atelier 13 audio
FEZZ AUDIO LYBRA 300B
" The Lybra proudly retained its poise even when confronted with difficult speakers. It is always fast, articulate, clean, transparent and fabulously neutral. But when it is partnered properly it is also superbly emotional, highly lyrical, utterly non-technical and just purely magical "
MADE IN THE EUROPEAN UNION
Intro - Evolution vs Legacy Series
Available in two aesthetic "presentations"- Evolution and Legacy - the Lybra 300B is Fezz Audio’s top model integrated tube power amplifier.
A tube cage and Remote are included in both the Evolution and the Legacy version, making these amplifiers' pricing extremely attractive.
Of note is an additional standard feature that comes with Evolution version of the Lybra 300B: Here, and "just for good measure", Fezz added a Ground Switch allowing the user to select between a Signal Ground or a Chassis Ground configuration ... this is useful if one or the other position is better suited to your systems total ground loop situation.
Sub-Out, HT input and BT aptx 5.0 are options that can be special-ordered with the Evolution series version of this amplifier, entailing additional cost and delivery lead time versus stock units.
To make the Lybra 300B's price as accessible as possible to the purist audiophile community, these options are not included on the stripped-down Legacy version.
In Summary, and for the sake of clarity, the Legacy and Evolution versions of the Lybra 300B are identical in as far as the circuit and its performance is concerned. The price difference between the two versions of about $1,000, or 20%, is attributable to the more modern and more elaborated / flexible / "option-upgradeable" ... thus more costly Evolution chassis.
Supplied tubes are 4x Electro Harmonix 300B, 2x Electro Harmonix 6sn7 and 1x Sovtek 12AX7, all pre-paired and numbered for easy installation. Two 300B tubes work in parallel for each channel to output 15 watts of Parallel-Single-Ended Class-A power into 4 or 8 ohms.
The Lybra 300B, whether Evolution of Legacy, provides the user with three single-ended gold-plated RCA analog inputs. Also present are separate 4 and 8 ohm speaker binding posts.
As already covered above, the Evolution version of the Lybra 300B can be optionally equipped with Bluetooth aptx 5.0 that allows you to play music directly from a phone, tablet, computer or other device with a BT module. On the back panel there will be a small antenna and a button to turn this function on/off. This "on/off" feature is another plus, and is a well-thought-out and simple solution which has a positive impact on the sound quality. Again, please note that the BT module is not available as an option on the Legacy version.
As if these functions were not enough, especially for a device at this price, the Lybra 300B Evolution user will also be able opt for, and thus to use, the Home Theatre Loop with an A/V system. Fans of subwoofers will be pleased to be able to opt for an output for connecting an active subwoofer.
Finally, the standard Tube Cage is very sturdy and well finished, and the standard Remote Control is a very nicely made metal-housed piece that supports basic functions.
Ground Option Switch
Signal or Chassis Ground
Same as shown on
the Silver Luna Image
Back Panel without Options
Chassis Color Schemes
And there is more ! ... The Evolution series for the US market is available in two stock chassis colors : Ice Black and Sunlight. But it can be special-ordered in 4 additional chassis color schemes to suit your particular tastes and decor ... Even the purist Legacy series wants to please in this regard : The Legacy series amplifier is stocked in Black Ice and in Republika, and here again, it can be special-ordered in 2 additional color schemes !
... see below :
Fezz Audio Chassis Colors
Fezz Audio Chassis Colors
Class of Operation
PSE Class A
4 & 8 ohms
3 x Line - RCA
1 x HT - Evolution - Option
1 x SUB - Evolution - Option
4 & 8 ohm Posts
1 x BT aptx 5.0 - Evolution - Option
12Hz -60kHz (-3dB)
4x 300B / 2x 6SN7 / 2x 12AX7
Legacy / 18 kg / 40 lbs
Evolution / 23.5 kg / 52 lbs
(W x D x H / mm)
420 x 410 x 175
What they say ...
Christiaan Punter | July 2020
" When comparing other amplifiers with the Ayon, no matter if they are tube- or transistor-based, they usually sound less solid and robust, oftentimes significantly so. Well, not this time! Amazingly, the Fezz Audio Lybra 300B 15-watt SET amp manages to sound almost as powerful and robust in the bass, while being perhaps even tighter and more articulate. It’s remarkable given how small the Lybra’s input and output transformers are relative to the Ayon’s huge water tank-sized pillars, but this is some of the very best bass I’ve heard from a tube amp. More specifically, the Lybra’s bass doesn’t have a tube character at all. It’s simply as upbeat and incisive or as solid and weighty as the recording requires it to be.
