Sony TA-90ES Preamplifiers

TA-90ES

Sony High End Pre-Amp

User Reviews (12)

Showing 1-10 of 12  
kenneth chen   AudioPhile [May 09, 2007]
Strength:

Build quality, fit and finish.Minimalist design.

Weakness:

Non detachable power cord.

I have three preamps: adcom gfp-750, audio refinement pre-5 and the sony tae-90es. I like all three. adcom in passive mode is the most transparent and quietest. But it's also the most laid back. In active mode, it adds quite a bit of sparkle on the higher ends. And the sonic character becomes thicker and darker. audio refinement is also very transparent. It's very lively and involving. Higher end extension could be better. Sony is as transparent as transparency could be and very detailed. But it's not as involving as audio refinement. It kind of falls between adcom in passive mode and audio refinement.

In terms of build quality, sony tops the other two. It weighs more than a medium power intergrated.

Similar Products Used: adcom gfp-750, audio refinement pre-5, creek obh-22 and mccormack tlc-1.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
muziekfreak   Audio Enthusiast [Oct 07, 2006]
Strength:

Build like a tank, the best components are used inside this pre-amp.
Elna condensators,ryken, one very VERY XPENSIVE VOLUMEPOT trust me on that one.

Even krell pre amps can NOT compete technical speaking with this pre-amp.
One good word for the phonoboard that is really a great phonostage!

You can really buy a pre-amp that can compete with high end brands with this one.

Weakness:

Non or what so ever, maybe replacing the bias potmeters inside (strangely enough) el cheapo ones that the always used (see the trouble amp tan80es).

The best pre-amp i have ever seen for THAT MONEY. My previous pre-amp whas a Sphinx p2mkII (2000euro or so) on of the topline pre amps of that brand. The Tae90es is much better in anyway. The pre-amp does precisely what i suppose to do. Working as a selector an volumepot that it, i used my XA20es cd player without the pre in between.

No difference...perfect !! With my previous pre-amp with a p9 cdplayer...mayor difference. Thats not good !

Some info

The sony ta-e90 and ta-n90es are NOT TRULY balanced components. Even in the manuels the are speaking of a TRUE/FALSE balanced in/ouputs. Even Sony advises to use the CINCH. Those balanced inputs are used by sony for their measure stuff.


My current set-up

Sony Ta-e90es
Sony Ta-n90es
Sony cdp XA20es (upgrade underway sony xa50es)
Dual 501-3 turntable
Driade 103 mkII loudspeakers

I'm a very happy man thats for sure.



Similar Products Used: Sony Tae80es
Sony Tan55es
Sony Tan80es
Sony Tan90es
Sony cdp XA20es
Sony cdp XA50es
Sony QS920

Thats about my sony stuff so far. The rest to much to write down ;-]
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
alpha9   Audio Enthusiast [Oct 27, 2002]
Strength:

Truly balanced design.

Weakness:

Have to use upgrade power cord.

Adding to my earlier review of TAE90es. I forgot to mention that I HAVE to use the Synergistic Research power cords to GREATLY ENHANCE the performance of my system. The Sony TAE90es(pre) and TAN90es(amp) are truly balanced. But the Sony CPD-XA7es is not truly balanced. Because there is not a significant sounding difference between XLR and RCA outputs. I have the excellent voice reproduction, air around instruments by using Synergistic Research Luminescence Phase II RCA between XA7es and TAE90es, and Tara labs Decade XLR from TAE90es to TAN90es.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Tom Mulgrew   Audio Enthusiast [Jul 05, 2000]
Strength:

Rock solid build, clean sounding, ample outputs ...

Weakness:

none so far


I echo all the above. Ed Frias is right on. This is a spectacular preamp. If you can find one under $1000, go for it. You won't be dissappointed!

This unit is eerily quiet. Not a hint of hiss. Controls are easy to use. Design is simple, but elegant. A real
gem in every facet.

