Although the first amplifier I built was valve based (EL84 if I remember correctly...), I can't say I am a fan today.
But, I do get the occisional arousal out of looking at soime of the beautiful contraptions that people around the world come up with, using valves (or tubes, depending on which side of the Atlantic you are from...)
This beautiful example here is from Thrax Audio from Bulgaria.
Their claim to fame is the use of DHT, Direct Heated Triodes, and they suitably impressed one of my fellow journalists and tube lover who happened to be visiting the stand at the same time.
I was just in awe with the sheer beauty of the beasts and the sound they provided via a pair of unusual speakers, the Kawero from Kaiser Acoustics (more on these in a later post...)
The French were remarkable by their absence: no Jadis, no Tosca, no Ocellia either...
Below, you will find a gallery of the valve electronics that I was impressed by...
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...
Born in France, well travelled, relocated to Sydney in 1997.