Impression on the TB2A3

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Impression on the TB2A3

Postby Jon Agner » Mon Nov 24, 2003 3:53 pm

Sometime ago, when I was still new with vacuum tube amps, Ike Tuazon (who influenced me into vacuum tube technology) told me in one of our conversations: “The most important part of sound amplification is the first watt”.. Well, for me, I guess this is what the TB2A3 is all about. The first watt. It was only after hearing the TB2A3 that I realized I did not need X,XXX watts to appreciate music: All the information you need is in that one watt! Now I’m really a believer! :D

After weeks of burn-in the TB2A3 started to open up and showed its true worth: It has the overall dynamics, depth, imaging and focus I wanted to hear! At a rating of 2 watts, those who heard the TB2A3 playing could not believe that it’s only 2 watts that they are listening too. To make it more interesting, they couldn’t believe that the speakers I’m using are just Dai-1chis. I’m presently playing the my TB2A3-Dai-1chi combo without the aid of any preamplifier, as I would like to hear the TB2A3 in its own – at the same time, prove that at 2 watts, it can still drive the Dai-1chis to its full potential. So its like hitting 2 birds with one stone. BTW, my cables are all DIY stuff: The interconnects are a combination of CAT5/RG 179 while I used a single CAT 5 for the speaker cables.

Just a background on my speakers: The speakers the TB2A3 is driving is a folded Voigt pipe tuned for an 8” Dai-1chi full range driver. The folded version, shown in the TB2A3 support forum , was based on the straight pipes that I made about 2 years ago. My Dai-1chi Voigt has a measured spl of 94dB 1 Khz signal at 2.83V/meter. The dai-1chi full range driver, from the specs, is rated at 90 dB same parameters.

Being an owner of two vintage amps (the HK A224 and the Scott LK72b), I’m quite familiar with the sound of the vacuum tube. But again, SET is a different environment. In the initial listening impression of the TB 2A3, I was totally amazed by the overall dynamic response that the TB2A3 is giving the Dai-1chi. Even at 2 watts, - the music can be heard from all over our office – and it was able to deliver the bass I wanted to hear and feel. However, it still lacked the depth and focus that I was looking for. I then assumed that the amp really needed a pre-amp as it was forcing the Dai-1chi to deliver even with just 2 watts of power. Aside from that I’m only using a single CAT 5 as speaker cable. Knowing that the Dai-1chi needed additional juice for its HF side, I settled with my initial observations and ordered the Pinoydiophile preamp (an acquisition in which my wife recently approved – kaya ngayon lang ako umorder :D .

But my quest did not end there. I knew something is needed to cure that depth, focus and imaging problem, and it’s not from the 2A3. Since the imaging and depth is more on the mid-range and HF side, I made a few more tweaks (aside from the foam surround tweak between the main and whizzer cone, as well as stiffening the whizzer cone, which were improvements I previously made in the Dai-1chi driver) to improve the sound.

After the tweaks I again played “High Life” from the FIM Audio reference CD and Voila!!! I found the depth and imaging I was looking for! The music played as Winston Ma had described in his comments: Arne Domnerus, playing the sax, moves from mid left to mid right and returns to the center. You can hear him move the sax back and forth, and from side to side.

Picking up from where I left off in my initial observation, I again played the sheffield drum tracks in which to my surprise, I can easily localize, without exerting too much concentration, each component of the whole drum set. Who says bass is non directional???

Finally, I again tested vocal clarity and focus. I chosen Patricia Barber with her soothing and cool voice and Holly Cole with her effortless control of her high pitched vocal chords and the good bass provided by her musicians. Patricia Barber’s “Taste of Honey” was also included in the FIM reference CD so I was guided by Winston Ma’s comments.

I limited my test CD’s to those that have information relative to how the recording was made. The CDs I used include: Audiophile reference recordings made by First Impression Music (Good liner notes by Winston Ma); Sheffield Labs/XLO burn-in CD (track 3 - walkaround), Sheffield’s drum tracks test CD (tracks 5 & 6) and Jazz at the Pawnshop. For clarity and articulation I used the Blue Light & Pearl CDs by Treasure Island Sound; The Sound of The Three Blind Mice CD; Patricia Barber; and Holly Cole.

So did the TB2A3 impressed me? There were comments in the forum of the TB2A3 just being an entry-level amp. But I say NOT! The TB2A3 is an SET amp that can hold its own and fight it off mano-y-mano with medium to high-priced SET Amps. Even with just 2 watts, it will drive a highly sensitive speaker into its full potential. Provide a high gain preamp and it will push medium sensitive speakers to the limits. You want depth and imaging… the TB2A3 can push your speakers to do just that.

Personally, aside from pure listening pleasure, the TB2A3 helped me a lot in understanding more the potential of the Dai-1chi driver. :)

:) TO THE TB2A3 DEVELOPERS (VINTAGE_DOG, ARNOLDC, MICKEY, TOOBS, ET AL) THIS IS ONE PROJECT YOU GUYS SHOULD BE REALLY PROUD OF. A ROUND OF APPLAUSE FOR ALL OF YOU! MAY YOUR TRIBE (AS WELL AS THE DIY STUFF) INCREASE! :) :) :)

Cheers.

Jon Agner
Last edited by Jon Agner on Mon Nov 24, 2003 5:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby arnoldc » Mon Nov 24, 2003 4:07 pm

jon, thanks for the review, what a great combination you've got there.
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Postby Quiel » Tue Nov 25, 2003 6:18 pm

Jon, a super-writeup/experiment! Amazing how "little" resources can do wonders.... of course, your abundance of creativity filled whatever's wanting. Cheers!
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Re: Impression on the TB2A3

Postby s2kov » Fri Nov 28, 2003 7:58 am

Jon,

I'm looking for rg179 coax cable, where do you think will i get this for my interconnect project?


Jon Agner wrote: So its like hitting 2 birds with one stone. BTW, my cables are all DIY stuff: The interconnects are a combination of CAT5/RG 179 while I used a single CAT 5 for the speaker cables.

Jon Agner
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Re: Impression on the TB2A3

Postby Jon Agner » Fri Nov 28, 2003 10:43 am

s2kov wrote:Jon,

I'm looking for rg179 coax cable, where do you think will i get this for my interconnect project?


Jon Agner wrote: So its like hitting 2 birds with one stone. BTW, my cables are all DIY stuff: The interconnects are a combination of CAT5/RG 179 while I used a single CAT 5 for the speaker cables.

Jon Agner


HMR. Try to find them in the electrical section.
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Postby s2kov » Fri Nov 28, 2003 12:41 pm

Thanks man!!! 8) 8) 8)
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Postby Quiel » Thu Dec 04, 2003 12:16 am

after my nth day of listening to the TB2A3, i may be in a position to describe it: Bastos nga! :lol: :D

I don't know exactly why it was branded as such but I agree coz the sound is really 'naked'. No coloring, no sweetening. Harsh cds really sound bad (when compared to other amps, these can sound sweeter or simply bearable to my ears). It's fast and not "sauve" (w/o meaning anything negative) like the others. Basta hindi sya 'yung parang floating yg sound. Well, I guess that illustrates what Direct Coupling can do. :? I hope I'd have the luxury to build and compare another one using an RC... or maybe the experts who tried can just summarize it for me. :)

i am looking forward to pairing this with Analog and see if can notice huge diff bet digital and analog sound thru' this amp. Or another experiment would be to do some tube-rolling to see how the sonic signature can change. need more funds! :cry:
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