Another amazing review from Spanish magazine HiFi Live and Mr. Miguel Castro.
Thank you very much Mr. Miguel Castro, we are honored!
Most fans of high fidelity have a conservative tendency when considering the purchase of a product for their system. Consciously or not, they tend to search among those classic brands that most have in mind and that have accompanied us during our journey within the hobby. But I must encourage all of them to risk a little, to investigate and “without committing crazy things” because we all want to invest our money well, take into account new batch firms, which often push and shake their sector so strongly, that raise the general level of it.
This is the case of Pilium Audio, a company of Greek origin and head office in Bulgaria, which, although it was founded in 2014, has just been known internationally. Being frankly young, it is also true that thanks to the new online media that we enjoy and social networks, we have been able to see its rapid advances in its catalog and, most importantly, its recognition by publications and professionals of irreproachable baggage that They tell us that Pilium Audio is something special.
For this test, your distributor in our country, Francisco Moya de Audiohum, traveled to my home to install the set consisting of the Ares preamp and the Iasonas stereo power stage. The truth is that I have never thanked his presence more than this time, because climbing the amplifier the two flights of stairs that lead to my listening room without his help, would have been impossible. Managing his 90 kilos of net weight, plus the robust flight case in which he is protected, is a serious matter that deserves to be taken into account in the face of the risk of injury (as this audio tires). But as we all know if we seek maximum quality we find these “slight” inconveniences.
Its size of 480x490x300 cm is imposing and its aesthetics, with those clean, modern and in turn round lines, give it great visual appeal. The set is finished – with a paint that presents some roughness – in matt black, and contrasting are the side heat sinks and a window with a kind of chromed metal grid in the center of the top cover. By the way, I think that window could have been saved, since I have never noticed that the amplifier gives off the slightest heat working (or at high volumes). As a differentiating note, it requires two power cables for its operation and its inputs are only balanced.
The preamp is also a huge piece, but compared to its companion its 30 kilos seemed light to me. It is also protected in flight case and shares dimensions with the companion stage (except for the height that is 16cm). For a 48 × 49 cm preamp it is a huge size, although I was able to accommodate it without problems in my Absolute Rack of Audio Crafts. It is adorned by the same set of contrasts in its colors that the amplifier exhibits and is topped with a large front touch screen, with which the same functions can be operated as with the remote control (volume, input, mute or power on-off ). The command is metallic, with good touch of the buttons, although you have to be quite focused on it to receive orders well. I am used to volume controls by relays (my previous Ypsilon is like that) and this Pilium Ares uses the same system, with a loud click every time we raise or lower it.
It has 3 pairs of XLR inputs and two RCA couples and as outputs 2 XLR couples. I must remember that both the previous Ares and the Iasonas stereo stage are completely balanced designs, and at least among them we must connect them to take advantage of their full potential.
This test was a challenge for me, since I have not changed the amplification I use for many years, to which I am more than accustomed and I continue to enjoy it as the first day. For more tests and comparisons I have done, I have always ended up preferring my Ypsilon set, but a kind of “intuition” about Pilium excited me to think that I could put my current reference in trouble. And is that Pilium Audio has enough arguments to look from you to you to any realization of the great brands of the high end.
Starting with the energy that treasures inside, thanks to its two brutal transformers of 1.5KVA each and its bank of capacitors of 220000uF, which are directly reflected in offering serious first level frequencies. I am talking about a new reference in my room in terms of punching, extension and impact of some serious ones that get the music to be expressed with an unknown fullness and density. But I want to make it clear that not only is it capable of offering us great weight in bass, but that these are of great quality: defined, controlled, firm and providing a black background of the best I’ve heard. I am faced with an amplification capable of raising the expression and capacity of our boxes to fill large spaces and yielding their true potential to a next level – that although we have been with them for years, we might not know yet. To evaluate with more rigor such amplification, I called the distributor of the firm of acoustic boxes YG Acoustics in Spain – Cosmos Hi-fi – to lend me the Hailey model that I had in stock. Wow, my 60 m2 room was filled with music with amazing ease! I can’t help imagining what they could do with the superior Sonja model they have in their demonstration room! But moving those boxes with their weight and size for this review would have been too much effort.
And is that the amplification of Pilium Audio is not contained or shy, imposes realism in all interpretations, with intense colors in each musical note and bringing the performance closer to the listener. My Ypsilon amplification keeps the sound scene a little more backward, while Pilium immerses you more in the musical event, making our sound boxes project the music towards us and feel the music closer. Only our personal preferences can choose one option over another and I have enjoyed both equally.
