AXPONA 2017: CH Precision North American debut of I1 Universal integrated amplifier with Magico

CH Precision I1 Universal Integrated Amplifier

Raphael Pasche doesn’t mess around when it comes to designing high-fidelity audiophile components. He’s got laser-beam intensity when you ask him about the products he helps design at Swiss high-end audio manufacturer CH Precision, and you can see/hear that translating into the I1 Universal integrated amplifier that made it’s North American debut at AXPONA in Chicago. Pasche called the I1 “a synopsis of our brand portfolio of electronics,” and said that customers should not be deceived by it’s simplistic exterior, for underneath the hood it houses an advanced versatility that should not be underestimated. He added that vinyl aficionados would do well to take into account the unit’s phono stage which can handle three cartridges – making it a serious contender for those with multiple turntables, or  with ‘tables capable of accommodating multiple arms.

Simple, elegant, musical and transparent.

The unit has the iconic CH Precision machined aluminum-alloy enclosure, and modular internal component design (including separate internal circuit-mounting boards for each input/output mount to eliminate crosstalk) that is helping to set the company apart from it’s Swiss brethren.  Built into the sleek casework the 100-watt/channel (into eight Ohms) I1 packs considerable firepower. Consider that engineers have managed to include key circuit-design aspects of the A1 Two-Channel Power Amplifier, C1 Reference Digital to Analog Controller, L1 Dual Monaural Line Preamplifier, and the P1 Dual Monaural Phono Stage into the I1’s design. That’s about $130,000 USD ($175,000 CAN) worth of components to draw upon, so it’s safe to say this is not just some entry-level design opportunity on the company’s part. This is a full-fledged integrated amplifier design that was years in the making, and to my ears has the sonic chops to prove it.

Iconic CH casework.

Being familiar with the CH Precision sound as I had their L1 Preamplifier, and M1 Stereo Amplifier at my home for a few months for an extended review (being published soon!), I can tell you that the I1 is cut from the same sonic cloth as it’s two-box siblings. Listening to digital files there was tons of flow to the music with big dynamic swings in the various tracks being played while I was in the room handled easily by the I1, in fact one of the things underlined in my notes is “headroom” which was a reference to the feeling that the sound had a completely effortless feel in its reproduction.

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Swiss control.

Bass was deep, tuneful, and textured with drum skins possessing a real wood-on-paper quality to every strike, and real spatial articulation, and shimmer to high hat, and cymbals. Strings  retained an air of plucked delicacy, but had real body weight to each note. Voices, and midrange through the Magico S1MK II that was translating this Swiss dance of the electrons was balanced, organic, and without falsetto smearing or sibilance.

The I1 seems poised to take a place of honour in CH’s sonic stable which is already full of thoroughbreds, and offers a unique opportunity for those looking to invest in seriously musical, transparent, and powerful equipment with nothing but future-proof connection options.

–Rafe Arnott


Room list:

– I1 universal integrated amplifier ($38,000 USD, $52,000 CAN) + options
– T1 Time reference (static display $24,700 USD, $33,850 CAN)
D1 CD/SACD transport ($38,000 USD, $51,800 CAN)
Kronos Sparta Turntable ($21,500 USD, $29,500 CAN)
Magico S1 MKII ($16,500 USD, $22,600 CAN)
Artesania three-level Audio/Video rack ($ Per manufacturers request)
CH speaker and interconnect cables ($ Per manufacturers request)

CH Precision I1 specifications:

Input Modularity

  • Factory fitted with AES/EBU, S/PDIF, Toslink and CH Link digital inputs
  • Ethernet audio streaming input, (optional)
  • USB audio class 1.0 and 2.0 streaming input, optional
  • Analog balanced XLR and single-ended RCA inputs (optional)
  • Current-mode phono input, ideal for MC cartridges, RIAA,
  • ERIAA, EMI, Columbia, Decca and Teldec EQ curves, are optional
Processing & Clocking
  • Proprietary CH-HiD synchronous data oversampling
  • Resolution enhancement for audio material of less than 24bits
  • Ultra low jitter digitally controlled VCXo oscillators on dedicated power supplies
Digital to Analog Conversion
  • Individual multi-bit Delta-Sigma converter per channel • Pure Class A, fully-symmetrical analog design
  • Fully discrete, ultra-low noise, high-slew rate design

Volume Control

  • 118dB range in 0.5dB steps, from -100dB to +18dB
  • Volume preset on each input
  • Phono input adjustable gain
  • Post volume control, line-level analog output on balanced
  • XLR connectors
  • Tight tolerance high-grade metal  LM resistors
Amplification Stages
  • Pure Class A, ultra-low noise driver and class AB pure follower power stage
  • Feedback ratio adjustable from 0% – local feedback only – to 100% – global feedback only – in 20% steps
  • Patent-pending ExactBias circuitry
  • Power transistors and heat sink temperature monitored
  • No output relay
  • Argento loudspeaker binding posts
Power Supply
  •  Shielded 1000Va power transformer
  •  Hyper fast soft recovery diode bridge recti ers
  •  Total of 100’000uf reservoir and  ltering 4-pole capacitors
Digital Audio Inputs
  • AES/EBU, S/PDIF, Toslink
  • PCM up to 192kHz/24bits and DoP (DSD64 over PCM)
CH Link
  • PCM up to 768kHz/32bits and native DSD up to 5.6448MHz/1bit
Audio Streaming (optional)
  • Ethernet: Connects to a UPnP/DnLa compatible server (eg naS). Browse music from a tablet using the CH Control app
  • USB: enables bit-exact, ultra low jitter playback of high resolution audio files directly from a computer
  • Phono MC Input (optional)
Analog Audio Inputs (optional)
  • Input impedance: Balanced (XLR): 94kΩ or 600Ω – Single-ended (RCA and BNC): 47kΩ or 300Ω

Maximum input level

  • Balanced (XLR): 8V RMS – Single-ended (RCA and BNC): 4V RMS
Analog Audio Outputs
  • Line level outputs: Balanced (XLR): 4V RMS – Volume Controlled variable output
  • Power outputs: 2x 100W RMS/8Ω, 2x 175W RMS/4Ω
  • Display: 480 x 272 pixels 24bits RGB AMOLED
Power supply
  • Selectable 100V, 115V or 230V aC, 47Hz to 63Hz, < 1W in Standby
  • Overall dimensions and weight: 440mm x 440mm x 133mm, 43kg
  • Control / Software update: ethernet based system control via the android CH Control app / USB port for software update

About Rafe Arnott 389 Articles
Editor of InnerFidelity and AudioStream


  1. Had I but a dollar for every time I’ve seen a “this stuff is crazy expensive, who can afford it, woe be the whole audio industry!” comment, I could easily buy a rack of CH gear…

  2. And who is supposed to buy all these millionaire toys. What happens to music lovers who will eventually abandon the shows and the hobby because they can’t afford USD 50K – 100K for a hifi system??

    Seriously think it’s time for the music industry to wake up before they go bankrupt.

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