TBI Millenia MG3 Class BD Integrated Audio Amplifier..A Modern Day Giant Killer!

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OzarkTom


I have been in this hobby for 40 years now. I sold high-end audio back in the 80's and 90's. I have been fotunate listen and own many a great valued audio products over the years. Dynaco ST-70, Pas 3X, Acoustat X's with DD servo amps, Quad 57's, Rogers LS 3/5A, Musical Fidelity A1, David Berning EA 230, and a few more. Now you can easily add the Jan Plummer's TBI Millinia amp to this list.
 
Here is a modern day giant killer amp like the Musical Fidelity was 25+ years ago. It is actually an integrated, so amp-preamp combo's in the $5-10K should be worried about this little integated amp.

The power output with 8AA batteies is about 10WPC, so a 12V external battey should put out about 15-18WPC. The AC power supply or 24V battery system will put out 32WPC. I hope that does not disqualify this amp in the low wattage systems. The Millenia retails for $500. But I thought it would be an insult to include this amp in the Cheap and Cheerful circle, it is way above that.
 
I have owned and sold many SET's, OTL's, Class A's, Tri-paths over the last 40 years, Rex has too, and heard many more including Class D. I have never liked Class D amps before, but this one is fantastic. Oh my gosh, did I say that? But according to this review from Positive Feedback two weeks ago, the TBI is actually Class BD topology, so says Jan Plummer and does not have the switching problems that Class D amps have.

http://www.positive-feedback.com/Issue62/millenia.htm
 
If you read carefully Positive Feedback's review, this amp is at the top of the heap in the Cheap and Cheerful area, so says the reviewer. But I feel they made a mistake by not using the 24V battery system like I am. If he had, this TBI would have matched or beat his SET set-up. The 24V battey system will sound about 40% better than the AC power supply, probably 15 % better than a 12V.
 
A close fiend, Rex has one also, and he did a Cardas speaker binding post mod that improved the sound by another 30%. He modded mine and darn if he wasn't right. He still has not the nerve to mod the RCA connectors yet, and that should get even a further improvement. I emailed TBI, and Jan Plummer encourages DIY'ers to modify his Millenia amp. Other mods we have done is to use the AMR fuse that sells for $20. That makes about a 3-5% improvement depending on your system. And another 10% improvement came with using the drum gel pads underneath the amp. Sweetwater Sound has these for $6.99 shipped, well worth the money. I wrote Jan about by-passing the volume control, but he warned against that. Jan said that volume set at max will eliminate the volume control by 99%. You can run this as a straight amp feeding from Dac/preamp, that is how I used it. Thick speaker wires can make the amp top heavy, so Rex said he turned his amp upside down and reversed his IC's.
 
So what does this amp sound like? Like a JCOTLSETCLASSAPASS amp.

What?

Now I won't bore you with these details, but the TBI has the quickness of the best OTL's and Class A's, it has the transparency and detail of the best SET and Class A amps, is has the speed and quickness of the best OTL's and Class A's, it has the smoothness and aliveness of the best Set and OTL amps, it plays vocals like the best SET and OTL's, and it images like the best OTL and SET amps. That is why I call this the JCOTLSETCLASSAPASS amp. If John Curl or Nelson Pass came out with a tube amp, this is what it would sound like. I would love to be Nelson Pass's neighbor and take this wee tiny TBI amp and put it on his monster horns. Even Pass would be surprised.

One thing the TBI out-shines all of these other amps on is holographic imaging. I would say that with the noise floor being so low with batteies and the extra detail that it has, holographic imaging is out of this world.
 
If several instruments are playing in the background, this amp will separate them and pinpoint every one. If there is someone in the background barely shuffling their feet or snapping their fingers, you will hear it. If the singer is grunting or smacking their lips, you will hear it. When horn players take a deep breath, it will jump out at you with great clarity. For the first time in my life, I feel I have left my 2-channel stereo system from my living room and now actually sitting with the recording engineer in the recording studio. This is unbelievable.
 
Yes, you get all that without ever losing the aliveness and magic of the best tube amps in the world. Compared to any conventional tube amp with output tansformers, the TBI makes them sound very veiled. Basically, you have the sound of three of the best amps sitting in a wee tiny box. I wonder how Jan Plummer of TBI pulled that one off? And where are those tubes? If your OTL's or SET amps run to hot for you during the summer, substitute this amp instead. You won't miss a lick.
 