My humble system:

ATI 1506 amp
Sony TA-E90ES preamp
CAL Icon MK II CD player
Nakamichi LX-5 tape player
AKAI GX-635D reel-to-reel
Harmon/Kardon CDR2 CD recorder
Music Hall MMF 2.1 turntable
Totem Sttafs
B&W CDM2s
Niles OS6
Speakercraft 6.5 MTs




Similar Products Used: none
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Ed Frias   Audiophile [Feb 10, 2000]
Strength:

High quality heavy construction. Balanced inputs and outputs.

Weakness:

Original Retail a little to high.

This is a review on the TA-E90ES.
A absolute audiophile pre-amp in every way! Build quality is superb in and out! No tone controls to dirty signal. Independent relay switching for all inputs. All Gold RCA connections. Smooth remote volume. Dual mono construction with NO crosstalk or bleeding between channels. Isolated circuit boards.
Sound is pure audiophile! Stereophile Magazine rated the new Adcom stereo pre-amp as clean and accurate as ANY they ever tested. I don't believe or recall them ever testing the Sony TA-E90ES, if they had, the Adcom would come second to this, I know because I heard the Adcom! This is the purest, cleanest and quietest pre amp I have ever heard, and I have tried many in my 40 years of electronics! It is as neutral a sound as no pre-amp. It gives as clean a signal as running straight from the CD player to the amp direct, but with more volume! Sony had trouble selling these gems at over $2000, but if you come across a used one for $400-$700 grab it! You can spend more money but you CAN'T buy better sound than this pre-amp offers!
This TA-E90ES is used in one of two demo systems which include:
ATI AT-1504 power amp
Sony CDP-X707ES Cd player
Sony MDS-JB920 Mini Disc player
EFE TECHNOLOGY Interconnects
EFE TECHNOLOGY B-15 Bookshelf speakers
EFE TECHNOLOGY T-22 Mini Tower speakers
EFE TECHNOLOGY T-36 Tower speakers

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
nick   Audiophile [Jul 25, 2001]
Strength:

Throughout its usable range, the Sony is the lowest distorting, quietest, most neutral, most open, most value-for-money, most coherent and most versatile preamp I've heard. It is also among the most transparent, best-imaging, highest-resolution, most accurate, and most detailed. Just the phono stage alone is worth the cost of this beauty. It is as well built as a McIntosh and better built than almost anything else. Parts quality is astonishingly high.

Weakness:

If it matters to you, it's a Sony, and that's not 'high-end'

Forget for a moment that it's a Sony. Just the parts alone, the heft of the unit, and the quality of the finishing set this apart from other 'high-end' products. If it were exactly the same unit, but was badged as an Accuphase or Mark Levinson, it would EASILY cost 4 times as much.

I started out by looking for a phono stage for a low-output Lyra catridge. I had an Audio Research pre-amp, and the most obvious match would have been a PH 3. Alas, the gain was insufficent, and the noise floor was unacceptably high.

In my search, everything was either 1. Insufficient gain (50-odd dB, while I needed 60-odd or even 70-odd) or 2. Too expensive,like a Jeff Rowland, BAT etc.

At the suggestion of a friend, I tried the Sony.

My first reaction to this unit was surprise at its build quality. It was heavier and had FAR SUPERIOR fit and finish than an ARC. THe initial idea was to use just the phono section of the TA-E90 ES while retaining my LS 15. But first, I had to plug the whole unit in, just to run it in.

This is when strange things happened. My sound got cleaner, quieter, more dynamic, deeper and wider. Not by much, but in hi-fi, a little is a lot especially when you've moved DOWN in price.

The phono section deserves mention. THe only phono stage I've heard that's quieter and better is a Jeff Rowland Cadence. Other than that, this is it. Quiet as a tomb, pretty dynamic, tonnes of gain.

In conclusion, if money was no object, I would spring for a Hovland preamp or maybe a Jeff Rowland combo. But to my ears, this Sony comes close.

Similar Products Used: Classe, Audio Research
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Mikloyd   Audio Enthusiast [Aug 16, 2001]
Strength:

Can be had at close-out prices-Solid Build, great movie performance

Weakness:

2.01 still sounds poor on two channel music. Hollow with echoing tendancies.

Given the price I paid, I am happy. Had I paid over $1,000, I too, like this units previous owner, would have returned it.

