TEA2SE - it's about time!

Feb 3, 2012
661
23
18
Melbourne
#1
Greetings from down unda!
We are supposed to be in winter now, and other parts of the world are mostly in summer, hence why we're referred to as down under I guess... Some days it reaches 17 then 19c and suddenly plummets to 4c at night. Quite cold indeed for a warm furry dog. So speaking of winter, what better way to warm up by adding more tubes!

After going through numerous phonostages, entry level and highend, I had settled in on the Rega Aria for a while, just to take my time in finding the most suitable preamp to match the gain structure of the cartridge, which is currently the Benz Micro Glider SM. This medium output, 0.8mv partnered with the Aria, set on low gain, which is around 63db, and it was OK until a certain point. This particular setting was still quite high, and when partnered with the CT5 preamp, the output level on playback was fairly high, hence I couldn't precisely control the overall smoothness of what the BM cartridges are known for. The high gain settings on the Aria falls around 69db, and this is overkill especially for an active linestage such as the CT5.
However, on the CAV45, since it uses a passive volume control, these selectable high gain settings on the Aria is a great match, especially for that added dynamic output on LPs.

So my search began and ended up with the last top four phonostages in terms of ranking & price
1. Allnic
2. Pass Labs
3. ARC
4. CJ

Out of all the above, the Allnic was fantastic but out-priced the lot! Maybe on another level of TT's, the Allnic would be a great match but for the Rega RP8, perhaps it was way over the top, not sure... As a demo unit it was excellent. It had that sort of transparency that you would expect from such a phonostage. I'm thinking the actual upgraded model to be far superior, hence the pricing top up to over 10 grand.

Having said that, there's something about the Triode Equalisation Amplifiers that CJ designs that simply captures and reproduces LP's in the most remarkable manner. It's cleaner, crystal clear, brings out the best of the recordings and has a way of piecing together the absolute sound. Initially I thought by adding more tubes into the chain, I'm heading towards a rounded off tonality, and wouldn't expect anything sharper or crystal clear definition / transparency... Quite the opposite, it's all very much apparent from the first note and wow! What an awesome job the TEA2SE does with vinyl, just superb!

The pricing is just about right, for all the added parts and upgraded components for it to be able to deliver a very fine level of sound reproduction. I would easily compare it with other phonostages that were on demo, costing two - three times more, some of them being reference series, such as the ARC and Pass Labs.

I'm not quite sure as to how exactly CJ does it, especially on this particular SE version but whatever they do, it's nothing short of breath taking, absolutely marvellous!

I've patiently waited for this opportunity since 2010, and as my heading says "it's about time! "

All I can say is at this point, for anyone looking for a serious phonostage to enhance their musical experience on a top quality analog rig, I highly recommend the TEA2 series. It's not overly priced, as yet... And it can very easily compete with some of the finest phono-preamps out there. Well done and hats off to CJ on this one, outstanding!

Cheers & a very loud refined woof!
RJ
 

LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
10,935
143
63
#2
Congrats and enjoy!!!
 
Feb 3, 2012
661
23
18
Melbourne
#3
This big fella decided to drop in and see what he could do with the CLX's. Wow! What an amazing presence and sense of authority indeed!

I must say though the overall feel and effect of the musicians performing is more palpable on the monoblocks but that doesn't mean the MF2550 is dry, lean or that typical SS... It's superb in every way!

The LP125m's drive the CLX's with plenty of grip and control, and deliver a truly wonderful top end that extends effortlessly. The bass is tight and fast and furious with authority and superb bottom end, that's plenty for me. It's that tube mid-range that surpasses even their own SS designed MF2550.

This thing is huge! Has a mighty weight to it, and delivers a dose of high current plus power handling, and can drive "reactive" loads such as full range stats with ease. The overall sound is very smooth, like receiving a fresh sheet of linen from the wash. It's very airy, fantastic top end and tight fast bass. However, on the monoblocks it's completely at a different level of authority and finesse. The high current capability on the monoblocks goes upto point where you can easily feel the power and musicality together. Regardless of volume, tubes have the ability to capture every minute detail even on low listening levels. Whereas on the SS amp, I have to turn it up in order to get that level of realism.

I would easily be content with this big beauty, and it replaced the notorious CJ premier 350, which was a mammoth beast! Delivering about 100w less compared to the prem350, the Top quality parts used in both versions & SE series, is bound to please even the most demanding audiophile.

Although tubes do have their maintenance issues and attitude problems as they age..., my true inner passion has always been with tubes. The musical "engagement" is at such a high level that nothing else really works for me. I must say though, for if I had a second system and choice of SS amplification with no fuss & no muss, this would be the first on my list with no hesitation!

For now, I'm just enjoying what this beautiful amplifier delivers partnered with the CT5 and TEA2SE, it's just bloody marvellous!

Great stuff by CJ, I truly hope they would continue to offer SS amplification of this nature in the future...
Cheers, and enjoy those fine tunes!
RJ

I tried several times to upload a pic of the system with the MF2550, error message reads, uploaded file is too large, Ha! I guess the MF2550 is too big...
 

Attachments

Feb 3, 2012
661
23
18
Melbourne
#4
Finally! The Teflons and all those high quality Vishay resistors and metal foil caps plus all the goodies have finally broken in, and very very nicely indeed!

Been running around like crazy today, with finalising our new place, back & forth, got home only around midnight to just sit back and relax... Fired up the system and started out with Norah Jones Day Break. It was OK... Played alright but nothing too exciting. Then moved onto the better labels on LP. Played Anushka Shankar Traces of you with Norah Jones on Deutsche Gramophone, wow! What speed and agility through the CLX's, very fine indeed!

Then finally onto the third LP since it was nearly 3am... This time round it was Patricia Barber Companion on high quality reference recordings. Look out! Oh my goodness! What a superb level of realism and brings it to such a level, I could actually reach out and shake her hand!

The opening track on The Beat Goes On... Side A is mighty fine! Then side A, B & C are all 33 1/3rpm and for some reason side D is 45rpm. With only one track- Black Magic Woman, oh yeah! No that's what I call Patricia Barber is in the house!

Overall, these Teflons and top grade resistors plus caps on the TEAse take an awful long time to run in properly and once it does, oh boy oh boy, get ready for some serious couch potato time...
It's now just past 4:30am, I just have to shut this down, otherwise it's going to be another hard day to concentrate during the work week...
Cheers maties, and enjoy those stats!
Woofety woof woof! RJ
 

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