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Cafad

Integrated Amps: An Addicts Guide Part, The Third.

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Posted (edited)

How can i say no to my original offer, i am looking at a vintage sansui at the moment, not sure of the exposure's future, sent a message to Gazer01 who is looking for an amp with pre outs, he has the 1010, the 2010 has pre outs,the Quasimodo is unbelievable in my set up, be interested in how the Sansui will sound, will be back home on Tuesday, will send the amp then, cheers Wen

Edited by wen

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@Cafad there are so many models to choose from, can you give a clue for a 60-70wpc reliable every day use sansui?from your experience, don't know if this is the impossible question

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I can do better than suggest, I can supply you with one.  :yes:  

Hang on, I see a PM, I'd best get to answering it.  

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IMG_0983.thumb.JPG.ab9c832ef16e9e9e9b692636df7dbb49.JPG

 

TACT S2150

 

Time to take a trip back in time to the source of all things good about class D amps.  Back in 2003 TACT was doing some ground-breaking work that the better class D amps of today have clearly benefited from.  Many class D amps are dynamic to a fault while sacrificing top end listenability and mid range sweetness, in some cases this “standard class D personality” works but in others it very much does not.  It can depend a great deal on the genre of music being played and the system it is played on.  Class D amps can make small systems sound bigger and more punchy than they usually do and I suspect it is this very trait that has made them so popular in the world at large.

 

However TACT took the traditional class D topology and refined it, embraced it to the point of removing the whole idea of a separate DAC.  Instead they performed a signal conversion on the PCM signal, converting it to a PWM signal that is then used to feed into the class D module directly.  I’ve heard several cheaper amps that do this, the QLS QA-100, the later QLS model QA-690, the Wadia 151, the POPU D5 and Venus models, the Nuprime IDA-8, though the IDA-8 has a conventional DAC (and the Nuforce DA-100, which was the least impressive of all of them to my ears).  All of these are decent amps in their own right (and at their own price points) but none are close to a match for the TACT.  The Classe Sigma 2200i is a similar design and it plays to its strengths a little more, the 2200i is, in my opinion, a better amp than the TACT S2150 but since it came along 13 years later and likely owes much of its design to the work done by TACT then that is no real surprise.

 

The big thing about the TACT S2150 is that it up samples to 384KHz, it is true that there is some gear out there that does this now but back in 2003 this was massive.  It also controls volume differently, I’m not sure I fully understand this but it seems to drop the voltage of the power supply in order to drop the volume.  Normally the volume is controlled by decreasing the voltage of the music signal while the power supply voltage is constant (or as near to constant as it can be kept) so this is different.

 

TACT also had some kick-ass room correction tech, some of which is usable with the S2150.  To get the most out of it though you need to use multiple amps as you can adjust both gain and crossover settings.  I believe the dedicated preamp was something of a legend in the area of signal control and gave you a load of choices if you were a bi or tri-amper.

 

The S2150 is a good amp, and it is not an amp that sounds like a class D design.  Its vocals are top notch and slower music is so resonant and poignant that you would swear you were listening to a $5K amp produced by a niche design house.  It does well on faster music but on fast and hard music with multiple instruments and vocals it isn’t as impressive as it is on the slower stuff.  It is far from alone in this regard, many amps have issues with separation and soundstaging when more than 4 sounds are competing for attention.  If I were reviewing the S2150 15 years ago I would have been very impressed, possibly even astounded, today I look at it and think thoughts like, “So that’s where the ideas that carried class D forward started.  You know, even by todays’ standards, it’s very good.”

 

It does have an eccentricity or two however, but I’ll get to those later.  Time to start the details and such.

As is usual I was using my YBA Herritage cd100 as a transport, coax cable was from Geoff at Aurealis, speaker cable was standard old Ugly cable, 10AWG, with banana plug connectors sourced from Jaycar (although I did use the TACT with Redgums speaker cables for several days, I could not detect a significant difference so I don’t believe the TACT to be very fussy when it comes to cables).  And speakers were, as always, my Lenehan S2R stand mounts. 

