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Integrated power amplifier

Price: 5900 EUR

Polish distributor: Pełne Brzmienie

Piotr Bednarski
tel.: 695 503 227



Text: Marek Dyba
Photos: Marcin Olszewski, Marek Dyba

Company TRI (Triode Corporation Co.) is already known to „High Fidelity” readers thanks to some Wojtek's, the editor, reviews, but I'm familiar with its products too, as I also reviewed their 300B amplifier before. This Japanese company was founded in 1996 and has been manufacturing mostly tube power amps ever since. „Mostly” as you can find in their range also CD player (with tubes in signal path), headphone amp and preamplifier.

The newest „baby” of Junichi Yamazaki, chief engineer , is another single ended integrated power amp - this time tubes used are 845s. It is one of the legendary triodes, originally intended as radio transmitting tube. Its build is much more solid than of „magical” 300B and that allows to get much more power out of it – in this particular case 20W comparing to 8W from 300B (it is possible to get even more power from 845 in proper application). This tube is considered to be one of the most linear sounding. I am a great fan of SET amplifiers, favoring 300B but always willing to give a chance to other tube types and usually discovering their advantages which are more or less different from these of 300B. This review is my first chance for closer encounter with one of the most powerful triodes. It gets even more interesting if you consider that this amp is a novelty on the market – when I write this I can't even find it on manufacturer's website. Another interesting thing – this is supposed to be top of the TRI range, best achievement of Junichi Yamazaki, at least for now.

Just like most of tube amps designers also Mr Junichi considers output transformers as a key element for sound quality. Good output transformers are … heavy – so are these used in TRV-845SE, they are mostly responsible for the total weight of the device reaching almost 40 kg. Every „tube fan” will notice from the start that 845s are driven here with another legendary triode – 2A3 plus in the first stage he will find another triodes - 6SN7.


Following recordings were used during the test:

  • Gene Ammons, Boss Tenor, JVC, JVCXR-0033, XRCD.
  • Gene Ammons, Late hour special, Original Jazz Classics, PID 654181, CD.
  • Krzysztof Herdzin Trio, Almost after, Jazz Forum Records 020, CD.
  • Kate Bush, Hounds of love, Capitol; B000002U9E, CD.
  • Kate Bush, Aerial, EMI Music Poland; 3439602, CCD; review HERE.
  • Dead Can Dance, Into the labirynth, 4AD/Warner Music Japan; WPCB-10076, SACD/CD; review HERE.
  • Dead Can Dance, Within the Realm of a Dying Sun, 4AD/Warner Music Japan; WPCB-10073, SACD/CD; review HERE.
  • Harry Gregson-Williams, Kingdom of Heaven OST, Sony; B00080EUN0, CD.

I had a chance to listen to this amplifier with two sets of loudspeakers – my own horn speakers (supported by Fostex horn supertweeters and Velodyne subwoofer), and with fantastic Hoerning Hybrid Aristoteles. Both sets are not very difficult to drive although Danish speakers proved that the more powerful amp was used the better for the sound. Regardless of which speakers set I used at the moment TRI presented similar features so I will not go into details about which impressions comes from which set. /p>

When we listen to some audio device our hearing should be the most important sense to evaluate the sound but in fact our other senses are not switched off during that time. We use also our eyes and these manufacturers who take it into consideration try to make their devices look in such a way that our visual impressions influence what we hear or how we judge the device. Maybe some of you will disagree and claim that the look doesn't matter. But I am ready to make a bet – put two identical amps (I mean same internal design) in two different casings and the person who doesn't know that both must sound identical will point better looking as better sounding – anybody takes on this bet? TRI's designers must have agreed with me because their idea of this reddish color used for transformers casings in most of their products gives them always an advantage above other products – TRI devices look just fantastic! These black tube „cages” are also very nice looking and practical too. So when I looked at such a nicely looking device I automatically expected a nice sound and … I wasn't disappointed. From the very first moment I knew I was listening to a high quality SET amplifier. My listening sessions happened in a difficult time for all Polish people (April 2010) so when I came back to the listening after couple of days I listened also to a different music than usually but no matter what music I used, it was always a high quality sound.

