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Cayin TA 30 review


jbsl
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For anyone who is thinking about buying a Cayin TA 30 here is a pro review for the TA 30. I should have my TA 30 next week some time and will post a review on how it sounds out of the box.

http://www.goodsound.com/equipment.shtml

Also the 30 used in the review did not have the upgrades that Paul at www.2baudio.com does. He upgrades the coupling caps to Auricaps, sub-woofer output, external bias with extended range, jac conversions, and focus control. So if the reviewer had used a upgraded one then he probably would have liked it even more.

Xman

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I picked a TA-30 up from Paul in late January nice sounding amp for the bucks I'm sure it steps up a notch with Auricaps . Its still stock except for the focus control. Its hooked up in my HT system with Chorus I's right now when I have time I will move it down to my main system and see what its really made of out throught some scope test and do some upgrading myself.

Craig

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I've been mentioning this amp for the past 6 months. It's a killer and I haven't seen anything near its price to match the sonics and quality. I believe the price on this one is going to steadily climb as word gets out. I'm glad I picked mine up when I did.

Regards,

Dave

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how would you guys compare the sound to a vintage scott integrated? i e-mailed paul at 2baudio and he sayes that if you turn the volume all the way up on the amp, it eliminates the volume control from the circuit. this is perfect for me as i plan on using a pre-amp with volume control. this might be a better option for me than the scotts.

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I have not heard the TA-30. But I have heard quite a few other Chinese offerings revolving out of this source (CATIC). One thing I would mention is there are a lot of ok sounding tube amps coming out of China that at least have some potential and really stand mainly as relatively good amps for the money.

There are actually a number of amps, all with some basis in the CATIC GROUP, the core of the Chinese amp movement that sells parts, transformers, amps, chassis' to many. Yes, there are differences in them, but also many similarities. I posted a picture of all the various amps that have some basis in CATIC - some look EXACTLY the same besides the name.

One note of caution, this review that is linked above is from yet another tube newbie reviewer gushing over his FIRST tube amp. One must remember that there is a ton of gear out there and to get taken wholey by the first tube example is very common. Then later, after exposure to more samples, you start to see more weaknesses and get a better understanding of the differences. Some of his statements in this review were a bit circumspect to me. To say that most sub 2k tube amps lack detail and have tubby bass is mostly untrue and sounds like a statement heard more than experienced. Actually, we have had tube amps below 2k for quite a while that are far better than this guy indicates. On top of that, it's apparent he has not heard ANY vintage tube amps so has no reference point there.

While many of the Chinese based amps can impress, I also find the vintage amps can bring something absent here, this depending on the model. But as a whole, I think tube amps are OVERACHIEVERS and at least do many things right given an ok circut, and most circuits in ye olde tube world have been around for quite a while, with only different parts spins or slight mods. Of course, some good iron goes a long way.

Personally speaking, if getting in the 800-1000 area, I would consider better USED tube gear as this is getting in the range where you can find some used options that please. For the Chinese options, I find it getting more difficult to choose once it leaves the 600 area. There are some amazing options with outstanding iron that can be found in the use domain, some with more compelling tube options included.

Still, the CATIC option is surely a good one for new and relatively inexpensive; this group has done more to bring the price of new tube gear down than anyone else. Although they make great first tube amps for some, most will find themselves moving up the upgrade chain.

kh

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Well, I heard from several sources that the SPARK amps that were big in Europe spawned from the CATIC Group. And the Cayin is supposedly a rebranded SPARK amp. As usual, I find it hard to trace these tube amps as well, but many do come from this group in one way or another, if not in whole, then in parts or iron or some combination of the above.

kh

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On 3/2/2004 10:04:44 AM NOSValves wrote:

I think the sound a vintage integrated is fuller and more detailed myself better soundfield and imaging. Most of that I would attribute this to is the fact that the vintage has a full preamp in front of it.

Craig

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Definatly, I love my Scott 299-C. With the RF-7's on the 4 ohm tap, it just sounds very rich and warm with excellent detail and air, with nice tight bass. well recorded music just sounds wonderful and I have put in the Elite Gold 12Ax7's in the preamp section and they are wonderful, it brought out some more detail in the music.

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Kelly,

Thanks for the rundown on CATIC. I was reading that online review of the TA-30 and the reviewer mentions that Cayin line is made by Spark and there is a link to www.sparkaudio.com. Thankfully they have an English version of the site available.

One of the offerings on the products page is the COMPACT DISC PLAYER CDT-15A which is a Cayin tubed CD. Anyone familiar with the sound quality? A few weeks back I noticed another Chinese tubed CD player on Ebay. Shengya or something like that. Had a round window to see the tubes inside the case. The price was right, at under $400, but I wasn't curious enough to check it out with a purchase. Would it be more easily achievable to turn out a good tubed source on CD than it would to build an amplifier? If so, it might be that upsampled and tubed Chinese CD players may be quite good in the bang for the buck category.

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Indeed. This should put any of the "I wonder if it's CATIC" questions to bed.

LINK TO CATIC-CAYIN connection: Spark - Cayin - CATIC

As for the tube CD player offering, I remember reading some pros and cons on the model you mention via Ebay. I think it's still too new to see enough experience from users. Meanwhile, the other forums are hot and bothered about a few DIRT CHEAP DVD options in the $50-70 range. Strange but true as some of these beasts are getting some thumbs up for the ducats and more. I can attest that I heard a Wal-Mart special Pioneer DV-260 do as much with $70 as anything I have ever heard. State of the Art? Again, no way. But these latest dumps from the Best Buy rounds have come a long way as a third tier backup for digital, and for 50-70, you can afford ye olde second tube system in thy guest bedroom!

