we have been forced to sign have seemed endless and our legal team has been kept busy twenty four seven for the last few weeks since we were approached by the company in question. But why Hifi Pig and why now.
Hifi Pig is a new phenomenon and our philosophy, we have been told by the amplifier’s manufacturers, mirrors their own. They like to go their own way and they are seen somewhat as mavericks, but the end results speak for themselves.
When we were first approached we couldn’t believe our luck; a new website, barely a month old and being courted by the most celebrated name in audiophile circles is surely unheard of.
We are rightly proud of what we have achieved in such short a time and we are humbled to be given the honour of showcasing to the worlds audiophile community the amplifier that, quite frankly, is the stuff of legend.
The unit we were given to review was delivered by a small team of security guards and we have at no time been left alone with the amplifier. Photographs have not been allowed and only the company’s own exquisite “promotional” pictures have been signed off for release.
Finally we can publish the review and we are quite frankly as pleased as pigs in muck. Please enjoy!
Stu and the Hifi Pig Team
“The Mighty Audio Stoat 01” “amplifier”” is the latest incarnation of the original, world-leading Audio Stoat amplifier produced some years ago – “The Not Too Shabby Audio Stoat 02”.
When first released in April 2010 “The Not Too Shabby Audio Stoat 02” took the audiophile community by storm and literally turned every audio convention on its head. “The Mighty Audio Stoat 01” “amplifier”” caries on this proud tradition and takes the concept even further.
Minimalist circuit design is combined with esoteric valve choice to produce what Audio Stoats chief executive Afar Dolly-Pois calls “Quite good”.
Let’s see what the Hifi Pig review team have to say.
Review of the Mighty Audio Stoat amplifier
It’s not often that a hifi reviewer comes across a uniquely unique hifi amplifier that takes a completely new approach to circuit design, but those clever folks behind Audio Stoat have not been backward about coming forward, and have produced an amplifier which is guaranteed to set tongues wagging.
It was with trepidation that I received the Audio Stoat package. Actually, the delivery man threw it across the lawn before driving off laughing. I picked up the package and it was immediately noticeable that every expense had been spared. Recycled newspapers which had previously been used as a cat litter liner or something were loosely scrunched around the amplifier and held in place by a piece of tatty brown string which had no doubt been used to hold up the trousers of a passing tramp at some stage.
Inside, the amplifier came with technical specifications as follows:
The “amplifier” boasts an enviable zero feedback circuit resulting in impressive zero distortion – not many hifi amplifiers on the market can boast figures as good as these!
Output would be a healthy 60w if it worked and the **BOS output “valves” are at least 50% guaranteed Morissons own brand, with markings still clearly visible on one of the tubes.
In its present configuration the amplifier boasts a huge zero watts per channel but can be reconfigured to deliver an even more impressive nowt in ***PPPPS configuration.
The “volume” knob is handcrafted using reclaimed materials which of course should ensure that the green credentials of this “amplifier” are beyond reproach and it is bolted onto the chassis so it turns and everything.
Inside the chassis everything has been left to chance and every component is of the very highest quality. High quality audiophile products such as a metal nut and bolt have been used.
*Packing Tape Brown
**Broken Old Stock
***Push Push Push Pull Shove
From what I could see, the “amplifier” was carelessly thrown together in rural Brittany, France by experienced artisans who normally work sorting scrap for recycling and it was immediately apparent that they must have spared no expense during a tea break at throwing the mighty stoat together.
The “amplifier” was veneered in a prime finish which is usually 75pence extra over the normal price but I had asked for their extra special “export” version which I think would appeal more to the discerning UK audiophile. The finish used brown parcel tape rather than sellotape to hold the main “chassis” together and had been given a retro 1970’s styling by using a marker pen to impart a wood grain effect. I found that if I squinted from a distance of 40 yards way in bright sunlight after a few pints, it almost replicated the sort of finishing style one might normally associate with Luxman amplifiers of the 1970s, and this illusion stays until the eyes are opened again when the mighty Stoat takes on it’s very trademark character in the flesh. From the same 40 yard distance, it did indeed exude a hi-fi-ish sort of finish* which backs up one the manufacturer’s many claims.