Same thing happened to me as it always did when I listened to a nice SET amp, I mean describing its sound was always difficult. Why? It usually looked like that – I started to listen to the first recording planning to analyze, assess and so on and … after a little while I forgot about all that and got lost in the music. Musicality, incredibly involving, palpable presentation, great imaging – all that makes me always want to summarize the whole review with one sentence: this amplifier plays music unlike many other amps that play sound. But of course I'm not saying that all SETs offer identical sound – there are differences and I will try to give you some information about pros and cons of this particular one.

Already mentioned musicality that I understand as ability to present music in very liquid, effortless, natural way is a huge advantage of TRV-845SE. Another pros are: great soundstaging – width is exceptional, depth and layering are very good (but I know couple of amps that do it even better like KR Audio Kronzilla, or Ayon Crossfire), precise phantom images placing – all these features imply realistic, natural sounding music. Another great advantage of TRI is timbre – in most cases very close to the natural of particular instrument or voice – great example – tenor sax of Gene Ammons that really enchanted me when listening to his Boss tenor on XRCD. Saxophone's timbre was bit warm, accurate but also very rich, colorful. A great performance of both instrument and musician, maybe slightly more beautiful than in reality (I'm not quite sure if it really was) but if it really had been bit too beautiful I loved it anyway – this time this slight deviation from neutrality was a good thing as it made listening even a greater experience. Same recording uncovered one more features characteristic for many SETs, and by many considered their flow – it is this slight softening of bass which here was presented by a double-bass. It had its power, energy, timbre but attack was slightly softened. On the other hand I couldn't really find another „standard flow” of SETs – softening in the upper end. Krzysztof Herdzin Trio's recording thanks to common efforts of TRV-845SE and Hoerning Hybrid Aristoteles proved the contrary. Never before have I noticed how wonderfully were the cymbals recorded. To be honest when listening in this setup I focused totally on natural, lively, colorful sounding cymbals only – and there really was no sign of any softening.

Sooner or later I had to start listening to some vocals – I couldn't miss that when listening to SET. From the deepest place in my memory and most dusted shelf I recovered Kate Bush Hounds of love. It is possible that young readers don't even know this vocalist, even though she presented a new record only few years back, but many of you surely remember her extraordinary voice and special vibes of most of her songs.

It is true that these are not audiophiles recordings or to be more specific there is quite a difference between how the voice (very well) and the instruments (quite poorly) were recorded. That allows listener to focus on Kate Bush, her sensual, bit melancholic voice that seems to be very delicate just to hit us with all the power in the very next moment. TRI did a job of showing all these nuances tremendously and made me look for another Kate's recordings in my collection. When found they landed in my player and I was ready to go for another journey with Ms Bush and never to come back...

Same happened to me when I played first recording of Dead Can Dance - Into the labyrinth. The atmosphere of their recordings is always unique, and again Japanese amplifier did a great job offering extremely involving presentation which allowed me to follow effortlessly remarkable musical imagination of Liza Gerrard and Brendan Parry. In their music you can find a lot of motives coming from around the world. Sometimes from Australia, Africa but also some Celtic ones – they all appear out of the sudden and both: listener and the system have to be able to follow up. I was doing OK and the amplifier was doing even better – effortlessly presented every motive, every strange instrument. And even though sometimes I couldn't tell what was the real sound of particular strange instrument but what I heard was amazingly colorful and simply enjoyable – just craved for more and more of DCD. Quite a big part of Dead Can Dance music is made by electronic instruments and these were presented as well as acoustic ones. But the key factor deciding about uniqueness of DCD's music are vocals, especially the hypnotic one of Lisa Gerrard. It was presented in very natural, colorful way and that lead me to another „marathon” with recordings of this extraordinary duet.

Just shortly about my impression from listening to OST from Ridley Scott's Kingdom of heaven. The story is set during the Crusades of the 12th century and thus the music includes lots of middle-east motives. I've chosen this particular recording for the test because it includes also some „big”, dynamic music which allows to test dynamics of the amplifier, and it was quite impressive. Choirs – no problem – high resolution allows to appreciate them as a set of many different voices. Changes of dynamics – from piano to forte – again, no problem. Whatever TRV-845SE had to present it did it in an effortless way, very natural and almost neutral – almost as it usually added a bit of beauty to each recording making it maybe not perfectly neutral but surely much more enjoyable. But it never “crossed the line” so the sound didn't get to sweet.

