Cayin Audio Distribution TA-30 Integrated Amplifiers

TA-30

35W x 2, 2 x 12AU7, 2 x 12AX7, 4 x EL34 in a push-pull configuration, 4 line inputs, ALPS potentiometer, silver wiring, removeable power cord.

User Reviews (13)

Showing 1-10 of 13  
Tubehed   Audio Enthusiast [Nov 21, 2005]
Strength:

Superb build quality and components. Complex, musical midrange without the rolled off highs and loose bass. Very quiet for a tube amp.

Weakness:

On some recordings, it can be a little hard sounding at higher volumes. This may be the fault of the recording and/or source component, though.

I'd just like to add a little to what's already been shared in the previous reviews. I have the basic stock version of the TA-30 with none of Paul's mods (although I did purchase it from Paul at Bizzy Bee). I've done absolutely nothing to it; stock tubes, coupling caps, power cord, etc. I'm a modder at heart and have tweaked every other piece of equipment in my signal chain to some degree. However, I've resisted the temptation to alter the TA-30 because I love how it sounds the way it is and can't bring myself to take a soldering iron to such a beautifully made piece of equipment. I'm pretty certain that some of the mods (especially the Auricaps) would yield an improvement in sound quality, but it just sounds so RIGHT as-is. Not only is the chasis nearly identical to the Prima Luna integrateds (different face plates) so is the curcuit and components. If you turn each amp over to examine the "guts" of the Prologue I and the TA-30, you'll find that they are virtually identical. The only real difference between the two is the Primaluna's adaptive autobias curcuit (which actually is a very cool feature and probably improves sound quality to an extent). The transformers may also be different, as well. I was originally in the market for a Prologue I, but after researching this product a little, I luckily stumbled onto the TA-30 which worked out to cost exactly half of what I would have had to pay for the Primaluna. For $550 less I can live without the autobias feature! This is not a put down of Primaluna products, because they are still an amazing value and are probably, to a certain degree, better sounding than the stock Cayin TA-30. It's just that some people may not be aware of how truly similar these two amps are. I'm still amazed that a high quality, hand built, point-to-point wired, tubed amplifier can (or at least could) be be had for such a low price. Even the most esoteric, stupidly-priced piece of high end exotica will not feature better workmanship. Better quality materials and parts, maybe, but not better workmanship. This amp is a steal!

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Chris Sherman   Audio Enthusiast [Nov 17, 2005]
Strength:

Build Quality , accepts 6L6, EL34, KT88 tubes. Can be converted to single ended operation or used as a regular power amp with a seperate preamp.Volume control is passive, no active preamp built in.

Weakness:

No remote

The best value in tube amps period. This chinese built piece is all point to point wiring, using very high quality parts. They can be had on audiogon for around $675, be sure to get one of the Bizzy Bee fully modded versions with Auricaps, side mounted bias pots, focus control,(negative feedback)and sub out.I am currently using mine as a power amp paired with a tube preamp with remote. Sound is outstanding for an inexpensive amp.Upscale audio purchased the rights to this chassis and is selling an improved version with autobias and other upgrades for $1095-1345.I own a Prologue II and it is a better amp , of course I paid more for it. I tried Jolida and ASL and had quality control problems with both brands. They are inferior build quality , circuit board based tube amps. The Cayin is built more like a Cary amp, than the other tube amps you will find in it's price range, or even double it's price.I've had zero issues with my Cayin or the Prima Luna.

Similar Products Used: Jolida 302B, ASL 1001 DT, Prima Luna Prologue II
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
el34eh   Audio Enthusiast [Feb 28, 2005]
Strength:

Price - Build - MUSICALITY. [ Yet. The true about this product will only be heard once one feeds it properly. Invest in the items mentioned above & call me later.]

Weakness:

Stock. [ This Amp is trully better then most shall ever know. If you don't anything else in your life?. Try some of the ideals I've mentioned above.]

