There are review products that you sometimes have to wait for. Or that suddenly resurface after years. In this case, it’s the ASR Emitter 1 that we suddenly have to think about again. We once heard it playing at the Gydotron audio show in Belgium. Your author remembers well that that system was playing particularly nicely. Now we had the opportunity to listen to this special creation from Germany in the listening room ourselves for a few weeks!
There are several versions of the ASR Emitter 1. Where many a manufacturer would simply make several models, Friedrich Schaefer – the founder of ASR – has made one model with loads and loads of options. The options list would not be out of place on a decent mid-range car. Just know that it is not possible to add options afterwards without having to return the entire unit and practically take it apart; it is not a modular system in that sense.
The entry-level – that is very relative in this case – has only the amplifier and ‘seperate’ power supply. This one costs 7500 Euros. Then there is an Exclusive version (which we had for review) that delivers a little more power and also has some other upgrades (more smoothing: 606,000 uF instead of 406,000 uF). This one costs 10,0200 Euros. Would you like the battery power supply with 428,000 uF buffer included? That is an additional cost of 3,000 Euro. If ordered as a whole, the version with battery costs 12,800 Euro.
Some options besides more power and power supplies are: a headphone output, better WBT terminals, blue or white LEDs, XLR input, tape loop…. the additional prices are pretty steep, by the way. If you tick a few of them, you’re up to 1000 Euros pretty fast. But hey: it’s the same with cars.
Our version comes with an (optional) transparent top cover. That looks incredibly cool. The fronts of the ASR Emitter as well as the power supplies (yes… several; we have the battery power supply with it) are also transparent. All in all, a very technical appearance, which we can appreciate. By the way, the top cover does not need to be transparent. The front does, since the LEDs behind the front indicate the status. You can see on the amplifier itself the input and on the power supplies what the status is.
The build quality is sublime. The finish is impressive on all fronts. Both the component selection and the finish is sublime. Then again: our unit sits at 13,100 Euro (optional headphone unit), so we should expect this.
The ASR Emitter 1 has several modes. First, there is off / standby. Then we see a kind of eco mode suitable for background music. Then there is an (optional) headphone output mode and a “normal” listening mode. You will understand that with this amplifier it is useful to read the manual; it is not a ‘middle of the road’ device.
In many ways it is not, by the way. Basically we are looking at an integrated amplifier, but those who look critically will see that it is actually a controllable power amplifier with a few inputs. (Schaefer doesn’t call it an integrated amplifier either, by the way). A bit like how Ayre also works: the volume control regulates the power amplifier and not the input voltage of the power amplifier. The difference? The input voltage is constant: the gain is adjusted. That keeps the noise floor the same, which benefits the signal-to-noise ratio. Clever! But a bit more expensive to implement
Those looking for a compact, integrated solution should look further afield. Our system consists of three hefty and considerably heavy cabinets – meaning one external power supply and one battery – each ideally getting its own platform. All together, we’re looking at over 100 KG of hi-fi.
The power supply and battery are connected to the amplifier with quite thick cables to which, in turn, industrial connectors with security clips are mounted. The cables are standard about 2 meters long. Shorter is allowed, at extra cost…. We would honestly give the option for 1 meter, 1.5 meters and 2 meters, since for many people 1 meter would be enough if they just come in a normal rack.