 

Highs:

Triangles sound almost crystalline and shiny, not really similar to any other amp I’ve heard.  I’m going to have to listen to them 4 or 5 times to get a grip on them I think.  Don’t get me wrong, they sound very good just not metallic enough.  Trumpets are nice and brassy but a little sweet as well.  Crisp metallic sounds seem to revel in their crisp-ness.  Can sound a touch dry when swamped with several instruments at once.   All in all, very good, 7.75.

 

Mids:

Depends greatly on what is going on.  On lighter music the mids are damn good.  Single instrument plus vocals and the TACT is up there with the best of the best, two or three instruments and it’s still very good but throw in four or five and it starts to lose that magic.  8.5 on slower music with a minimal number of instruments down to 7.25 with 4 instruments or more plus vocals.

 

Bass:

The class D “Big Bass Effects” are dialled down with the bass region correlating in with the highs and mids very well.  Impact and follow through are good but they could be a little fuller and deeper.  I don’t think this level of bass would keep a true bass head happy.  I realize it is this slight lessening of the bass that allows the mids to behave as well as they do but since I evaluate them separately I’m afraid the bass score is going to suffer.  Not suffer badly as it still does a good job, but it really isn’t up to the usual class D expectations.  Of course since this is a TACT the fact that it doesn’t sound like a stereotypical class D is the whole point.  7.5

However, as with the mids, if you play music with less instruments involved then the bass is much more satisfying.  Joe Satrianis’ “Hill of the Skull” for instance has excellent bass.  I’d be willing to go up to about 8.25 for that song. 

 

Vocals: 

TACT have really nailed the vocal side of things.  Female vocals are deep, resonant and sweet and Male vocals are clean and smooth with just a touch of gruffness when needed.  8.25 for both.  Nancy Wilson sound so good I’m going to pull out all my Heart albums tomorrow and spin them up.  I may even pop Freddie Mercury’s solo album in too, although the production values on it aren’t top notch so it may not do Freddie justice, worth a try though.

 

Sound staging:

Interestingly enough the vocals image extremely well, instruments in the mids almost as well and then instruments in the highs less and the bass lesser again.  There is a 3D soundstage (which is good news, many class D amps I’ve heard don’t seem to understand what a 3D sound stage is) but it is a little on the shallow side.  I have the distinct feeling that if my room were twice the size then the sound stage would integrate much more effectively, sometimes it felt like each speaker was trying to fill two thirds of the room.  I’m going to give it a 7.0 as a minimum, and up to a 7.75 in the mids and an 8.0 for the vocals.

 

Overall Performance:

Lighter styles of music are an absolute delight to listen to, lighter strings and woodwinds are excellent as are smaller drums, larger drums don’t feel quite as large as they could (unless they are the only instruments in use at the time).   I could certainly live with the TACT, but I think it would skew my listening more to the lighter styles in my collection.  I would probably keep another amp for the heavier stuff.

 

Ability to Emote:

7.5 on lighter styles, 7.5 to 7.0 on faster rock, 7.0 to 6.5 on rock with lighter (or boosted) mid bass.  I was definitely not feeling as much love for the Dire Straits remasters as I usually do (but the originals were pretty good).  Dynamic range crushing is even more evident than usual.

 

Electric Guitar Test:

8.25, very satisfying combination of growl and rumble with just a little edge to it.

 

80’s Rock Test:

7.5 with harder rock, 8.0 with lighter and/or softer rock.

 

In short, an informative and rather impressive, trip down memory lane.  Capability mixed with nostalgia.  That’s what the TACT S2150 is.

 

Now I guess  I need to put a Lyngdorf on my target list.

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Posted (edited)
43 minutes ago, Cafad said:

IMG_0983.thumb.JPG.ab9c832ef16e9e9e9b692636df7dbb49.JPG

 

TACT S2150

 

Time to take a trip back in time to the source of all things good about class D amps.  Back in 2003 TACT was doing some ground-breaking work that the better class D amps of today have clearly benefited from.  Many class D amps are dynamic to a fault while sacrificing top end listenability and mid range sweetness, in some cases this “standard class D personality” works but in others it very much does not.  It can depend a great deal on the genre of music being played and the system it is played on.  Class D amps can make small systems sound bigger and more punchy than they usually do and I suspect it is this very trait that has made them so popular in the world at large.

