Here is a chronological account of my experiences with Tact USA upon purchase of a brand new 2150 XDM 3 months ago.
1) Directly out of box the amp is defective. The standby function doesn’t work and when I contact Boz (the company owner) and he informs me that this is probably a defect in the controller board. He promises to ship to me a replacement board immediately.
2) A month passes and when I inquire I find out the board hasn’t even been shipped.
3) When the board does arrive it is the WRONG one.
4) I wait another few weeks before the correct board finally arrives (we are now up to six weeks). The replacement turns out to be defective as well (but with a different problem). This time the front panel stops responding to commands a few minutes after each power up (powering down is the only way to reset).
5) While I’ve been patient up to this point, I’m starting to get concerned about the support and integrity of the company so I request a refund. This is refused by both Tact and the dealer (Jeff Stake).
6) I am forced to pay for shipping back to the company for repair.
7) Despite Boz’s promise that this problem will be looked after immediately the amp isn’t returned for a month.
8) When the amp does arrive it is COD and I am forced to shell out another $80. While this is beyond outrageous it gets worse, much worse.
9) I open the box and discover that the amp has been dropped or badly mishandled in some way. ONE CORNER OF THE ALUMINUM FRONT PANEL HAS BEEN BADLY DAMAGED. Even though this kind of damage is completely impossible to do during shipment, with each corner of the amp is encased in 2” of very thick heavy plastic foam that would be impossible to penetrate (even with a hammer), Boz lies and claims that the amp was received in damaged condition.
Here is a link to a picture of the damage: http://img374.imageshack.us/img374/235/img9781zw5.jpg
10) When I attempt to take measurements I get bizarre and completely unacceptable readings and am forced to reload the firmware myself before it even functions.
11) To add final insult to injury it turns out that initial defect (where the standby function does not work) has NOT corrected.
Suffice to say that I will NEVER do business with Tact USA again and I would caution any new buyers that it appears that the company has deteriorated to a point bordering on criminal.
To evaluate the TACT 2150 amplifiers one must push aside preconceptions as to how an amplifier “should” sound as the digital amplification employed by TACT results in a sound neither “tube-like” nor “solid-state”. Instead, the TACT amp provides an incredibly smooth, harmonically accurate, neutral, rich, and detailed sound that is contained in an immense soundstage. The sound has a delicacy and a pristine clarity that is heard only on the best tube systems, coupled with the type of control and rhythmic pace that mark the best solid-state amps. Microdynamics are exemplary. The sound does not have the up-front “slam” or visceral dynamics found on many well-regarded solid-state systems, but this is consistent with the overall sonic character of the amp. The sound is not in your face, instead tending to be more relaxed – but not to the point of being laid back. The perspective is slightly forward of mid-hall in a reasonably lively, but not bright, acoustic,
In no way does the sound come across as “analytical”, although for those unaccustomed to hearing so much detail it may initially be distracting. This is the one area where the TACT sound is so uniquely different than what has come before – it seems to defy logic (or at least precedent) that any system can offer this level of detail without sounding analytical. Harmonics and timbre are portrayed extremely well, with the full complexity of musical passages resolved over time and space in a manner as close to live music as I have heard. This ability is reminiscent of good tube systems, but the inherent accuracy and detail of the sound as it decays through the soundstage differentiates the TACT sound. The soundstage itself is phenomenal –endlessly wide and deep, and as tall as I have heard from any system. The cumulative effect on acoustic and classical music is absolutely jaw-dropping, and vocals have never sounded this realistic and nuanced.
It is clear that the phenomenal resolving power of the amp, coupled with its pure digital signal path, makes the use of high quality digital input essential. This was especially true in regards to the soundstage. Placement and precision within the soundstage varied with the digital interconnect used. The Illuminations D-60, for example, was disappointing. Although the detail was all there, instruments were not well-defined and lacked cohesion. But with both an AQ Digital Pro and Kimber Select 2020 the soundstage was highly vivid, layered, and stable with rock-solid placement of instrumentation (although the KS 2020 was clearly superior). Experimentation is necessary to find a digital interconnect that optimizes the abilities of the 2150, but the potential exists for world-class soundstaging if the matching speakers are up the task.
