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A New Tube Aplifier From Serbia- Trafomatic

post #1 of 102
Thread Starter 




Recently after reading a very favorable review of a tube amplifier on Six Moons I discovered that the tube amplifier manufacturer was about to release a transformer coupled headphone amplifier for under $900. The company is Trafomatic, a home audio, industrial, medical equipment and transformer manufacturer located in Mladenovac, in the Republic of Serbia.

Trafomatic manufactures their own transformers, as well as for Korato audio tube amplifiers. The fact that they manufacture their own transformers, their transformers have a good reputation, I could purchase a well designed transformer coupled tube headphone amplifier for under $900 AND the fact that the Head One model has an adjustment feature to tailor the output to accommodate a wide range of phones, that made the decision easy. So I took the leap and purchased their Head One amplifier.

Features
The Head One is a transformer coupled amplifier employing two Russian 6S45P-E triode tubes and one EZ80 as the rectifier tube. The tubes run at 18-20mA and are matched for gain (per Trafomatic). Some brief research confirms that these tubes running at this level would ensure reasonably long life and maximum performance.

The Head One uses an Alps pot, Rubycon and Capxon(sp?) for electrolytics, with a "Cathode bypass, has an electrolytic plus WMA MKC polycarbonate resistor that is a great match. Tube rectification with input L filter plus CLC filter for the anode supply"

As stated earlier, one useful feature on the Head One is the front panel dial for 30,100,300 ohm signal to better match the needs of a different cans. One difficulty I have personally experienced over the years was locating amps that work well with my W1000 cans. For cans with 40 ohm sensitivity of the W1000s, Trafomatic recommended the 30 ohm setting. When I inquired as to how the different output values for various headphones was accomplished, Trafomatic stated that the output transformer was wound with multiple taps to allow for different settings (30,100,300) and that great care was taken to minimize negative effects but they didn't elaborate exactly how that was accomplished.

The Music
I chose CDs that I have listened to quite extensively and am familiar with all of their subtle nuances. All CDs have very good sonic qualities and each emphasizes a certain portion of the musical range while highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of the equipment down stream. As source I use a modded Onix X99 with the Superclock upgrade feeding a PreSonus Central Station DAC and for cans my ATH W1000s. Cables were Enigma Audio silver cable Eichman plugs.

The selected CDs were Tord Gustavsen Trio, The Ground (ECM) for the detail and texture of acoustic jazz. A good system can separate each instrument in it's own space while the trio is playing. The decay of the piano notes and the absolute quiet background can be quite revealing in a good system. On tracks one and eight there is some cymbal work where the initial strike and exceptionally long decay of the notes reveals the capabilities in a very good system.

Next is Mater Magnificat (ECM). The strings and chorale passages again require a fast and detailed presentation; there can be no middle ground on this recording. The female voice is very difficult to reproduce accurately and with realism in my opinion and Eva Bittova gives a beautiful and challenging presentation here. The Bratislava Conservatory Choir leaps out at you as a group of individual voices not a mash of music.

Sonny Rollins, Saxophone Collosus, a vinyl rip presenting great detail and headroom on Sonny's tenor sax, the detail of Tommy Flanagan's piano and Max Roach's drums. I chose this CD because in theory a digital copy sourced from audiophile 45rpm vinyl should have a large stage with tons of headroom, and I was not disappointed. The quartet's music seemed to originate from many directions both as source and reflections in a close microphone studio setting. Not the most textured vinyl recording but still very organic and lively in my opinion.

Brian Bromberg, Wood. The album name says it all. Wood is what he plays and what you hear. This bass recording has great detail and if you have had any experience with live string instruments close up such as a viola or upright bass, you will know what I mean. The detail of notes both projecting and resonating in his bass and the long decay of notes on his passages are superb and very precise. A weak system will have the bass notes bloat and roll off noticeably.

In closing I feel the Trafomatic Head One is very detailed and transparent while adding no coloration to the music. The better your source the more of what is in the music you will hear. The sound stage is large, not the largest I have heard but very large and three dimensional. I am not familiar with these odd Russian tubes but they are a very nice musical match to the Trafomatic wound transformer.
post #2 of 102
What other amps have you owned?
post #3 of 102
Thread Starter 
I have owned the Gilmore Lite, EC/SS (latest version), EC Lunchbox, PreSonus Central Station, Larroca PRII, and a Chinese amp similar to the Saphire.
post #4 of 102
Cosmetically appears a little rough around the edges. Could you take the trouble to open it up? And take some pictures of the production unit? Seems like a lot to ask. Want to check routing, coupling and cold solder joints.
post #5 of 102
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by achristilaw View Post
Cosmetically appears a little rough around the edges. Could you take the trouble to open it up? And take some pictures of the production unit? Seems like a lot to ask. Want to check routing, coupling and cold solder joints.

Well I will be the first to admit that I am not the greatest at photography but I will tell you that the finish is very nice and all edges and joints match and meet within small tolerances. On the surface this amp has the finish of what you would expect of a $900+ tube amp that is commercially available.

I may eventually open the case up but right now I am enjoying the music.
For now perhaps some pictures of their Experience One amp will satisfy your curiosity:
6moons audio reviews: Trafomatic Experience One

It may be a grand leap of faith to assume they would use the same manufacturing process on their Headphone amplifiers as their speaker Experience One amplifiers but I am fine with that. Besides my ears tell me this amp is well made. FWIW
post #6 of 102
bump. any other impressions?

anyone compared to a Yammy?
post #7 of 102
Some more photos of the Head One (courtesy of 6moons):




Click for larger size






post #8 of 102
anyone else with impressions for this amp?

looks nice nice to me...

I just like to have a 'sum average' of the amp's impressions by more users ...

please donate your impression here...

thanks !
post #9 of 102
Bump. This thing interests me. Anyone have it other than velogreg?
post #10 of 102
that amp looks SWEET.

if it has output taps for that variety of headphones, i am impressed, and would not be surprised hearing great sound from this amp.

[ sarcasm] tubes should not be used for anyting less than 150 ohms, speakers included[/ sarcasm]
post #11 of 102
So no body else beside velogreg and roam(banned?!) have this amp? It looks solidly built.
post #12 of 102
Kees ordered it. He should recieve it pretty soon. Can't wait to get his impressions.
post #13 of 102
Yes, I expect mine to arrive end of the week.
Quality parts and the intelligent use of the impedance switch and pre-amp function attracted me. Positive reviews made me pull the trigger.
I really want to hear how it performs compared to the Stealth in particular and also compared to the Earmax Pro and X-CAN v8.
post #14 of 102
I like the multiple output taps on that amp - very difficult to find something like that commercially. I think you can get some play with the Hammond 125E output transformers, which are affordable. The only others I know of that aren't custom wound are Sowter's headphone transformers. Just ordered a pair for an upcoming project (76/6SN7/45 with interstage transformers) and it's cost about $550 to get them over to the US.

So $900 for a completed amp with multiple taps is a bargain. This amp should have a cult following.
post #15 of 102
WELL...add me on the list, I just can't wait for the supreme-ears here do a detail review, so I just placed order with Boris at Vista audio (870 + 45 SH)

I was gun ho on the WA6, but from what I read, the transformer on a SET TC amp is pretty darn important to its sonic performance, and they look beefy in Head One. Not to mention, it's the sexiest looking amp (I opted for the wood trim).

Well, we'll see how it goes.
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