Aesthetix is the brain child of engineer and music lover Jim White. Avid concert-going from the age of 10 and a well read subscription to Stereophile at age 13 were the early hints of what would become a life consuming obsession with music and vinyl playback. After advanced studies in physics, mathematics and electrical engineering, Jim began honing his skills in 1990 at Theta Digital. His contributions to the Theta Casablanca and Dreadnaught were his first examples of outstanding design. Analog remained Jim’s true hi-fi passion, and in 1993 work on a massive tube phono stage began in his garage. Audiophile friends who heard the first homemade unit urged him to build more and thus Aesthetix was born. The result of groundbreaking design and a commitment to build quality, the Aesthetix Jupiter Series Io phono stage and Callisto line stage soon became industry benchmarks, garnering Golden Ear and Editor’s Choice awards. The Saturn Series followed, offering a full range of products from source to amplification and is now similarly honored with global accolades and awards. Aesthetix has grown to distribute a full range of hi-fi tube products in 27 countries. Every unit is still meticulously hand assembled by the talented Aesthetix factory technicians in Moorpark, California.
PRINCIPLES OF DESIGN
No Aesthetix product uses feedback, a method traditionally used to compensate for poor design or other anomalies. Aesthetix circuits are designed to measure well without the use of feedback, a difficult endeavor but the results of which are clearly audible.
Differential amplifier circuits are used liberally, despite higher cost, for their inherent advantages of common-mode rejection and greatly reduced ground currents. Special attention is given to the related passive components (resistors, capacitors, etc) of the differential amplifiers, as these can greatly affect sound quality and stability.
Aesthetix designs, while primarily vacuum-tube, are technology agnostic. There is no “best” amplifying device; vacuum tubes, bipolar transistors and FETs all have their place and each can achieve stunning results if properly designed and manufactured. That being said, vacuum-tubes seem to be the best suited for voltage amplification of audio signals, delivering the most neutral, grain-free, full-bodied sound…if properly implemented. Aesthetix uses transistors and other technologies where appropriate; frequently in power supply regulators and power amplifier output stages.
Aesthetix aims to create universal products that can perform well anywhere in the world, under virtually any operating condition and in any audiophile system. We accomplish this by manufacturing products that are extremely reliable, with great care given to structural design and integrity, and that integrate design features like robust power supplies.
Robust Power Supplies
Thorough power supply design is crucial, and all Aesthetix products have extensive power supplies. Nearly all include choke (inductor) input power supplies which are rarely used in audio due to their precision manufacturing requirements, cost and weight. However, nothing can replace a choke and the benefits they provide, which include improved regulation, a much easier load for the transformer thus reduced current spikes, and greater immunity to radio-frequency interference. All Aesthetix products employ discrete regulation for audio circuits, and utilize the highest quality electrolytic and film capacitors. Every power supply voltage in an Aesthetix products is carefully regulated to ensure consistent sound quality day-to-day, regardless of ac power conditions.
Circuit Board Design
Circuit board layout and design is also critically important to achieve Aesthetix design goals. For example, all Aesthetix preamps and power amps use separate left and right channel audio circuit boards, a technique which prevents cross talk and increases dimensionality and soundstaging. Even seemingly minor changes in circuit board layout and trace routing can have a major effect on sound quality and performance. Multiple iterations of circuit boards are common in the design process, each one successively better than the previous.
Damped, Rigid, Beautiful Chassis
Structural design is given more attention than competing products. Constrained-layer damping, transformer isolation, and other techniques are employed to lower mechanical noise to a minimum. This is part and parcel with an attractive cosmetic design, with form following function to achieve user friendliness and the ability to meld elegantly into any home.