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REVIEW: Transcendent Sound Stereo T8 LN OTL Amplifier (Tube)

Well I finally did it. I bought the Transcendent T8 LN Stereo amp from Bruce. After reading many reviews of this amp, I drove 150 miles to audition a pair of monos that were being sold used. At the time I really didn’t have the room for them so I had to pass or would have bought them on the spot, the housing is rather large at 17.5 W X 18.5 D X 9" H. It was my wife’s decision, not mine. Within a week we came to an agreement about moving things around and I ended up in the living room and she got the former home of my set-up.

One thing is certain about an OTL and that is the sonic character comes through regardless of the source, wires or speakers. I could hear right through to what the amp was doing almost immediately. And what does it do? Well all the reviews on this site have summed it up quite well. I am a tube afficionado and have been for years. It is that midrange palpability that they all seem to possess that always sways me to tube designs. Their shortcomings are generally at the frequency extremes although I can’t say that was the case with the ARC amp I was using, or so I thought. In comes the Transcendent amp, a revelation on all recordings. One thing it doesn’t do is euphonize the sound. You get what is on the recording but you get it ALL. The dimensions of the venue is laid out right in the room. Separation of individual instruments and vocals is so real that recordings I though I knew very well came through so that you can actually feel the presence of the performer (s) with all the subtle nuances revealed. Reach out and touch someone, really. Imaging and soundstaging? It is 3-D and there is never a sense of exaggeration of anything, just real music in real space.

I would best characterize this amp as being a cross between the best of solid state and tube designs. It offers the presence of tubes without any tubiness, or a thereness without the colorations heard with traditional tube designs which might be described as extra bloom. It is as transparent and clear as anything I am familiar with and very quiet. Put your ear next to the speaker and it is very hard to hear any noise. At the listening position, dead silence which equates to music emerging from instruments instead of loudspeakers. Then there is the speed and transient attack of the best solid state designs. And the highs are glorious, extended without brightness UNLESS it is a close miked recording. This isn’t the fault of the amp. Bass? while not giving you the slam of SS, clearly outlines the instruments without any overhang. Listen to a piano play the low registers, impact and ambient decay that sounds so very natural without getting fat, bloomy or boomy. I suspect that this is characteristic of most good OTL amps but I haven’t heard any others to compare.

So what does it all add up to? Well in my room which is quite large and L shaped it almost works. The amp is a little underpowered for the big orchestral pieces that I love to listen to but just a little. In a smaller room it would be more than enough. And if you are strictly a jazz, vocal lover or listen to string quartets and the like it would be enough in a room the size of mine. I expect to upgrade to the monos for that extra power when I need it. Beyond that I don’t expect I will ever feel the need to upgrade again because what I am experiencing is the highest level of enjoyment which is total involvement. No more analysis of the sound, just the music. Is there anything more one can ask for in reproduced audio? At the price it is tough to beat and the Emperor of this household has plenty left in the budget for new clothes which the Emperess couldn’t be happier about.

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Topic - REVIEW: Transcendent Sound Stereo T8 LN OTL Amplifier (Tube) Review by Tubegroover at Audio Asylum - Tubegroover 20:01:22 05/22/01 (16)

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