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Rossner and Sohn Canofer-S Phono Preamplifier Review

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Rossner Sohn Canofer-S Phono Amplifier

 

Initial Encounter

 
I must confess at the outset that my audio purchasing decisions are not always based upon elaborate research or listening tests. Aesthetics alone are often times enough to entice me to pull the trigger. The DaVinci Grandezza tonearm is a good example, the McIntosh C1000 Tube preamp is another. At audio shows, I will make an effort to avoid going in the Burmester room because God forbid, I should be impulsive with such audio jewellery there would be serious damage to my bank account. It could be from a photo in a magazine, or a display unit at the CES, but once I have set my eyes on something, there will be a lusting voice inside me akin to what happened to Smeagol: “We wants it. We needs it. Must have the precious!” Unfortunately, this voice has on more than one occasion led to buyer’s remorse because not every purchase worked out perfectly. Fortunately, with the Rossner and Sohn Canofer-S phono preamp, that was not the case.

I came upon the Rossner and Sohn phono stage by accident, at fellow reviewer Lawrence Lock’s home in 2006. We were indulging ourselves with fine wine and classical music well into the wee hours of the morning, unwinding after a tough, long week. At 3 A.M., Lawrence offered to show me something which he had bought but never got around to removing from its box. He said he fell in love with the unit during its inaugural debut in Asia and bought it on the spot. I was comforted to know that I wasn’t the only impulsive buyer in town. He opened the box and, lo and behold, it contained the Rossner & Sohn Canofer-S phono preamp.

The Canofer-S is nearly the same size as a preamplifier: about 17 inches wide, 10 ½ inches deep and 4 ½ inches tall. The outboard transformer is housed in an extruded aluminum chassis and is connected to the main unit with a custom 7-pin connector. The unit itself has a 8mm thick hand machined face plate in a satin aluminum finish with a 4” acrylic logo in the top left corner that lights up in blue when the unit is switched on.

“The juice,” said LL,“ is housed inside the unit.” He proceeded to remove the top cover and was I ever impressed with what I saw.

Rossner and Sohn Canofer-S

On the right side, the main circuit board is encased in a “frozen butter”-like substance and suspended in mid-air within the chassis. It is held suspended by four rubber bands tied to four solid aluminum columns. On the left, you have four humongous capacitors that are bigger than size-D batteries, two of which are Mundorf Supremes, the others Mundorf Silver and Oils. These are also suspended in mid-air like the main circuit board. All of the Mundorf capacitors are rated for 1,200V so even the word “overkill” is somewhat an understatement here.

It was love at first sight. Smeagol’s voice was already creeping into my head. I wanted one of these right away, before I even heard it. If it wasn’t because of the time zone difference, I would have called the Rossner company right away as having to wait six hours was a very long time for me. The next morning I picked up the phone and called Christoph Rossner, owner and designer, in Germany, and was told there was no dealer serving Canada at the time but he offered to ship a unit to me right away. This was the beginning to a friendship with one of the most enthusiastic analog equipment designers who I have ever met. As I hung up the phone, I said to myself “This better turn out to be good because my wallet felt a nasty pinch.” The MSRP has now been set at $7,200 by the Canadian North American distributor Excel Stereo.

 

The History behind the Company

 
The Rossner and Sohn name, although not well known in North America, is actually quite renowned in Europe. According to Christoph, the Rossner name can be traced back five generations. The Rossner and Sohn precision engineering and machining business was founded by Christoph’s grandfather in 1965, but their tradition of machine building and engineering dates back to 1865 where Christoph’s great-great-great-grand-father was the first royal leader/user of steam engines in Bavaria.

Christoph’s audiophile journey started at the early age of five years young. He was fascinated by his father’s record collection which he grew up with, and he has been listening to analog equipment ever since. Christoph grew up with the music of Peter Green, Fleetwood Mac, Santana , Rolling Stones, Booker T., and “good old” Beethoven and Vivaldi. At seven years old, Christoph was playing the trumpet and at 14, he picked up the guitar and played in a blues / rock band.

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