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Integrated amplifier
Trafomatic Audio EXPERIENCE TWO

Price: 3490 euro (+180 euro za pilot)

Distribution: Pełne Brzmienie

Piotr Bednarski
tel.: 695 503 227



Text: Wojciech Pacuła
Translation: Krzysztof Kalinkowski

Trafomatic Audio is a company housed in the Serbian Mladenovac, founded in 1997 by Sasa Cokic. First it was a company manufacturing high quality toroidal transformers, hence the name. But since some time its development accelerated, as it signed an agreement with the Austrian loudspeaker manufacturer WLM, for which it manufactured a series of integrated amplifiers. It profited also from this partnership, as it applied new enclosures for its devices..

Model Experience Two is a part of a larger family called Experience, and is a beautiful, yet small, integrated amplifier, based on 300B triodes working in the current stage. And 300B = cult. The tubes work in a classic SET setting, with a single tube per channel. And this indicates small output power. And yes – Trafomatic quotes 8W in its data sheets. Because I had a previous experience with the iconic, for me, power amplifier, the PAT-777 Reimyo, so I knew, more or less, what to expect. Similar to the Japanese amp, the Experience Two is powered using a single rectifier tube. The power transformer is toroidal, and was wound by the company itself. The output transformers are also wound by them – Sasa uses, exactly like the Polish company Ancient Audio, double Ctype transformers. We will find another tube in the sound path – the driver stage uses the octal, double triodes 6SN7. In this case aluminum tubes were placed on them, to provide shielding – something completely natural, and used commonly some time ago. Initially the Trafomatic supplied their amplifiers with tubes from JJ Electronic – inexpensive and good. But lately their quality diminished significantly, and many inexpensive replacements appeared on the market, so Trafomatic changed their supplier. The 300B tubes in the tested unit were made by Electro-Harmonix, 6SN7GT come from Sovtek, and the power supply 5U4G is a NOS – it bears no manufacturer markings, except for a number, that was assigned to factories, manufacturing military equipment in the CCCP times.

But the Polish distributor allowed me to test other power tubes – the mesh and carbon Sophia Electric, the models Princess 300B/n and 300B/c. The changes turned out to be substantial. I made the analysis of those in a separate article, where I describe my latest discovery, the mesh, carbon covered tubes from the Chinese company Create Audio, which offers also small amplifiers and gold plated fuses, under the brand name Synergy Hi-Fi. The tubes they provided, the 300B Golden Jazz Series, made in the Shuang factory, are plain incredible! But to the point – in this amplifier the tubes that sounded best – except the Create Audio – were the carbon Sophia (those are really great tubes!), but the EH ones were not much worse, and we could hear, that those were probably the tubes used for tuning of this amplifier by its creators. This is the reason, that we get a mature sound right out of the box, without the need to replace the 300B tubes right from the start. Let me just add, that the amplifier is available in the basic version, or with the metal elements covered with gold – called black-and-gold – the metal parts have also a nicer finish, and we can order the optional remote with it. For the test we received the basic version, but with better wood finish and a remote. The amplifier came also with the Experience Cable power cable, costing 225 euro, which we used for testing. It seems, that the power is an important factor here, as the Trafomatic seemed to be sensitive to it. Evening listening sessions were much more satisfactory than during the day, as then the companies stop working, which utilize computers. And this is not only the issue of the background noise, but also the condition of the power. The company offers also their own conditioners, based on Plitrona, separating transformers, which we should give a try. And one more thing – the unit needs about half an hour to start playing with “its” sound.


The following discs were used for testing:

  • Diorama, A Different Life, Accesion Records, A 102, CD.
  • Eva Cassidy, Imagine, Blix Street, G2-10075, CD.
  • Gerry Mulligan, Night Lights, Philips/Rainbow CD, PHCE-3064, CD.
  • Jack Johnson, Sleep Through The Static, Brushfire Records, 56055, CD; review HERE.
  • King Crimson, In The Court Of The Crimson King, Universal Music Japan, UICE-9051, HDCD.
  • Kraftwerk, Autobahn, Capital Records/KlingKlang/Mute Records, STUMM 303, 180 g LP (2009).
  • Kraftwerk, Tour The France Soundtracks, EMI Records, 591 708 1, 2 x 180 g LP.
  • Lisa Gerrard, The Silver Tree, 4AD/Sonic Records, SON212, CD.
  • Tingwall Trio, Vattensaga, Skip Records, SKP 9087-2, CD; review HERE.
  • Tommy Dorsey, A Portrait of Tommy Dorsey, Music Collection International, Gale 404, 2 x CD.
  • Wynton Kelly, Piano, Riverside/Universal Music Japan, UCCO-9273, CD.

