Ion Obelisk amplifiers
Ion Systems made three amplifiers in the “Obelisk” range. They all evolved from the last of the Nytech amplifiers. The CA102 became the Obelisk 1, The CA202 became the Obelisk 2 and the CA302 became the Obelisk 3.
The major change was from the Nytech slide controls to a conventional rotary control and an extra input and button with a really confusing combination of buttons in or out to select the inputs
They all had similar power outputs and the range progressed in musical quality terms rather than engineering specs.
All the Obelisk amplifiers can be serviced and repaired as all the electronic parts are still available.
The Ion Obelisk 1 was the “baby” of the Obelisk family and was very simple in its design.
Essentially the Obelisk 1 was an input selector and volume control (no pre amplifier) directly connected to the power amplifiers and a MM phono stage dedicated as input 1.
Like the CA102, the early Obelisk 1 had a simple fold around case and wasn’t very pretty to look at.
The later version had a much more refined look with a machined front panel and a very high quality Alps blue volume control, still used today in many high end amplifiers (including ours).
Because of this simplicity the little Obelisk 1 produced a musical clarity way beyond its modest size. If you have one it is well worth restoring as these amps can really sing!
The Obelisk 2 was the Obelisk 1’s “bigger brother” with a preamp stage, larger transformer and an extra “Aux” input with adjustable level controls for CD players .
It shared the same front panel layout as its little brother but the case was deeper to accommodate the larger PCBs and power supply transformer.
The Phono input was MM only with no MC option.
Power output was slightly higher (30W) than the Ob1 (25W) and arguments rage on as to which sounds “better”.
The Obelisk 2 evolved from the Nytech CA202 and early versions have DIN inputs as well as RCA phono sockets for Aux and Disk.
Obelisk 3 and 3X
The Obelisk 3 was the flagship of the Obelisk range.
It had the same front panel layout and size as the Ob2 but had an improved power supply section and the phono stage was now a plug in PCB so that an MC option was available. It also had gold plated input connectors.
The Obelisk 3X was basically an Obelisk 3 with the power supply transformer removed to make room for a pair of huge (and expensive) power supply capacitors. The X-Pak contained a much larger (300VA) power transformer to power the 3X.
The end result was a subtle and refined improvement to the musical performance very similar to the entry level Nexus system.
The Obelisk 3X also had the factory option to use the higher quality Nexus phono stage (the “supercard”).
Although the 3 could also use the supercard it was not advertised at the time as an option to give the 3X some exclusivity.