Review of my first tube amp - Cayin TA-30

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by Jeff Aguilar, Dec 24, 2003.

  1. Jeff Aguilar

    Jeff Aguilar Stunt Coordinator

    Jun 30, 1997
    Likes Received:
    Lacey, WA
    Real Name:
    First step into tube amps…

    Cayin TA-30

    I have not wire maintenance yet!

    I bought a new amp a few weeks ago to try and improve my two channel music experience. About 8 months ago I invested in some Martin Logan speakers. I loved the way they sounded compared to my Energy Veritas 2.1’s. I was told on several occasions that if I liked the way my Martin Logan speakers sounded now, I would really like them paired up with a tube amp. My wife loves to listen to music so she was actually excited about the idea of someday getting a tube amp for stereo playback.

    After much research, I decided on a very affordable integrated tube amp. I wanted to spend less than $1,000 and I looked at some used and some new amps. With such a limited budget, there were not very many options. If I wanted new, my only options seemed to be ASL or Jolida. Also, without a way to preview them, I knew that whatever I bought I would most likely be keeping. I relied heavily upon online reviews of each unit. As long as I heard a difference between my Solid State Parasound amp and the tube amp, I knew I would be pleased.

    I had decided that I was going to get a Jolida 302B. I was really pleased to hear that Mike Knapp was buying a Jolida amp. After reading his posts for the past 5 years, I thought that I could trust his opinion. Well, after he got it, he seemed to like it but was not satisfied with it, he ended up selling it right away. I had also read some reviews saying that the build quality did not seem up to par with other amps. So, that threw some doubts in my head.

    My attention was then drawn to a little known company here in the US called Cayin. They had a very affordable tube amp, actually less then the Jolida, and that really peeked my curiosity. I saw that Bizzy Bee was selling the amp for $499 and could add a subwoofer output on the amp for another $30. Having the sub out was very important to me. I knew that my speakers we lacking in the bass department and if I could get an amp with a sub out, I would be striking gold.

    Well, I received the amp a few weeks ago and put it into my system. I hooked up a Niles DSP-1 so that I could connect two separate amps to one set of speakers. It works like a charm. It does exactly what I wanted it too.

    As far as the differences between my Parasound HCA-855A and the tube amp. Well, I can honestly say I can hear a difference. And it’s a big difference in my book. Once I got my Martin Logan speakers, I really loved the airy sound that they produced. I felt it was lacking in some areas. The main area was the highs. It reproduced the highs very well, almost too well. Norah Jones on some songs was almost ear bleeding. Not so with the tube amp. I guess that the extreme highs are rolled off. It smoothened out or softened the high that the Martin Logan’s so wonderfully produced.

    There is much more depth to the stage. With my Outlaw it was like a wall of music hitting you, with the Cayin tube amp, it is much easier to place where the instruments are and they come to you layered. With more depth. The vocals were centered rock solid. It really seemed as if my center channel was on. I know that it centered well with my Outlaw, but this seemed more dynamic, more powerful. All of the instruments really cleared up, they were so much smoother than they were before. My music presentation is so much better than it was before. It is truly a joy to listen to music.

    Using the Niles switch, I could switch back and forth between the Outlaw and the Cayin. That made the comparison much easier. I even had my wife sit down and listen and switched the amps back n forth without letting her know which one she was listening too. She too could tell a big difference between the two. This amp is definitely a keeper.

    Equipment used:

    Cayin TA-30 tube amp
    Denon 1600 DVD player
    Sony Mega changer
    Martin Logan Aerius i Main speakers

    Outlaw 950
    Parasound 855HCA (85x5)
    Denon 1600
    Sony Mega Changer
  2. Erik Farstad

    Erik Farstad Supporting Actor

    Jan 28, 2001
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    Great review Jeff...I can't wait to come over and listen to your new amp! Congrats! [​IMG]

  3. Scott_N

    Scott_N Second Unit

    Jan 22, 2003
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    Welcome to the world of tubes! I think tubes have more natural sound than SS especially with vocals and they present a more dimesional soundstage than SS.


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