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C&C TU Portable Tube Amp Review

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
C&C TU


I recommend those who are addicted to tube sound or are curious to stay far far away from the C&C TU. The prospect of draining your wallet of a few hundred dollars is all too easy after reaching drunken musical bliss after listening to this little leather covered flask.

Description:


In the box: Wooden box, velour carrying bag, manual, AC adapter, leather sleeve


Features:

4 switches on the back:

TU: Turn the tubes on and off. Said to be identical to the C&C XO. Sounds more analytical and harder off. Fuller, more liquid, warmer on.
GC Low and Hi: More impact on high impedance phones. GC cannot be used on low expedience.
LF: Bass booster. Emphasizes low-mid bass. Still defined but can overpower mids on some songs.
SF: Seems to slighty increase volume, increase perceived soundstage. Little affect on Hi GC.

Tested with: RE0, PK1, K701, K501


Bass: natural, defined, slightly more bloomy than solid state, but not boomy. Extented bass impressive on Wutang's "Wolves."

Midrange:
"They call me the velour fog," as Futurama's Zapp Brannigan once boasted before being booed off a karaoke stage. This is where the TU really shines with the tube magic. Vocals sound natural and silky. Hiroshima's 1979 recording of "All I Want," a very analog sounding album. Singers voice seems to hang in space and float like a velour fog with both the RE0 and PK1.

Treble: Compared to solid state, the difference is subtle but noticeable, especially over time. Compared to the E3 for example, the highs are sparkling but without the fatiguing metallic highs and sibilance. Tight, airy yet slightly liquid and not rolled off.

Soundstage: With the RE0, percussion seems to come from outside of the head, excellent separation, clear imaging. Stunning 3d effect with K501.

Pros:
Not overly tubey, excellent build quality, clarity, many settings suitable for many headphones, silky smooth mid, no sibilant treble, solid state sounding bass, not overly tubey, tubes not hot, no real competition, dark-no humming other than microphonic high pitch. Enough juice to power demanding headphones to a louder volume than I could listen to.

Cons:
Not overly tubey, microphonic-not a problem carrying it around unless it's tapped, or switch moved, takes 30 seconds to diminish. Please note that this is not noticeable when listening to music at a reasonable level. The one caveat to this device is its microphonics. If you think this is going to bother you it probably will if you are doing critical listening while moving around a lot. RF interference.

Recommendation:
The best of tube and solid state. I personally don't feel too comfortable carrying it outside or on the subway, but the benefits of an amp are minimal in a noisy environment or for background listening. It fits the bill perfectly for plane travel, and setting up a satisfying system away from home. This is especially good for analytical and “boring” headphones to add some smooth flavor and bass.

You probably will like this if you listen to: Jazz, classical, trance, acoustic, vocals

You probably would be better off with solid state if you listen to: rap, rock, house etc.

Diminishing Returns: Is this worth 30 times the price of the Fiio E3? It is clearly not 30 times better, but I would buy it again for the subtle tube magic that makes precious time listening to music just that much more valuable and satisfying. It's not an amazing bargain, but it holds its own in a crowded marked of portable amplifiers with a unique sound, nice build quality, and fun features. It certainly makes the neutral and dry RE0 fun to listen to while retaining enough realism and clarity to be drawn into the music and make the components disappear.
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post #2 of 13
Thank you for the review. I like the casing, reminds me of those drinking bottle actor use in movies :D
post #3 of 13

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jipan View Post

Thank you for the review. I like the casing, reminds me of those drinking bottle actor use in movies :D


That's probably the intent, lol.

 

Nice review, but how's the battery life?

post #4 of 13

 

 Thanks for the review!

 

Any place in North America for these besides fleabay?

 

What I found on the battery life and a few specs:

: 1000mW+1000mW POWER
: THD+N:<0.001%(TU:off),<0.05%(TU:on)
: Dimension: 91* 70 * 22mm
: weight: 160g
: 15--20 hours battery life time after each charge

 

Also from another place that listed the specs (  I pasted all that below  )

 

Who knows except CBAX19... Maybe they will chime in with actual box specs/real life usage depending on levels etc.