The word ‘magic’, in its main meaning, is defined by the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary as “The use of means (as charms or spells) believed to have supernatural power over natural forces.” This is quite clear. Some part of this ‘magic’ became embedded in the language we use while describing sound. But there is a better description of this term: “magic of a person, or place, is the synonym of its charm and mysteriousness, influencing us with incredible force.” Yes – this is probably that, what this all is about. When I listened to the first part of the discs prepared for the test of the Experience Two, I felt exactly that way – I was influenced by its magic, working on me with incredible force. Again, I had to admit, that I met a device, that is not only good, but that I also like. And this does not necessary mean the same. On one hand this is good, because in this way I broaden my horizons, learn and gain experience, and so on. On the other hand, I feel some discomfort in such situations, coming from the fact, that ‘magic’ belongs to the category of not so well defined descriptions, very difficult to falsify (similar to psychology, for example) and this is why it is so difficult to talk about “scientific research” in this case. And I want each test to be exactly that. A test, a listening session, etc, is nothing else, as research by experience, and it should be kept as far away from emotion, as possible, to remain that. But like I said, this is just wishful thinking of structuralism, buried long time ago. But I don’t also want to fall into the second extreme of worked out individualism, from the “it is so, because it is so” sign, because while we can assume, that there is some margin of freedom, but beyond it, there is only error and/or ignorance. This is the reason, that considering the fact that I am human, with all the shortcomings of this “gauge”, I try to find myself in the center between what is “mine” and what is “external”. This is why I try to determine, during the test, why ‘magic’, what ‘magic’, what this ‘magic’ tries to cover up, and disperse the attention of the music lover/audiophile listening to, for example, the Experience Two.

Many audiophiles treat the 300B tubes as an almost divine entity. But when we try out its good application, like in the case of Reimyo PAT-777, Ancient Audio Silver Grand Mono, Art Audio Jota Sentry, or even the inexpensive, Polish amplifier JAG 300B, it is easy to understand, what is in it, what moves the part in us, that deals with emotion, and what enchants us. We will talk about the magic in a moment, now I would like to concentrate on the music itself. The tonal balance of this device is very even. It seems, that a part of the upper treble is softened and warmed, similar to the lower bass, but this does not bother, and resembles that what I heard with the brilliant power amplifier of Reimyo and the Art Audio integrated. This was done on purpose, and not the characteristic of the tube itself, and could win any contest, that this may be the “trace” left by the 6SN7 control tubes. Anyway, it can be heard, that this is a part of a greater whole, that this was a way of creating something bigger. And that thing was of course an emotional sound, based on incredibly clean and vivid midrange. The transfer of energy, in quite a broad spectrum, is very good in the Experience Two, there is no mudding, no fogging, no compression, etc. This is important, because finally we deal with 8 watts here. But those are “special” watts – played in an incredibly clean way, they sound much louder, they are much more dynamic than a few dozen of not so coherent watts. Here coherence is one of the keywords, which we could use to address the core of such sound. This was shown beautifully by the first disc I listened to, the compilation of Tommy Dorsey, with pieces recorded in the years 1935-1941. Those are of course recordings, that are technically very weak, and in addition the issue is completely non audiophile. But when listened on good stereo, there is a power in this music, that makes us listen to it with pleasure, and even with affection, like those pieces with the young Frank Sinatra.

Reduced frequency response, quite flat dynamics, etc – we have all of this here, and the Trafomatic does not mask anything. There is no such good resolution, as with Reimyo or Ancient Audio, because the groups of instruments have not so well defined body, they are not so well differentiated within the boundaries of a mono recording, but still it is very good – much better, that with almost all the solid state amplifiers I heard. I had similar feelings with the disc The Silver Tree Lisa Gerrard. For long time I thought, that this is a badly recorded disc, muffled, and it did not appeal to me. Earlier only two times – with the amplifiers I mentioned earlier – it sounded different, and now it enchanted me for the first time. Yes, Lisa’s voice is recorded in a dark, warm way, but now we hear, that this was done on purpose, a part of a bigger plan. The music from this disc has an incredible swing, depth, and it builds up tension slowly. Hence the lack of brightening, which would call attention.