Whatever recording I used, whichever speakers I hooked up the soundstage was always presented in the same way – very wide and with reasonable depth, it always started from the line drawn by loudspeakers – nothing was presented in the front of that line. Layering was quite precise, and also phantom images were easy to locate in the space. It seems that this amplifier slightly prefers midrange – not like many cheap tube amps that push midrange forward which effects in losing from the sight bass and treble. Here we get gently warmed- up midrange which can cause our attention to focus on this range but treble is also outstanding – one of the best I've ever heard from tube device. Lots of details and no softening of the attack – if a short, tough bit of the cymbal is recorded TRV-845SE will present it exactly like that. There is also a lot going on in the bass range – that was obvious especially with Aristoteles speakers (there were four 8' Beymas in each of them), great timbre, sound differentiation, nice extension but it was not fastest or best defined bass I'd ever heard. But don't get me wrong – bass wasn't like in already mentioned cheap tube amps – syrupy or tubby – I simply knew from my experience that there was more that could be achieved in this range – at least some other designers did it. So I assume that fans of super-fast, extremely well defined bass would not have loved TRI's performance in this area. Speed is a lot dependant on the loudspeakers you would use – but even Hoerning Hybrid Aristoteles which were really fast contenders weren't slowed down by Japanese amp.

This review is a clear example of how a poor mood of the reviewer can influence what he writes or how he writes. I can't see in my text all the enthusiasm I felt when listening to TRV-845SE. So as usually I should suggest all SET fans who look for an amplifier offering reasonable output power which allows to drive more different speakers to give these Japanese 20W device a try. I should recommend the same to all these who hasn't been trapped by SET's magic so far. I can guarantee that TRI will enchant you with its musicality, that allows to truly enjoy not only these „audiophile's” recordings but also those not so well recorded but still worth listening. It can make you look for more and more recordings that you haven't listened to for a long time and now you shall re-discover them again and when you do you will look for more „treasures” in your own collection. And that's what all the audiophilism is about – enjoying the music. TRV-845SE might become an unlimited supply of joy and fantastic musical experiences.


As already mentioned this a pure triode power amplifier in SET configuration. There are 6SN7 in the input stage, power tubes are 845, and these are driven by 2A3. All tubes are branded with „TRI”, so we can only guess who made them – my guess - they are all made in China, but this is only a long shot. Outer design is similar to the other TRI devices – front made of aluminum, top is kind of a mirror surface with tubes placed in it (looking great by the way), black cage over tubes, side panels and transformer's casing in fabulous reddish color. There is main switch in the front panel plus two knobs – input selector and volume control (ALPS) – amplifier is also equipped with remote control (quite handy and not so often seen in tube devices). Remote allows to select inputs, control volume and using „mute” option. One more interesting element – VU meter for power tubes with the switch on the top panel. Switch right and you get the result for the right power tube, switch left and get result for left one. During regular operation this switch should be in the neutral position. It allows you to adjust bias if necessary – required result for each tube should be around 60 mA. To make adjustments you need to use little setting dials placed next to 845 tubes. There is also another setting dial next to the bias one, which is called „hum balance” - can be used if needed to reduce hum. There are four RCA inputs on the back panel but one of the is in fact „pre-in” - so you might use external preamplifier if you wish. There is also XLR input and the selector next to it – you can choose if it works as input or as a „pre-in”. There are separate binding posts for 4, 8 or 16 Ω loudspeakers, and of course EIC socket. There are also some huge Nippon Chemi Con capacitors hidden behind transformer's casings. Assembly is done partially on PCBs and partially in point-to-point technique. Lot of high quality elements are used in this device including great Mundorf capacitor.

Technical data (according to the manufacturer):
Output power: 20 W (at 8 Ω)
Output impedance: 4/8/16 Ω
Frequency response: 10 Hz-50 kHz ( 0,- 1 dB)
Distortions: < 0,1 % (1 kHz)
S/N level: 89 dB
Input sensitivity: 0,9 V
Tubes: 845 x 2 , 2A3 x 2 , 6SN7 x 2
Dimensions: 460x260x 450 mm
Weight: 38 kg

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