FLORIDA 2019: Tortuga Audio, Triode Wire Labs, a mystifying and luxurious sound


Tortuga Audio Products brought forth one of the most interesting loudspeakers of the show — the LoggerHead, a 2.8 cubic foot two-way ported speakers sans internal passive crossovers. The loudspeakers do require external crossovers and bi-amping (not included) and are custom made to order. Triode Wire Labs tied it all together with red, white, and blue.


The Story

Furthermore from Tortuga were two pieces that intrigued me endlessly, the LDR3.V25 Passive Preamp, a light dependent photo-resistor (LDR) based single-ended volume controller with graphic OLED display and three input switching, and their TPB.V1 tube preamp buffer. The buffer uses a unity gain two-stage hybrid buffer with a Genalex Gold Lion ECC88/6922 tube input stage, and a LSK170 JFET Class-A solid state output-stage and optional Belleson Super Regulator plate voltage controller and VCAP OIMP high performance output coupling capacitors. What made the aforementioned electronics so intriguing to me was the usage of pro/DJ amplifiers from QSC. I’ve heard these amplifiers countless times before in live sound venues. Bargain pieces at only $350 a piece, never did I expect to be blown away with a system that included them.

It was not only the amplifiers used in this system that broke away from convention, so much of it was the quality of the sound. Many of the usual design conventions were passed over, or entirely forgotten. The yield however was one of stand-out performance and what ultimately left me captivated while listening. Seldom to I reach to literature to read while listening, but that was the case. I needed answers, and found myself scrambling for understanding.

The Sound

“Luxurious” is a world I often walk away from when thinking of ways to describe a sound or system I am listening too. In this case however, I must remain with it. The Tortuga LoggerHead loudspeakers have an amazingly refined and natural instrument like quality to them. As if they were carved out by an Italian yacht maker. There was an acoustic quality imparted to everything they played. Much like you would expect from a live cello performance. These were large cabinets and ported, but nowhere did I hear an unwanted boominess or resonance.

I’ve become quite the fan of passive preamps lately, and the Tortuga LDR3.V25 easily earned my fandom in Florida in conjunction with the Tortuga TPB.V1 Tube Preamp Buffer. This is the first time I’ve heard a system where the amps were nothing special and the (no)preamp section and an installed tube buffer made everything work so magically.

This was one of those systems than demanded you listen for longer than planned. It was as enjoyable as it was mystifying. Many audiophile conventions were questioned here and ultimately placed in limbo. Great show by Tortuga and Triode Wire Labs.


The System

Tortuga Audio

– LoggerHead Loudspeakers – $12,000 pr USD

– LDR3.V25 Passive Preamp – $1,195 USD

– TPB.V1 Tube Preamp Buffer – $1,733 USD

Triode Wire Labs

– Seven Plus Power Cord – $549 USD (used on amplifiers)

– Digital American Power Cord $499 USD (used on DAC)

– American Speaker Cables (Bi-Wire) with premium Cardas CAB bananas $1,099 pr USD

– Spirit II – RCA Interconnects – $399 pr USD

– Discrete USB (with Power and Data) – $249 USD

Schitt Audio

– Yggdrasil Closed-form 21-bit Ladder DAC – $2,399 USD


– GX3 – Power Amplifiers – $350 ea USD

MiniDSP 4×10-HD Digital Signal Processor – $499 USD

Music Server: PC running Windows 10 with Roon Labs music server/player software via stock USB out to DAC $750 (estimated)

1 Comment

  1. We’ve been tweaking this particular Tortuga lineup (preamp/tube-buffer/speakers) for over 2 years now and have become very pleased with the results. We brought it out at the new Tampa show for the first time with high hopes that this wonderful sound would be recognized for what it is….really really nice! We received many compliments by attendees. Glad to see that Eric picked up on what we’ve been groov’n on.

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