If in life one is fortunate, true passion will find its way in. Whether it is music, art, cooking, love or any number of activities we participate in, these passions are the reward for the day-in/day-out drudgery and routine we all must persevere.
I am an artist by trade, painting and drawing in particular. I am deeply in love with my wife of eighteen years and play a mediocre level of metal and blues guitar. So by any measure, I am very fortunate to relish in all these limitless endeavors. If all of that is not enough, I am an un-apologetic audiophile. I love all the gear and gizmos that fit into this odd poster puzzle that can only be viewed by the select few who can stare past all the craziness that comes with audiophilia, and form a clear vision for where their audio passion may lead them.
I have formally reviewed multiple amplifiers from Krell, Pass, and Jeff Rowland, individual amps from Vitus, Karan, Coda, not to mention the dozen or so I have lived with though never written about. And these are just the solid-state subjects. Tube amps from Combak Reimyo, Allnic and Art Audio have rounded out my experience with amplifiers. It became clear early on that I needed a great deal of power and control, along with finesse and delicacy in an amplifier in order to satiate my ever-growing appetite for the best this pursuit has to offer.
Shortly before encountering the subjects of this review — the Behold APU Preamp, Behold BPA amplifier, and Behold CDP CD player — I had fallen hard for the Vitus SM-101 mono amplifiers and preamp. Fast, extremely powerful and possessing great air and texture, this combo had set me pointed directly out of the desert and aimed squarely at the palm trees and gentle breezes I imagine the shores of the finish line would look like as it relates to the ultimate destination in audio.
The island of musical paradise lasted about six months only to be a proven a mirage.
APU768 with CD player option
One Saturday afternoon about four years ago, Behold importer Sam Laufer of Laufer Teknik, brought over the APU preamp and the BPA amplifier from Behold for a short loan. After a room correction was run and my Dynaudio Evidence Master speakers (at the time, my reference) were firmly in place, we queued up a cut. I can’t remember now exactly what cut it was, but I clearly recall it took all of 15 seconds to realize I was in deep, deep trouble. I remember the music being familiar but only relatively so. So exalted was the performance, I was nearly brought too tears. There was not one aspect of the sound that went untouched and improved.
Tears nearly flowed not just because the sound was so extraordinary, but because now I had to somehow come up with the asking price, or I would never again get a decent night’s sleep, knowing there was this level of sound out there, and I did not have it!
After striking a fair financial compromise, I had become the second person in the country to have the pleasure of owning the Behold system. This fateful Saturday encounter went further in shaping my perception around audio gear and reproduced music then collectively all that had come before.
Behold Build Quality
Starting with the APU preamplifier, the uber-bold yet simple design boasts three knobs, and a beveled cut-out for the liquid crystal display. An INPUT/MENU knob is off to the left, a control knob for controlling the CD player or other outboard Behold devices such as the music storage system, which I hope to get, soon. On the right of the three by the five-inch display is the oversized VOLUME knob. The action of rotation of these large flat rounded edged knobs is so smooth, they beg to be touched. The input selector and the function knob have a gentle rounded stop feature, kind of like going over a speed bump rather than a hard stop. Putting the system in sleep mode is accomplished by pushing in the knob gently; hold it longer and the system shuts down. This push button feature is used to accomplish system diagnostics as well.
Inputs are purchased a la cart; heck, you can get 15 Toslink inputs if you choose, don’t know why you would, but the option is there. I have 4 single-ended inputs, one XLR digital in, one pair of XLR analog outs, one Toslink input and one SPDF input. Wider than deep, the APU preamplifier will take far less space than it’s technology will provide, that is for sure.
- (Page 1 of 3)
- Next page →