 

 

 

Excuse the cut and paste job but too much to type out.

The direct heating tube of military micro-Core Technology
* Advanced circuit design, matches headphones of very low to very high impedance.
* 2-way switches for gain control (Low/High) and impedance matching (Low/High), provides the flexibility for user to perform the adjustment manually.
* Offers very wide frequency response by not using any coupling capacitors or output capacitors
* Low frequency compensation switch (bass extension) and sound stage compensation switch (stage expansion) These switches can be turned on to deliver more enjoyable listening experience for users who love deeper, heavier bass and wider sound stage. Or they can be turned off for users who desire high fidelity sound.
* Multiple medium power transistor-based output stages in parallel connection, contributes to high current output and low output resistance and precise output control. Step-up circuit activates when IM is set to high, generates high voltage, high quality power for the needs of driving medium and high impedance headphones.
* High quality for audio ALPS potentiometer as volume dial
* High performance lithium rechargeable batteries, with overcharge & low voltage protection circuit
* Intelligent, regulated charging circuit allows user to enjoy music while charging the C&C XO.
* FOUR 1000uF power supply filtering capacitors ensures pure and smooth power
* Easy and flexible OP exchange for advance users, through gold-plated DIP socket,
* Maximum output power: 1000mW+1000mW
* Impedance matching capability: 8-600ohm
* Total harmonic distortion plus noise (THD+N) < 0.01%
* Frequency response: 0-100kHz/1dB
* Long usage time between recharge: up to 60 hours for low impedance headphones, up to 25 hours for high impedance ones.
* Portable size: 91mm x 70mm x 20mm (aluminum case, with glossy surface)
* Weight (battery inclusive): 170g
* Power input: 100-240V, 50/60Hz; 12V DC.
* Come with one EU adapter and 3.5-3.5 high end cable!

 

Some further digging says that the "TU" is a limited edition, and the "XO2" model is also really decent but no tubes at all just transistors. A mention of the "TU" having overheating issues, which doesn't surprise me carrying it around if its running in the leathery case there. Best only use that to carry.

"The other C&C amps are the BK and BH" which are their entry level amps.If I find anymore I'll update this.

 

Apologies if this stuff has already been posted I'll go see in here.

 

 

 


Edited by nick n - 1/23/12 at 1:29am
post #5 of 13
How much does it cost?
post #6 of 13

They might show up the odd time on ebay, most likely none left new, these were apparently a limited edition. Maybe overseas stores still have a few?

There was some slight offhand mention of them releasing an improved new er version sometime this year.  These cost a little bit more then the XO2 when they were available If I recall correctly. So slightly over $300 US.

 Best to wait and see what might be just down the road for the new improved version.

post #7 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by nick n View Post

They might show up the odd time on ebay, most likely none left new, these were apparently a limited edition. Maybe overseas stores still have a few?

There was some slight offhand mention of them releasing an improved new er version sometime this year.  These cost a little bit more then the XO2 when they were available If I recall correctly. So slightly over $300 US.

 Best to wait and see what might be just down the road for the new improved version.

 

Yes, I definitely prefer to wait for an improved version. Thanks.
post #8 of 13
Any news on the new improved version?
post #9 of 13
Reminds me to fire them up again for a listen. Got some new iems in the house (se846) so it's a good time smily_headphones1.gif
post #10 of 13

Aha, Dutchi MerenGue, weren't you the one who nearly bought my amp a year ago?

 

Well good thing I hung onto it! It pairs fantastically with my SE846- gives it a larger soundstage, more bass oomp, and sweeter mids.

 

Count me surprised!

post #11 of 13
Lol oh was that you? Yeah I guess it was me, I think you were the only one who had them on these boards and was considering letting them go


Sucks for me i guess
post #12 of 13
Yes lol. I bought them on a trip to shanghai, just happened to be in the right place at the right time!
post #13 of 13

So I'm curious - I didn't see anything about it but does a portable tube amp with a DAC exist? I totally agree with your premise that it would be perfect for plane trips - adding in a DAC means the iPod gets to do its thing too. 

 

--Dan

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