In Reply to: Kenwood L- Series... posted by Todd Krieger on July 3, 2001 at 00:01:22:
Todd, hello meant to post this review some time ago, but I have'nt discovered how to get a 'password' without being forced to be part of the institution... oh well, freedom is in the mind;
Iâ€™m not sure the hi fi marketing name â€œTrioâ€ is still used. Certainly in the late 1970â€™s and early 1980â€™s I believe it was the trading style Kenwood used to market their hi-fi range of products. I still remember listening to some Trio monobloc amps in mandatory gold livery. Over the years Iâ€™ve heard infrequent and passing reference to the L-01T. Enthusiasts (who I now know, knew their onions) were sad to have let this tuner go and ruefully acknowledged that it is rarely seen for sale on the 2/H market over here (UK).
The Trio L-01T FM tuner is different from the norm. As a styling exercise, it has a hint of, ahem, monolithic intrigue. To me, it looks very 90â€™s, a standard 19 inch box, but I suspect it was born of the early 80â€™s. The front panel is a darkly tinted (to all intents and purposes black) plain perspex sheet with a polished black tuning knob which is â€˜lostâ€™ on the perspex â€“ thatâ€™s it.
Switched off, the tuner is an example of Extreme minimalism (all the more remarkable for a Japanese tuner of its era). The tuner appears to sit on a separate plinth â€“ (it doesnâ€™nt) but once again the design is 'trick'. The low count, dual function, minimal, slim-line push in switches for power, muting/mono, wide/narrow selection and direct/normal sensitivity are â€˜let inâ€™ between panel and plinth. The tuner is disappointingly lightweight, the casework quality almost seems a pre-production mock-up, at best a prototype from plywood that by some oversight made it into final productionâ€¦ but it appears solid. When the four side panel retaining thumb screws are removed and the case is lifted-offâ€¦ the guts of the tuner are revealedâ€¦ and it is clear where the money went. A huge shielded tuning section (reminiscent of US Marantz), separate transformers and â€˜copperâ€™ base plate shielding and a ridiculously high component count are evident. This has to be a tuner of the 70â€™s? Have you ever looked inside a modern (NAD) tuner, a box of air greets you in much the same way as an emperor from that well known childhood taleâ€¦ but of course, this is the C21 and â€œless is still moreâ€.
Switch on the tuner, and subdued indictor lights and FM scale pointer glow beneath the perspex. Merely touch the tuning knob and the back-lit longitudinal FM scale and signal strength and centre tune meters light up; itâ€™s a lovely touch. So much for the design, but it would all be for nought, if it were not equalled by the sound quality â€“ and thankfully, this tuner delivers.
For the past year Iâ€™ve returned to my old fav Revox B260S (digital tuner) as my reference which allows easy assessment of the competition. The Trio L-01T is beautifully analogue, it is just so open and (to quote another tuner-geek chum who also owns an L-01T) â€œinvolvingâ€. The upper range is still Japanese in character (sibilance is emphasised) yet is extended and provides detail and dynamics. The sound stage is wide and deep and stereo imaging pin-point and solid. Bass is well defined and the lower midrange warm sounding, BBC Radio 3 & 4 presenters once again have that conforting traditionally â€˜chestyâ€™ colouration in my otherwise analytical and lean sounding system (The L-01T reminds me of the character of the Naim NAT01 â€“ minus the BOP). In wide band mode, the Trio has good FM sensitivity but is prone to saturation with a high quality strong signal.
For me the cost of this tuner was highâ€¦ I had to sacrifice (and trade) my absolutely mint, freshly serviced, boxed and beloved Yamaha T2 for this well used L-10T, but it was worth it. It would be nice to find out a little bit more about this tuner: the date it was first introduced, its cost new, lineage and designer (who was he, where did he go?). Regrettable a web search hasnâ€™t brought up any information. If anyone out there is a Trio fan/owner then please do e-mail me (firstname.lastname@example.org). Unfortunately I did not get the ownerâ€™s manual with this vintage tuner and would happily pay the cost of getting an original copied and mailed â€“ thanks.
Enjoy the journey.
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