Tube bliss, Fezz Audio Silver Luna Prestige Evolution review
When transistors started to be applied in amplifiers, tubes came to be understood as an outdated technology. Very few manufacturers stubbornly kept the technology alive in those bygone days.
Valves have slowly become a trend again. With regard to supposedly outdated technologies that, in my opinion, will become a trend again, I decided that for this test I would mainly use CDs and not streaming as usual, and take the opportunity to dust off my old player, bought by my father in the late year of 1991, when Pioneer was known for making decent gear that lasted a lifetime. This and all other elements of the same branded system last to this day. In other words, a lifetime.
In this test we will have my old CD player, my modest monitor speakers with 90dB of sensitivity, in my living room with just under 25 square meters. Everything is accompanied by a valve integrated amplifier, handcrafted in Poland, the country where the second largest audio event in Europe takes place, in Warsaw, surpassed only in size by High-End Munich, and a country from which many interesting equipment have arrived. Let’s see if this one follows this trend.
This integrated here under review is the Fezz audio Silver Luna Prestige Evolution, class AB push-pull valve amplifier. Silver Luna does not refer to the color, this specimen, that Ultimate Audio Elite was kind enough to lend me for testing is in a color that the brand calls “Sunlight” and which looks like a cross between bronze and gold, depending on how the light hits on the chassis.
What the eyes can see.
On the front: in the center we see the lettering “fezz” cast on the plate, from which a whitish light emanates from the interior of the amplifier when it’s on, which combines with the orange light of the tubes, which works beautifully when in medium light. At the front too, a rotary knob on each side. On the left side for the volume and on the right for the source selection. These ones, yes, silver ones.
The Silver Luna comes with a glossy white soap-like plastic remote control, which is also very simple and elegant. Because of the pleasure it gave me to turn the knobs, which have a delicious buttery resistance, I chose to leave it resting in the box.
This amp is gorgeous to die for, and the pictures don’t do it justice. If Jony Ive, who for those who don’t know is a guy who looks like me but doesn’t have a mustache, but is also the famous designer of the iPhone, iPad, MacBook, iMac, and other products of Apple’s renaissance, designed valve amplifiers, he might as well designed Fezz’s new Evolution range of amplifiers.
Even the misses liked it and asked the price! Not in the usual frightened way, worried about the possible hole in the bank account, but this time (for the first time) eager to have this decorative piece in our living room.
Usually valve amplifiers are designed in the form follows function mode, which usually results in a metal box, with some valves stuck on top, some metal boxes (where the transformers are usually located) to go with them, and a cage on top to protect the valves from curious little fingers and paws, and some cables coming out (or going in as you prefer) from behind.
The metal valve guard is unlike anyone I have seen on other valve amplifiers. Elegant, with a clear acrylic on the front proudly displaying the valves and the round metal cases of the transformers. This integrated comes with three toroidal transformers (the power transformer in the front behind the valves, and the two output transformers behind this one, made by Fezz’s sister company Toroidy), which explains the shape of the boxes, and also, more importantly, the sound this Fezz is capable of.
It looks as if these Poles might have taken some design classes at the Bauhaus, and it shows.
This amplifier weighs 21kg. That may not have made it easy to place its rubber feet on top of the Ansuz adjustable resonance control “feet” that I used in this test. It’s time to put the optional PSVane valves (the list price of €2620 for this integrated gets you the original Electro-Harmonix-made valves). Four EL34 for the power stage and two 6N2P on the front end. I used one glove from the supplied pair. Only one to avoid eventual slipping, as advised by Francisco Monteiro, from Ultimate Audio’s store in Porto. If you didn’t know yet, here’s the tip.
The valves came tested and ordered from the factory. The listed price does not include the original and beautiful protection “cage”, the remote-control, nor the set of PSVane valves that this copy brought.
Each amplifier also carries a metal plate, which on this one indicates that the person who assembled it is named Wiola, and the person who tested it is named Mavek, just like on a Mercedes AMG engine.
Hi-fi goes way beyond just sound. And the experience of owning a valve amplifier goes through the moment of assembly as well. The ownership experience extends to changing valves to achieve alternative sound signatures. This Fezz, in addition to the 6N2P valves I used, comes with a pair of 12AX7 preamp valves for those who prefer their sound signature. Just change them and choose the position on the selector switch that is located between the output transformers (with the amplifier turned off). This selector switch is paired with another, where we can choose, this one with the amplifier on if we want, to listen in tetrode or pentode mode. Conclusion: we can have four sound signatures with this amplifier, with the valves supplied from the factory. Oh, and very important for the folks who, like me, prefer to leave the screwdriver out of the equation, this amplifier is AutoBiased. In other words, just put the valves on, and turn on the amp, as simple as that.
I haven’t turned the amp on and yet I have come to some conclusions. Maciej Lachowski sought to make a difference and aim at a more lifestyle-oriented audience. With a clean design of simplistic lines, with a varied choice of colors (Black Ice, Big Calm, Burning Red, Bleach, Evergreen, Moonlight, Sunlight), that look more like out of a decoration catalog than a consumer electronics one (one more reason for my most beloved to wave my credit card).
It allows you to switch sounds without complications. And for a price that is far from prohibitive, especially considering that it is hand assembled in the European Union. The brand promises:
1. Great sound, we’ll get to it.
2. Modern lines, check!
3. Reliability; From the perceived quality, it promises to deliver in this chapter.
4. Easy configuration and full of options, check!
I would add that any soul who is only familiar with bluetooth headphones, even if they have not yet been introduced to the wonderful and tortuous world of hi-fi, is also prepared to move on to owning such a device. Such is the ease, simplicity and pleasure of owning this Silver Luna Prestige Evolution.
