T+A develops, produces and sells Hi-Fi components. T+A is based in Herford in Westphalia, where all products are designed, developed and manufactured. The company was founded in 1978. T+A’s history began with creating loudspeakers for demanding listeners. Soon the range included active, adjustable speaker systems. Based on the experience gained from creating these products, T+A engineers were able to develop their first amplifiers and pre-amplifiers, and by 1988 expanded the line to include a full range of high-end electronic products.
In the last few years, T+A has been primarily focused on the development of digital components, including CD players, converters and high-end all-digital active loudspeakers. In 1997, T+A entered the world of home cinema and since then the range has been expanded to include a variety of surround sound and picture components. T+A offers a complete range of products, while continuing to insist on a system philosophy in which all system components must be tightly integrated so that the entire system can be controlled using a single remote control. An excursion into the history of the T+A company takes us to the most traditional place where Hi-Fi brands are usually born – to the home laboratory/workshop, or more precisely, to the garage. Isn’t it unusual to hear this about one of the most high-tech companies in the modern High End world? However, it was there, in the garage, that two professional engineers, Siegfried Amft and Lothar Wiemann, began producing their first loudspeaker systems. Then, more than thirty years ago, these were speaker systems in a “transmission line” type housing.
Time has passed, the company has grown to a reputable global brand with a turnover of 12.5 million, and instead of the old garage, the developers have 6,000 sq. m. meters of production space and about a hundred employees. At the same time, T+A preserved the operating principles and technologies laid down by the founders, increasing its scientific and technical potential with new developments. As a result, today the company demonstrates a number of technological solutions that are rarely found among competitors or are proprietary. The very name of the company T+A (Theorie und Anwendung) can be translated as “theory + practice” or “theory + application”. This formula well reflects the path that all products of this brand go through: from theory to its specific practical application. For example: T+A engineers very actively use digital control of equipment and, if necessary, digital audio processing. In 1995, T+A was one of the first to introduce Solitaire A2D digital active speakers, controlled by eleven (!!!) DSP processors, which served as crossovers and frequency response correction tools.
T+A MP 2500 R
The company’s engineers were able to use their experience working with digital processors not only in acoustics, but also in creating a branded vinyl player. The DSP processor in it controls the engine speed, adjusting it in real time and providing an unprecedented level of rotational stability. Plus, this system allows you to maintain a given speed regardless of the voltage level in the network and makes it possible to change the speed from 33.3 to 45 without interfering with the mechanics. This is how a good grasp of the theory gives a very high-quality and very practical result. Of course, many of the solutions used by T+A are not cheap, but the refusal to use ready-made technologies from third-party manufacturers allows us to bring each of our components or speaker systems to perfection – after all, they are designed in our own laboratories. In 2004, for the 25th anniversary of T+A, the innovative V10 integrated tube amplifier was released. Among its “colleagues” from other manufacturers, it stands out with a fairly respectable power of 2×80 W, an uncompromising audiophile circuit without negative feedback and a record wide operating frequency range extending up to 200 kHz, which became possible thanks to the use of unique toroidal output transformers. The modern version of the V10-2 amplifier has complete galvanic isolation of the outputs and “floating ground” technology, which avoids the mutual influence of sources through the ground contacts of the input connectors on each other and on the operation of the amplifier itself. The V10 is equipped with special versions of tubes that are perfectly matched to the parameters, and the circuitry and design are developed based on the principles of minimizing the signal path. The power circuit has a microprocessor control that constantly monitors the voltage and other operating characteristics of the circuit, which is extremely important given that lamps tend to change their electrical characteristics during operation. To dampen the microphone effect, to which tubes are very sensitive, the amplifier uses vibration-absorbing construction materials: massive aluminum housings and acrylic inserts effectively eliminate external vibrations.
