Trafomatic Audio Experience Elegance power amp

02.11.2015..
Trafomatic Audio Elegance Power
Trafomatic Audio Elegance Power

As a matter of fact, every audiophile, after a life of listening experiences, reaches some certainties. Maybe they do not have objective grounds and depend only on personal tastes so that we tend to privilege a kind of designing technology or, so to say, “listening platform”.

Sometimes you change your mind. Sometimes you keep your starting idea.

As far as I am concerned, I have always believed in the analogue and in the discomfort of the streaming music. I know, it seems a contradiction but I hope someday to explain that in deep. On the amplifications, I admit to have changed my mind.

 

I am talking about the power stage.

Speaking of the past, I preferred the solid state. Speaking about now, I consider more interesting what you can achieve with the tube amplifiers.

 

There are two reasons: the solid state has some insuperable physical-acoustical limits. Besides, my experience in attending the live events without any amplification, in particular classic and jazz music, makes me think that the thermionic tubes have more realism in few but very important music parameters.

On one hand, a solid-state amplification, to offer good performances, must be very expensive, so it is unworkable for the great majority of the audio enthusiasts. On the other hand, a tube amp, when correctly made, can give excellent performances, at an affordable price.

 

Moreover, whatever is the price, the tubes can give superior performances in that sense of realism that depends on two factors: best harmonic content of the sound message, and most accurate distribution of the distortion in a harmonic spectrum. That, because the instruments, our ears and the air that conveys the sound, twist in a natural way.

With the solid state, we can get more linearity, power and sense of a clean sound, while that “superior matter sense of things and persons” playing music on the stage, is a prerogative of the vacuum tubes.

 

I have recently changed my system because I wanted to replace my Pass Labs XA 30.5 final amp with a tube amplification.

My hybrid electrostatic Martin Logan loudspeakers have no synergy with the tube power stages, so I have had to change them too,

For some coincidences, these changes have occurred while I was testing the Trafomatic Audio Experience Elegance power amp. Therefore, the test has been longer and more complicate.

 

Trafomatic Audio is a recent reality from Serbia that started with the company mission of making audio components, mainly output transformers for tube power stages.

In a tube amplification, the advantage of homemaking the transformers is very high not only under the economical aspect. The most part of the performances of a tube amplification depends on the quality of the output transformers that, in any case, represent a bottleneck for the signal that crosses them.

 

We do not know anything about the characteristics of the Trafomatic transformers, about the quality of the material used or the manufacturing peculiarities. What can I say for sure is that a tube amp, when provided with mediocre OT, has always the same features: clumsy and not very fast sound, reduced bandwidth, clear distortions/colorations.

The Trafomatic has no such faults, not even when driving my old Martin Logan SL3, at least up to medium listening levels.

But, let’s proceed with order.

 

How it is made

Maybe is the name, but it is definitely elegant with the black wooden chassis uniquely so similar to my Dromos Metis preamp.

Sober and never flashy, it has medium small dimensions and the eight vacuum tubes in view.

A Push-pull with 6550 output tubes in ultralinear, input and pilot stage with four ECC82 double triodes. It is the most classic machine you can find.

The three transformers, two output and one toroidal, are inside resin cylindrical containers and if you look into you can see a simple and well-made scheme.

The output power seems quite low for two 6550 tubes in push pull per channel. The manufacturer states only 40 watts x 2.

The only designing hints are a counter-reaction in reason of only 6 dB, in cathode feedback configuration - so dear to Audio Research in their historical tube power amps - and a very good Pi Greco filter on the power supply.

 

The passive components are of top quality, with Rubycon electrolytics and Solen plastic film. The tubes are, obviously, of current Russian production.

I suggest replacing the ECC82/12AU7 tubes with NOS models, since with a reasonable sum of money you can improve the performances of the amp in EVERY parameter.

Since I own many of them, I amused myself with some tube rolling, using at the end some very good clear top RCA of the first years of the ’60s. I have obtained a sensitive improvement mainly in terms of fluidity of the sound message.

Usual and of very good quality are the terminals on the rear panel, with the power clamps split between 4 and 8 ohms.

 

How it performs

The test has been quite easy, considering the very short time required for the run-in.

No more than thirty minutes. I have utilized the clamps at 4 ohm with my Klipsch Heresy 3 and the Cornwall loudspeakers. The power amp has shown a better control on the low range and a better dynamic capacity. Its major merit comes out since the beginning: a superior grain fineness like in the Single Ended low power triode valve amplifications.

 

The sound of the Elegance reminds me the sound of an object still sought-after by many audiophiles: the Audio Research Classic 30.