Hi All: " This is my honest opinion to what most of us know was one of the best kept secrets until last year. I've owned everything from: Amber B50 - Naim Nait original version thru mk.3. - Onix OA21s - Sugden A21a - Densen Beat 100 & DM10 - Audio Innovations Series 500 & Audion Sterling ESTE. As you might have noticed?, I like integrated amps. As I've since 1984 found them to offer more bang for the buck. Upon purchasing this amp last year I've had nothing but pleasure listining to it upset quite a few other SS & Tube Integrated amps. The key to this amp is finding the means to enchance it sound by means of either Coupling Caps, A.C. Cords or the Tubes themselves. I've done all + more. The secret is to begin with a sound that you & your system finds to be the best match in overall sonics. On the tube side in my system I've found that by matching the strenghts of both Sylvania 12au7s - Carbonized Black Plates NOS 1957 - W/ either Tesla ECC803s - Frame Grid Short Plates Gold Pins NOS 80s- or TFK Smooth Plates Ecc83/12AX7's. There seems to be an added refinement to this amp that can't be matched in my 14 months of tube rolling said amp.[ For some of the best sounds again consider trying either RFT 12AU7 or Tungsram 12AU7s.[ As I'm sure this will lessen my hopes in obtaining more of the tubes mentioned. I felt the need to share the TRUTH.] I sure you might be surpised at the differenence these can make to your overall enjoyment of this amp!!!!!.] This isn't so much as a review per se. But merely a means to share with others something others weren't willing to share. As for power tubes there are only three choices: SED "winged C" EL34s - Mullard EL34 "New Reissues" & Ei KT-90 "Mk.1 or Mk. 2 versions only" As these were the most reliable made ones from this Company. And please don't be cheap on upgrading the power cord & Isolation devices.[ For my Isolation recommendations research both: Yamamoto Sound Craft BP9/ BP10 Set & VertexAQ Isolation methods.] As they do make a very big difference as well. Sometimes we can all buy somethings at a good price point, yet don't realize how much more is there waiting to be unlocked. [ Why spend $600-$1035 on an amp. Yet one can't invest $300. more on enchancing said amp. To show its truest & fullest potential?.] The good thing about something being well designed to begin with, is that with a few more quality upgrades one can only expect to bring out the hidden beauty of any given piece of electronics. Food for thought is it not?. Remember ones purchased & properlly maintenaced this amp should out live its user. So, spend the money on this amp that it deserves. Trust me !!!!!!!!. Do it right to begin with & it needs only to be done once. [ Read between the lines, if you may.] This amp is made to LAST & MEANT to be enjoyed by all whom love music. Do not make a mistake of not trying to better this amp with some false hopes of newer equals better. [ Just different.] Truly listen to this amp. I beleive in order for one too better it means something alone the lines of Audio Note - BAT - Audiomat - Pathos & Cary Designed Amps. [ I for one only know of three different integrated amps that I'd replace it with. And they are as follows: Art Audio Jota - Border Patrol P20 & Red Rose Music Model 5 That's it as far as I'm concerned. PERIOD.] Just wanted to share my views & insight on this subject. Thanks for viewing." Oscar L. Johnson

Similar Products Used: Quite a few SS & Tube Integrated Amps.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
hifichicago   AudioPhile [Jan 27, 2005]
Strength:

cannot be beat for the money. spend $2000-$3000 and you might get close.

Weakness:

my not be the best for inefficient speakers in a large room, 87db and below

Just to add to this great amp, if you are a music listener this giant killer will make your music sound better than it ever did with solid state gear. i swtiched from a yamaha rx-v1000, and also had a consonance m99 tube int as well. you'll also want to pair it with a good cd player or good universal dvd player. i use it with a music hall cd-25 and it's the best i've heard of anything i've owned. used a denon dvd-2200 with it as well. which is a very good CD/SACD player, very good universal player for the money. and as previously mentioned, Paul, the guy who sells these amps, is wonderful to work with. i wish more people supported their products like Paul. one of the cool things about this amp is not only can you use the stock EL34's, you can use KT88's, and you can remove 2 of the tubes to run in SET (single ended triode) mode at 4watts/ch. very versatile amp, especially with the external biasing feature. you can bias the tubes from the side of the cayin.

Similar Products Used: Opera Consonance M99 Jolida
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
FatJer   AudioPhile [Oct 26, 2004]
Strength:

It is a great component at a very affordable price. It will mate with the TAD-150 pre-amp, and become a "Killer" component and still remain a bargin.

Weakness:

More and more members of the professional audio press are discovering this amp, more audiophiles are buying, the price is bound to go up. 30+ watts of power will be enough in all but the most extreme instances. It is driving my Maggies, a difficult load to say the least.

I don't want to waste your reading time by going over how great this integrated sounds, especially for the price, the other contributors have pretty much said it all. I want to review this amp. with a new addition that will take it to a new level. I first purchased my TAD TA-30 back when Paul first became the distributor, and it was sold as Cayin. Stock it was a great integrated, and Paul of www.2baudio.com was and remains one of audio's nice guys. Things began to "Pop" for Paul and he began to do some custom mods for his Cayin amps. I had him retro-fit my Cayin and thus it became a TAD TA-30 integrated. The stock amp. is great for the buck, better yet with Paul's mods. But hold on, he just introduced his very own TAD-150 pre-amp, tube of course, and it is a winner. What does it have to do with the amp? everything! Paul told me I could use it with my TAD-30 integrated. I followed his directions: hook up the TAD-150 pre-amp to the TAD-30 amp via the amps CD line input, select the CD input position on the front of the amp, crank up the volume control all the way up, and let the pre-amp control the functions while the TAD-30 integrated now acts like a dedicated stereo power amp. Oh m' gosh, it took this amp to a new level. The highs improved, and the sound stage really opened up, and on top of all that, I now have remote capability. Check out this new TAD-Pre at his web site and you will notice the list price is $1,600.00, but he has been selling them at auction on AudiogoN for about half that price. I'm not in ANY WAY connected to Paul except I'm a customer who discovered a way to take this affordable amp to a level you won't believe. Run, don't walk, you won't be unhappy.

