Press > Review Mimetism 15.2 Haute Fidélité n° 99, April 2005
NEW INTEGRATED AMPLIFIER - MIMETISM 15.2

The new Mimetism product line is the creation of Audio System Manufacturing, itself a start-up company located in the Brittany region of northwest France. These names may not yet have the ring of familiarity but William Andrea, who created the Mimetism brand, is a name that has figured prominently in a number of companies in the French audio scene (see sidebar).
The head . . .

At present, as we finish editing these lines, the Mimetism line is composed of two components: a CD player and the integrated amplifier that is the subject of this review. The 15.2 (that’s the sweet name to which the amp responds) is a massive baby weighing in at 28 kilos. One had better take care to find a supporting rack of equal build quality. With a width of 43 cm and a depth of 45, it’s definitely on the Sumo wrestler side of integrated amps. At the same time, its limited height makes for a modest and slender impression overall. With a severity approaching the monastic, the amp has only two enormous circular knobs set on either side of a handsome digital display, its blue characters clearly visible even from a distance. No silk screening interrupts the serenity of the brushed aluminum surface, but in “stand-by” mode the digital display proclaims the name of the amp in large letters. As with other beautiful industrial designs these days, the Mimetism avoids the use of plastic. Aluminum is everywhere, in the front and rear panels, the chassis and the top cover, and the circular feet whose internal cavities allow the fitting of optional SoundCare Superspikes. And yes, such attention to detail includes the working aspects of the amp. The rear of the Mimetism 15.2 is magnificently appointed. Four gorgeous binding posts in clear plastic are appropriately located at the two sides of the back plate, permitting connection of speaker cables with banana terminations, heavy-gauge bare wire and spade terminations. Between these two sets, eighteen connectors provide inputs and outputs: a dozen single-ended RCA jacks, and six balanced XLR jacks. The connectors are generously spaced and of very high quality: gold-plated copper RCAs with Teflon insulation and Neutrik XLRs. Phase inverters are located right next to the line-level main output sockets – something rarely seen, and an indication of the care taken in the design. An RS-232 connector permits a quick and easy evaluation of the on-board computer and allows for future upgrades in performance. Finally, an IEC connector and power switch end this impressive list. A description of the Mimetism would not be complete without including the superb remote control. This long bar of aluminum cradles nicely in the hand and is equipped with two clusters of buttons. The larger cluster controls the Mimetism CD player, but may also control any machine that uses RC-5 codes. The second cluster controls the amp and gives access to a wide range of functions via scrolling menus. Special functions are activated when the remote’s red LED is illuminated. These functions give access to the adjustable level of every input (relative to the others), to L-R balance, and allow the possibility of renaming the inputs and outputs. The user may also control the output level by +/- 10 dB (in relative terms from one output to the next, or in absolute terms via an independent potentiometer). Finally, one can listen to one source while recording another source simultaneously.


. . . and the legs!

From a purely technical standpoint, William Andrea set out to make a simple electronic circuit without compromises in either musicality or reliability. In strategic locations there are surface-mounted, tight-tolerance components partnered with traditional discrete parts. This approach permits the shortening of traces on the printed circuit boards, thereby making signal paths shorter overall. The amplifier section uses complementary 2SK1058-2SJ162 Hitachi MOSFET output transistors – well known among audiophiles – in a configuration of two per channel. The input section uses a cascode differential stage for the best performance. The pre-driver and driver stages use high-voltage high-bandwidth bipolar transistors. Adhering to one of the creator’s most deeply-held beliefs, the driver stage runs in pure Class A. The circuit carries only one capacity, the remainder of the circuit being direct-coupled. Each channel has its own power supply with 60,000 microfarads of filtration, achieved via high current diodes without switching peaks. A delayed start-up function linked to the D.C. protection circuit is built into each channel. The gigantic 1000 VA toroidal transformer has two separate windings for each channel. To avoid current saturation, a power resistor has been placed in the power supply. After a very short delay, this is coupled to a power relay that limits the current. The loudspeaker output terminals are fed by solid copper bars. The command receptor mounted on the faceplate works with the microprocessor, the switched power supply, the display, and six high-quality Wilson digital volume control circuits.


A simple glance reveals that this amp is capable of handling any load.

In use

It is very important to place the Mimetism 15.2 on a stable and rigid platform, made of wood if possible. In general, glass does not improve things and we try to avoid it unless it is very thick, as in the well-executed Phil Design products, for example. The 15.2 ships with a high-current power cord that we recommend you keep. This amp is quite open-sounding and cables from Esprit, MPC, Ecosse, and Hi-fi Cables & cie all gave us good results. As for speakers, no worries – one of the Mimetism’s strong points is that it can drive almost any loudspeaker on the planet.