Despite what I said about resolution, and what I uphold, the Experience Two played this disc brilliantly. A part of the success must be attributed, to the perfect, beautifully coherent sound stage. In the piece Shadow Hunter, the recording is really behind us, slightly higher, we know, that this is an incredibly big space, open, as if somebody would erase the wall behind us. This shows, that the amplifier keeps the phase relationships intact, or at least, that the phase shifts in music are small.

With this disc we can hear something, that is always surprising with 300B amplifiers: incredibly saturated, strong and deep bass. Some of the pieces on that disc are founded on very low bass passages, they make no sense without it – the Trafomatic amplifier caught it brilliantly, and made sure, that they did not lose anything. But I want to indicate immediately, that this is not a bass known from stronger amplifiers. This is the element, where the ‘magic’ is most visible. In absolute categories, the Experience Two reaches very low, but a part of those low thumps, incredible due to their splendid timbre and coherence with the rest of the frequency range – and the amplifier was connected to the my Dobermann, classic, big loudspeakers, with a not so high sensitivity – is distorted. Aha! We got you! – This is not me, I try to follow the way of thinking of “negators” and fraud sleuths… But this is something, that is worth to take as is – I am now thinking about tube lovers, and the 300B tube in particular: there is no physical possibility, and I am thinking about the physics we know, that 8W can produce really low, not distorted and linear bass. It can be done for each of those elements apart (low, without distortion and linear), but not combining all of them – in my opinion at least. This could be heard on every step, because I know this disc, and others, which I listened to, while watching this aspect, like for example the new re-masters from Kraftwerk, really well. But with the best constructions we deal with something, that can be called “seduction” – and not “deception”, and I mean seduction, in the way women seduce their potential partners (and I apologize for this shameful comparison, but I will use it for the clarity of my writing).

To clarify this, I need to open another paragraph. Because I want to make everything as clear as possible, and that you understand me well. With Lisa Gerrard, Diorama A Different Life and the Kraftwerk LPs, the sound was full, outstandingly saturated, and there was nothing lacking. Like I said, the vividness is most striking, and the amount of the lower frequencies. But its larger part, and I repeat that, is distorted. Let us not be mistaken – when we use full range speakers, and we want to have the broadest possible frequency spectrum, then low power amplifier will be forced into some compromises. Here the bass is changed in such a way, that some of its resolution and precision is lost. I remember well, how the Krell EVO402 handled that, and how well my Luxman M-800A does it. Some things just cannot be surpassed. We can of course choose loudspeakers with higher efficiency, like tube ones, but there we will also need to enter some compromise. Maybe it would be different, but we would not know, if it will be better, it is a question of personal choices and taste. The Trafomatic amplifier played the bass extremely vivid, with splendid timbre, but it only hinted at some things, and some omitted completely. But now the best part: it did that in such a way, that 99% of the listeners, me included, would take it for granted. So what is this all about? It is about the mentioned seduction: when a woman makes an elaborate makeup, fitting her mood, her beauty and the day, then this is not a deception, we do not point out, that she is trying to mask anything, that she tries to be different, than in reality. This is seduction, and knowing about the makeup, the clothes, the add-ons, etc, we judge the whole thing, not the separate pieces, and we like it or not. And if not, then no stylist will help, and that’s it. This is exactly the case with 300B amplifiers. And Experience Two is a good example, on how this can be handled. The bass is here in ideal connection with the midrange, the most important fragment of the frequency spectrum, where the lower part is very slightly underlined. There is not even a trace of nasality, nothing heavier, but the sound is bigger, more respectable and nicer.

And this is exactly how this amplifier sounds – beautiful. It does not cover the recording and mastering errors, but it tries to interpret them (and audio is an art of interpretation and compromises), so they would not hurt. It does that, partially, by withdrawing the upper treble, what makes the ultimate resolution not so high, as in other top grade amplifiers I know. But the change here is not big at all, because timbres are built brilliantly, coherent and saturated. Also the sound stage is shown brilliantly here – also behind the listener, like on the Lisa Gerrard disc. The instruments have a nicely shown body, are placed on the stage well, and the stage can be very deep, if recorded well. Dynamics is also high, what can be heard not only in audiophile grade recordings, but also on discs like Vattensaga Tingwall Trio or – from the older ones – Piano Wynton Kelly. I started the test by calling upon the definition of the word ‘magic’, because that, what this device does fits nicely in its semantic field. But after a longer listening session, I think it needs some extra definition, and this can be done as follows: “Magic differs from religion by the fact, that it tries to possess the supernatural forces, and force them to act, while religion worships them, trying to appease and placate them”. This is the case with the Experience Two – it does not try to subdue completely to the musical matter, but rather reach deeper into the disc, to the music itself. Even at the price of seduction and compromise.