The remote is horrid, but anyone in seperates should already own a universal learner they are comfortable with.

The other units I auditioned prior to this cannot match the HT performance. Sony engineers really did a great job on multichannel decoding. The 2.01 Firmware has really lowered the noisefloor which was a thorn in this unit previously.

2 channel music, frankly, sucks. Even the Denon, but especially the Marantz smack this unit silly. Granted the ambients are minimal, and the sound is quite neutral, but there is present quite a bit of echoing and hollowness to this unit. I run an Outlaw amp and ACI Sapphire III mains so I am sure the problem is the Sony. I have also tweaked this unit to my wits end (see link below).

So ...
If you are an HT enthusiast and wanting to get into seperates, take the plunge! Buy this thing while its still easily found.

If you listen to music much at all though, there are better consumer level receivers and definitely preamps that dollar for dollar will outperform this unit.

I will be selling mine on ebay very soon.

I would like to thank the people on the Sony TAE9000ES forum. They are very helpful and informed. Visit them at: http://pub7.ezboard.com/faussiedvdandhtforumsonytae9000esinformationforum if you havent already!

Similar Products Used: Marantz SR8000, Denon 3801
OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
3
Glenn   Audiophile [Oct 20, 2001]
Strength:

Quiet, neutral sound. No tone controls in signal path. Very, very high level of build quality. Have only been playing with this unit for a short while, but the built-in phono stage is superb. I am A/B'ing with my Threshold FET ten/pc and will most likely end up selling the Threshold as the Sony makes it redundant. This thing weighs so much it makes me wonder if it has lead inside.

Weakness:

Perhaps would be better with an outboard power supply, but there is no way to know. Sony does not make a power amp of the same quality since the they stopped making the TA-N77ES (which I use). They need to make a TA-N77ES with balanced inputs.

Sound! It's all about the sound. This preamp sounds as good as my California Audio Labs CL-10 plugged directly into the power amp. No difference. Dare I say that it sounds even better? Yes, I believe it does. I am about 50/50 between vinyl (pain-in-the-ass to use, but sound better) and CD's (easy to use, but don't sound as good). This unit's phono stage is as good as any I have heard. I normally use a Threshold FET ten/pc, but I am feeling (hearing) that it has become redundant. I will most likely no longer need. Not something I could do with the McIntosh (ugh!) or Bryston (nice, but no FET ten/pc). All-in-all, cannot imagine that something else would be significantly better. Especially for the rediculously low price this sells for on the used market. Deserves ten stars in the value category.

Similar Products Used: Bryston BP-25
McIntosh C-38
Aragon
MacCormack TLC-1
Mod Squad Line Drive
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Gary   Audiophile [Oct 01, 2001]
Strength:

Performance, Build Quality, Balanced Inputs and Outputs

Weakness:

Non-detachable power cord

Not the typical Sony --minimalist in contrast to most of their products, but impressive sound. That Sony would build a preamp of this simplicity and quality probably creates some cognitive dissonance for many of us audiophiles. (And keep in mind that this preamp came along before Sony established a high-end presence with SACD.) Maybe that's why these preamps aren't more popular. I bought my TA-90ES used, it's been a marvelous piece of equipment.
Replacement of the stock power cord with an upgrade is no small task, since the cord isn't detachable. But it's a worthwhile upgrade even if you have to pay $100+ labor costs to have it done. The bass becomes fuller and tighter. Then the unit sounds like a $2k+ preamp.
Overall, the TA-90ES midrange doesn't quite match that of my C-J PV-12AL with Mullard tubes, but the TA-90ES bass and highs are better. Warm but detailed sound without the maintenance of tube equipment.

Similar Products Used: conrad-johnson PV-12AL
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Richard Huntsinger   Audiophile [Jan 07, 2000]
Strength:

Great Sound, Solid Build Qualtity

I bought this unit as a refurbished product at the Sony outlet for $700. I would have never paid full price of $2700, but considering the price I paid, I am very happy with the preamp. I love the sound qualtity.

Similar Products Used: Acurus, Sony.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Showing 1-10 of 12  

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