"Highly refined and subtle ... never loses control"
The overall sound of the Fezz Lybra amplifier is very neutral and transparent, more so than the decidedly sonorous and earthy Ayon. What also stands out in comparison to the Ayon is that the Fezz is more highly refined and has subtler and airier treble. And as becomes clear from my tapping feet with every track that I play, it also has very good rhythmic capacities. In spite of its low power rating, the amplifier simply never seems to lose control, not even when used with inefficient or difficult speakers. Of course, 15 watts of power ultimately imposes a limit on how loud you can play, but with the Xavians and my listening preferences, I never found that limit.
"Convincing, involving and lyrical"
The Lybra is superbly even-handed and seems to have a very high damping factor but as a result, one could perhaps also describe it as being not characterful enough. Of course, whether or not an amplifier should have any character is a personal matter and it depends on what one expects from a (tube) amp. The Lybra is not creamy or rich, it isn’t warm or cuddly but neither is it cool or clinical. The important thing is that I find it to be convincing, involving and lyrical. Given the quad of 300B’s, one might think that the amp might be rose-tinted but in my experience SET amps do not generally sound sweet or particularly lush unless they are underpowered or matched with incompatible speakers.
The Lybra actually does not really sound like a typical tube amp at all and, unless one is looking specifically for a certain lushness or sweetness, that is a good thing. There is just none of the transformer-induced hysteresis which makes for the well-known round tube bass nor any discernible ripening of textures anywhere in the frequency range. The interesting thing about the Fezz is that it is very tight and articulate, very well-controlled, very neutral and very linear, but still, it manages to avoid having any of the grayness or electronic signature that is often associated with transistor amplifiers. Especially in the midrange, there is an unmistakable charm that you just don’t usually get with transistors. Yet, you do get bass that is as fast and articulate as the best transistor amps I’ve used in this system. There is a careful balance between neutrality and smoothness that makes the amp thread a very fine middle path between a typical transistor sound and a typical tube sound.
"Well, I'll be ... how is this possible? "
While we were in a playful mood, we decided to set the Ayons speakers aside and replace the Apogee Stage full-range ribbon speakers that had been set aside for some time now, given that Jan’s WLM amps had trouble driving them properly. Knowing that the Fezz has no issues with my Magicos, we figured why not go crazy! The Stages are nowhere near as difficult as Divas, the Full Range or the Scintilla but due to a double woofer membrane and the designers’ desire to make them full-range in spite of their diminutive size, they are actually harder to drive than Duetta Signatures.
Knowing full well that the Fezz is anything but a natural match for these speakers, we just went ahead and fired it up. Well, I’ll be… How is this possible? Not only did the Apogees eclipse the Falcons’ performance with either amplifier, but they also threw a much larger soundstage and created an immediately engaging performance, rhythmically, lyrically and emotionally. On top of this, the speakers had significantly deeper bass (which is admittedly most probably room-related), and an overall more linear presentation. When I walked to the amplifier to turn up the volume I noticed that it was already at 11 o’clock. Raising it further did increase the volume slightly but beyond the 12 o’clock position started to introduce compression. Apparently, the amp was now playing at its maximum output. But apart from the volume setting, there was absolutely nothing that indicated that this was the case. The amp sounded simply unflappable and utterly fantastic.
Go figure. This was a 15-watt amplifier? We were absolutely flabbergasted.
"Match made in Heaven ... one of many"
During the time while packing in the amplifier for its transport back to my place, Jan kept repeatedly commenting on “what a nice little amp the Fezz Lybra 300B is”.... this got me thinking ... "little ?"...hmm...
Well, in that case, there was one more speaker pair to be tried with the Fezz and this is the Qln Sonora, a very interesting, high-sensitivity, full-range, bass-reflex design that I really like.
And as I would learn, this is a match made in heaven.
"Uncanny ability to surprise"
If this review has clearly illustrated anything, it’s that an amplifier is only as good as the synergy that it has with the speakers with which it is paired. That may sound like a masked complaint but it’s really not. Rather, the Lybra behaved very consistently in all the combinations that I tried, and it proudly retained its poise even when confronted with difficult ... and might I add very illustrious ... speakers.
