February
2021

Country of Origin

Holland

Trans-SE10

Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Main system: Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac (4GHz quad-core with Turbo, 32GB RAM, 3TB FusionDrive, OSX Yosemite. iTunes 14.4), PureMusic 3.02, Audirvana 3, Qobuz, Tidal, Denafrips Terminator+ clock-synced to Soundaware D300Ref SD transport/USB reclocker; Preamp: Vinnie Rossi L2 Signature with WE VT52/300B or Elrog 50/300B; Power amps: LinnenberG Liszt monos; Headamps: Questyle CMA-800r monos; Phones: HifiMan Susvara; Loudspeakers: Audio Physic Codex; Cube Audio Nenuphar; Aurai Audio M1 [on loan]; Cables: Complete loom of Allnic Audio ZL; Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all source components, Vibex One 11R on amps, LessLoss C-MARC Entropic cords between wall and conditioners; Equipment rack: Artesanía Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Exoteryc Krion and glass amp stands; Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators, LessLoss Firewall for loudspeakers, Furutech NCF Signal Boosters; Room: 4 x 6m with high gabled beam ceiling opening into 4 x 8m kitchen and 5 x 8m living room so no wall behind the listening chairs
2nd system: Source: Soundaware D100Pro SD transport; DAC/pre: Denafrips Terminator or COS Engineering D1; Amplifier: Bakoon AMP-13R or Crayon CFA-1.2; Loudspeakers: Acelec Model 1 w. Franck Tchang magnesium super tweeters, sound|kaos Vox 3awf, Zu Submission subwoofer; Power delivery: Furutech GTO 2D NCF; Equipment rack: Hifistay Mythology Transform X-Frame [on extended loan];  Sundry accessories: Audioquest Fog Lifters; Furutech NFC Clear Lines; Room: ~4x6m
Desktop system: Source: HP Z230 work station Win7/64; USB bridge: Audiobyte Hydra X+; Headamp: Kinki Studio Vision THR-1; Phones: Audeze LCD-XC on Forza Audio Lab cable; Powered speakers: Fram Audio Midi 120
Upstairs headfi system: Source: Soundaware A280 SD transport; Integrated amplifiers: Schiit Jotunheim R or Bakoon AMP-13R; Phones: Raal-Requisite SR1a, Audeze LCD-2, Final Sonorous X & D8000, HifiMan HE-1000
2-channel video system: Source: Oppo BDP-105; DAC: Kinki Studio; Preamp: Wyred4Sound STP-SE II; Power amp: Pass Labs XA-30.8; Loudspeakers: German Physiks HRS-120; Room: ~6x4m
Review component retail: €1'678

Getting kitted out. It's how cool cats play up their feline fun. Hello Tent Labs SE10 DIY kit.

With two left thumbs, I of course asked for the assembled turnkey version. This white amp was designed by Menno van der Veen whose last name, I believe, doesn't translate as 'of the wine' but 'from the moor'. The heady smell of peat moss not grapes.

Guido Tent then handled the mechanical design and kit production so this 8kg 10wpc integrated sells through his Tentlabs website as well as Menno's Vanderveen pages. With a footprint no bigger than A4 paper, the pair of ECF802/6JW8 pentodes  and single ECC83/12AX7 dual triode can drive either one KT88 per channel—hence the SE for single-ended nomenclature—or roll with 6550, KT90, KT120 and KT150.

As you already saw, there are 4 x 50kΩ RCA inputs, 4/8Ω terminals, an Alps pot for volume and toroidal transformers from Serbia's Trafco.

If you love the smell of solder fumes in the morning, the instructions on how to build this kit are documented with very extensive photos.

"Our research resulted in the Trans-Technique whereby current steering plus DC coupling convert the power tube into a low-impedance low-distortion driver of the output transformer. Low Ω drive is essential for smallest magnetic transformer distortion. The result is a transparent soundstage with correct width, depth and height. The sound is pure and embracing, bass detailed and quick unlike many valve amps. Micro detail from instruments, voices and surrounding spaces remains intact."

About 46dB of local voltage feedback from the power tube's anode to its control grid plus a secondary local feedback loop of 30dB to linearize the first exclude the output iron and with it, a global loop. That and voltage-controlled current sources are said to minimize 2nd-harmonic tube and magnetic transformer distortion. Inspiration for this circuit is credited to a N. Partridge article on magnetic distortion and a paper by Otto H. Schade on beam-power pentodes. This PDF explains the technical details.

So in this age of gender fluidity, the high-feedback Trans-SE10 wants to be an all-tube circuit of different stripes. As the THD graph shows, its 3rd harmonic eclipses the 2nd. That's quite unusual for a single-ended circuit and counter to Jean Hiraga's mandate of declining harmonics. In this circuit, the declining pattern is broken up by the 3rd and 8th harmonic so one expects a rather different sound than classic SET.

Menno and his valve-kit students are already investigating high-power push/pull class A/B applications for the Trans principle. But today is for when 10 watts are all you need. Watts up? Cube Audio Nenuphar and sound|kaos Vox 3awf would be my most likely speaker answer.

… to be continued…