Heaven 11 and Buchardt Audio

When I spotted—on a poster affixed to Heaven 11’s exhibit room door—Charlton Heston as Moses (?) holding tubes in his arms instead of those famous stone plates, I knew going in I was in for something a little different. Visions of single-ended triodes were dancing in my head.

I wasn’t wrong, but I wasn’t quite right, either. When I entered the dimly lit room, with a slightly hippy vibe, I spotted a pair of standmounts with two similar-looking drivers and what looked like a bare-bones amplifier with four items protruding from its chassis, including what looked like two dual triodes sticking up from its top plate. (The other protuberances were knobs made of wood—American Walnut, to be precise.) The amp had SET-like look—surely low-powered, nothing like the more mainstream audiophile amplifiers so common at the show that likely idled at higher power than the Billie’s power rating.

Heaven 11 Billie MkII

This time I was wrong. But I was also right. The unassuming Heaven 11 Billie stereo integrated amplifier ($2500) outputs 120Wpc into 8 ohms (215W into 8 ohms) thanks to a class-D output stage—class-D design by Denis Roson of Tenor Audio. The tube-like protuberances were ECC99s, for the tubed, class-A preamp section (so, yeah, low power triode).

While the Billie, by its looks, appeared to lack features, that’s camouflage. In addition to what’s listed above, the Billie (Mk.II version) contains a DAC, an MM phono stage, a headphone amp, and an aptX Bluetooth receiver. Those speakers with identical-looking drivers? Two-way, 88dB (no specific units given) Buchardt S400 Mk2 standmounts ($2500), from Denmark. The identical-looking drivers weren’t identical—the top one, in fact, was a 3/4″ tweeter with a waveguide, while the woofers were 6″ with a paper-cone driver. There’s also an oval passive radiator on the back panel.

Joni Mitchell sing “California” was mesmerizing. The sound was sweet, colorful, emotionally charged, harmonically rich, and musical to its core.

That’s $5000 Canadian for a system lacking only cabling (generic in this room, valued at ~$50) and a digital data source or turntable.

All prices are in Canadian dollars unless otherwise indicated.


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