01 January, 2011

Review: Elekit TU-8300 amplifier

(L) 2 Verdier amps (R) Elekit TU-8300

Review: Elekit TU-8300 amplifier
(reviewed by Danz, with minor edits by DJ)

Revised Sept 8, 2017: A bit of update from my Elekit Overview added at bottom.

Editor's Note:At the end of September, 2010 I wrote briefly about my visit to cna music, HK dealer of Elekit. What I didn't tell you then was that I actually bought a TU-8300 300B amp!

In early November I lent my virtually new Elekit 8300 amp to my friend Danz (and let him do all the run-in! :-)). He did a thorough evaluation and wrote this excellent review, which mirrors my own feelings about this amp. Danz and I share many things in common, including a foam-surround version of the Tannoy Canterbury (last visit here). Danz' system has been changing fast.
What Danz wrote:
As my JC Verdier 2A3 SET amp sounds a bit inadequate to drive my Tannoy Canterbury for some large scaled symphonic works due to its meager 3W output, I think it’s time to upscale the power section of my system. Even though the JCV 6550 push-pull power amp I’ve acquired about 2 years back is powerful enough for most of my listening, I prefer the additive characters of SET, hooked by the intimacy & immediacy of the SET beauty. It may be a personal preference, but, I think whoever has the chance to live with SET should understand what I mean, providing that he has the right speakers.

My impressions on this 300B amp started with disappointment, but later turned the opposite.

I’m no critic, who can describe equipment in many technical terms. I only know a few jargons. So, how can I differentiate the good gears from the bad? I simply sit there and listen. IMHO, a good system will let you sit there for hours without the desire to change CD unless the CDP stops. A good system can unveil the music behind the CD(s) on which you’ve long given up and declared as poorly recorded or performed. (well, some really bad CDs are beyond salvation). A good system should not be good only for one or two types of music only.

Danz' Day 1:
I simply replaced my JCV power amp with the Elekit TU-8300 without changing anything else. My source was Sonic Frontier CDT1/SFD2; the preamp was JC Verdier Control B. Cables used were Sommer Epilogue interconnects and Gotham speaker cables.

My first impression of the amp was its power. It was like an honest and strong man who can give you all the power you need and all the details in the CD's, except music! I thought, it may need more warm-up time.

I was expecting the warm-up period time to pass soon, so I could listen to some real music. But I literally gave up after about 3 hours, as I couldn't hear real music. It was simply giving out a non-attractive sound which will urge any music lover to turn off the system. I tried to remain patient, since I believed DJ wouldn’t pull my leg. You know, getting this amp all the way from NT to KLN was a lot of work! I even once said to myself, “How dare you, DJ!”

Danz' Day 2:
Whenever my brain was not occupied by work, I kept on thinking about the listening experience the night before. I was certain that there must have been something wrong!

Unlike my previous experience with other local made 300B amps, the character of the Elekit was not fat, nor slow nor bass-shy (yes, I did live with one for about 2 years and the kind of music I could listen to was limited to only female vocals and chamber music). In fact, it was so powerful, analytical and clean (I’m sure someone is laughing at me about the word “analytical” I’m using here to describe a 300B amp! Mind you, all I have done was comparing with my current gears.) It was simply the opposite of my JCV 2A3! I’m not saying that my 2A3 is not powerful. Believe me, it is very powerful in its own class, but not quite powerful enough to drive the Canterbury for particular types of music. My JCV 2A3 is a seductive amp which has a dash of its French designer’s romantic genes. It plays music so well; however, sometimes it shows its inadequacy in its portrayal of complicated symphonic works. All these thoughts reminded me of the time I’ve spent on searching for the right interconnect to raise the system’s analytical ability.

Harboring the above thought, I did think 300B is the right way to go for my Canterbury in terms of the right power envelope it provides. However, in order to play real music, I needed to do something to suppress the analytical character of the Elekit.

After a long day of work, once back home, I changed the interconnect between pre and power amps from Sommer to Gotham. Well, as hinted in the beginning, music came out so well that I started to retrieve some of the CDs I had given up on before, to unveil their true beauty.

That night, I forgot about HiFi. It was simply music.

Danz' Conclusions:
The Elekit TU-8300 has completely changed my impression of 300B amp. It is a strong and analytical amp which can also play music well. Compared to my JCV 2A3, this Elekit tends towards the honest side, while the JCV is a bit colored towards romance.

This amp is also highly sensitive to interconnects, but I’m not sure about power cables though, as I’ve not tried others.

Apart from the 300B, this amp is also fun to play with as it can accommodate other pentode tubes for taste changing/tube rolling. However, I’ve not tried any other tubes since, the original setup can play music so well already. I’m only a lazy music lover!

After this experience, I’ll definitely get a 300B amp for my system. Well, will it be this Elekit? I don’t know yet & let’s see what will come up later. But, I’m sure that this amp is a real bargain at its price range.

Editor's Postlude:
In my system, while the Elekit was not quite as emotive as my other SET amps (Sun Audio, ICL, Wavac, etc), it was musical enough, and its power and control are rather unparalled. That said, there is a touch of the hybrid in its sound, probably due to the use of ss in constant current source.

Before I left for NYC, I did try SE EL34. While predictably it did not have quite the presence and live music feeling of SET, it was surprisingly robust in sound. I'd easily rate its EL34 sound better than that of the Audion Sterling.

TU-8300 Update

Official Info (hit 外觀.仕樣>> for more pics)
Japanese website with good pics
Japanese website that chronicles the assembly
Japanese website showing details of the parts

If you're reading this, you may remember that I have previously published a review (by my friend Danz) of this 300B amp (click here). This is a limited edition product, but may still be bought (as kit) from various places on the internet.

I took this amp to NYC, where it is driving my YL speakers ably. The amp is certainly run in by now, and my impressions have not changed much. It has a trace of leanness about it, but its driving power is quite exceptional. Not for the romantically inclined, but a strong contender.

The input sensitivity is way too high for my 104 db YL horns. I lowered it by adding resistors, but some background hum persists. Also, I changed the coupling caps to NOS Russian Military, which increased warmth.

Elekit TU-8300 Official Page

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