Similar Products Used: I've been in this "Mad" hobby almost 40 years. There is not much I have not owned, or listened to.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
dimwit   Audio Enthusiast [Oct 23, 2004]
Strength:

clean, detailed highs full, demensional mids clean, tight bass-no booming ability to unravel music is nothing short of amazing

Weakness:

none

All I have to say is that my search is over. This amp has everything from a great, robust buid quality to simply beautiful sound. I removed my Rotel separates and installed this integrated gem of an amp, trading 200+watts for a mere 30, but oh what a 30! I had all the mods done (external bias adjustment, auricap upgrades, focus control, Fro-Zen tube upgrade) except for the sub out mods as I already have full-range speakers. Gone is the solid state sound and all attendant artifacts (good and bad) and what I've gotten in return is a fuller, more detailed and harmonically satisfying (accurate, NOT tubey) presentation that has me staying up late (not to mention all day) listening to CD after CD. I heard definite improvements with the Clearview cables on my Rotel that made me think I had a totally different system, but I wasn't prepared for the trmendous improvement after inserting the TAD TA-30. There's simply more 'there' there. i now have no desire to upgrade my CD player or speakers but will instead, move on to interconnects, power cords, etc (Clearview for those, too) Its too bad that Paul, at TAD, is out of stock for the rest of the year because you'll have to wait to enjoy this beauty. He's a great guy to deal with and has a great sense of humor to go along with his expertise and knowledge of things tubed. With the focus control, the need for rolling your tubes is over as you get to control the amount of feedback withour affecting the squarewave, going from a very lean to a really full bodied sound (I prefer the 12:30 to 1 position, just shy of neutral, leaning into warm). And the external biasing takes all the hassles (and dangers) of going inside and risking life and limb. I'll even go one step further and hazard to say that one shouldn't need any tube dampers since they're not connected to any circuit boards but through the ceramic sockets, are frimly connected to the beefy frame so you can let them do their 'tube' thing. What's amazing is that I've only had this for 5 days now and its not even broken in yet! Oh, and it has no problem driving my Legacys. I can't go past 10:00 on the Alps!

Similar Products Used: 1st tube product, but have had Rotel, BGW, Superphon, and Naim amps
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
ltdeli   Audio Enthusiast [Oct 13, 2004]
Strength:

Build quality. Bias controls. Buttery Tube Sound. Value.

Weakness:

None so far.

Fantastic value. Coming from an AMC CVT3030 the build quality here looks far superior. Superior sound!

Similar Products Used: AMC CVT3030
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
Jeff Aguilar   AudioPhile [Sep 20, 2004]
Strength:

Incredible mids and strong bass.

Weakness:

Needs to be biased No remote control

I have now had my Cayin TA-30 for a little more than a year now. Tubes have always intrigued me. The more I read about them, the more I knew that I wanted to try some one day. My biggest deterrent was the fact that with tubes is that many people complain having to bias them. After investing in better speakers, Martin Logans, my interest in tubes piqued. I decided that I wanted to give tubes a try because I knew that my speakers could perform better than they were with my current Parasound amps. With a budget around $700, I did not have very many integrated tube amps to choose from. I narrowed down my choices to either purchasing a Jolida or Cayin. After reading some user reviews comparing the Jolida to the Cayin, I decided on the Cayin TA-30. It was a real pleasure interacting with Paul at BizzyBee. He answered all of my questions and explained to me the ease and benefits of using tube equipment. I was very concerned that a tube amp rated at 35 watts would not be able to push my Martin Logan speakers. Paul explained that one of the benefits of the Cayin was the fact that it pushes a lot of current and that is what causes amps to not properly push speakers. I took a chance and bought a Cayin and was very pleasantly surprised. The warmth and detail that this amp introduced in my system was incredible. It sure did put out more bass than I thought it would too. My speakers are not known for bass reproduction, but the Cayin sure did have a cleaner bass presentation than my previous Parasound. It was definitely a night and day difference in the cd playback in my system. After having the Cayin in my system for 6 months, I decided to send it back to Paul to do his Auricap mod. I REALLY missed the Cayin when it was gone. But when I got it back, the sound seemed much better! My wife could even tell the difference! We compared it before it left to my Outlaw 950/Parasound combo and then after it got home. There was a much bigger difference after the Auricaps were installed. If you get this amp, I would highly recommend getting this mod. It is well worth it.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
CarlC   Audio Enthusiast [Sep 09, 2004]
Strength:

Great sound and looks. (You will not be disappointed.)

