Theory + Application Elektroakustik (T+A) could be the biggest and most technically innovative high-end audio firm you have heard small or nothing at all about. The Germany business has been on a lengthy-term growth trajectory but has intentionally kept a low profile in the U.S. so that it could focus on the European and Asian markets. That is unfortunate for those of us in North America because T+A makes an extensive variety of technically innovative, beautifully built, forward-seeking, fantastic-sounding merchandise that are relatively priced.
Founded in 1978 by Siegfried Amft, T+A began life as a loudspeaker organization with just two workers. Amft still heads the company, which has grown to a staff of much more than a hundred. Fourteen of the employees are graduate-level engineers, several of them specialists in fields such as circuit-board layout, computer software improvement, and mechanical engineering. The company’s history is 1 of fundamental technical research driving item improvement. T+A is as far from a marketing-driven “me-too” organization as you will locate. For instance, the business styles and builds its own disc-transport mechanisms from metal rather than buying off-the-shelf plastic mass-market drives. T+A also writes its own application, like the filters in its digital products. I was astonished to uncover that T+A was creating its personal computer software-based digital filters way back in 1989, a time when I believed that only Wadia and Theta Digital possessed that capability.
The PDP 3000 HV CD/SACD player and DAC reviewed right here exemplifies T+A’s engineering-driven strategy. The company’s flagship digital item is packed with sophisticated design and style and lavish execution. I got an inside look at the PDP 3000 HV in the course of the Munich show exactly where I sat down with T+A’s lead designer, Lothar Wiemann. A physicist by education, Wiemann has been with T+A for far more than 30 years. The 57-pound player’s prime panel attributes a round see-through window that shows off the internals. The enormous chassis is produced from aluminum, with isolated compartments for the digital and analog power supplies, and separate compartments for the digital and analog circuits. The transport is housed in its own aluminum chamber. This construction isolates the subsections magnetically and mechanically, and prevents coupling through RF. The exterior metalwork, which is available in dark grey or silver, is exemplary, as is the feel of the controls and the sophistication of their operation. Press the drawer-open button and the tray glides out with a smoothness and solidity that is unmatched in my expertise. I would not have been shocked to understand that the PDP 3000 HV was priced at twice its U.S. retail of $ 22,500 (alas, up from $ 19,500 ahead of the Euro-Dollar valuation swing this summer).
The front panel is dominated by two huge knobs that select inputs and access the player’s in depth menu. These inputs consist of USB, AES/EBU, three SPDIF on RCA, two SPDIF on BNC jacks, and two TosLink optical. All these inputs can be named by way of the remote control’s keypad. The remote handle is a large, heavy unit machined from metal. The markings are a bit cryptic you have to refer to the table in the owner’s manual to decipher their meanings. The disc drawer sits beneath a big display that shows the chosen input, track number or time, and the set-up functions.
The rear panel has a couple of uncommon twists. Very first, the PDP 3000 HV needs two AC cords, 1 for the player’s digital power provide and one more for the analog provide. The second twist is two sets of analog outputs, 1 for PCM sources and the other for DSD sources. Dual outputs are presented due to the fact the PDP 3000 HV employs fully separate signal paths for PCM and DSD decoding, all the way through the analog output stages and output jacks. Most DSD-capable DACs basically convert DSD to PCM for conversion to analog. T+A wanted to build a statement item with out the compromise of designing a single DAC and analog output stage that would perform for each DSD and PCM. This arrangement, even so, requires two pairs of interconnects among the PDP 3000 HV and your preamplifier if you strategy on listening to DSD downloads or SACDs. If you are not that hardcore, a menu setting will route all signals by means of the PCM output stage with a little penalty in DSD sound good quality.
Significantly work went into optimizing the functionality with SACD and DSD sources. In addition to separate signal paths for PCM and DSD, the DSD DAC is a T+A custom design realized with discrete elements rather than an off-the-shelf chip. In addition, the PDP 3000 HV makes it possible for you to choose among two SACD and 3 DSD filters and noise-shaping algorithms to optimize the sound top quality for distinct systems and DSD sample rates (see sidebar). I’m not conscious of any other DSD DAC with either a discrete custom DSD DAC or selectable DSD filters.
I describe the PDP 3000 HV’s technical specifics in the sidebar, but here’s a synopsis: custom digital filters, completely separate signal paths for DSD and PCM, an all-discrete signal path which includes the present-to-voltage converter, dual-differential PCM DACs, custom discrete DSD DAC, isolated digital and analog energy supplies including dual power cords, custom metal transport mechanism, an elaborate power supply, massive aluminum chassis, no op-amps in the signal path, and substantial jitter reduction. That’s an impressive list of design functions.
I need to mention that if you uncover the PDP 3000 HV attractive but it’s beyond your price range, and you do not want disc playback, think about T+A’s $ 3995 DAC 8. It is primarily based on the same style concepts as the PDP 3000 HV but in a much less elaborate implementation. It nevertheless provides the discrete 1-bit DSD converter, selectable DSD filters, and many other T+A technologies. I haven’t heard the DAC 8 but primarily based on my knowledge with the PDP 3000 HV, I count on it to be outstanding.