Review: Fezz Audio Mira Ceti 300B Integrated Amplifier

Fezz Audio’s Mira Ceti Integrated Tube Amplifier – 300 B Single Ended Triode – Excellent!
‘In the House’ Review by David Neice
MSRP: $4090 (Canadian)

 

Verdict: You just have to love all of those seven or eight watts per channel! This amplifier reinforces all the great attributes assigned to 300B SET (single ended triode) designs by countless audiophiles. It faithfully renders all the delicacy and organic richness found in musical ensembles, and weaves extra hypnotic effects into them. Of course, it will require careful speaker matching – for both quality and efficiency. 

While not exactly a budget amp, it is still affordable and offers that 300B SET magic to a wide audience of buyers. An excellent and very quiet amplifier, it is firmly recommended. 

 

The Set Up

Poland is in the news a lot recently, with the Ukrainian invasion by Russia and the flood of refugees. What is less well known over here in North America is that Poland has a strong audiophile community and houses several manufacturers of audio equipment.  For example, the Fezz Audio tube amplifier line up includes no less than six different tube designs, as well as offering speakers (Footnote 1) .    

A quick Internet search indicates that there are more than sixty manufacturers in Poland that serve their audio community, providing  everything from speakers and amplifiers to equipment stands and car audio parts. Additionally, the annual Warsaw audio show is one of the most interesting in Europe. 

Those who know me will know that I like single ended Class A tube amps, even pentodes. I have been running a Unison ‘Simply Italy’ EL34 design for a few years and I love it. I do have to be careful to run it within the limits of its rather modest 12-watt output, but this is not a problem as I listen at low to mid-volume levels. The fact that these designs work well at low volumes is quite endearing to me. 

When Noam wrote me to say that the local Fezz distributor (TriCell Enterprises) had loaned us a Mira Ceti amplifier for me to review (Footnote 2), I was thrilled at the offer. I could hardly wait to fire up my DALI and J.M. Reynaud speakers and match them to the 300Bs on board the Fezz. 

The Fezz duly arrived here at ‘chaos manor’, and it was beautifully well-packed. The box is extra strong and all the parts including the tubes were nested inside with an extra thick styro-sponge clamshell encasing them. For unpacking and set-up, a pair of white gloves are included to ensure that your tubes don’t acquire any fingerprint residue. 

The tubes are nested in their original boxes and labeled one to four (1-4), to match the tube input sockets on the amp, in other words the pairs have been pre-tested and matched. The Electro-Harmonix 300B tubes are quite large and it is by far better that they are packed separately rather than socketed on the main board during shipping. Overall, the packing I observed, was very well thought out.   

The chassis is painted a deep red shade that I found very fetching. It reminded me of the striking Porsche blue painted chassis (or top panels) that Triode Labs uses on some of their limited edition tube designs.. 

After Noam delivered the amplifier I set it up on my equipment shelf and then I plugged in my Cambridge 640 CD player and my recently acquired Parasound ZPhono pre-amp into two of it’s three high level RCA inputs. I used the DALI Oberon 5 speakers first and then I rotated in the J.M. Reynaud Bliss Jubilees. The speaker cable used was my own DIY cable made from several single strands of special Ohno Continuous Cast (OCC) copper purchased from ‘Take Five Audio’. 

 

About the Mira Ceti Amp

This is what Fezz Audio has to say about the Mira Ceti amplifier design: 

‘One of the world’s few single-ended tube amplifiers, the construction of which is based on toroidal speaker output transformers. Mira Ceti is characterized by an outstanding, full, saturated midtone, by dynamics and a solid bass’. 

The round silver cans that cover the toroidal output transformers are indeed unusual in a single-ended design and I have not seen this before. Who are the people behind the Fezz brand? 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.

(Photo from Toroidy.pl website)

 

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 known audio companies (Footnote 3). There is an old saying about the output transformers in tube amps – that they determine the quality of the amplifier and its sound field even more than the output tubes.

The Fezz Audio Mira Ceti is a minimalist design, and provides an input selector switch on the front offering three positions and a volume control. Around the back there are the three RCA inputs, and both 4 Ohm and 8 Ohm speaker taps, as well as an on/off switch located beside the power input socket. The location of that switch may prove a bit awkward unless the amp is on the top shelf of a component rack, as it was in my case. 

The tubes supplied are Russian – two Electro-Harmonix 300Bs and two EH 6SN7s for the driver tubes – and tube biasing is ‘automatic’, thus eliminating a potential hassle for those new to tubes. The bottom of the chassis sports a very nice touch. There are four silver pucks that the main chassis rests on and these add a stylish flair to the overall package. 

There is a remote control which is optional (but was supplied with this unit) as well as an optional tube cage (supplied also but unused), and an optional Bluetooth input (not on my review sample). For a purist design these are, in my humble view, largely superfluous. They may, however, be appealing to certain audiophiles. The remote has a very nice feel but I could only use it to control volume, which is a function that some users may require. 