Experience Two is an amplifier from the Serbian company Trafomatic Audio. This is an integrated amplifier, a tube one, based on 300B tubes working in the current stage, in SET setting, in class A, single-ended. They are controlled by double triodes 6SN7GT, and the current is rectified by the Russian 5U4G tube. The amplifier has a small, comprised body, and is really nice. The frame of the chassis is made from wood, nicely varnished and well crafted. In the front we have a small plate with two knobs – input selector (only three inputs) and volume. The latter can be remote controlled, as an option, using a wood-metal remote controller, that has only two buttons – louder and softer. Between the knobs there is a red LED indicating power-on state. It is a pity, that the power switch is on the back plate, as this is not always easy to reach. The top cover is made from a thick aluminum plate. On top of it are the tubes, placed neatly in a row, behind whose transformer cups were placed – in the middle the power transformer (toroidal) with 300W capacity, and on both sides the loudspeaker transformers (double-C). On the back we have three inputs, using nice, gold plated RCA sockets, and two pairs of loudspeaker terminals, also gold plated, for 4 & 6Ω, as well as an IEC power socket with a mechanical power switch. Next to the RCA inputs there is a gold plated grounding terminal – it is worth to connect all the components in our system to it. This is something widely used in Japan, and usually it diminishes the noise of the whole system. The device is supported by small, plastic feet, but for testing I used the Cerapuc Finite Elemente. The remote control is nice, wood and metal, and it is handy to use.

Almost the complete circuit is mounted in one PCB. After unscrewing the enclosure we can see two big chokes (probably) – for the preamplifier and power sections. On small PCBs to the sides, there is something, that looks like the rectifier circuitry for the power tubes heating – the rectifier for the input tubes is separate. In the powe section some electrolytic capacitors from Rubycon were used, shunted with Mundorf MCap polypropylene capacitors. The signal from the RCA inputs goes to the mechanical input selector on the front, and then to the black Alps potentiometer. From inside the enclosure is covered with copper PCBs. The pins in the ceramic tube sockets are gold plated. The amplifier has an automatic bias circuit, so there is no need to adjust anything while changing tubes. It has no global feedback loop. And something aesthetic – in the Trafomatic Experience Two, the 300B sockets are mounted in such a way, that the two thicker pins are facing forward. This makes the writing on the base of the Electro-Harmonix tubes visible from the front. But the Sophia Electric Princess 300B/n had their markings on the right hand side, and the 300B/c on the left…

Technical data (according to manufacturer):
Output power: 2 x 8W
Class: Single-Ended (class A)
Used tubes: 2 x 300B Electro-Harmonix, 2x 6SN7GT Sovtek , 1x 5U4G
Inputs: CD, Tuner, Aux
Outputs: 4 & 8Ω
Input sensitivity: 0.5Vrms
THD: 0.55% / 1W; 5% / 8W
Frequency response: 10Hz-45kHz (-3dB)
S/N: 75dB
Input impedance: 100kΩ
Power consumption: 190W
Dimensions: 430 x 290 x 165mm
Weight: 18kg

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  • Phono preamp: RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC (tested HERE)
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  • Power amp: Luxman M-800A (tested HERE)
  • Integrated amp: Leben CS300 (reviewed HERE)
  • Loudspeakers: Harpia Acoustics Dobermann (tested HERE)
  • headphones: AKG K701, Ultrasone PROLine 2500, Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro, 600 Ω version (reviewed HERE, HERE, and HERE)
  • interconnects: CD-preamp: Wireworld Gold Eclipse 52 (tested HERE; soon to be changed to Acrolink Mexcel 7N-DA6300, article HERE), preamp-power amp: Velum NF-G SE (tested HERE)
  • speaker cable: Velum LS-G (tested HERE)
  • power cables: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9100 (CD; reviewed HERE) and 2 x Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC7100 (preamp, power amp (reviewed HERE)
  • power conditioning: Gigawatt PF-2 Filtering Power Strip (reviewed HERE)
  • audio stand Base
  • resonance control: Finite Elemente Ceraball under the CD (article HERE ) Turntables change continuously, as do cartridges. My dream setup: SME 30 with Series V tone-arm and Air Tight PC-1 cartridge (also in the PC-1 Mono version).