Reviewer:  Tim Smith
Financial interests: click here
Source (digital): 2 TB iMac 27" quad-core with 16GB RAM, AIFF, iTunes, streamed to Apple Airport Express; Audiolab M-DAC; Musical Paradise D-1; MHDT Labs Paradisea+; Maverick Audio Tube Magic D1; Marantz SA-8003 SACD player; Marantz CD5003 and 5004 as transport; Resonessence Labs Herus
Source (analog): Pro-Ject RPM 10.1 with Dynavector 10x5
Phono preamplifier: Graham Slee Era Gold Mk V
Preamplifier: Audio Research LS17; Mapletree Audio Line 2BSE with RM1 Remote using Bent Audio Motorized ALPS Audio Taper (on review)
Power & integrated amplifiers: Line Magnetic 518IA; Wyred4Sound SX-1000 mono blocs; Musical Paradise MP 301mk2, mk3, mk3 Deluxe
Loudspeakers: Harbeth Compact 7ES3; Tekton Design M-Lore; Magnepan 1.7; Mordaunt Short Carnival 2; DIY with Fostex FE 103; Pioneer SP-BS41-LR
Headphones: Beyerdynamic DT 770 (32 Ohm) and DT 880 (600 Ohm); HiFiMan HE-400 with Audio Sensibility Impact SE 7N OCC cables
Cables: DH-Labs Q-10; Connex/DH Labs BL-Ag; Kimber Kable 4TC, PBJ and Hero XLR; Paul Speltz Anti-Cables; Canare; Cardas; Oyaide; QED; Connex/DH Labs power cords; Pangea AC-9; Shunyata Research Venom HC
Power conditioning: Shunyata Research Venom PS8 with Venom Defender; Emotiva CMX-2
Equipment rack: Apollo, Target, Tableau
Speaker stands: Skylan
Room size: 8.5 meters long with nook at each end; 3.3 meters wide; 2.1 meters high
Review component retail in North America: $5'999

If you look for online clips of Sonny Rollins, Jim Hall, Ben Riley and Bob Cranshaw playing their 1962 classic The Bridge, you’ll stumble upon footage from the television show Jazz Casual. Note the incongruity between what the eye sees and what the ear hears. These cats exuded cool but within the sartorial strictures of the day, it’s suit and bow tie, bow tie and suit. Behold the bespectacled and slightly rotund Hall, with the look of a high-school math teacher in a John Hughes teenage angst-land film while he grinds some of the most far-out chords from a Jazz guitar until that point in history!

There’s no such incongruity between the look and the sound of the Coincident Turbo 845 SE integrated amplifier. It looks fast and powerful and it sounds the part, too. How do I love the Coincident Turbo 845 SE? Let me count the ways. This massive 40kg beast is aptly named, with all the horsepower most of us with dynamic transducers presenting a benign 8Ω load and 85dB sensitivity will ever need. The Turbo challenges the tired old cliché regarding single-ended tube amplifiers’ inability to produce deep dry bass. With this amp, you can have it both ways. Just when you might stress the Turbo’s ability to punch like De Niro in Raging Bull, it can morph Sybil Dorsett-style into an entirely different beast, sending notes floating above the stage like Nureyev in Swan Lake. The Turbo is one of the most versatile SET amps I have heard. It can convey the thunder of Holst’s Planets but it can also gently lull one into a trance with Debussy’s Rêverie. And I have never heard synthesizer sound so dimensional and fluid. From the pulsing Bhangra-techno beat of Midival Punditz to the impish delights of Don Dorsey’s (ir)reverential reading of Bach on Bachbusters, the Turbo delivers the goods with all the authority of my 570-watt Wyred4Sound SX-1000 monos.

With that trademark big fat 845 tone, the Turbo is thick but also quick and incisive. The rich midrange and extension at both ends probably account for the Turbo’s ability to sound full without overfeeding your room with loudness. The Turbo satisfies my inner tone freak and speed demon. With each and every speaker I used, the Turbo was muscular, fluid, rhythmic, sweet and more resolving than expected. True, it does not emphasize leading edge detail with the precision of an electron microscope like a similarly priced Simaudio Moon but the Turbo is eminently musical if that classic rich 845 tone is your idea of musical. The soundstage is upfront and never recessed. One can listen at very loud levels with no aural fatigue whatsoever. As I turned up the volume, I had a sense of the music expanding and breathing but not becoming compressed or collapsing inward.

