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This review first appeared in the September 2011 issue of hi-end hifi magazine of Germany. You can also read this review of the T.A.C. V-88 in its original German version. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with the publishers. As is customary for our own reviews, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of fairaudio or T.A.C. - Ed.

Martin Mertens
Sources: Thorens TD 160 HD w. TP250 arm & Benz Micro MC Gold pickup; Creek CD 43 Mk II, Logitech Transporter
Amplification: Lehmann Black Cube SE II, Jadis Orchestra blacksilver, Exposure 2010 S
Loudspeaker: Gaithain ME150
Cables: Vampire CC, Fast Audio Compact 6M biwire
Review component retail: €4.999,-

Tactful. At fairaudio I’ve ended up in the amplification corner. By my own volition too. One, I expressed interest. Two, I’m less keen on the logistics speaker reviews involve. That can imply a delivery of two crates the size of refrigerators which need to end up in the living room, get unpacked and the crates stored. Then there’s endless moving centimeter by centimeter to locate the ideal spot. A small tidy box with an amp is much nicer. The box waits in the cellars, the amp hops in the rack and Babette’s your aunt.

But the Tube Amplification Company’s 70 watts per side push/pull V-88 had its own notions about that. It arrived in a carton the size of a cross-continental suitcase and weighed 43kg of which 34kg remained post extraction. Unpeeling suggested those Russian dolls within dolls. But enough of reviewer pains. The V-88 eventually made it to the rack and music. And how! But before I go mushy over its artistic talents, let’s cover a few basic points first.

If you’ve never had a valve amp before, the first is very pragmatic. Most these beasts show up without their tubes installed. The first task of office is usually to insert the separately packed bulbs into the right sockets. How and what to watch for tends to be covered in the owner’s manuals. The T.A.C. eliminates this step. The V-88 already carries all its valves on deck. For transit protection those are simply sleeved in styro covers. Here the first task prior to power-up is removal of those sleeves.

Unscrew the four cap nuts atop the corner stanchions, lift off the lid, take out the styro. The terse English manual doesn’t cover this. I’d love to know how the company would talk itself out of complaints when a user fires up the amp as is and then gets fired up himself because melting plastic caused a fire to immolate the living room. Of course it’s unlikely that a complete tube newbie would peel off €5.000 for such a machine. If so there’s hopefully a competent dealer involved. Still...

Concept and features. After my colleagues cut me down a few notches for earlier ‘derogatory’ comments on the cosmetics of various hifi kit, I’ll skip this duty and remain mum on looks. It’s about der Klang after all. This gets us to features. The front cover carries the power mains, a fat central volume knob, a smaller rotary source selectors, various LEDs and an infrared eye for the remote control.