 

However TACT took the traditional class D topology and refined it, embraced it to the point of removing the whole idea of a separate DAC.  Instead they performed a signal conversion on the PCM signal, converting it to a PWM signal that is then used to feed into the class D module directly.  I’ve heard several cheaper amps that do this, the QLS QA-100, the later QLS model QA-690, the Wadia 151, the POPU D5 and Venus models, the Nuprime IDA-8, though the IDA-8 has a conventional DAC (and the Nuforce DA-100, which was the least impressive of all of them to my ears).  All of these are decent amps in their own right (and at their own price points) but none are close to a match for the TACT.  The Classe Sigma 2200i is a similar design and it plays to its strengths a little more, the 2200i is, in my opinion, a better amp than the TACT S2150 but since it came along 13 years later and likely owes much of its design to the work done by TACT then that is no real surprise.

 

The big thing about the TACT S2150 is that it up samples to 384KHz, it is true that there is some gear out there that does this now but back in 2003 this was massive.  It also controls volume differently, I’m not sure I fully understand this but it seems to drop the voltage of the power supply in order to drop the volume.  Normally the volume is controlled by decreasing the voltage of the music signal while the power supply voltage is constant (or as near to constant as it can be kept) so this is different.

 

TACT also had some kick-ass room correction tech, some of which is usable with the S2150.  To get the most out of it though you need to use multiple amps as you can adjust both gain and crossover settings.  I believe the dedicated preamp was something of a legend in the area of signal control and gave you a load of choices if you were a bi or tri-amper.

 

The S2150 is a good amp, and it is not an amp that sounds like a class D design.  Its vocals are top notch and slower music is so resonant and poignant that you would swear you were listening to a $5K amp produced by a niche design house.  It does well on faster music but on fast and hard music with multiple instruments and vocals it isn’t as impressive as it is on the slower stuff.  It is far from alone in this regard, many amps have issues with separation and soundstaging when more than 4 sounds are competing for attention.  If I were reviewing the S2150 15 years ago I would have been very impressed, possibly even astounded, today I look at it and think thoughts like, “So that’s where the ideas that carried class D forward started.  You know, even by todays’ standards, it’s very good.”

 

It does have an eccentricity or two however, but I’ll get to those later.  Time to start the details and such.

As is usual I was using my YBA Herritage cd100 as a transport, coax cable was from Geoff at Aurealis, speaker cable was standard old Ugly cable, 10AWG, with banana plug connectors sourced from Jaycar (although I did use the TACT with Redgums speaker cables for several days, I could not detect a significant difference so I don’t believe the TACT to be very fussy when it comes to cables).  And speakers were, as always, my Lenehan S2R stand mounts. 

 

Highs:

Triangles sound almost crystalline and shiny, not really similar to any other amp I’ve heard.  I’m going to have to listen to them 4 or 5 times to get a grip on them I think.  Don’t get me wrong, they sound very good just not metallic enough.  Trumpets are nice and brassy but a little sweet as well.  Crisp metallic sounds seem to revel in their crisp-ness.  Can sound a touch dry when swamped with several instruments at once.   All in all, very good, 7.75.

 

Mids:

Depends greatly on what is going on.  On lighter music the mids are damn good.  Single instrument plus vocals and the TACT is up there with the best of the best, two or three instruments and it’s still very good but throw in four or five and it starts to lose that magic.  8.5 on slower music with a minimal number of instruments down to 7.25 with 4 instruments or more plus vocals.

 

Bass:

The class D “Big Bass Effects” are dialled down with the bass region correlating in with the highs and mids very well.  Impact and follow through are good but they could be a little fuller and deeper.  I don’t think this level of bass would keep a true bass head happy.  I realize it is this slight lessening of the bass that allows the mids to behave as well as they do but since I evaluate them separately I’m afraid the bass score is going to suffer.  Not suffer badly as it still does a good job, but it really isn’t up to the usual class D expectations.  Of course since this is a TACT the fact that it doesn’t sound like a stereotypical class D is the whole point.  7.5

However, as with the mids, if you play music with less instruments involved then the bass is much more satisfying.  Joe Satrianis’ “Hill of the Skull” for instance has excellent bass.  I’d be willing to go up to about 8.25 for that song. 

