Relative to resolution losses from higher noise typical for such valve amps—Allnic's published -76dB S/NR correlates to sub Redbook 12½ bits versus our LinnenberG Liszt Mosfet monos with their -120dB or 20 bits—it can be offset some by the higher dynamic resolution which copasetic speakers like high-efficiency horns and filterless widebanders contribute. Spec-focused readers know that a very quiet room in the rural hinterlands still shows 30dB of ambient noise. An inner-city dweller will think things quiet when that figure is closer to 40dB. Now correlate that standing noise to modern production values which call less than 10dB of recorded dynamic range normal. How much recorded DR can we actually exploit? Fancy figures in glossy hifi brochures don't tell the whole story. This leaves room for old-timey gear with 20th-century specs to remain enjoyable. These Allnic/Tektron types simply want the right kind of speaker to take off and shine. Disobey common sense and it's not their fault when things devolve.
Having for the Tektron determined that paralleled PX4 for twice the power got somewhat fuzzier without other benefits into these loads, its comparative 4V tube complement became just two power bottles, one per side. The Allnic were preceded by our transistor Wyred4Sound STP-SE II line stage operated in passive mode without voltage gain but with active buffers on the i/o for linear impedance regardless of volume. With its hum pots optimized, the Tektron exhibited the same low but not fully absentee electrical noise as the Allnic. The Polish 10" widebanders betrayed very faint hum audible up close but not from the chair.
Sonically, the Koreans were heavier but still soft in the bass and somewhat darker and lazier across the entire bandwidth. On subjective damping—whether recorded venues feel more live or dead, more reverberant or damped—the Allnic's PX25 tubes and/or output transformers exerted just a bit more. By fine degree, this rendered things a tad more dry and taut, less fluid and elastic. In the upper midrange/lower treble bands, the Tektron behaved rather more dynamic and lively, hence separated out more cleanly. This benefited faintly tickled cymbals and such. As a result, the Sicilian also had the tunes feel faster and more energetic. The Allnic moved them along more leisurely. Compared to our usual FirstWatt SIT-1 single-ended transistors, the DHT versions showed twitchier microdynamics. On Jazz piano for example, a Norwegian player's deliberate spiking of certain notes within a melodic arc was more acute. Standing out like taller forgotten blades of grass at a just-mowed lawn's periphery, these accents added rhythmic spice with stronger syncopations.
Having compared the PX4-fitted Tektron to Reinhard Thöress' €14'000/pr single-ended Mosfet hybrids with tube voltage gain and tube buffer, I knew how by contrast, the full tubes' bandwidth extremes were softer to emphasize/elevate their midband. I knew how the hybrid's lower noise floor more strongly illuminated recorded space, including those quasi halo or sound-bubble effects around performers which light up the space around them. But relative to moving through time—what I think of as music's gait, its poise or how it walks—the pure tubes were the even more slinky and texturally billowy.
If one drew a line and placed our all-transistor FirstWatt SIT-1 far left for one polarity, the Tektron far right for the other, the Thöress would sit halfway between middle and far right; the Allnic halfway between Thöress and Tektron. This line represents the continuum from damped, taut and dry on the left to fluid, mellow and fluffy on the right. Here the hard-right Tektron was the hostess with the mo(i)stest. Recognizing this flavour from a past encounter with Vinnie Rossi's DHT spud module for his LIO platform, I view it as the quintessential appeal of direct-heated no-feedback triodes maximized to express it. It's inherent that harder edged 21st-century music styles with their drum machines and jack-hammer synth bass undergo quite the attitude adjustment. Whether you find that makeover or gait shift attractive or alienating is personal. True regardless? On color pop and tonal meatiness, the triodes painted with a deeper richer more vibrant colour palette. Because their treble was softer and ambient recovery less keen, this emphasized physicality and hereness, not thereness aka virtual teleportation to a venue other than our own. Given the grand price differential and far greater functional flexibility versus commensurate sonic quality, the Tektron integrated would have my vote had I to decide between it and the Allnic. Given personal preferences, I'd simply not want either. I'd harness the DHT aroma in the line stage like Allnic's matching L-10000 allows. I'd then let premium transistors handle the speaker interface for lower noise, more linearity and more resolution; the SIT-1 on the Polish widebanders, the Liszt monos on the German Audio Physic 4-ways. Such a hybrid approach exploits each device where it is best – tubes for voltage, transistors for current.
Would you like to download the current image?
Would you like to download the current image?