The Lybra is always fast, articulate, clean, transparent and fabulously neutral. But when it is partnered properly it is also superbly emotional, highly lyrical, utterly non-technical and just purely magical.
Just why the Lybra would pair so well with the QLN Sonoras is anyone’s guess. Perfect synergy is often found by accident. In any case, what is clear is that the Fezz Lybra 300B is a remarkably versatile amplifier that has an uncanny ability to surprise.
Our comment at Atelier 13 Audio
Constantin Gregg-Saad | February 2023
"The Fezz Sound"
Considering all of the above, we recalled the observations made by the reviewer of the Fezz Torus 5060, their remarkable $2,250 solid state integrated amplifier. In that review the conclusion was that there was such a thing as a "Fezz Sound" -- regardless of wether tube or solid state -- a sound that is modern, refined, dynamic and extremely musical with all genres. If you take the Fezz Mira Ceti, Silver Luna and Alfa Lupi amps for a real spin, you will definitely hear what the reviewer was talking about.
"The Fezz Value Proposition"
What is crazy here, is that these things are beautifully built, but are priced to kill ... and they are made in the EU ... not in China ! ... ???
Thinking the issue through as to why such a price is at all possible to achieve - at least to a certain extent - could be explained by who the people are that are behind the brand ... or rather, who the company is :
It is in fact a well known company, both in Poland and in multiple countries around the world, called Toroidy, a company run by the Lachowski family, by the father Lech and two of his sons, Matthias (Maciej) and Thomas (Tomek).
As the name suggests, they are producers of toroidal transformers. It is their power transformers and, for quite some time now, their output speaker transformers (also toroidal!) which are most widely known and respected among both DIY enthusiasts as well as well renowned audio companies.
These may be found inside products of companies such as Baltlab, Lampizator, Ancient Audio, Amare Musica, or even Mytek ... so basically in both, very reasonably priced units, as well as in the high-end ones.
The company also manufactures enclosures for audio equipment, and in addition thereto, it has its own paint shop. So we think that the emergence of amplifiers that use their company's components ... transformers and enclosures ... components which proved their class when used in products of other brands ... was only a matter of time.
For those of us who have the slightest bit of experience with vacuum tube components, it is needless to explain how important a role the output transformer plays in obtaining a high quality of sound.
It is for very good reasons that many top global manufacturers wind all their transformers "in-house" ... or, at the least, have them made by dedicated professionals, whilst paying the significant price associated therewith, and suffering from really big subassembly costs.
But Fezz Audio does not need to outsource the production of their transformers to anyone, and the idea of building their own amplifiers arose at a time when the product portfolio was extended by a series of very rarely produced speaker output transformers, ones based on toroidal cores. The production of these special cores is extremely difficult, so in spite of the advantages that they offer over traditional transformers, such as a much broader bandwidth, they are generally very rarely used.
The Lachowskis decided to take up the challenge and prove that a Polish company can actually make these to very high standard. So, they fiercely jumped into the matter and invented a method of how to properly produce such output transformers, for each and every vacuum tube type.
From there, it was only but one small step to "practical application". The more so that they did not need to purchase chassis from other companies, and in addition, because they had their own state of the art paint-shop, they could afford to offer very attractive, and numerous, color schemes.
... all this without incurring higher production costs.
Q.E.D. applies here ... from the latin term "quod erat demonstrandum" = "Which was to be demonstrated" ... or, the proof is in the Fezz Pudding :=))
So, we now have the simple and clear answer to the question as to how is it possible for Fezz Audio to offer such attractive prices given that their production is located in the EU. Essentially, and in a nutshell :
On the essential subassemblies of the amplifier - or at least on some of them - external companies do not make a profit. Coupled with this cost efficiency, Fezz then resists the temptation to add high mark-ups to their cost base ... a temptation not resisted by too many in the High End.
There is another saying from a US movie starring Kevin Costner :
" Build it..and they will come"
Its early days ... more reviews to come for sure !
In the meantime ... take a listen !
Fezz Audio Lybra 300B
In very good company with
Sigma Acoustics M8 speaker
Magnetic Lies / Malia, Boris Blank
Video courtesy of Nikos @ Chameleon Audio / Greece
Fezz Audio Lybra 300B
In very good company with
Sigma Acoustics M8 speaker
Bach : Double & Triple Concertos
Concerto for 3 Violins / Brecon Baroque
Video courtesy of Nikos @ Chameleon Audio / Greece