*(providing the sun was burning your retina out at the time)
Up front, the “amplifier” was plainly in the minimalist camp, and this in my book is always a good thing, and points towards simplicity of circuitry to maintain a simple and clean minimalist circuit design. Here, the manufacturer has very clearly excelled as a quick shufty inside the casing revealed a circuit so minimalist, it was invisible to the naked eye. The same marker pen that had been used for the woodgrain effects on the chassis outside had been put to good effect on the inside, with the circuit drawn in using what appeared to be a non conductive and definitely non-silver ink (in fact it was black) which marked out the input circuit (two black lines) and the main amplifier circuit (another two black lines) with the words “Le-Knob” and a crude arrow pointing towards the tealight casing volume” control on the outside of the casing. Very sophisticated, and made so simple that even my 18 month old son could have drawn and explained the “circuit”.
On top, there was a collection of “valves”. The front ones I presumed were the input “valves” and they were marked “Phillips” and the “output valves” were marked “60W” and closely resemble the “valves” in the standard lamp used at the time to illuminate the “amplifier”. In between there was what appeared to be a regulator “valve”. So 10/10 for getting the valve positions right.
I lifted the not considerable weight of the amp onto my review shelf and look round back for somewhere to plug the leads in. I had to cut two holes (after following the instructions) and push my RCA inputs into the back. The mains lead apparently just has to rest on the floor as the unit uses what the manufacturers claim is a “Never connected power supply” which come free with the amp. Great stuff! An upgraded power supply for no extra cost! Other manufactures please TAKE NOTE!
I started the review with Kevin Basscleft’s “symphony for the deaf”.
The noise floor was amazingly low, in fact I had to go outside and throttle four migrating songbirds that were shattering the peace before I could resume the audition. The opening movement of this piece starts off very low and slowly with a theme that repeats the whole way through the symphony, building to a finale of shattering silence. The mighty stoat didn’t complain once, it never entered into distortion and at maximum volume, the integrity of “symphony for the deaf” was as inaudible as I’d ever not heard it! Outstanding stuff! I went on to try a few more works by Basscleft, including “tree falling in the forest when no-one’s around” and “art of silence” and each time was amazed by the way the “amplifier” performed. The zero feedback working with the never connected power supply worked its magic very well, and the lack of intrusion from the “circuit” was very evident. I put the multimeter across the output stages of the circuit and sure enough, there was zero output as well as zero feedback.
I can say with complete honesty that this amplifier will stun prospective clients stupid discerning enough to part with their hard earned cash to buy one. From my own trials it does exactly what it says on the tin…of some time expired beanshoots in brine I had in the larder (which had written on the back “dispose of responsibly after use”).
Value for money: Guaranteed not to provide any whatsoever
Power supply: Never connected (works really well)
Sound quality: it sort of goes “scrunch” when you sit on it
The Mighty AUDIO STOAT 01 Amplifier
Well, what can I say? I saw the photos of this astonishing world beating “amplifier” as it was under construction in the Hifi Pig’s artisan studio in the glorious French countryside … I just had to have it for review. All other amplifiers I have seen or owned – and I’ve owned more than a few very fine amps, I can tell you – well, they all paled into complete insignificance in comparison.
The dull lustre of the cardboard anti-bling chassis, so much more trendy and eco-friendly than the gold and platinum chassised tat that you see selling for a small fraction of the worth of the AUDIO STOAT 01.
I mean, honestly, why pay £50k for the latest offerings from the big boys, when for a mere several times the price you can have the pride of ownership of a superbly constructed piece of folded cardboard with a few used (but probably still working) mucky old lightbulbs.
Esoteric 300B valves? Forget it – the AUDIO STOAT 01 light bulbs are simply in a different league. Trust me on this – I’ve been there, done that – there is no comparison at all.
You must also remember that all other amplifiers are corrupted by the inevitably less than perfect electrical supply. They all are, that’s just the the way the world works. Sadly, nothing is perfect. Except of course the AUDIO STOAT 01 ! – it needs no electrical supply at all! You can’t get more perfect that that, you really can’t.
As to the specs, wow. They are indefinably good. Signal to noise ratio? I asked a mathematician friend – signal zero, noise zero. Divide one by the other and the resulting ratio exceeds the ability of modern science to define it – yes, the AUDIO STOAT 01 exceeds the measurement limits of modern science. You think Halcro amps have low distortion? – Pah, they are measurable and so are left in the wake of the AUDIO STOAT 01.
And the sound – oh my gosh, the sound – it’s Zen-like in its glorious immutability. What is the sound of one hand clapping? Well, I dunno – but the AUDIO STOAT 01 goes even further into the mysteries of Zen – what is the sound of no amplifier working? Fabulous, that’s what. Just fabulous.
Author – Jerry
Hope you all enjoyed the Hifi Pig April Fool’s review.