In recent years hi-fi equipment has taken on the category of luxury products, and its prices have been skyrocketing. Still, and this Fezz is proof, that it is still possible, to stumble upon some truly rare black pearls like this one.
So this is a beautiful, well-made product, handmade in Europe, and available at reasonable prices to ordinary people.
How it sounds.
As I mentioned before, the main source used in this test was my old CD player. I also used a Chinese direct import DAC to decode the “ones and zeros” coming from streaming, Apple Music and Tidal, via apple TV and Hisense TV (via optical cable) and Macbook Air (via USB cable).
Unlike the CD player. These sources have some slight tendency towards a sterile sound, and sometimes somewhat intense treble brightness. Triangle’s Borea 03 speakers soundstage is “squeezed” between the speakers and “in your face” sound, with little depth and sometimes a bit vague focus on the mid-range and treble in long listening sessions. I love these monitors, I’m still waiting to meet better sub-€1000 compromise, but for the price I paid for them I don’t expect miracles. The valves fame advises that they might be part of the solution.
Some people just need the bass to vibrate the orange peel on their buttocks or the tire in their bellies. On this Fezz, we have different bass. Definitely no sagging. There is only fiber here! The bass also integrates beautifully and linearly with the rest of the frequencies in the sound spectrum! This linearity is one of the assets of this Fezz. A balanced sound, which many will call “analog”, as if liquid, but not languid or dragged, unless the music is.
“This is it
It is so deep
So beautifully Liquid
After the rain comes sun
After the sun comes rain again
This must be underwater love
The Way i feel it slipping all over me
Follow me now
To a Place you only dream of
Before i came along”, Smoke City.
Anything that is unprocessed vocals or unamplified instruments become absolutely pure experiences. And the amplified instruments, machines and effects have scale, texture and naturalness.
This Fezz is powerful! The advertised power of 35W at 8 Ohms is misleading, it’s a humble value compared to what you can feel. I reached peaks of over 90dB 2 and a half meters away from the speakers, with controlled bass, listening to Carmina Burana (Orff, New Phillarmonia Chorus & Orchestra, Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos, 1966, cd EMI Classics) with the volume knob in the position between 10h30 and 11h. Yes, Carmina Burana should be heard until your ears bleed. Fezz delivered without an effort! It matched up with a 100W integrated that was here at home simultaneously, and who struggled to keep up with the same levels of sound pressure and composure, but with the volume knob in the hour-and-a-half position.
The EL34 valves, normally associated with a warm, diffuse, slow and mellow sound, with the Silver Luna playing “O Fortuna,” and especially on “Fortune plango vulnera,” running in tetrode mode, sounded resolute, full of vigor and muscle, with the Chorus and Philharmonic Orchestra well defined and coherent.
Switch to streaming. Nina Simone, new “Legendary Recordings” collection. Switch to pentode mode. Glass of Speyside in hand. “I Put a Spell on You.” The pace slows down, shoulders relax. “Don’t let me be Misunderstood”. Music is passion. Passion can also be contained. Example of restraint is “Ne me Quites Pas”, “Don’t Explain” and “Lilac Wine”. I shudder on the last one. Switch to tetrodes. “Feeling Good.” I feel encouraged again, stimulated, I tap my foot to the rhythm of the music, my head shakes. Fezz perfectly translates and interprets what Nina sang and felt in these songs.
Another challenge. This time a CD that does not exist on streaming services, “All Systems Gone” by Presence, one of Charles Webster’s heteronyms, Ark21 1999 CD. The lyrics in the booklet are so small they are illegible (or is it the Speyside?…). The voices of Sara Jay and Shara Nelson ask for one mode, the beats ask for the other, but I let myself be as I am. But it doesn’t matter either, because whichever way, I tap my foot and shake my head, the music flows and I find myself accompanying Steve Edwards in falsetto. The music sounds vivid, energetic, the bass of “Been 2 Long” firm, muscular and punctuated (absolute surprise, breaking the clichés about this valves sound), with great sounding instruments, machines and sound effects and clean, but full-bodied and emotional vocals, and with the soundstage that my monitors allow.
You’ve heard me talk about sterile sounding amplifiers, but here, forget it. Here, we have the antipodes of sterile. Here, my bank account is getting closer and closer to running out of 2600 euros…
I can’t stop listening. I go back to streaming:
“I’m thrown and overblown with bliss
And suddenly my heart goes boom
It’s an orchestra of Angels
And they’re playing with my heart
Must be talking to an Angel
I’m thrown and overblown with bliss
There must be an Angel
Playing with my heart
And when I think that I’m alone
It seems there’s more of us at home
It’s a multitude of Angels
And they’re playing with my heart, yeah”, Eurythmics
Max. output power:
2 x 35W
Push-pull class AB1
4Ω / 8Ω
3 x RCA
Harmonic distortions THD:
EL34 x4 (power output), ECC83/6n2p x2 (pre-amp & drivers)
Bias adjustement type:
remote control, HT (pre-in) input, tube cage
Monitor speakers > Triangle Borea 03
Speaker Resonance Control > Ansuz Darkz C2T
Speaker cables > Ansuz Speakz X2
Integrated amplifier > Fezz Audio Silver Luna Prestige Evolution
Optional valve set > PSVane 4XEL34, 2X6N2P
Digital sources > MacBook Air, apple TV/TV Hisense (Apple Music+Tidal)
USB cable > Ansuz Digitalz X2
Interconnect cables > Ansuz Signalz X2 RCA
CD Player > Pioneer PD-Z74T
Power cables > Ansuz Mainz P2
Power distributor > Ansuz Mainz X8-TC
Harmonizers > Ansuz Sparkz