This was the first opportunity that I have had, to A/B my new amp, against my older amp. I brought my stock Teac over to my good friend’s house, where my Sugden has been living for the last 6 weeks, since the arrival of the Teac amps I bought.
The system at Lewis’ house is different from my own, but I find his room significantly better than my basement bunker, and that helps to isolate and qualify the differences in gear. It also helps that he has good ears too. My basement room is about 14x17 with a 7 foot drop ceiling, and wall to wall carpet - also, one of the 17 foot sides opens to the rest of the basement... Lewis' room, as in the pic, is around 12x16, with a window behind the system, regular height ceiling etc, with hardwood floor.
So, the system there consists of a Sony 5 changer of indeterminate age, the amps mentioned, and a set of DIY speakers that he and I constructed last summer. They consist of a set of Vifa metal domes, and Max Fidelity 6.5 inch woofers. Solen caps and coils in the Xover. About 1 cubic foot, rear slot ported, and built to be floorstanders. All told, discounting the relative value of our time, these speakers were built for around US$600. I can honestly say that I find them better than the Totem Rokk that I have owned for 10 years now. They are more revealing up top, delve far deeper into the bottom octaves, and are well balanced from top to bottom.
The Sugden has replaced a Yamaha receiver that he had for about 5 years, and neither of us were surprised at how the British hand made piece was better than the Yamaha. With the Sugden in the system, the top end sweetened, and the bass bloomed. There was no loss of detail in the upper registers, but the sound was far smoother, and without a trace of harshness that I had often felt, with the Yamaha. The bass notes seemed to flow in and out of the soundstage, versus robbing the overall dynamic presentation via the Yamaha.
So, I arrived, we set up the Teac, chose some music, and began spinning discs.
Music included jazz (Saxaphone Colossus), electronica (Everything but the Girl, Massive Attack, Delerium) and general (Stevie Ray V, Leonard Cohen, Tragically Hip etc).
The immediate difference that the stock Teac Tripath amp made, versus the Sugden, was at both ends of the frequency spectrum. The highs were less sweet, but markedly cleaner. The lows bloomed less, but the stop/start of notes was SO on. This bass impact interests me, since the Totems lack this in my room. I am unsure if it is simply that the DIY speakers go lower, or if it is linked to the fact that my Totems are 4 ohm loads, and the DIY are an 8 ohm load. I mention this, since in the literature on the Tripath website, specific to the 2050 chipset used, it points out that 4 ohm loads will clip the amp fairly quickly, and thus are not recommended. Now, other than some lack of bass on the Totems, I have not heard any distortion, or clipping to speak of, thus I am unsure what the difference in sound relates to.
The Teac proved to be a more revealing, and arguably neutral, sound, versus the Sugden’s noted ability to smooth the top end, and bloom the bass.
Which is better depends on where I listen. With my Totems, the Sugden’s bass is far stronger, and the highs smoother. Mind you, with the Teacs, the sound is more open and revealing of instruments and air. Synergy I suppose. With the DIY speakers, the Teac proved to be the better combination, since the added coloration of the Sugden served to cloud the bottom end some, and closed in the top end. Synergy again…
In the end, I am pleased with the Teac, and will retain it, regardless of whatever concerns I might have, about the 4 ohm load. I intend to change speakers in the coming 6 months, and am considering a couple of DIY options, as well as the Horn Shoppe Horns.
I will certainly update this thread, once Wayne mods my other Teac, and I get it back, break it in, and then go head to head against the Sugden, and the stock Teac.
Have a great day,
Mark in Canada