 

Vocals: 

TACT have really nailed the vocal side of things.  Female vocals are deep, resonant and sweet and Male vocals are clean and smooth with just a touch of gruffness when needed.  8.25 for both.  Nancy Wilson sound so good I’m going to pull out all my Heart albums tomorrow and spin them up.  I may even pop Freddie Mercury’s solo album in too, although the production values on it aren’t top notch so it may not do Freddie justice, worth a try though.

 

Sound staging:

Interestingly enough the vocals image extremely well, instruments in the mids almost as well and then instruments in the highs less and the bass lesser again.  There is a 3D soundstage (which is good news, many class D amps I’ve heard don’t seem to understand what a 3D sound stage is) but it is a little on the shallow side.  I have the distinct feeling that if my room were twice the size then the sound stage would integrate much more effectively, sometimes it felt like each speaker was trying to fill two thirds of the room.  I’m going to give it a 7.0 as a minimum, and up to a 7.75 in the mids and an 8.0 for the vocals.

 

Overall Performance:

Lighter styles of music are an absolute delight to listen to, lighter strings and woodwinds are excellent as are smaller drums, larger drums don’t feel quite as large as they could (unless they are the only instruments in use at the time).   I could certainly live with the TACT, but I think it would skew my listening more to the lighter styles in my collection.  I would probably keep another amp for the heavier stuff.

 

Ability to Emote:

7.5 on lighter styles, 7.5 to 7.0 on faster rock, 7.0 to 6.5 on rock with lighter (or boosted) mid bass.  I was definitely not feeling as much love for the Dire Straits remasters as I usually do (but the originals were pretty good).  Dynamic range crushing is even more evident than usual.

 

Electric Guitar Test:

8.25, very satisfying combination of growl and rumble with just a little edge to it.

 

80’s Rock Test:

7.5 with harder rock, 8.0 with lighter and/or softer rock.

 

In short, an informative and rather impressive, trip down memory lane.  Capability mixed with nostalgia.  That’s what the TACT S2150 is.

 

Now I guess  I need to put a Lyngdorf on my target list.

My first proper audiophile amplifier was a TACT Millenium MK2. (Which later went to the Lyngdorf brand)

 

It was a very good sounding amplifier and being pure digital in it was very much ahead of its time.

The build quality was exceptional too.

 

C0EB6DB8-2330-4A6F-B2E9-3104CAD28FEA.thumb.jpeg.8eb74b64faa066a0f36d9fbbadc42e3d.jpeg

Edited by Martykt

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Thanks Cafad for that excellent review of one of my favourite amps.  I was an early adopter of TacT gear and bought my first room correction preamp in around 2004.  It's still in perfect condition and serves as a handy spare pre.  Given that it has both digital and analogue inputs and digital and analogue outputs, it's incredibly versatile and it's built like a tank

 

In around 2006, I upgraded to the RCS 2.2XP (keeping the original RCS 2.0) and added the 2150.  Although I could never really come to terms with the room correction (probably just too complex for this old dinosaur!), I've always found this combo to be very useful, versatile and competent performers.  Boz was the epitome of the "flawed genius" and it appears to me he tried to be all aspects of his business instead of leaving the commercial aspects to someone with the appropriate skills.  The "divorce" from Peter Lyngdorf was always going to see Boz and TacT founder and, sadly. it did.

 

Anyway, the RCS 2.0 gets occasional use as a back-up preamp and the RCS 2.2XP and 2150 combo is in continuous, ongoing use in the family room and makes a pair of the ubiquitous NS1000M's sound  pretty much like I think NS1000M's should - ie superb within certain inherent limitations in the bass area.  We had some rellies for lunch today and the family room system has gradually climbed up to enjoyable volumes (it's still very sweet at background listening levels) and it's sounding gorgeous to me ATM.