Focusing solely on the “sound” of the amp itself is misleading. One of the best parts of the TACT amp is the up-sampling capability (384 kHz). For those who collect large quantities of CDs, particularly older recordings or poorly recorded modern music, this capability is a godsend. The manner in which the TACT amp brings life to CDs that are normally too bright or too “digital” is one of its greatest virtues. World music, historic jazz recordings, old analog classical masters, low-budget indie rock, and other genres all benefit greatly on the TACT system.
Taken together — as an amplifier, preamplifier, and DAC — the TACT 2150 is one of the great bargains in audio. In some respects the TACT amp sets a new standard for the reproduction of live music. Fans of classical music, acoustic, folk, blues, Stax/Volt, roots, and world music – and I suspect many jazz fans – will likely love the TACT sound and wonder how they lived life without it. Techno, big beat, rock and pop fans may long for a more traditional solid-state amp if “slam” is the most desired virtue. Tube fans may shun the TACT system on principle alone, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they turn out to be the major converts over the long run. With beauty and delicacy in spades – accompanied by an entrancing level of detail – the 2150 enriches recordings, captivates, and uniquely captures the live musical experience.
Amplifier: TACT M2150
Transport: Arcam Alpha 9 CD Player
Speakers: Audio Physic Tempo IIIi
Digital IC: Kimber Select 2020
Speaker Wire: TG Audio HSR silver
Power Cords: TG Audio SLVR (M2150), Audience PowerChord (Alpha 9)
Power: ExactPower EP15A regenerator
Isolation: Bright Star bases
My last system was a Linn--all aktiv. So, when the amps went (Majik LK150), the speakers (AV5140)and cables (K400, Linn interconnects) sort of had to go with them.... Thus, since I have pretty much replaced my old system from the ground up, it is hard to say exactly what the “sound” of my M2150 is by itself.
With that disclaimer out of the way, I have to say that the system now sounds incredibly transparent. I am simply blown away with the hi-resolution and transparency of my playback system. Whether you like the slightly more analytic sound of the M2150 compared to the Linn gear, there is simply no question that I hear MUCH more of what is on the CD than I ever did be fore (this is not subtle: I hear whole instruments that were washed out before).
Also, the layering of the soundstage, back to front is incredibly rich. The new system blows away anything I have heard in its price range in retrieving the depth of the soundstage in the original recording (and all soundstages are not alike; if the original does not have depth inn the recording, the TacT does not artificially put it there). On the other hand, images seem to have idiosyncratic sizes in relation to one another and the environment in which they play. Although the Linn gear was far less good at image depth, it was ALWAYS spot-on in portraying images in terms of their relation to the over-all space. Sometimes with the TacT, it seems like there are overly-large players, disconnected from each other, in a recording venue a bit too small to hold all of them (much of this problem has been alleviated however with careful speaker (re)placement, perhaps after I add the RCS 2.0 room correction system, this problem may go away entirely…).
Finally, everything comes from a pitch black background, which only heightens the TacT’s subjective ability to portray special detail. That is to say, the M2150 is VERY silent—as I have read in some magazine reviews, the first impression with such a silent product is that there is less sound there. However, this is really due to the gear getting rid of layers of crap that we are used to hearing along with the original signal—there’s no less MUSIC there, just less fuzz.
All that said, my new system seems to me to be a little on the passionless side. Even with the loss of resolution, I know that my last system seemed to have more “rhythm,” more drive, and might have just been more “fun” to listen to? I am not sure how to evaluate this amp, 5 stars for its strengths: hi-res., low noise, great reproduction of stage depth; or something less for its weaknesses: a little clinical, prone to imaging idiosyncrasies, and a little under-powered perhaps too. I will split the difference and award it 4 stars.
There is no doubt about its value rating. You get an awesome amp, the best digital preamp in the world (one that is not there), PLUS facilities for digital delay in each channel and built in digital X-overs. Nice package! 5 stars there, no doubt.
Source:CAL CL 2500 CD/DVD player (held over from last system)
Amp:TacT M2150 digital intigrated amp
Speakers:Revel M20 speakers (with M20 stands)
Accessories:XLO refrence digital interface (coax.); Middle-of-the-line Cardas speaker cable; Fusion Designs rack, ceramic cones for amp and DVD player