And now for something completely different: The Roksan Oxygene integrated amplifier. It does not look anything like any integrated amplifier I have ever seen. In fact I am sure that most people who eyeball this component for the first time with no prior information on it could well have a hard time identifying what the dickens it really is.
The Roksan Oxygene integrated amplifier
It is obvious that Roksan started the process of designing its Oxygene range of products with a blank sheet and with the determination not to be bound by any of the preconceived notions of what an integrated amplifier should look like and how it should be operated. The design is the brainchild of Danish designer Bo Christensen who founded Primare and later BOW Technologies. This is a gutsy and pretty ambitious move on Roksan’s part and I might add, a bit risky as well. This goes well beyond an attempt to be different. Rather it seems to be a daring attempt to redefine a category and drag the integrated amplifier into the 21st century. It is obvious that one of the design goals was to make the Oxygene range extremely simple, perhaps even over the top simple. As Albert Einstein famously said “Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.” I am sure that many consumers taking a first gander at the Oxygene integrated amplifier ($6,000) for the first time will conclude that its design would qualify as being ‘simpler’ as defined by Einstein in this notable quote. The first unwritten rule of audio that Roksan broke is the one that requires integrated amplifiers to have buttons and a volume knob. There are absolutely no buttons and no volume knob; you read that right, zero, zilch, zip, nada! This has obviously given the component a very sleek and elegant look but it can be quite disconcerting for a traditional audio enthusiast to operate, at least for the first few days of use. The cover of the Oxygene is CNC machined out of a 2.5 inch high grade aluminium block with a dot matrix display and piezoelectricity touch sensitive controls. You have a choice of getting this component in white, black or silver. The top of the box has the words “Less is More” emblazoned on it. This script doubles up as the volume and function controls in that the word ‘More’ can be touched lightly to increase the volume, the word ‘Less’ to decrease the volume and the word ‘is’ allows you to cycle through the various inputs on the integrated amplifier. The touch controls are very sensitive and require just a light tap.
The front of the component has an elegant perforated grill behind which are positioned bright white LEDs that spell out the relevant status that the gear is in
The front of the component has an elegant perforated grill behind which are positioned bright white LEDs that spell out the relevant status that the gear is in. This design means that the Oxygene integrated amp cannot have other components stacked on top of it. It can however be stacked on top of the matching Roksan CD player and other components from this line coming later this fall. I am guessing that this too was done on purpose, with the designer intending to let the top of this component be admired by your eyes as much as it is enjoyed by your ears. The feet of the integrated amp are milled through allowing you to mount it to a desk, a wall, a deck on a boat, or… a ceiling in a frat house.
Those looking to make a statement with their music system will definitely want to take a look at the Roksan custom art finishes, which command a $1,500 premium, but look absolutely stunning. The custom art finishes cover the entire top of the amplifier with a beautiful piece of art. Google “Roksan Oxygene custom” to see some of the available finishes or contact the Roksan distributor Rutherford Audio as listed at the end of this review for exact details and availability
In keeping with its maverick design approach, the Oxygene adopts the Class D amplifier design. It can deliver 75 watts of power into each of its two channels at 8 Ohms impedance. This doubles to 150 watts per channel when driving a 4 Ohm load. This level of power should be more than adequate for most applications provided the speakers it is driving have reasonably good sensitivity and provided the user does not listen to music at window rattling level all the time.
The remote continues with the ultra simple theme with controls for only the very basic functions of the component. They include the volume control, input selection and dimming/brightening of the intensity of the LED display on the front panel, which is a useful feature especially if you like listening to music in a darkened room.
The back of this integrated amplifier has connections that include stereo inputs for three analog RCA sources, left and right speaker outputs and two line level outputs to feed active subwoofers. The Oxygene offers a total harmonic distortion of less than 0.1%, a signal to noise ratio of 95 dB and input impedance of 10 kOhms. This seven-kilogram beauty has vital statistics of 31 X 31 X 6 centimeters. One of the aspects of the Oxygene that should appeal to the younger generation of music lovers is its Bluetooth capability, which is quite extraordinary and which supports 16 reception channels that allow wireless connections to multiple devices. The typical modern home has quite a few Bluetooth music playback devices and with its multiple channels the Oxygene will probably never run out of channels to not only accommodate multiple Bluetooth devices but also memorize each one’s unique connection to this integrated amplifier.
The back of this integrated amplifier has connections that include stereo inputs for three analog RCA sources, left and right speaker outputs and two line level outputs to feed active subwoofers