CHICAGO (PTA) — Lonestar Audio of Lakeway Texas, USA hosted two of the most exciting exhibit rooms at AXPONA 2019, but for now we’ll just talk about one. In partnership with T+A Elektroakustik’s Lothar Wiemann — head of research and development — we took of a detailed tour of the system and its newest components. Other players involved: Aurender, Critical Mass Systems, and Synergistic Research.
The big news, is the introduction of the new T+A Elektroakustik SDV 3100 HV DAC. Which can do resolution levels up to: 32-bit / 768 kHz for PCM and DSD 1024 for bitstream data. Those are rates at which the signal almost turns into analog, making not only the digital waveform extremely smooth but the music too. The new DAC actually converts at a rate of 3.2 Billion — Billion with a B — conversions per second. That last statement made, resides in state-of-the-art territory, and I can only think of one other manufacturer who dares to toil in that same arena at the moment. With T+A Elektroakustik having thirteen engineers on hand, and itself not being a small company, you’d expect advancements and forefront technology to find freedom at their loading docks.
The story doesn’t end there, the T+A Elektroakustik M 40 monoblock amplifiers, a hybrid design with tube gain-stage input and discrete solid-state after that. Running at 700 volts on the rails, these are high-voltage. You’ve been warned. Higher voltages means, higher transfer rates, which then means linear. This is why tubes sound so good, but in the hybrid design, you have tube sound but with massive amounts of power behind it.
I also can’t forget the T+A Elektroakustik Solitaire CWT 100 40th Anniversary Editions, a line-array design loudspeaker with a design technology that T+A calls “cylinder wave transducer”, all underpinned with four eight-inch woofers on each cabinet. Four woofers are easier to count than all of the drivers on the front baffle of the speaker, but know they are many. Including the electrostatic tweeter.
In speaking with Lothar Wiemann, we delved into what made the new T+A Elektroakustik DAC special. It’s not an off-the-shelf integrated-circuit they use, instead it is in fact built from completely discrete components. Typically in an integrated circuit, DSD signals are not processed purely as DSD, they are converted to a low-bit PCM format, and then converted as low-bit PCMs. Lothar and the engineers at T+A Elektroakustik have tried to preserve the DSD signal by building a true one-bit converter. This new second generation doubles the conversion rate of the previous model from DSD 512, all the way to DSD 1024. More than that, 100 Mhz DSD clock frequency, and 32 conversion for each incoming bit of data. That’s where the 3.2 Billion conversions per second come into play.
The whole T+A Elektroakustik system, when coming together is magically very analog. Giving myself over to the system, I was seduced by the Solitaire loudspeaker’s gut rattling bass. Soundstage tall as it is wide. Drum speed and attack of snares are superior. Human voice would be characterized as slightly lean, with ribs showing. Detail and structure of vocals were offered up by the pound, with a little bit of the “chesty” flesh we associated with larger speakers not as much present. Some might even say, this was due to a lack of boominess in the mid-bass, which in the end would be a welcomed characteristic. So much of this speakers sound was down right perfect, even the slightest smudge on the lens became a personal nitpick, so disregard anything I have to say that might seem negative.
These Solitaire loudspeakers sound amazing. So nimble in their movement, they imparted a percussive quality to all leading edges. As for this being a line-source loudspeaker, and seldom a design I find in my favor, this one is by far my favourite to date. During my listening session, I did find myself changing seats. The more near-field front row was exciting and ultimately the most informative to the character of the loudspeaker. Stepping back a row, I was welcomed to a bigger presentation, better bass, and more fun overall. I don’t think this speaker can be beaten, even when I surely tried.
As for the digital source, there’s not microscope of the human mind that can tell me this is still a digitally quarantined staircase approximation of true analog. As T+A Elektroakustik scours the lexicon for a way to name their second generation ultra-hi-res digital signal processing, I’m going to draw a line in the sand and say it has become “rendered analog.”
– M 40 Monoblocks – $59,000 pr USD
– Solitaire CWT 1000 (40th Anniversary in Carbon Fiber) – $73,500 pr USD
– SDV 3100 HV DAC w/ Preamp – $37,500 USD
– PDT 3100 HV Transport – $22,500 USD
– PowerCell 12 UEF SE – $6,500 USD
– N 10 Server/Streamer – $8,000 USD
Critical Mass Systems
– Filters Isolation Platform – $3,000 USD