Following the V10 amplifier, the D10 CD/SACD player and G10 vinyl player saw the light of day. The CD/SACD player is made using tube circuitry. The analog section, immediately after the four high-discharge BurrBrown DACs installed in each of the channels, is made using exclusively linear, specially selected 12AX7 and ECC99 tubes. They provide not only amplification, but also the necessary filtering of the signal, thereby reducing its path and the complexity of the audio path of the player as a whole. This solution is unique and was developed by T+A engineers. The CD/SACD drive itself is also an original development of the company and is used by other manufacturers of high-end equipment. The G10-2 vinyl turntable has a complex body design made using steel, aluminum and acrylic. The table is attached through four vibration-decoupling shock absorbers; in the main part of the body there is a compartment filled with sand and lead to more effectively absorb vibrations. The disc has a sandwich-type structure and consists of an aluminum base, five layers of copper and 10 mm acrylic. It is not often that you see such a complex design, but it is this, in combination with the previously mentioned rotation control system created on the basis of a DSP processor, that provides phenomenal results. Another component in the company’s senior tube line is the P10 preamplifier, which incorporates technologies implemented in the switching part and pre-stages of the V10 amplifier. And you can supplement it with the same amplifier that we would like to talk about in more detail, the powerful M10 monoblock. The main problem that any tube amplifier designer faces is the inability to provide high power. The main reasons are that, firstly, the output transformers are simply huge, and secondly, powerful modern lamps are simply not able to provide the required level of reliability and quality. Thus, it was not possible to obtain a tube amplifier of higher power than the V10 and at the same time meeting the stringent quality requirements set by T+A specialists. But the developers did not intend to retreat, so the model was based on a hybrid scheme. The tube part of the M10 is a voltage amplifier and has two stages: an input implemented using a balanced circuit and a broadband amplification stage operating in class A. This section of the circuit provides natural, harmonically rich sound without distortion or dynamic limitations.
We can talk about innovative and original technical discoveries implemented in the T+A technique for a long time, but this is best done using specific examples. Let’s start with the acoustic solutions used in the modern reincarnation of the legendary Solitaire speakers. The Solitaire series acoustic systems are even visually noticeably different from traditional acoustics. But even those elements that seem familiar are actually not entirely ordinary. The main concept of this acoustics is the creation of a sound wave with a cylindrical front, which has minimal reflections from the ceiling and floor, while, as in conventional acoustics, the emitters create spherical sound waves. It is not difficult to imagine that several spherical sound waves will not only be reflected from the ceiling and floor, but will also form a very bizarre resultant wave when superimposed on each other. Where does such an acoustically inconvenient spherical wave come from, and how did T+A specialists manage to obtain a cylindrical sound wave?
T+A Criterion TCD 210
In traditional acoustics, high and mid frequencies are emitted by dome tweeters; they create a spherical sound wave that propagates not only directly to the listener, but also evenly around the radiation axis, including up and down. The proprietary electrostatic driver used in the Solitaire acoustics has an elongated shape and occupies almost the entire height of the front panel of the case. As a result of such an unusual shape of the sound-emitting membrane, the shape of the sound wave is not spherical, but cylindrical. The sound is practically not emitted in the vertical direction, but at the same time it has a wide directional pattern in the horizontal plane, which expands the comfort zone when listening. We can say that the efficiency of such speakers is higher, because the sound is focused only in the listening area, energy is not wasted on emitting sound waves up and down.
A similar effect was obtained on mid-low frequency speakers. Typically, speaker systems use one or two midrange drivers, and the Solitaire speakers have an array of six drivers (out of three in the CWT500 model), located vertically. As a result, a cylindrical radiation pattern similar to the HF link is provided – wide in the horizontal plane and focused vertically. In addition to this effect, the use of a large number of emitters makes it possible to achieve extremely small strokes for each individual speaker, which allows the acoustics to have a colossal resource for expanding the dynamic range. Another secret of the mid-frequency section is the design of the drivers themselves.
T+A P 3000 HV
All drivers in the Solitaire acoustics are custom-made, especially for this model, but it is the midrange section that is most interesting from a design point of view. Unlike all existing midrange drivers, the drivers used in the Solitaire have huge magnetic systems with large diameter coils, similar to those used in large low-frequency drivers. This allows you not so much to increase power as to improve controllability, increase sound accuracy, and get rid of any coloration and limitations in the energy of the sound. If you suddenly thought that the low-frequency section in this acoustic system is the only section implemented “like everyone else,” we hasten to surprise you – you were mistaken. The drivers are indeed more similar to traditional ones, both in appearance and in design, the acoustic design is also classic – a closed box (the space of which is separated from other sections by partitions).
T+A Criterion TCD 410
But the location and method of mounting the woofers is not entirely common. They are installed symmetrically in the side walls, two speakers opposite each other, so that if they were not there, we would be able to see a large through hole in the housing. The speakers are not attached to the speaker body, but are attracted to each other by means of long threaded aluminum studs passing through the body. Thus, the speaker baskets around the perimeter are pressed against the housing holes and form a single structure between themselves, compressing the speaker body. This design reduces resonances to zero, due to the mutual neutralization of all vibrations created by a pair of speakers, the movement of the emitters is not transmitted to the body and the very possibility that the acoustic body will begin to resonate is eliminated. As a result, T+A engineers managed to obtain the clearest, undistorted bass possible.