Weakness:

No remote. Requires biasing.

Three pieces of background. First, I paid extra and got the fully modified TA-30 from Paul at Bizzy Bee. Second, I have been testing different integrated amps at home for the last year or so, trying to find "perfection" at a reasonable price - after I discovered that Circuit City-quality amps sound much worse than "audiophile" equipment. (I think "duh!" now, but I really didn't know, and I wrongly assumed that the state of the art of modern electronics was such that all competent amps would sound the same to human ears.) Finally, though she doesn't care as much about it as I do, my wife is a professional musician with a very discriminating ear. Not voodoo stuff: she notices which instruments she can hear on one amp but not another, and how they sound different, etc. Our speakers are Tannoy Saturn S-8's. The four "biggies" we tested before the Cayin were the Jolida 502, Magnum Dynalab MD-308, Krell KAV-300i, and the Creek 5350SE. The Jolida had a very nice tube sound - we liked it a lot - but it wasn't the most detailed, and perhaps not the most accurate. That could have been due to the tubes - we only tested with the stock tubes. Then we tried the Magnum Dynalab, and this has been our current favorite. Very nice sounding, warm, balanced (I am not using technical terms, just trying to give a good description), and deep in the sense of full, rich harmonics. For example, with piano, the MD sounds full and the Krell sounds thin. Same with cymbals. For us the Krell lost on all counts. Just not as rich and full - almost tinny. Though it does sound much better than a Yamaha AX-596, it has a similar feel to it compared to the others. The Creek sounds similar to the MD, though not quite as good. We didn't test this extensively and carefully, though, because we had already tried the Cayin ... As plain as I can be: the Cayin blows the others away! It immediately sounded (after adjusting the "focus" control) as much better than the Magnum Dynalab as the MD sounds than the *Yamaha*! There is absolutely no contest. A friend who happened to be visiting when we tested the Cayin described the MD in comparison as if it were wrapped in a wet blanket. Very clear, very detailed sound without harshness, great "imaging" (I've read this term, and I understand it to be the proper term to call what my wife said she noticed for the first time: how close or far away Cat Stevens was from the mike). I would not describe the Cayin as warm or having a tube sound particularly, it just sounds transparent. Three final things. First, I would not buy the Cayin without the "focus" control. When I first turned it on, my wife and another friend didn't like it - it sounded unpleasant on our speakers. Once I adjusted the focus control, though, it immediately sounded great. Second, ours probably still isn't "broken in" yet, if that's a real phenonenon (I don't know). Finally, I have stopped looking. I have ordered another Cayin from Bizzy Bee for our second system and am selling everything else. (I also loved dealing with Paul, by the way. What a nice guy!) I hope this review was not too long. I am just so excited by the Cayin. I had read many great reviews and wanted to try it; it was just hard for me to believe that it could be so good given its price. But I could have saved myself a lot of money and time had I been convinced. If you are able to be convinced, let this and the other reviews convince you! Oh, I will say one more thing. I have recently listened to a friend's much more expensive Audio Research preamp and big tube amplifier + big Magnepans, and that system is the best I've ever heard, so I know there is even better. But that is over our budget, and our room is too small anyway. The small Cayin creates a very similar experience and is an extremely satisfying alternative.

Similar Products Used: Jolida SJ-502A Magnum Dynalab MD-308 Krell KAV-300i Creek 5350SE Yamaha AX-596
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
vastvast   Audio Enthusiast [Aug 06, 2004]
Strength:

Affordable, can plug in an pre-amp, nice-looking, excellent built, very good sound, elegant, if needed, tubes are also affordable. very happy with this after reading so many reviews, buying so many amp.....

Weakness:

4 or 8 ohm only, lack of power (can be very very loud but lack the bit of punch to blow the window out). I have a 6ohm speaker (feels like it doesn't mtach my speakers)

Hi, this a review for the cayin ta-30. I won't describe the sound of this tube (integrated) amp because i ain't expert. But I can say that this amp is very satisfying to me and to my needs. Of course for many of us who got this far, I already tried many many things and waste lots of money on this business. And what business? It is much like to compare to pictures on a screen and always look for perfection.... this screen is better because the color has more depth, better color, better contrast, etc... well, after a while, it seems to me that perfection can be achieve to some extend but the beauty and interest remain in the heart of the music. By saying so, I meant that I am completely satified with this amp. But read the cons and pros before you decide to buy it. I threw away my audiosource amp. I felt cheated now that I listen to the cayin. I tried to bias... but no luck, not enough juice for my speakers. Don't get me wrong, this amp has plenty of power for most ppl.

Similar Products Used: jolida, antique labs,
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Showing 1-10 of 13  

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