Tosca is most famous for its range of valve phono stage, preamps and amps. I had a private listening session at Point Musiques, driving Ocellia speakers, and that experience convinced me that these are indeed very rare beasts, extremely quiet and dynamic, but mostly inaudible - a must for any amplifiers, I think...
They need very high efficiency speakers though, as their output power is only 10W or 20W depending on the model.
Continuing their expansion, Tosca has introduced speakers and cables.
I only listened to their Aria 5, teamed up with the Sub 10 subwoofer.
These were driven by the AT5-20W and we used the CD8 from Metronome or the "Classique" turntable as sources, quite a nice set-up, I have to say...
Classified as a mid-range system, it would still set you back a year of most people income!
Tosca use primarily Fostex drivers and in the Aria 5, 4 FX120 and 1 FT96H are used in a d"appolitto configuration and housed in a tear drop shaped metal column. The load is a transmission line design.
These speakers have all the trademark qualities of Fostex speakers, high efficiency, full range, but in
this implementation, I thought the result was pretty disappointing and probably not in line with the
quality of Tosca's electronics. In particular, there was quite a bit of sibilance due to - I think - a
filtering artefact. Also the integration with the subwoofer was far from seamless, although using an
active filter and integrated class D amplifier (in a separate chassis to allow future upgrade).
I wish I had a chance to listen to some of their other speakers, in particular the Recital 12, which is an open baffle 3-way design with an integrated amp to drive the bass driver: intriguing!
Thorens was kind of hidding on their French distributor's stand (DEA International) with a static display - not an ideal set up for such an iconic brand!
Two models were on display, the high end TD 350 and TD 550
Quoting Thorens, "The TD 350 revives the legendary Thorens tradition and concept of the suspended chassis. The construction of the TD 350 ingeniously combines the advantages of a mass platform with those of the suspended chassis. This tried and tested concept as well as traditional manufacturing quality make the TD 350 a record player that will satisfy even the most discerning demands.
The front panel of the TD 550, similarly constructed as the TD 550 which also holds the operational buttons, is available either chrome-plated or with black anodized aluminum finish. The high-grade plinth itself has been refined with finest black piano lacquer.
he TD 550 comes equipped with a suspended chassis and the belt drive around the outer rim of the
platter. The player‘s generous dimensions allow the mounting of 12-inch tonearms also. The tonearm
platform is made from extremely stiff carbon fibre compound which ensures a very rigid coupling of
platter and tonearm".
The TD 350 was fitted with a REGA arm and Ortofon cartridge, the TD550 was fitted with a SME arm.
Being a static display makes it difficult to judge their sonic qualities, but I am sure you will be fine if you choose to buy either of them, or any of the less expensive models, or if you are after looks, then nothing beats the TD 2035 or my favourite, the TD 303...
Let's take a short break from reviewing hardware and move for a moment to the reason why we buy all this gear: to enjoy listening to music...
So, on the subject of software for our hifi gear, I cannot recommend anything better than an injection of vinyl from Analog Collector in the historic centre of Paris: le Marais.
I had heard about it, I had read about it, but this doesn't compare with the live experience of visiting Remi Vimard's Ali Baba Cavern.
It is a very small space, but the perfect temple for the music aficionados.
Not only will you be surrounded by thousands of records, but you will be immersed in the most gorgeous sound emanating from the most unorthodox analog listening system on the planet, on top of being welcomed by Remi's hospitality and immense musical knowledge. This is not to be missed at any cost!
Eventually, you might buy a few records as I did (Remi has been in business for over five years, so obviously his soft sales techiques work...)
I bought two new records: The Body & the Soul, Freddie Hubbard originally on Impulse (sic...) and Brahms Sonatas for Cello and Piano with Janos Starker and Gyorgy Sebok, originally on Mercury Living Presence, both re-published and manufactured by Speakers Corner records, a German based company.
Now, a little insight on Remi's hardware:
Turntables: Kuzma Stabi S equipped with a Lyra Delos cartridge
This turntable looks much better in the flesh than on the photos
published in HiFi World not so long ago...and the sound is divine!
There is also a Thorens TD124 completely refurbished and equipped
with a 12" Jelco arm and a Lyra Donian cartridge. I didn't get a chance
to listen to this classic piece of gear...
Phono PreAmp: If you think the Kuzma is quite left field, wait until you connect
it to a Swiss-built phono preamp the BPS from Nagra, running on
Amplifier: Again, not a middle of the road choice, but a LEBEN CS 300 X, using
EL84 valves, not a powerhouse, but a very refined amp indeed...
Loudspeakers: You know by now that this is my area of expertise, Remi surprised me with a piece of gear I never heard of: a Japanese full range driver from DIATONE, in a configuration used by the NHK Radio (the Japanese National Broadcaster) with transmission line loading. (I am sure Jean Hiraga would have reviewed such an interesting device in one of his famous articles, but obviously I was living on a different planet when/if he did: I welcome your contribution to my education on the matter!)
It is particularly beautiful on string instruments and on small jazz ensembles.
Although it lacks the high frequency extension of a multi driver design,
it generates a very credible image, realistic dynamics and fascinating musical
Obviously, as in any system, it is difficult to credit the result to one single component, and this is where Remi needs to be credited for assembling a very homogeneous system out of a combination of components very much from outside the square. Bravo!
Born in France, well travelled, relocated to Sydney in 1997.