After more than twenty years of writing about audio equipment, you would think that you have already tested all well-known brands. Wrong, a device branded Roksan has never stayed with me. This Attessa Streaming Amplifier is the first and probably not the least. On paper, the amplifier is promising and you can actually speak more of a Swiss (English) Audio army knife. After unpacking this heavyweight, almost eleven kilograms, I see a beautiful amplifier in front of me.
Appearance and Specifications
The copy made available to me is finished in black, which suits the amplifier very well. The centrally placed large rotary knob for controlling the volume, among other things, has a silver-grey ring. The metal case is chamfered on the left and right sides at the bottom. The aluminum front is also completely sleek with a narrow OLED panel in the middle over the full width, which shows the selected source and the volume level when the amplifier is on. At the far right of the front is a 3.5 mm headphone jack. The Attessa looks slim and measures 432 x 76 x 346 millimeters to be precise. Despite the many connection options, the rear looks tidy and sleek. Roksan has clearly made an effort to place the connections as logically and widely as possible. In addition to two sets of analog connections and a dedicated MM phono input, the Attessa has a large number of digital inputs. Twice Optical SPDIF, twice Coax and bluetooth. A set of single speaker connections, a set of RCA pre-out for connecting a subwoofer, for example, is also included. The power cord is detachable so that the enthusiast can experiment with a ‘better’ one if the need arises. Of course there is an Ethernet connection and an input for the supplied WiFi dongle. The aforementioned weight can largely be explained by the large toroidal transformer of 400VA. Partly because of this, the amplifier is able to deliver twice eighty watts of power into 8 ohms. In practice, it will turn out that this is more than enough to fill my forty square meter living room with music. The built-in DAC processes signals up to 24bit/192kHz via the coaxial inputs and 24bit/96kHz via the optical inputs. Also, an MQA signal can be decoded.
The biggest plus compared to other all-in-one solutions is without a doubt the integration of the BluOs streaming platform. Until recently, only reserved for the Bluesound and NAD brands. BluOs is known as one of the best, if not the best, streaming platforms. Very reliable, a good interface that almost approaches the level of Roon, and updates with great regularity. This is of course not all. It also makes the Attessa Streaming amplifier suitable for Multi-Room applications up to 64 zones with, for example, wireless speakers or a Bluesound soundbar. In addition to this Attessa Streaming amplifier, the series also includes a turntable and CD drive. If you don’t need streaming, there’s the ‘regular’ Attessa amplifier.
Place and install
Despite the many possibilities, the Roksan Attessa Streaming is quite easy to connect. This Roksan temporarily takes the place of my own Devialet 220 Pro. In terms of functionality, the two are not very different from each other. This way I can transfer the normally connected devices to the Roksan almost one-to-one. To get a more realistic picture, I do use my Audiovector R3 Arreté speakers, but I take the Supra Classic 4.0 cables from the closet to connect the two together. I connect my Bluesound Vault to the Attessa with an Oehlbach XXL optical cable. An Atlas Hyper Ethernet cable goes from the Bonn8 network switch to the amplifier. A more reliable option within my network than the WiFi option that Roksan also offers through the supplied dongle. My Funk Vector turntable can go on holiday for a while because the Attessa does have a built-in phono stage, but only suitable for MM cartridges. My Shelter 301 element is an MC instance. My Quadraspire rack serves as a solid surface. Clean power is supplied to the Roksan Attessa from an Atlas Modular junction box with the standard supplied power cord. In principle, music can now be listened to. At will you can make specific user adjustments in the MaestroUnite developed by Roksan, such as the input
level per input and label the inputs with an icon. You can also adjust the sensitivity of the headphone jack and the phono input. Since I already use a Bluesound device, the Attessa automatically appears in the app after connecting it to my network and the music that is on my Vault is immediately available.
I start with a comparison between the digital input with the Bluesound Vault as source and via the network via the BluOs app. I listen to a number of tracks that are known to me that are on the hard disk of the Vault. Just to get straight to the point. If there is a difference, it is negligible. The advantage of listening via the BluOs app is that you can also adjust the volume of the Attessa here, so you don’t have to use the separate remote control. Convenience does not serve people. To judge the character and quality of this Roksan Attessa, I’ll start off with a good oldie: Private Investgations by Dire Straits. Even though I’ve listened to the song countless times, it somehow always fascinates me. The Attessa does not disappoint, in fact it is fine to listen to this streaming amplifier. The volume can be adjusted in small steps via the BluOs app, which is very nice. The bass response is tight and controlled. Dynamically it is excellent, in terms of transparency it is also perfectly fine. The panting, which is somewhat hidden on the right in the sound image, is no problem for this Attessa. Only when the mix gets very busy do you have to make a little more effort as a listener to follow it. What is striking in a positive sense is the spaciousness of the reproduction and the air around Mark Knopfler’s voice and the various instruments.