Add these three to the list of office system/backup/bargain100 choices just to consider - at the price, they make fine gifts for the unsuspecting:

Toshiba SD-3950 = whopping $49

Philips DVD-727 = Target for $80

Pioneer DV-260 = Wal-Mart for $70

Reference system? Nope. But man, I was suprised as hell what CAN be done for peanuts here. The Toshiba is getting big buzz, pointed out to me by ole TAddeo. Believe it or not, one fiend actually ditched his AudioNote DAC 3 for this dumper.

Now anyone can have a dirt cheap spare bedroom system with a tube integrated with grins, and all for less than one of those horrid RACK SYSTEMS you see at Sears-A-Tron.

kh

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GFH,

Are you referring to the Ei Elites? If so, I agree with you. THAT is a great tube for the money. I recently swapped the Tele's in my 299b for the Ei Elites. I thought it would be no contest. I was right in the cost vs. performance area, anyway. The Ei were not $80 - $120 per tube "worse" - for my money anyway.

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Texas42 can you please give us a review of your Cayin TA 30 compared to your Scott 299b? Mobile Homeless brings up some good points about vintage tube and new tube gear and since you own vintage and new it will be interesting to find out what are the pros and cons sound wise of each amp.

For me I have to admit I am know very little about tube gear! I had not bought any tube gear before now because they sounded like a lot of work when I am use to solid state, plug everything in and your good to go. Rolling tubes, who knows how many different types of tubes, having to replace tubes, the cost of replacing tubes, biasing the tubes, waiting at least an hour before listening to music, and whatever else I can not think of can make a non tubie very hesitient about getting into tubes.

However after reading post by the very experienced tube people on this forum I realized that these are things that are not done every day or weekly but every once in a while. The main reason I decided to try tubes was buying La Scalas. I've known about Heritage speakers for 20 years but until I came on this forum almost 2 years ago I did not know there was still tube stereo gear available. Also since the majority of Heritage owners on the forum use tube gear and swear by the sound I had to give it a try!

The reasons I did not go vintage are a few. A habit I get from my dad is that he would never buy used stuff. But the new stuff he did buy would never be sold or thrown out until it could not be used or repaired any more. I'm 38 and have owned 2 vehicles, my Honda Crx made it to 222,000 and my Ford Ranger is at 110,000 so buy new and keep it forever was my dad's motto and like father like son! However I broke the cycle and bought a 1983 very good Luxman C300 preamp that sounds very good for used.

Also with vintage you have to find the vintage gear then probably have to bid against other people and you may get what you want or you may have to wait till the next time one shows up on ebay or audiogon. Then I would want to hear how it sounds before I would do any upgrades. So I would have it shipped to my home and listen to it for at least 2 weeks to a month to really learn how it sounds. Then ship it again to someone to do the upgrades and then wait for the upgrades to be finished and then mailed back. When you add in all the shipping cost plus the upgrade cost plus the initial cost of the amp price wise there probably is not much of a difference. Does the sound of such a vintage integrated amp sound better than a new one? Depending on which vintage amp and how much you put into upgrades it yes they do probably sound better. But for someone wanting to get into tube gear that will have a good sound, I have talked with 3-4 forum members who own the Cayin and give it very good reviews, new tube int amps can be a good first tube int amp. Will I buy a vintage tube preamp

and amp in the future? Probably but first I'm just going to enjoy getting into a unexplored area of stereo equipment to play with!

Xman

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I also liked the Ei Elite 12ax7's in my scott integrated. I liked them more than the telefunkens I had in fact. They are my second favorite thus far in the line preamp section. My most favorite thus far (in my limited experience) are a pair of Mullard blackburn ribbed plate 12ax7's that I bought.

The Ei Elites brought out the midrange more than the tele's, but the tele's sounded a little cleaner with a wider frequency response. The Mullards are the best of both worlds, bringing out the midrange and having the tele characteristics too.

Even so, for the price of the Ei Elites brand new they are pretty nice and a good choice compared to the costs of teles and mullards.

Bob

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On 3/2/2004 5:13:59 PM Ryan C. Inman wrote:

Are you nuts?

Triode Electronics sells the same tube for $9.95, $48 for a PAIR seems a bit rediculous to me. The Elite gold-pins are very nice, but not for fifty bucks a pair, you could get used Telefunkens for the same price! To prove my point, I have a pair of Telefunken 12AX7's that you can have for $30 right now if you're interested. I also have a pair of Amperex Bugle-Boys (the best 12AX7 made) for $50.

P.S. Triode Electronics does the same tests as Brent, microphonics, noise, etc, and all for much cheaper.

www.triodeelectronics.com

-Ryan

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Well, I have been reading that the quality control on the Elites is somewhat mediocre at best and that alot of tube guys have to sift through a few tubes to find a good matched pair with low microphonics, I decided to make sure that I dont get a pair like that, so i had Brent Jessee find a very very close matched pair with very low microphonics and test them in his own amp and make sure they are great, and they are worth the extra cost for the piece of mind that im getting good tubes.

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On 3/2/2004 2:35:02 PM NOSValves wrote:

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On 3/2/2004 11:18:44 AM NOSValves wrote:

The Cayin is not from a CATIC group from what I understand.
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Evidently I was misinformed ! I truly hate when that happens.

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Craig man, no sweat. Happens to the best of us.

2.gif

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