Listening

And yes, such a sense of grip is immediately obvious from this new component: the Mimetism 15.2 handles any speaker – the most inefficient, the most unstable – you can throw at it with a beautiful sense of ease. All the usual candidates from our personal inventory were tried, and we can assure you that B&W, Dynaudio and Thiel were all tamed by this beautiful baby. This masterful control allows the Mimetism to operate with great aplomb and stability with all kinds of program material, but above all, it maintains a kind of unruffled serenity. Far from over-spectacular sounds or darkening colorations, the Mimetism imposes its own rhythm, that of a confident component that dominates the discussion and never raises its voice except to exert its authority. It gives you control in spades, but also plenty of transparency and clarity. Music is reproduced with a very beautiful fluidity, an inner sense of rhythm and timing. And even at high listening levels, well beyond what might be deemed decent, the Mimetism 15.2 maintains a comfort in listening that is absolutely remarkable. Beyond this, to listen at high levels in its company is to experience a moment of great jubilation. The finger has barely to touch the buttons on the remote, and although the volume climbs at a dizzying rate, the music does not harden, the dynamic range never compresses . . . This amp seems to be blessed with unlimited resources of power that it distils into sweetness and smoothness. The soundstage is panoramic and of a width beyond anything we experience normally. One has to ask where the surround speakers are . . . The entire audible bandwidth is perfectly structured with a majestic and solid bass, but above all clearly articulated. The degree of details revealed in the bass (where normally they remain hidden) is truly unbelievable! The treble is purely modeled while retaining a spirit of delicacy. The Mimetism 15.2’s very beautiful palette of timbres is subtly reminiscent of warmth found in the finest tube amplifiers, yet it permits itself this delicate characteristic while still maintaining an iron grip and limitless resources of current that one associates with transistors. In short, this test session was a complete success. Here is a novel and original design that really deserves investigation. Both the lovers of beautiful music and the fans of technical excellence will find happiness in this creation.
Laurent Thorin



Call-out

Hidden within a completely unknown product name is a totally new French designer/manufacturer, whose new ideas are unequalled in the realm of musicality. Despite their remarkably minimalist exteriors, the Mimetism designs express an eloquent technical mastery and a sophisticated user interface rarely encountered in equipment that looks this simple on the outside. A real find!



But who is that hiding behind Mimetism?

This new French brand was created by William Andrea, a designer who has been much visible in French audio. His resume includes stops at such famed locations as Supravox, where our man develops powered loudspeakers for French television (ORTF). Then he crops up at Famco (French American Company). He’s behind the development and production of Nuance and Plenitude amps and preamps, Yves Cochet’s P-UN and PP-UN. Next he joined Phlox electronics to develop and manufacture certain YBA products. After this, a foray outside audio with the Pulsonic company to develop weather data gathering stations, which gives him a chance to play with digital signal processing. Following this, there is a high-visibility gig with Vecteur, where he creates the famous Club Twelve and I-6.2, two amps that are still considered to be references today. At present William has launched Mimetism with a Swiss colleague Yvan Coderey, who owns the L’Audiophile store in Lausanne and who designs, develops and manufactures the control boards. Let’s also mention that a large part of the development of the Mimetism products was done in collaboration with the Anagram research group, an indication of the highest quality . . .


Ratings

CONSTRUCTION (5 stars out of possible 5)
Under the Mimetism’s smart and tasteful exterior hides a technical mastery of great distinction. Magnificently built and equipped routinely with things that others offer as options, this ambitious new integrated amp should meet every expectation.

MUSICALITY (5 stars out of possible 5)
Above all, it’s the reserves of power and the serenity that will win over the most jaded of music lovers. Capable of driving any loudspeaker with ease and tranquility, the Mimetism 15.2 is always crystal-clear and fluid.

QUALITY/PRICE RATIO (5 stars out of possible 5)
Complete, and with a remarkable level of build quality, the Mimetism does not lack for compelling features. Even though it is appearing in market sector crowded with competition, this new amp will not leave those who experience indifferent, and deserves every opportunity for audition. Mimetism: a new manufacturer to follow . . .


Specifications

Country of Origin: France / Dimensions: 17" x 4.7" x 17.7" / Weight (unpacked): 62 lbs. / Power: 185 watts per channel into 8 ohms, 370 watts into 4 ohms / Total Harmonic Distortion: <0.005% / Signal-to-Noise Ratio: 110 dB