TimbreTechnology TT-1 CD Players


User Reviews (2)

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Tan Francis   Audio Enthusiast [Oct 19, 1999]

Warm, accurate, detailed, flexibility of changing the isolation from the supplied brass and rubber cones


price and fuse availability

I know this is a very very good DA and according to them it sounds better by using the coaxial inputs. Therefore, I can't really compare it head to head with my Classe DAC-1 bec. I'm using a balance input on this DA. I'm sure you will not go wrong with either of the DA's, just be prepared to spend around US$4,000.00

Similar Products Used: Classe CDT-1 transport
David Derrick   an Audio Enthusiast [Nov 10, 1997]

Component for review: Timbre Technology TT-1 DAC
Remainder of system: YBA Integre DT
Audio Alchemy DDS Pro
Merlin Music Systems TSMs
Cables and power cords by JPS Labs
Marigo Audio Labs Apparition and Reference Power Center

Introductory comments: Before I get to the business at hand--my personal revelations about the TT-1--I'll touch upon some points that might be relevant to how different folks approach this review:

A)The price class of the DAC and my experience thereof: the list price was originally in the $3200 US range ($3800 with balanced option), with two currently available upgrades of $450 and $1250 to further improve performance. The list prices are going to go up a fair amount (but will reflect in part the upgrades as part of the stock unit). I was fortunate to be able to stumble upon a demo unit, balanced type, for well below half of the original price, otherwise I would never have been able (or willing) to afford one. As such, I can't offer a lot of comparative comments regarding other DACS in the price range (e.g. other excellent products like the Classe DAC-1, Dodson DA 217, etc. etc.) for those who may be seeking such.

B)Stereophile Recommended Components Ratings: I will neither tear down or build up this system, which plays an important role for a large number of people. For those to whom the ratings are important, the early version of the TT-1 was reviewed, and the DAC has been in Class B ever since, with comments suggesting that the cost is beyond the products capabilities. From my own personal experience with the DAC prior to purchase, I would honestly disagree...or I would not have made my purchase, even at a "bargain" price. I know of folks in the industry that speak in glowing terms of the TT-1, and often choose the DAC to pair with their equipment at shows, but there are doubtless folks who will feel quite differently. The point being, if the reader is uncomfortable with products that are not strongly championed by the publication mentioned, they need read no further. For those who like to be informed of all positive or negative reviews of a potential purchase, let this serve as a point of reference. To provide a balanced review perspective, I would mention that the TT-1 has been reviewed in Soundstage (www.sstage.com), and is currently in the review process at Bound For Sound.

C)Thoughts on high end audio in general: in the past I have been a staunch defender of the doctrine "more expensive might be better!," an equally strong skeptic, and a confusing mix of the two. I will say, as a capsular summary of what I will say below, that the TT-1 has made a believer of me in the sense that I now definitely know that at least some high priced components CAN truly offer a significant improvement over lesser priced gear. The concept is one that is potential, NOT universal!

Impressions of the TT-1: As a point of reference, my digital system previous to the arrival of the TT-1 had a DTI Pro 32 (with adaptive dithering chip and small Monolithic power supply) and DDEv3.0 (with microprocessor chip, and PS2, but sans other upgrades) hooked together and to the DDS Pro via DH Labs I2S bus cables. While not a system of the highest pedigree, it was capable, and proven.
The sound I got was enjoyable, and at times quite excellent, but somehow left me wanting more. I had done lengthy and thorough research and auditions of amplifiers and speakers before purchasing items I felt were very strong (Integre) and exceptional (Merlin TSMs) products and the performance from them appeared to merit their purchase (the reviews I posted on such items attest to my impression of them), and I figured I was simply being unrealistic and obsessive. When I replaced the DDEv3.0 with the TT-1, I got quite a come uppance! The amp and speakers revealed tremendous capabilities on a continuous basis, with or without the DTI Pro 32 in place. I had been certain the TT-1 would make an improvement, but I hadn't been expecting such a great leap!

In a nutshell, the TT-1 has a phenomenal capability to resolve, without subduing or exaggerating individual portions of the music. This is not a DAC for anyone seeking to increase pace, augment any part of the musical spectrum, or correct for weaknesses inherent elsewhere in the system. Like the Integre, it seems to be helping in the creation of music, not electronically reproducing music. Compared to the preceding digital set-up, the TT-1 painted it's picture on a starkly silent background...I hadn't realized that characteristics I had unfairly attributed to recordings were more likely reflective of the capabilities of the DDEv3.0. Same with bass response...I had felt that perhaps at times the YBA unit had been a touch light in tonality. This concern vanished with the TT-1 in place...bass was plentiful, well characterized, but not too forward or recessed, limited only by the physics of the minimonitors. Treble and midrange were also improved, showing off a striking strongpoint of the TSMs.
I have trouble putting all of my impressions into words, but will toss out a couple more: "spacious," and "effortless." The soundstage is vastly improved over the prior set-up, and the set-up and acoustics of my room were the limiting factors in lateral and deep image placement, not the DAC. There is also a pleasant ease or effortless character to the sound...not laid back, but natural, lacking a lot of artifice I had wrongly taken for granted in audio equipment. Had I more experience with other high-priced DACs, perhaps I could have come up with some pertinent negatives (...and perhaps not...). But, as it stands, I have only the greatest regard for the TT-1, and do not hesitate to give it a top rating.

Final thought: for those who have been wary about the world of used and demo equipment, I cannot offer any great experience in regards to pro(s) and con(s).
My DDS Pro is a demo, and has been flawless in it's performance (it is to be replaced by a G and D Transforms UTP-1 because the latter is a monumental component for it's price, and I was fortunate to work a very good trade with a dealer for the DDS Pro and other gear, not because of any problems with the DDS Pro). The TT-1, as mentioned, was also a demo, and has provided a level of performance well beyond that which I could have bought new for the same amount, and too has performed flawlessly. I offer this as food for thought, not as an endorsement. There are potential risks involved, and each individual must come to grips with a lot of variables.

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