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Reviewer: David Kan
Financial Interests: click here
Digital Source: Oppo BDP-95, Restek Radiant
Power Amp/integrated Amp: Elekit TU-879S, JohnBlue TL66, Triode TRK-3488
Speakers: JohnBlue JB3F, Loth-X BS-1, Klipsch Synergy F2, Dynaudio Facette
Cables: Clearaudio Silver Line interconnect, Deltec Black Slink interconnect, Luscombe LBR-35 interconnect, Audience AU24 interconnect, OCOS speaker cables by Dynaudio, Audience AU24 speaker cables, JohnBlue S2 speaker cables
Power Cords: Aural Symphonic Missing Link, Ensemble Powerflux, generic power cords.
Power Line Conditioning: Monster Power HTS-1000 Mk II
Room Size: 15’ x 13.5’ x 7’/8’ long wall setup / 11’ x 18’ x 7’/8’ opens to 18’ x 19’ x 7’/8’, long wall setup, padded laminate wood on concrete slab floor, suspended ceiling and all walls finished with drywall (basement with small window on one side, which is concrete foundation wall with insulation) 
Review component retail: $725 (optional DAC module PS-3249 $65)

It took me 15 hours spread over 4 days
to finish building the Elekit TU-8200DX. Victor Kung of VK Music told me he spent 4 hours in just one day. What took me so long? First off, I am not the quickest solder gun in the north. Second of all, I deliberately took utmost care to solder the right components onto the right places observing correct polarity where required. It would be awfully hard to trace back where and what went wrong if I finished building the amp only to find out there was no sound.

In fact even before I started soldering, it took me quite a bit of time to sort out the resistors with a multi-meter. Although the detailed but easy-to-follow English manual provides colour coding of the resistors, I trust my digital multi-meter’s numeric readout more than my own sense of coloured rings around tiny resistors. Then the breaking up of the PCB sheet into 8 parts was tricky. It’s not as simple as lining it up on the edge of a desk and snap. You need some cutting tools especially when the breaking points are not in a straight line. I used a chisel and hammer to weaken the joints before breaking them off.

Although resistors are non-directional, soldering 55 of them was the busiest part for me. Finding out where they belonged on the PCB was time consuming as well as eye-straining since the circuit layout is not entirely symmetrical. The real fun began to creep in afterwards. The best design of this kit is the use of connectors instead of point-to-point soldering for the hookup wires. There’s a certain Lego feel to it seeing all parts come together perfectly in a spick-and-span fit. And you can easily detach them and make corrections if you have to; or to upgrade a part.

The TU-8200DX is the replacement for TU-879S which I reviewed almost six years ago. It has inherited the best-loved feature of its predecessor, namely hot-swappable output tubes from the 6L6GC and EL34 (6CA7) to the KT88 (KT66, KT77, KT90 or 6550) families with active bias adjustment that matches the tubes automatically. Added features include:

  • Interchangeable amplification modes between ultralinear, triode and pentode through jumper connection on PCB
  • Audiophile-grade Japanese made R-core transformer with selectable international voltage (100/115/200/230 volts) through connectors on PCB
  • Output tube overcurrent protection circuit on board
  • Mosfet ripple filter on board for right and left channel B+ voltage to reduce intermodulation distortion and maintain DC current stability for the two 12AU7 (ECC82) voltage gain bottles
  • Fiberglass PCB with 70µm thick copper traces for improved conductivity and heat dissipation
  • Standard ¼” headphone jack on front panel, 8 – 1’000Ω
  • Two pairs of RCA line inputs with input 2 looped in parallel with a 3-pole 3.5mm mini jack to accept a portable music player which automatically assumes priority when both are connected
  • Switchable loudspeaker impedance (4-6.3Ω/8-16Ω)
  • Optional 16-bit DAC module with USB input on back panel
  • IEC power receptacle