Country of Origin



Reviewers: Marja & Henk
Financial Interests: click here
Sources: PS Audio PWT; Dr. Feickert Blackbird MKII/DFA 1o5/Zu DL-103; Phasure NOS1 DAC; T+A DAC8 [loaner]
Streaming sources: XXHighEnd; iTunes; Devialet AIR; La Rosita Beta; Qobuz Desktop, Tidal Desktop; Sound Galleries SGM 2015 [loaner]
Preamp/integrated/power: Audio Note Meishu with WE 300B (or AVVT, JJ, KR Audio 300B output tubes); dual Devialet D-Premier; PTP Audio Blok 20; Hypex Ncore 1200 based monoblocks; Trafomatic Kaivalya; Trafomatic Reference One; Trafomatic Reference Phono One; Music First Passive Magnetic; Trafomatic Lara and Trafomatic Pandora [in for review]
Speakers: Avantgarde Acoustic Duo Omega; Arcadian Audio Pnoe; Podium Sound One; WLM Sub 12; Sounddeco Alpha F3; dual Zu Submisson MKI; Soltanus Virtuoso ESL. Ilumnia Magister & [in for review]
Cables: complete loom of ASI LiveLine cables; full loom of Crystal Cable cables; full loom of Nanotec Golden Strada; Audiomica Pearl Consequence interconnect; Audiomica Pebble Consequence
Power line conditioning: PS Audio Powerplant Premier; PS Audio Humbuster III; IsoTek Evo 3 Syncro; AudioMica Allbit Consequence
Equipment racks: Solid Tech and ASI amplifier and TT shelf
Indispensable accessories: Furutech DeMag; ClearAudio Double Matrix; Franc Audio Ceramic Disc Classic; Shakti Stones; Kemp polarity checker; Akiko Audio Corelli, Castello and Phono Booster; Pink Faun LAN Isolator
Online Music purveyors:,,, 
Room treatment: Acoustic System International resonators, sugar cubes, diffusers
Room size: ca. 14.50 x 7.5m with a ceiling height of 3.5m, brick walls, wooden flooring upstairs, ca. 7 x 5m with a ceiling height of 3.50m, brick walls and concrete floor downstairs
Price of review item: €24'000/pr

What does a card-carrying dyed-in-the-wool tube meister do when he stumbles unexpectedly over a stash of Svetlana 811-10 tubes? He buys the lot. Why? Mostly for "you never know". The Russian Svetlana 811-10 are high-power triodes with a thoriated tungsten filament. The manufacturer rates their output with a DC plate voltage of 800V and DC grid voltage of -50V at 23 watts in class A1. Some readers may protest. Hey, wait a minute, did you say thoriated which is tungsten with added thorium oxide to improve current carrying capacities and increase life span? Isn't that radioactive, thus dangerous? Yes and no. Its radiation is minimal and the particles are mainly weak alpha sorts which can't even penetrate paper, let alone skin. This could only be harmful were a substantial amount of the filament wire ground up finely, then mainlined like cocaine. As long as the minute amount in the small filaments is nicely contained in the vacuum of the glass envelope, it is perfectly safe. Compare that to those mercury-vapor bottles which glow such a lovely blue.

Back to the 811-10. It has a fairly high load resistance of 8kΩ compared to for instance a 300B's 2kΩ. That means an output transformer will have very high primary resistance and such iron is hard to come by Or is it? Not if the buyer of our fortuitous tube stash is Saša Cokic of Trafomatic Audio. As the name of the company suggests, transformers are their business. No transformer challenge is too big for Saša to tackle and together with his partner Mica Despotovic, they produce a range of high-quality tube phono, preamp and power amplifiers including integrated models and headphone amps.

It had been six years since Saša invested in that chance stack of 811-10. The first production model built around them was the Primavera headphone amplifier. Here a 6S45P drives the Svets and the transformer output impedances—read its secondary windings—range from 25Ω to 600Ω across five taps. At 50Ω, the amp puts out a decent 10wpc max. That's high power for headfi.

With every new model, the looks of Trafomatic gear improves. We own an earlier set of their Reference One phono and preamplifier and whilst their cosmetics are far from shabby, they still play in stark contrast to the current far classier looking versions of the very same models. In the Primavera headphone amp, the very latest designer look is obvious. The chassis is deeper than wide and the corners are rounded. At the sides rectangular vents of two different sizes help cool the innards. The larger power and output transformers are housed in square cowls which duplicate the chassis color while the smaller transformers like the interstage sit in chromed cylinders.

To comply with safety regulations, the tubes are covered by a fanned-rod cage. Here tastes may vary but said cage is removable – at your own risk and discretion. Hey, Brussels are sticklers.