During the review period it is announced that Rob de Nijs will be doing a farewell performance and as a fan I am lucky to be able to get tickets. To get used to the fact that it will be the last time I will hear Rob live, I listen to the song De Stilte from his latest album ‘t Is Mooi Geweest. Rob’s voice sounds fragile and is clearly aged. De Attessa shows this flawlessly, including the accompanying emotion. The background choir is beautifully placed at the back of the beautiful deep and wide stereo image and consists of separate voices. Due to the transparency of the amplifier, the cymbals played with brushes are clearly audible and very realistic. In order not to get stuck in the emotion for too long, quickly move on to something completely different where you can sing along loudly. Another Brick In The Wall by Pink Floyd is ideally suited for this. The volume goes up and the Attessa doesn’t flinch. For me a ‘Wall of sound’ is created that many amplifiers can suck at. I read the word ‘impressive’ back in my notes. The children’s choir with which it is wonderful to sing along is large in front of me, my speakers seem to have disappeared from the room, and the kids all have their own place in the choir. Delicious this!
Now that spaciousness and transparency appear to be one of the plus points in the playback character of this Attessa, it is time for some live tracks. If You Don’t Know Me By Now in the performance of Simply Red at Symphonica in Rosso is a good start. The so typical voice of Mick Hucknall is well captured by the Attessa. The spatial rendering certainly does not disappoint, I imagine myself to be part of the audience who sing along with all their heart. The same goes for Feelin’ Good by Michael Bublé. A smaller hall that is also clearly represented as such by the Roksan amplifier. Even during the part where many instruments do their best to whip up the crowd, you can hear the people shouting and cheering in the back of the deep soundstage. But there is more to stay, such as a tight and powerful reproduction of the drums that lays a nice foundation under the music. The horns sound as they should, and moreover, they are not just a mix of sound, but clearly separate instruments with their own place on the wide stage. The subtly played barchime at the end of the song can even be heard!
Back again to a quieter track by Paul Carrack, the white man with perhaps the most beautiful dark soul voice. How Long is a cover of the band Ace fronted by Carrack. Again there is that wonderfully deep and wide stereo image and Paul stands rock solid and with a lot of air around it in the middle and his voice flows wonderfully from the speakers. The way in which the second voice at the back of the image is heard is also beautiful. Through my Tidal account, which is directly available in the BluOs app, I search for some tracks encoded in MQA to hear how this Attessa Streaming handles this. Bad Guy by Billie Eilish is exciting music, I am treated to a super wide stereo image with all kinds of strange sounds far left and right in the image. The sometimes deliberately distorted voice and instruments are very well reproduced by the Attessa. The low goes well deep at times. But what impresses the most is the way in which the atmosphere of the music and the intention Billie has with it is presented. When listening to an MQA remaster of U2’s One, you can clearly hear vocalist Bono’s voice distorting during the slams. Once again, the atmosphere of the song is excellently captured. It sounds worn and the emotion drips from it. Of course, there’s music by The Rolling Stones available through Tidal and much of it in MQA. Waiting On A Friend is going to be the song of my choice. The guitar in the intro is big, but not too big, and lifelike right in my living room. The overall view is very loose and transparent. Mick’s voice is spot on again and despite the fact that he clearly takes the lead, the other voices continue to follow clearly.
Is the Roksan Attessa Streaming the perfect one box solution to which you only need to add a set of speakers? Given the price and the possibilities, I think the Attessa Streaming comes very close to this goal. An appearance that differs from the majority of the competition, in my eyes very successful, and beautiful build quality. The possibility to combine the amplifier with a matching CD drive and turntable. The sound quality is fine! Powerful, transparent and above all very spacious. Sufficient power with a large reserve to drive a somewhat more difficult speaker. The real icing on the cake, however, is the integration of BluOs, a masterstroke by Roksan. This gives you the most reliable streaming platform and the possibility to put together an almost infinite multi-room system. It is still a bit early in the year for a ‘Product of the Year’, but the competition will have to come from a very good house to knock this Roksan Attessa Streaming off the throne. A definite recommendation!
- Roksan Attessa Streaming € 1,875,-