The 300B tubes, as mentioned, are large and tall – and since this amplifier runs in Class A, it is going to need a lot of air around it. It cannot be placed on a rack where the space is limited. In order to give it maximum room for heat dissipation, I placed it on the top of my equipment rack so it had maximum open air exposure. Potential owners should bear this in mind. 

 

Listening Sessions

First up for speakers were the DALI Oberon 5s, a floorstander design that I’m particularly attached to, and have been for two years now.  A  review I wrote on them is available here. Using the amplifier’s 8 Ohm taps, these DALIs are an easy speaker to drive and as I listen mainly at mid-volume levels they did not stress the Fezz. 

*A Drum Roll Please*

Wow – what an amplifier!  Right away I knew that I was certainly not going to buck the general opinions expressed over the years by many seasoned audiophiles about 300B SET amplifier designs. The Fezz 300B unit offers a true single-ended triode sound field, which means enormous delicacy and a full organic sound presentation. In comparison, the EL34s found in my Unison ‘Simply Italy’ seem to spit out the notes, while they just float out of these 300Bs. 

This experience is immersive in the extreme. From the very first notes you just want to shut down any critical mind function that you might be having – and listen. Subsequently, an array of organic and fresh sounds then just roll out of the speakers, much to the listener’s delight.  

Immediately I sensed that this is an ‘ensemble amplifier’. It wants to convey to you the joy of ensemble playing and communicate the resulting emotion, even the feeling of that type of music. Consequently I lined up a whole series of ensemble selections, ranging from the modernist bluegrass of Alison Brown, to the classic ensemble jazz of Count Basie’s live band.  

In the process of reviewing these selections, I noted that bass articulation with the Fezz is exceptional. Triode bass isn’t wall-rattling, but what you get is clear and tactile. I found that I get better bass with the Fezz without using a sub, than I get with the ‘Simply Italy’ with a sub. This was a real eye opener, even though I was aware that bass extension is the weakest point of my beloved Unison amplifier.  

Female vocals are absolutely to-die-for with the Fezz. I worked through my entire catalogue of CDs by Eva Cassidy and Jenn Grant. I just kept playing disc after disc until well over a dozen CDs had been spun. In the process, I discovered new gems. 

In fact, as a reviewer, this is one of the ‘tells’ which occurs when auditioning gear, that separates the ‘nice to have’ component from the ‘exceptional’ component. We are all aware that we spin our favorite tracks when trying out a new piece of gear. But what happens with the best components is that you rediscover new gems that you had overlooked before. It is as if they were being presented completely afresh while your ears never really appreciated them before. When this happens to me I know I am listening to something special. The Fezz easily fills that role. 

The Mira Ceti is also dead quiet. Even with (connected) line level inputs at maximum volume I detected virtually nothing coming out of the speakers save for the whish of a few ions. The music just emerges from the speakers with a deep black background, and fade-outs at the end of tracks are long and sharply delineated. 

 

But Can It Rock? 

Eventually though, I thought – but can the Fezz rock? Lo and behold, it can, within limits. Much depends on what you count as ‘rock.’ For instance, easy rock, such as JJ Cale and Eric Clapton (The Road to Enscondido) is firmly within its limits. Harder-edged stuff such as Bob Seger (Greatest Hits) is also an easy play. But really blunt-edged rock like AC/DC and the thrash metal genre are possibly a small problem, Why is this? 

Rock requires ‘grunt’ as well as ‘crunch and edge’. The grunt side of the equation is easily handled by the excellent bass response of the Fezz and it’s 300B tubes. But the crunch and edge so crucial to wailing guitars is an artifact of harmonic distortion. In this case the Fezz wants to smooth out some of the pain. Those 300B tubes, which render glorious the sound of female voice, also seek to remove the rougher edges from hard core rock, or else they dampen the harmonic distortions that give hard rock its edge. There is a kind of sweet mist that they spray over everything, and hard rock and really tough R&B is essentially ‘gnarly music’. 

I note that the Fezz is listed as having potentially up to 0.4% harmonic distrortion. This will be primarily second order harmonics, thus likely sweetening the underlying sound field. However, the full potential of 300B SET designs, it is believed by some, requires careful matching with +92 dB efficiency speakers, and such speakers were unavailable during this review. 

As always, buyers should be aware that not all components can cover all the musical bases with equal finesse. You need to be sensitive to your main preferences in musical styles and seek components that fit that profile.  

 

Swapping Speakers

Next up the line are to swap in my J.M. Reynaud Jubilees. The Reynauds are 4 Ohm speakers, so I utilized the 4 Ohm amplifier taps, thus giving the 300Bs a bit more breathing room. I have said it many times before but the JMRs are intimacy-seeking speakers. They are one of the few speakers I have heard that can readily communicate musical emotion and their shiver factor is always present.   

With the Fezz amplifier, the JMR’s were as good as I have ever heard them. Using the same vinyl and CD sources I used with the DALIs, the Fezz would spin its magic time and time again. Of considerable note was the delicacy of the music when appropriate content required it, and the levels of inner detail revealed. 

