23 October, 2011

The Yumcha Diaries 飲茶後記: 24-10-11 Tannoy Wavac

Click pic to enlarge; note new Wavac monoblocks on top of cabinet

The Yumcha Diaries 飲茶後記: 24-10-11 Tannoy Wavac
Overview: Wavac Part III

I am severely backlogged!

We have heard so much in the past 2 months, but I am dragging my reporter feet. One of the reason is the beautiful weather lately, making me want to do other things than sitting in front of the computer. Another is my recent effort on cleaning up my house; it all started with Robin's rack, which he left for me. That called for creating space where there was none!

Of course, Tannoy gets priority, so this report jumps the queue. I shall try to tie up home visit loose ends later.

On this day, after yumcha, we re-visited Karma. First, congratulation for the successful back surgery! The household had not been idle; since the last visit, the living room had been completely re-arranged, and with sonic benefit!

One of the great things about Tannoy (and big horns like our friend JC's Avantgarde Trio) is room-filling music. You don't have to sit like an idiot (which is most audiophile) fixed in one spot. I sat off to one corner, stretched out my legs on the sofa, and enjoyed the music! At the new spot for the dining table, where we had tea, the sound was wholesome even with a pillar blocking the view (look at the pic in the previous visit report, where the clock was)! This is how a proper system should sound. Besides the re-arrangement, the other significant change is that Karma purchased the Wavac MD-805 monoblocks (perched on top of the cabinets)! We tried many things, but I shall only briefly touch upon some of them:

Wavac PR-T1 - XLR vs RCA input I brought my Musical Fidelity M1 DAC, which has an excellent balanced output. We compared the Wavac PR-T1 preamp's RCA input (using Gotham GAC-4) and XLR input (GAC-3). There is no question in my mind the balanced input is more composed. This is a more significant comparison than most, because the PR-T1 uses an input transformer for the XLR input. There is no bandwidth loss, attesting to the excellence of the input transformer.

Wavac PR-T1/MD-805 vs PR-X2/MD-300B I was glad finally I had the chance for a re-match of my much cheaper Wavac PR-X2/MD-300B combo vs the expensive PR-T1/MD-805. Last time when we compared them at Danz' place (report here), I appreciated the more expensive system's authority but had a nagging suspicion that the cheaper one has a bit more nuance. This time, I am sure. For sure, the big brother is more commanding, but I would say the younger one is a little lighter on foot, more on the fly, a little more spontaneous (at the expense of weight of course). At this point, Karma's Canterbury are new and harder to drive, but when he finally runs them in (which shall take at least months of heavy use) , I'd like to have yet another re-match. For myself, I shall happily continue my romance with my Wavac set. In my place, I don't quite need the extraneous power. However, I'd not mind to be able to upgrade to a higher Wavac 300B model at some point.

A wonderful afternoon, and I think Karma has found his partner for life in audio!


  1. Hi, I was recommended this blog by another audiophile acquaintance of mine. I too use a Tannoy speaker albeit a much lower model, the Turnberry SE. I have been using Naim amplifiers with it and have been happy. However all my audio friends tell me to go with a good tube amp and I personally have been looking for an SET in particular. Do you think the Wavac MD-300B can drive the Turnberry well in a moderate sized living room ? I listen to almost all kinds of music (even Michael Jackson :-) )

    1. I am way behind in my replies, but Tannoy gets the priority.

      The Turnberry is actually harder to drive than the bigger 15" models. As the Wavac 300B is a very strong amp, it will probably acquit itself, but I think it will fall short with more complex material and rock for sure. I suggest a good SET amp for most listening, but it would be good to have an amp of higher wattage for backup use. A good relatively low-powered push-pull amp using something like 6L6 would be another choice.

  2. Thanks a ton for this info.
    An update : I just got for home demo a Trafomatic Audio Experience 2 integrated amp. It is also a 300B SET with 9 watts output. Interestingly it sounded very agile, quick open and adequately powerful. There was no trace of laziness. Rather it was as quick as the Naim. However the noise floor was a bit bothering. Also the overall sound was not very nuanced. It was of course more nuanced than the Naim but I expected more. The vocals were tad more projected forward which was good but it was not very sweet and lacked a bit of romance. Overall that is how I would describe it, detailed and exciting with very good PRAT but lacking a bit of romance. That brings me back to the same question, can I expect the Wavac MD-300B to be better ? Or any other amp worth considering ?

    1. This is the first time I hear of Trafomatic Audio. The topology of 6SN7 driving 300B is familiar. The stock Russian 6SN7 is NOT a nuanced tube, and serious listening should have it replaced by an old-stock 6SN7 - even a latter-day humble Philips JAN 6SN7 will provide for more. See if you can borrow some from the dealer.

      Although I cannot compare, I'd say the Wavac is going to be quite different. The Wavac has a double-triode (ECC81) driving a beam power tube (6Y6) driving the 300B, likely more headroom than a double-triode 6SN7 alone.

      "Lack of romance" can be due to power constraints. For good nuance you must have good control.

      Another important point. The Trafomatic is likely not a "true" integrated amp, rather a power amp with a volume knob (same for most Japanese designs, including Sun Audio and Wavac). Using a high quality preamp will deliver more of everything. Hook up a preamp to control the volume (turn the amp's volume knob to max) and you shall see. Of course a good tube preamp is best, but if your Naim has a pre-out you can certainly try.