In what they are similar and it would cost me to differentiate them if I did not know which one is ringing, it is in the realism and truthfulness of each timbre and instrument that we reproduce. I have always thought that a hybrid amplification of quality, had an advantage in a supposed competition of timbral realism over a totally transistor electronics, although the truth is that there are no absolute truths in almost nothing and this is a good example. The timbre of the Pilium Ares and Iasonas combination is precious, natural, true in all its fullness and even the overall balance is slightly warmer than in my usual amplification. I dare to say that the timbral richness is even greater and that the Pilium sound is unsurpassed in this aspect.
The influence of the valve in the previous section of the Ypsilon stages was reduced to a slight greater sensation of holography, sharpening the ear and especially being accustomed to it for years. But I wanted to be as thorough as possible in my analysis and not reach fast or simple conclusions, so I decided to try to improve the placement of the Iasonas power stage. Due to its weight and not having another floor base, the Pilium distributor and I decided to leave the amplifier positioned directly on the oak floor of my room. But after her departure, and after several days listening to her, I had the intuition that I was not in the best environment to show her full potential, and this idea was around my head insistently. So I decided, with a lot of effort, it is clear because of its weight, first to place some discs and finally some Panzerholz wooden cones under each of the feet of the stage looking for greater isolation from the vibrations that come from the ground. And suddenly there was light!
All the qualities described above remained intact, but extreme refinement appeared, a silence like I have never heard, and that missing holography appeared in all its splendor. Magnificent sound in all aspects. This encourages me to recommend to the fortunate owners of amplification of Pilium Audio, not to be carried away by its mastodontic appearance and its brutal mass thinking that it is immune to any external element: it is essential to provide the amplifier with the best environment to express it 100%, and a good soil base is basic for this. My sturdy Panzerholz wooden feet fulfilled that function in a formidable way, although the final sound could still be further improved with a higher quality solution.
When a set transmits so much pleasure and musicality, it is very difficult to try to analyze individual aspects such as the acute one, or the medium frequencies, etc. It would be impossible to immerse yourself in music, close your eyes and simply enjoy if one aspect were inferior to another. The sound of this Pilium set maintains a perfect balance of frequencies and a realism and color in each timbre of the instruments it reproduces that it falls in love with. Pilium also offers great dynamics overwhelmingly when necessary, but has a special ability to recreate in relaxed and intimate moments, where it offers its best virtues.
Once I had assimilated the sound of this Pilium set, I just wanted to test – more out of curiosity than out of necessity – the combination of the Iasonas amplifier with the Ypsilon PST-1ooMK2 line preamp. In this way I could assess the importance of the Pilium Ares preamplifier in the final sound result with greater objectivity. Also, as my previous Ypsilon has the dual functionality of acting in active and passive mode, the options for finding a good synergy were greater. Having these two options and as I always use my previous passive mode, I had the doubt if in this way the sound could like me even more – can the practically perfect be improved? – To not extend too much, I have to say directly that the sound It worsened clearly. The Ypsilon preamp has always seemed to me the strength of my system – and this test will not change my opinion – but I must admit that the synergy with the Iasonas amplifier was not the best. The sound in passive mode began to have an excess of analysis and some hardness, which clearly improved by selecting the operating mode to active – valves. He won in softness and comfort, but without reaching the level of excellence of the Pilium set. The preamplifier Ares proved to be a first level product and largely responsible for the magic that this set shows from the first note.
Pilium Audio has surprised me, even positively impacted. Its price is high, but comparing it with electronics of other brands of absolute reference, it is more than fair. Simply because it offers quality and design more than enough to make any fan feel that he has invested his money well and enjoys music, reality, magic and emotion every day. It makes us forget that we are facing electronic components and brings us closer than ever to live music. Its sound is blunt, with powerful bass, but with delicacy, refinement and rich colors in the timbres of each instrument that makes us trapped by its sound.
My biggest recommendation. Pilium Audio in my opinion is among that small group of electronics that lead their sector and sets a new reference for me.”
Pilium Audio Ares
Pilium Audio Iasonas
EQUIPMENT USED IN THE TEST
YG Acoustics Hailey 1.2
Transport MBL 1621A
Nagra HD DAC
Acoustic Revive RR-77