Immediately I found the Turbo’s sonic signature to be similar to my 845-based Line Magnetic 518IA. That is made in China and costs $1,500 less but the Turbo has a tiny bit more of everything. More snap, more inner detail and more power too.

With complex orchestral music and over-produced rock, the Turbo did a slightly better job than the LM, of setting the table and sorting out the soundstage. On the Stones’ "Gimme Shelter", Brian Jones was in the studio in body but not in spirit. With Jagger and Richards about to issue his pink slip, he sat it out whilst Keith Richards recorded all the guitars and overdubbed them. The Turbo sorts it all out to the point that you’d swear it was Richards having a dialogue with his soon-to-be band mate Mick Taylor. Guitars are lit up with laser-like focus. The Turbo brings Merry Clayton’s vocals further out into the soundstage than I ever heard before. The clarity is astounding. Mick Jagger actually appears to be saying "War, children" instead of "Whoa, chillah." The Turbo takes this poorly recorded over-produced staple of classic rock and renders it more musical than I thought possible. The Turbo beats the LM in its ability to layer seemingly messy music in an orderly fashion.

Unlike the Line Magnetic, the Turbo does not have a soft-start circuit. You’re good to go five seconds after power up. The Turbo is rated at 28wpc, the LM 518IA at 22W. The Turbo’s tubes run a bit harder. Since they are married to bigger iron, they put out more power but likely will have a slightly shorter life. Even if that were the case, it wouldn’t deter me since a well-made 845 should last longer than most power tubes. Several thousand hours is not uncommon. There’s no doubt that my mid-sensitivity Harbeths preferred the extra power and capacitance of the Coincident. I felt no need to reach for my $2’300 class D Wyred4Sound SX-1000 monos on bass-heavy music. And I think the 570-watt W4S monos produce some of the best bass for under $5’000. Whereas they create a sense of dryness and resolution when faced with the challenge of Jaco Pistorius or Stanley Clarke’s electric bass, the Turbo served up more body, more thrust. The Turbo seemed more gregarious and outgoing as it projected bass notes further out towards the listening seat. The Wyred monos seemed almost reticent as they pinned bass notes with razor-sharp precision to a thin wall right between my speakers. Bass images from the Turbo were slightly less precise and not as firmly anchored. But the Turbo somehow seemed more true to life and it must produce the best bass I have heard from a tube amplifier including push-pull ones of Air Tight quality. The Line Magnetic is no slouch in the bass department but couldn’t match the depth of the Turbo.

When Coincident owner Israel Blume suggested that  I compare his Turbo with my Line Magnetic, he must have been confident about the outcome. As you have surely surmised by now, his confidence was well placed. In my book, the LM wins clearly in just two categories: first, it is a bit quieter, with a bit less hum to probably be better suited to very high-sensitivity speakers and low-level listening in a nearfield setting. The Turbo’s hum was within the normal range for a SET amp with massive transformers and no issue with music playing even with my 95dB Tekton M-Lores. Second, although the Turbo is a fine piece of eye candy, I prefer the looks of the comparatively svelte LM. I do however favour the sonic personality of the Coincident. But we are talking about a clear victory on judge points, with the LM still standing at the end of the day, not a clear KO. However one feels about the Turbo’s looks, you won’t fail to notice it even in the disheveled disorder that is my 'listening room.' Imagine how good this amp would look on a nice Maple rack. And consider my cramped quarters a nod to the everyman audiophile.

At $5’999, Turbo might be one of the best integrated amplifiers one can buy for under $10’000, perhaps even $20’000. It was certainly the most pleasing amp to have spent time in my house. True, that’s no pocket change but a business model involving the importer middleman and retailer’s cut that emphasized casework bling would result in a sticker of $12’000 or higher. Even as Coincident has thrived in recent years, Blume has not increased prices. If you are looking for an integrated tube amplifier or power amplifier (the Turbo allows you to bypass the preamp stage), the Turbo should be on your short list. If you’d like a very good headphone amp that can compete with most amps in the $500 to $1’000 range thrown in for good measure, the Turbo has that base covered too. It's something no rival 845 amp can claim. And it is built in Canada. Clearly Coincident’s direct-to-customer business model holds down the price. A Canadian speaker manufacturer recently told me that he multiplies his total parts and labour costs by a factor of six to arrive at a retail price. Clearly there is nothing like that sort of markup with this product. Where’s the beef? Right here.