 

Might snap a couple of pics to illustrate this post::)

 

736250551_DSC_4991(2).thumb.JPG.e1d0a1a99162020834cfe1071762caae.JPG

 

 

619462331_DSC_4992(2).thumb.JPG.6209457e08a43e767f2974ac3bed3532.JPG

 

 

I really disagree with those who assert "All class D sounds like crap"  I wish they could hear what I'm hearing right now!

 

Thanks again for giving this lovely gear a rare bit of exposure.:thumb:

 

 

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Posted (edited)
16 minutes ago, Tony M said:

Thanks Cafad for that excellent review of one of my favourite amps.  I was an early adopter of TacT gear and bought my first room correction preamp in around 2004.  It's still in perfect condition and serves as a handy spare pre.  Given that it has both digital and analogue inputs and digital and analogue outputs, it's incredibly versatile and it's built like a tank

 

In around 2006, I upgraded to the RCS 2.2XP (keeping the original RCS 2.0) and added the 2150.  Although I could never really come to terms with the room correction (probably just too complex for this old dinosaur!), I've always found this combo to be very useful, versatile and competent performers.  Boz was the epitome of the "flawed genius" and it appears to me he tried to be all aspects of his business instead of leaving the commercial aspects to someone with the appropriate skills.  The "divorce" from Peter Lyngdorf was always going to see Boz and TacT founder and, sadly. it did.

 

Anyway, the RCS 2.0 gets occasional use as a back-up preamp and the RCS 2.2XP and 2150 combo is in continuous, ongoing use in the family room and makes a pair of the ubiquitous NS1000M's sound  pretty much like I think NS1000M's should - ie superb within certain inherent limitations in the bass area.  We had some rellies for lunch today and the family room system has gradually climbed up to enjoyable volumes (it's still very sweet at background listening levels) and it's sounding gorgeous to me ATM.

 

Might snap a couple of pics to illustrate this post::)

 

736250551_DSC_4991(2).thumb.JPG.e1d0a1a99162020834cfe1071762caae.JPG

 

 

619462331_DSC_4992(2).thumb.JPG.6209457e08a43e767f2974ac3bed3532.JPG

 

 

I really disagree with those who assert "All class D sounds like crap"  I wish they could hear what I'm hearing right now!

 

Thanks again for giving this lovely gear a rare bit of exposure.:thumb:

 

 

It was my absolute pleasure Tony.  I had not heard of TACT as such but once I was made aware of their story I just had to hear one.  They are a piece of audio history, in both the fact that they are a technological first and that the company stands as an example of how a company can fail in the industry even though they have a series of products that are original and excellent quality.  It is a pity that they don't exist any more but at least they did exist and can still be found if you look hard enough.

Edited by Cafad

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FWIW, I should mention there is quite an active International forum (TactAudioUsersGroup) at yahoogroups.com

 

It's a fantastic resource sharing info, software, service tips and selling and buying leads.  You can download encyclopedia-sized manuals to assist with room correction etc.  I did so, but I have yet to find the time and inclination to master it as it's pretty complex.

 

There are quite a few real enthusiasts around the world  keeping the brand alive.

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Where abouts are you located Tony?
I have the RCS and TCS and have found little to touch them. I have Tip and Hans-Martin very helpful when advice is needed!

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On 14/06/2019 at 5:44 AM, ZOOTYtooty said:

Where abouts are you located Tony?
I have the RCS and TCS and have found little to touch them. I have Tip and Hans-Martin very helpful when advice is needed!

Sorry, I just saw this post.  I'm at Hahndorf, in the Adelaide Hills - quite a few audio enthusiasts around here.

 

I totally agree the support of those guys on the TacT forum is fantastic.  Just one example was the analogue (or was it digital - just can't remeber for sure ATM which it was) input board of my 2.2XP failed.  From the symptoms, they were able to tell me that 4 small SMC caps neede to be replaced.  I was able to take the board out, drop it into a local computer repair shop and get it fixed by asking them to replace  specific caps.  Totally modular design is just great - no need to take the whole unit in.  I think it cost something like $50!

 

I have high hopes of keeping my Tact gear fully funtional for a long time

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Thanks for the reply, had some friends over tonight and ended up in the music room!
Imagine where TacT ad a company would have been by now?!1561804133288.jpeg

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