As noted above, some might say that the 300B tubes cast a certain hypnotic mist over the music, but that mist is very attractive and even supremely addictive. Switching off the Fezz and replacing it with my Unison Research ‘Simply Italy’ was almost a jarring experience as I had been so effectively seduced by the Fezz’s presentation.  

 

Conclusion

The Fezz really spoiled me for the 300B SET experience. I was sorry to say farewell to this amp. So now what do I do?  In summary, the Fezz Mira Ceti is a highly recommended amplifier that will provide you with eight glorious watts per channel of single-ended power. If your speakers are reasonably efficient you will likely be transported to heaven. 

 

The author and Wall of Sound would like to thank Tri-Cell Enterprises for providing the Fezz Audio Mira Ceti amplifier review unit. 

 

Footnote 1: The entire Fezz amplifier line-up is available for view in an online catalogue, available in English, here:

https://fezzaudio.com/index2.php#about

Footnote 2: Mira Ceti refers to a red giant, and binary star system in the Cetus constellation. 

Footnote 3:  6Moons.com published this statement from Fezz Audio regarding their amplifiers. ‘The technical parameters we achieved … well, sometimes they are hard to believe whilst looking at the size and price of our transformers. So okay, if everything looks this good, why are such toroidal output transformers not popular or more widely used? The main reason is a certain superstition, a legacy stereotype. It says that it is not possible to produce a high-quality output transformer with a toroidal core. Moreover, the saying goes that supposedly, when used in single-ended circuits, it is virtually impossible for them to operate at all. Therefore we decided to build a proof-of-concept SE amp with toroidal transformers of our own design and manufacture.” – Maciej Lachowski

Specifications:

Max. output power: 2 x 8W

Circuit type: Single Ended Class A 

Output impedance: 4Ω / 8Ω

Inputs: 3 x RCA

Harmonic distortion THD: < 0,4%

Frequency response: 20Hz-65kHz (-3dB)

Power consumption: 115W

AC fuse: 3,15A

Net weight: 14 kg

Dimensions: 340x360x215mm

Tubes: 300B x2 (power output), 6SN7 x2 (pre-amp)

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About David Neice (13 Articles)
David Neice is an audiophile hobbyist with more than fifty years experience at rotating audio components in and out of stereo systems. In the 1970s he was a founding member of the Toronto Audio Society. He writes extensively on fora at Canuck Audio Mart and has done so for nearly two decades while corresponding with fellow audiophiles world-wide. He holds a DPhil degree from the University of Sussex (UK) in the field of Science and Technology Policy and has taught at several universities and held successive posts as Director of Policy Research in government circles. Presently he is retired and listens to all sorts of music while living at 'chaos manor' in Stratford Ontario.

6 Comments on Review: Fezz Audio Mira Ceti 300B Integrated Amplifier

  1. Steve Graham // 2022/04/19 at 7:51 pm // Reply

    So David, will we see a Simply Italy for sale on Canuk Audiomart soon? And a CD player? Really? CD players are so 20th century. Even a luddite like me has given them up. Bur seriously, I listen to more music now that I source music from server/streamers. If I can’t decide what to listen to I’ll stream an internet “station”. When I hear something familiar that catches my ear I’ll often switch over to a full album stored on a hard drive.

    Cheers, Steve

    P.S. I think someone published several articles on the web detailing the use of a Raspberry Pi as a server/streamer.

    • Steve: David’s away from the computer for a few days, not ignoring you.
      I know he picked up a NODE recently, as did Tim.
      -Noam

  2. David Neice // 2022/04/26 at 10:30 pm // Reply

    Note to Steve,

    Just back from a week in the Outer Banks, North Carolina. What a fabulous place! I went to fly my collection of prize kites as well as to do some ocean surf fishing. The trip exceeded all my expectations.

    Back to the audio grind. I eased into streaming with a Node 2i while reviewing the Fezz. What a delightful piece of gear. I have it plugged into my secondary system and love it. I have an extensive collection of Spotify playlists I created and just let them run for hours at a time. Also I have been exploring the whole catalogue of Florence and the Machine. I think I am in love.
    And no, the ‘Simply Italy’ is not for sale – but I am eyeing a ‘Triode 25’.

    Anyway that’s the latest news here at ‘Chaos Manor’

    Cheers,
    David Neice

  3. Is this amp quiet enough to be used with High efficiency speakers? I have had a problem getting an amp that works with Avantgarde’s. Hum has been a problem.
    Thanks,
    Tom

  4. David Neice // 2022/05/06 at 9:21 am // Reply

    Tom,
    Sorry for the delay in my response. A qualified “yes”, I was struck by how quiet the amp was even when the volume was boosted very high. The caveat being that none of my speakers are higher than 90dB sensitivity.
    Regards,
    David Neice

  5. Hi David
    Thanks for a wonderful review. For a little bit more money the Mira Ceti has a big brother, Lybra providing twice the 300B power. For extremely high efficiency speaker the Mira Ceti comes in a 2A3 version.
    Also Tri-Cell provides number of high effeicency brands that mate nicely with Fezz 300B amps; Acapella, Cube, Tune, Odeon, Max series from Unison Research. Transformer specialist, Quiet yes.
    Phil

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