For those that have to make a statement with your audio buddies, just hide this amp behind your monster expensive one, no one will ever know. If you don't have one to hide this behind, just buy one of those 100 pound Krell KSA amps. I have seen several selling on Ebay and Audiogon for about $1500, get this TBI Millenia for $500, and for $2000 you have the best sounding Krell KSA amp in the world. When your friends ask you how you did it, just tell them you made a wee tiny mod to make the Krell sound so good. Me? I have mine proudly sitting on top of my $9K Set amp.

The speakers that Rex and I have tried this amp on is the following. Anthony Gallo Classico 3 and 4's, Gallo Strada's, Tonian TL-D1's, and Rethm Trishna's.  The Classico 3 and 4's will go down to a 4 ohm load, but they have no crossovers. The 3's are 88db efficiency, the TBI plays them loud enough for me. But I would never run this amp with Magnepans or Acoustats, too in-efficient and complicated load.

One negative that I have to report. This amp is so addictive. I have to turn my system on every day just to make sure I have not lost the magic, which I never do. With batteies, I never hear that electronic glare that I hear with AC power supplies. And with so much detail, you will have to re-listen to every one of your songs. You will be amazed at what you have missed.

And there you have it. The modern day best value amp of today. This TBI integrated amp clearly deserves to be a classic 25 years from now. If nothing else, buy one for your wife or kid and when they are out of the house, just slip this in your reference system. Then you will have to buy a second one.

Music
Blues, jazz, pop, rock, easy listening.

Boz Scaggs
Diana Krall
Cat Stevens
Eagles
Judith Owens
Norah Jones
Frank Sinatra
Julie London
Freddy Cole
Mariah Carey
Donald Fagan
Steeley Dan
Melody Gardot

list goes on and on
« Last Edit: 18 Jul 2012, 12:39 pm by OzarkTom »

OzarkTom

Well, I am from Missouri, the Show-me state. I am sure most of you feel the same way. Would anybody here be interested in a tour with my TBI amp?

PM if interested, I might send it on a tour. But no matter how good this amp sounds in your system, this amp is mine.

FYI, I will send a 24V battery system so you can compare the AC power supply to the battery. The amp is so efficient, it takes a lot of hours before the battery needs charging, about 15-20.

The Dirty Dozen tour is set!

Occam (NY)
Freo-1 (Ma)
mytubes211 (NJ)
Ispec2 (Pa)
rklein  (Oh)
rodge827  (NJ)
Gopher (NY)
roscoeiii (Il)
Rclark (Wa)
trackball02 (Ca)
morganc  (Ca)
DaveC113 (Co)
srclose (Ok)
poseidonsvoice (NC)
Blackmore(Mo)
ebag4 (Ky)
« Last Edit: 22 Dec 2012, 04:03 am by OzarkTom »

JLM

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Thanks so much for the heads up.  I've visiting the TBI site several times over the years, starting with their amazing small/fast/placement flexible subs, then being intrigued by their tiny single driver speakers (with incredible specified bass range based on "Embedded Transmission Line" technology), and finally had looked at the MG3 before there were any reviews.

Where do you find info on modding the MG-3?

There is also a "OFR-1" (switching power supply resevoir and ripple filter) option for the MG-3 (you can find it at the bottom of the TBI MG-3 page) that should provide at least some battery advantages without the hassle.  Here's the link to it: http://www.tbisound.com/_pdf/UPFAwp.pdf

I'd love to be able to compare the MG-3 to the NuForce DDA-100 (soon to be released 50 wpc/DAC - all digital with list price of $550).

Freo-1

32 WPC is a little over the recommended max for this circle, but since it can put out less with the battery power supply, we are good with this thread.  ;)
 
 
Looks very promising.  The battery power supply makes a lot of sense for this type of amp.   8)

Rclark


  I would love to put this battery powered new technology against my battery powered Two  :thumb:

Freo-1

Could you post some details about the 24 V battery pack?

Rclark


 In fact, I probably don't even need your battery pack, just the amp I would think.

OzarkTom

Could you post some details about the 24 V battery pack?

I am using a Dodd battery pack, but all it is, is 2-12v scooter batteries tied together and hooked up in series. The power cord can even be reversed in polarity and it will not hurt this amp. A 24V smart charger is used to charge the battery. I have found out the hard way, unhook the charger before you turn the amp on. The charger puts out more than 24v and will blow out the 4 amp fuse inside the amp.

This amp is almost bullet-proof. The company took a lot of strides in using the highest protection methods that they could.