It is evident the sense of fineness and detail, the lack of distortion and pleating in the medium range, which make the human voices fluid and natural, free from every constriction and nasality.

With this power amp, the Klipsch have shown off a naturalness on the voices that has left me astonished since I have never thought it possible in a horn speaker.

I have been quite surprised in understanding how the Elegance reveals with extreme easiness the spoken of the singers, which becomes comprehensible like in the live event.

Extraordinary are the singed tracks, the choirs and in the opera it is possible to follow the voice carpet that is the architrave of every opera.

 

Such introspective skill includes every acoustic instrument. The harmonic content as well as many details are reproduced with realism and tone fidelity.

Maybe sometimes the mid-high range is a bit emphasized, but if the system is ok, the Trafomatic does not introduce any excess, just a slight characterization.

The rest of the range has highlighted extremes, with a solid and deep bass and crystal and extended high frequencies.

 

Very beautiful is the sense of air, never fake and always well mixed in a concrete and plastic harmonic dough, in line with the best tube realizations.

The image is coherent in the relationship between dimensions and positioning of the instruments. It is only less deep than the extension. This last one is so evident that the Trafomatic can easily propose a massive, powerful and scattered playback, as it was the wall to play and not only the two loudspeakers.

This is a feeling very close to the real event that makes the playback always involving.

The dynamics with the Klipsch has never missed, nor has the power stage shown limits of emission. You have the feeling that the 40 watts are even more.

The sound is alive, full of contrast and colors, considering that in the live event nothing is only in black and white. If you prefer the amplifications with thousand nuances of gray, this is a problem of yours, because the reality is everything but gray.

 

Therefore, I would say that the Elegance can handle many loudspeakers without any problem and with only few watts. Besides, it has introspective and very good qualitative skills.

The target has been reached, far beyond the expectations.

 

Why the Trafomatic

In the last years many new tube manufacturer have introduced on the market good and competitive realizations.

While I was listening to the Trafomatic Audio Experience Elegance, I asked to myself what pushes the purchaser to choose this brand. It is not very famous, but the answer was always the same: for its performances.

In fact, you do not have to buy a product only to sell it back.

Then you have to consider the price. This is the ace in the hole of the Serbian company. I do not remember so interesting power amps at this price.

I mean it.

At the same price of the Trafomatic Audio Experience Elegance, if not a second-hand piece, I have no many choices.

This machine, besides being noiseless, has always given back a rich and sensual music, never boring, as often happens in this price range with other gears.

 

An elegant and minimal object, concrete and trusty. A confirm to my new way towards thermionic tubes as the best way to amplify an audio signal.

 

In brief, the Trafomatic Audio Experience Elegance is another tube amplification capable of moving you and that I suggest listening to it.

 

 

Timbric: ✳✳✳✳ | Extended and balanced. Only sometimes, it is too “crunchy”. The bass is powerful and modulated; the high range is fine and never compressed, the mid rich and harmonic.

Dynamics: ✳✳✳1/2 | Solid and well represented. The power is higher than what stated.

Detail: ✳✳✳✳ | Better than the competitors. Extreme easiness in recognizing notes and instruments also in ensembles with plenty of sound objects.

Clearness: ✳✳✳✳| High but never forced.

Image: ✳✳✳1/2 | Correct and just a bit flattened, very extended in width with the sounds never projected by the speaker.

Rate: ✳✳✳✳ | Very good, with quick impulses but never truncated. The playbacks are never clumsy nor slow, always vital.

Manufacture: ✳✳✳1/2 | Good level with good components. “Custom” output transformers.

Price/quality ratio: ✳✳✳1/2 | Difficult to do better.

 

 

Official technical specifications

Output power: 2x40W

Class of operation: Push-Pull (class A)

Tubes complement: 4x 6550JJ - 4xECC82

Inputs: Aux

Outputs: 4-8 ohm

Input sensitivity: 2Vrms

THD %: 0.03% – 1W/1KHz, 2% – 40W/1KHz

Frequency bandwidth: 10Hz(-1dB)-85KHz( -3dB)

S/N Ratio: 82dB

Input impedance: 100kOhm

Power consumption: 200VA

Input voltage: 230V/50Hz (100-120-220-240V available on request)

Size: 430x165x290mm (WxHxD)

Weight: 18kg

 

Official Italian dealer to Audiopoint Italia website

Official current price in Italy: 2,990.00 EUR

Associated equipment: to Paolo "Miracle" Di Marcoberardino's system

by Paolo Di Marcoberardino
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