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The biggest surprise came when I listened to two recently acquired box sets - Bad Boys Essential Bad Boys Blue and the 25th Anniversary Box Fancy. Both were prepared in Poland by Damian Lipiński and/or Rafał Lachmirowicz using 32-bit sound processing technology (please look at the pages 4everMusic and Klub 80 Records). As far as I know, the recordings used analog LPs as source because the master tapes were either not available (nobody knew how to find them) or in a very bad shape and then re-mastered.

One might thus expect a disaster of computer-assisted remastering. Instead these gentlemen performed something incredible – they brought these records to life sounding much better than the original vinyl! How is this possible? I do not know but I shall find out. Anyway, these discs possess splendid saturation and depth. They of course remain from the 80s when most such albums were bright, sharp and flat. But it turns out that something could be done and has been done. While certain instruments do sound brighter, this constitutes only one aspect. It‘s obviously the synthetic counterpart of an instrument and not the recording itself. That the German system differentiated really well. Simultaneously the bass was admirably low, strong and funky.

To reiterate, the T+A elektroakustik system isn’t for everyone. It shows the truth of your recording as it is. This is how the best systems sound but there depth and saturation are built by resolution and something ‘extra’. The components reviewed are not expensive so this type of untampered presentation has its flaws. We must choose our loudspeakers wisely and know what we want. In terms of user friendliness, this system is brilliant and everything one could possibly expect. It also looks very interesting. This is a long-haul proposition for many years where each little bolt has very deliberate engineering behind it.

Description: Both components have the same dimensions. They are quite large and made with aluminum sheets on top, bottom and front and rigid plastic cheeks. Trim is silver with black side panels or black with silver sides. On the inside those sides are grooved for added rigidity and lined with bitumen mats. The pieces lack classic footers to instead use crosswise ridges with protective rubber strips in the front and back.

The CD player’s front is dominated by a large LCD display backlit in blue. This display is very informative and includes CD meta data in a nicely large font. It can be dimmed or its contrast adjusted. Below sits the CD tray whose cover is made from the same plastic as the display’s border to become nearly visible. To the side we have buttons controlling the filters and red LEDs indicating the selections. The first two buttons select the digital filters. One is a classic steep FIR filter with linear phase; the other a shallower filter with improved impulse response for less pre/post ringing. The analog filter decides whether the response is cut at 60kHz or 100kHz (narrow and wide).

Finally there is the absolute polarity inversion switch. On the display’s other side are the usual transport control buttons. The back offers a single S/PDIF output on RCA and a pair of analog RCAs. There also are an RS-232 socket for Creston-type controllers and two E-Link ports for two-way communication with other T+A components. The mains switch sits next to the IEC power inlet.

The circuit inside occupies three main PCBs, one support board and one that’s integrated with the Chinese ASA Technology drive also used by Rotel and others. Its plastic tray is covered with aluminum and reinforced on the sides with two chrome-plated brass members. The remainder is plastic but as usual with DVD-ROM drives, reinforced with a metal plate on top. Two bitumen strips are glued to that to minimize vibration. The whole drive with its integral PCB below is bolted to a rigid sub platter which bolts to the bottom of the main enclosure.

From the drive the signal proceeds via computer ribbon cable to the first board which shows many empty spaces to suggest that it is also used for the R-Series SACD player. Here are chips to control the RS, E-Link and digital output as well as a DSD chip and micro controller. From that board the signal exits via ribbon to the converter stage with its Wima and ERO capacitors and Burr-Brown PCM1796 DACs, one per channel. These are 24/192 delta-sigma units with 123dB dynamic range. I/V conversion uses one BB OPA2134 per side.

Behind those is an empty slot for volume control as used in other T+A components. Here the signal path is shorter. The output, buffering and amplification section use three identical Burr-Browns opamps. The output is coupled to two relays for the analog filter selection. Adjacent sit four big electrolytic capacitors to suggest that the output is coupled through them rather than a DC-Servo. The output RCAs omit gold-plating for their centers. The SMPS is supported by additional stabilizers and filters.