On Amazon, here is the best deal on 2-12V batteries for $15.92.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007PT865A/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?ie=UTF8&smid=A24WV2YRRJEBAG

Rclark



 You should definitely make a "tour" thread  :thumb:

 Best forum ever.

OzarkTom

Here is a part's list on a couple of the mods.

RTOM Moongel Drum Damper Pad-$6.99
http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/Moongel

Cardas CCGR S speaker binding posts-about $75 shipped
http://www.cardas.com/content.php?area=oem&pagestring2=Binding Posts&pagestring=Binding Posts+(closeup)&content_id=11&part_id=80

AMR 3.15 Euro fuse-$20
This is a sloblo fuse. It replaces the 4 amp fast blow. Jan said to use the smaller rated fuse when using a sloblo.

saisunil

Tom

That makes you an official reviewer now ... super nice job!

Need to try this one!

this_is_vv

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Can i register for this tour???

lonewolfny42

That's some review.... :o
..............should be an interesting tour.  :thumb:

OzarkTom

That's some review.... :o
..............should be an interesting tour.  :thumb:

I know!
The review probably sounds like I have over-hyped this amp, but after living with it now for over 6 months, I am still getting the same fantastic results. I have been a tube lover for over 30 years, I am now not missing that at all.

My audio buddy Rex feels the same way. Rex bought a pair of NYAL Futterman OTL's from me 30 years ago, and he has mainly used tubes ever since. Rex cannot believe how an amp can put out so much detail, yet sound so magical.
« Last Edit: 19 Jul 2012, 11:19 am by OzarkTom »

OzarkTom

We will stop this first  tour at a dozen and call it the Dirty Dozen tour. If there is more interest, we might have a second tour.

rodge827

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Thank you Tom  :D

lokie

It's good to see TBI get some audiophile love.

I have used TBI subs and satellites for years and have always thought they were fantastic,

I live in the Atlanta area and have dropped in on Jan from time to time. He is a little cryptic about his speaker designs but all I know is that they sound very clear with low distortion.

The subs are unlike any subs I have experienced. They absolutely disappear and integrate with a system perfectly. When I first started using them, I was disappointed because I thought they weren't powerful enough and they don't pressurize a room like other subs do.  But after some AB'ing, I realized that the individual instruments would just disappear when I turned them off. The double bass would just come and go. 

While visiting Jan one afternoon, he talked me into buying some Majestic Diamonds, which are the satellite speakers. They are fantastic. Midrange is really sweet and the bass is just amazing for their size. I think there is some sort of miniature spiral horn structure with a small front port. For me anyway, they are the perfect near field office speaker.

I would love to hear what other people think of them.

OzarkTom

Tom

That makes you an official reviewer now ... super nice job!

Need to try this one!

But not a great reviewer. I forgot to rate three of the most important tests of an amp. So here goes.

goose bump test- 9.95
foot tapping test- 9.95
body swaying test- 9.95

I would have rated these tests a solid 10, but I always feel there is room for more.

OzarkTom

We need three two ZERO more victims.  :o

I was thinkuing today, if everyone agrees, to all ship the amp on a Monday to the next person. If you are close enough the last tester, you should get the amp by Tuesday or Wednesday. That will leave everyone the opportunity to have the amp for a weekend. I know that I work for a living, so the best time to listen is on a weekend.

I am starting with Occam as the first one, but the order will change depending on where you live. We are starting East, and go west. That will save a lot of time in shipping, and some money too. Shipping should be about $18 or less.

For those on the tour, this amp is great for comparing other equipment that you own. If you have more than one speaker cable, power cable, IC's, or even a DAC or turntable cartridge, this amp well tell you the differences fairly easily. It might help you make your mind up on which item to get rid of.

For those that have not PM'ed me their address, please do so now.

Thanks guys!
« Last Edit: 20 Jul 2012, 12:27 am by OzarkTom »

rodge827

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I was thinkuing today, if everyone agrees, to all ship the amp on a Monday to the next person. If you are close enough the last tester, you should get the amp by Tuesday or Wednesday. That will leave everyone the opportunity to have the amp for a weekend. I know that I work for a living, so the best time to listen is on a weekend.


Tom,
That's a great idea...plenty of time to set it up and for a good listen.  :thumb:

With whom are you shipping?

Anyone who didn't make the tour or even if you did, and want to here it in a different system, I'm in S.Jersey 08087. Send me a PM and we can set something up when I have the amp.

Chris