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This review first appeared in the February 2009 issue of and can be read in its original German version here. It is herewith translated and presented to an English-only audience through a mutual syndication arrangement. As is customary for our own reviews, the writer's signature at review's end has a link below it to his e-mail should you have questions or feedback you wish to send. All images contained in this review are the property of or Trends Audio. - Ed.

Reviewer: Ralph Werner
Sources: Analog - deck - Acoustic Solid MPX; tone arms - Phonotools Vivid-Two, SME M2 12"; cartridges - Denon DL-103, Ortofon MC Rondo Bronce, Zu Audio DL-103; digital - audiolab 8000CD; Computer & Co - Logitech Squeezebox, Readynas Duo NAS-Server, HP Notebook; D/A converter - Aqvox USB2DA-MKII, Benchmark DAC1 USB
Amplification: phono - Aqvox 2 CI MKII; preamp - Octave HP 300 MK2; power amp SAC il piccolo monos; integrated - KingRex T20, Sonic Impact T-Amp, Scythe Kama Bay Amp, Myryad MXI 2080
Loudspeakers: Audium Comp 5, Quadral Rondo, Spendor S3/5, Zu Audio Druid mk4
Racks & Stands: Creactiv, Taoc,Liedtke Metalldesign Stand, Shale Audio Base
... diverse cables
Review component retail: €199

While class D is undoubtedly fashionable, I can't be sure that today's brand name was meant to reflect that. Regardless, Trends Audio's TA-10.1 is trendy because it sports class D around a particular Tripath chip to run as 'class T'; and because it's one of those cute, tiny, office-ready components which apparently sprout up like mushrooms these days. By hifi standards ridiculously puny, we've reported on other entrants in this sector before. I recall Perreaux's SX25i integrated and the KingRex T20 and matching preamp. Nomen est omen, the fairaudio Favourite Award winner Abacus Ampino belongs as well though its cosmetics don't scream lifestyle. Sonic Impact's T-Amp also has been through our doors. (To be sure, the KingRex and Sonic Impact units are class D, the Perreaux and Abacus 'conventional' transistors).

The Trends Audio brand launched in Hong Kong in 2006 and belongs to ITOK Media who contribute 10 years of AV business history. Herr Frank Koglin recently signed them for Germany. Worth noting is his brick & mortar focus and a dealer network already 15 strong. Perhaps that's a good sign. Naturally, this network is still expected to grow. The Trends portfolio includes our TA-10.1 integrated tester and the UD-10.1 external soundcard slash D/A converter slash headphone amp with its USB input. Promised shortly are the PA-10 valve pre and a gussied-up UD-10.1 version to make a full Trends quartet. The notion to inspect the TA-10.1 more closely had two reasons. One, it runs the Tripath TA2024 chip just like the Sonic Impact whose sonics I find pretty cool. But in other respects, it's a bit of a downer, running socketry that nearly requires a solder iron to make work. Two, the Tripath underground whispers that despite the same chip, the Trends sounds different. This incites curiosity. Plus, its aluminum body, real speaker terminals and bolted RCAs mean that reviewing won't degrade into a DIY tweak session, a definite plus.

Socket solidity isn't just external but continues inside with clean soldering and stout screw torque as one expects from kit 10 x the price. Down with contact resistance. While the posts accept spades and bare wire, the minuscule real estate makes bananas the connection of choice. The likelihood is high that your wire harness weighs more than the amp itself to get the latter airborne. A reach for a few books might do. Or some glue. It needn't be super glue either. Uhu's Patafix tack pads are ideal and also my favorite solution between monitors and stands. Besides the amplification chip and four SMD diodes, the PCB sports exclusively thru-hole parts whose quality, says Trends, is one of the distinguishing traits versus other Tripath competitors. Trends emphasize audiophile-grade air- rather than steel-core inductors for example. The
output spec is 15 watts into 4 and 10 watts into 8 ohms. Staying honest, concomitant THD at such power draw jumps to 10%. If you fancy your ears, best stay clear of max output. At less than 0.1% THD, there's a clean 10 watts on tap for 4 ohms. Into 8, you can count on between 5 and 6. That's not the world and has a few obvious consequences.

Say you park yourself in a sizable living room 4 meters away from 82dB 8-ohm speakers. Fed by a single Trends watt and accounting for a 6dB SPL drop with doubled distance, your ears will register ca. 70dB. Thinking this promising, you decide to listen at twice the volume. That's 10dB higher and due to plain old Physics, demands 10 times the amplifier output. The Trends will make 10 watts but at 10% distortion, your enjoyment should quickly wither. You've got two solutions. One, sit 1.5 meters from this speaker to curtail the problem. In other words, smaller rooms are more suitable than large ones. Two, go for a Klipschorn or relative. I overstate for effect but an honest 92dB sensitivity is certainly more appropriate than 82dB. Says theory.