Cayin vs. Antique Sound Labs

I am lucky enough to have a Cayin ta-30 and ASL AQ1003DT. I have challenged them both by running them through Thiel 3.5s (inefficient). The ASL ran the Theils with depth and great imaging. The speakers were loud enough to fill a 18' x 28' room (but not to concert levels). Voice and instrumentals were stunning. On the other hand, the Cayin lost it's depth and I had a hard time seperating Norah Jones from her band. The Cayin also began to become one dimensional after 10:00 on the vol. knob. I ran the same JJ E34Ls through both to try and be fair. Has anyone else had an issue with the Cayin not opening up the soundstage with inefficient speakers?

I know these amps were not designed for these speakers but it says a lot for the ASL to clearly outperform one of the most positively reviewed tube amps the last few months. One thing the Cayin does have is build quality and looks (even with the tube cage on). It was an easy sell to the wife! The ASL looks nice but not thrilling. I was really hoping to use the Cayin in my main system. Does anyone have a suggestion for efficient speakers for the Cayin that will really show what this amp can do? FYI - Paul from Bizzy Bee is outstanding to work with and answered all of my Cayin questions (even though I didn't buy the amp from him)!
My advice: Dump the Cayin. If you really like your speakers, you should keep the amp that makes them perform their best. I think that if you try to hunt for the right speakers to match to your amp, you're going to start creating a lot of headaches; you already have what you want. Why go changing? Sell the Cayin and, perhaps, invest in a higher performing source. Or, probably better yet, save the extra $ and treat your spouse to a nice weekend getaway, which may diminish any WAF issues.
I'd agree. Once you start chasing the dragon, you'll never stop. And if you do treat your wife, she'll most likely look more favorably on future purchases!
Thanks guys for the follow up. I am negotiating my best with the wife to keep both. I do plan on using one of them in my second system. If you do have suggestions for speakers that work well with the Cayin please let me know.

I have the TA-30. For the past few months I used highly efficient Klipsch RB-5IIs with it and loved the sound. It was actually Paul at Bizzy Bee who recommended the Klipsch Reference line as a good match for the Cayin. About 3 weeks ago my Green Mountain Audio Callistos arrived, and I'm now done looking for speakers. These mate beautifully with the Cayin and at 90db they're not terribly hard to drive. They are 4 ohm speakers, but the Cayin has 4 ohm terminals so there's no problem. Good luck, Rich

I'm glad to hear you love your Callistos with the Bizzy Bee TA-30. I have the Bizzy Bee TA-30 and the GMA Europas -- a great combination. I'm just a little envious of you with your Callistos.

What's your source, interconnects, and speaker wire?
I'm running a pair of Axiom M3ti's from on my fully modded Cayin Ta-30 from buzzy Bee and this thing is so alive and wouderful sounding I can't believe it. Check out the Axiom web site and see what you think..
Good Luck,
I'm curious if your Cayin has the mods that Paul has worked out. He has made the unit so user friendly with his bias taps and focus control. I would wonder if the bias is correct on your unit.

I will chime in and say that my modded Cayin has great sound with a moderately efficient speaker I've been using. I do notice it starts to 'run out of gas' after about 11:30 on the volume using cd. This seems dependent on the source tho, running vinyl I have less gain in the phono stage and it can be run up much further. I rarely run the unit past the 10:00 position so it's all good.

We had a big party here a few nights ago and many compliments were paid to the sound this little guy pumps out. Full, rich, and alive were the general consensus. All this without going past about 9:00 in our 14'x25' room
Another here with the TA-30 and Europas. Great combination. My TA-30 came from Paul, but is not modded.

The unit I have only has the external bias mod and I am running off a CD (NAD542).

I love the clarity and approachable sound of a tube amp! I have had many responses on how good my system sounds and I also don't go pass the 10:00 position very often. I have noticed that by taking the Thiel equaliser that came with the speakers off the signal path I loose bass but gain spacial quality. The Cayin makes the Thiels sound so sweet at low to moderate levels I just wish I could push it farther. Again, I know this amp and speaker combination is not ideal but it gives me 90% of what I need.

Is the focus control something worth getting. What does it add?
I have a fully modded Cayin TA-30 and the focus control gives you great control of your unit. I recommend it.
Have you considered modifying your ASL 1003DT with better caps, resistors, wire etc. The parts in there are pretty crappy and the soldering job is probably horrible and needs to be cleaned up. I did it to mine and the results were stunning. This amp all tricked up holds its own against some of the mega buck amps that are similar to it.

Also dump the JJ and go with the EH or EI fat bottles not the the slim ones. You will be presently surprised.

When I had a Cayin TA-30 I noticed exactly the same thing. It was a wonderful amp at low levels, but right around 10 o'clock things would start to go south. This wasn't too much of a problem for me since my speakers were only relatively inefficient (Onix Ref 1's @ ~88dB/W). Anything less than that though and it would have been a big issue.

I think the real question is "Why are you wasting time and money engaging in trying to match the wrong amplifier with the wrong speaker?"

Thiels are notoriously well known for being very inefficient speakers. Thiels need high current to get them to perform. Tube amps do not provide lots of current relative to solid state. I had to dig deep on the internet to find the specs on the CS3.5 and here is what I found:

S/N = 89 dB at 1 Watt-meter
Impedence = 4 Ohms
Recommended RMS driving power = 50 - 250 Watts

The recommended RMS driving power says it all; 30-35 Watts is not enough. I could not find information on whether the impedence rolls off excessively low in the bass range but if it does, that's another strike against using tube amps.

I have found that S/N data is not a very good measure of rating a speaker's efficiency. What is relevant is the recommended power to drive them (and knowing if the impedence rolls-off too low to be safe on tube amps).

I own a fully modded Cayin TA-30 with the factory Valve Art EL34s and 12AU7s (unknown Chinese brand). The Electro Harmonix 12AX7s were replaced with NOS Telefunken 12AX7s. The Telefunkens significantly improved the imaging of this amp vs. the EH 12AX7s. The amp is driving a pair of Infinity Reference Studio Monitors (RSMs) which have the following specs:

S/N = 88 dB at 1 Watt-meter (some publications claim 86 and 87)
Impedence = 4 Ohms
Recommended RMS driving power = 30 - 250 Watts

I have no problems filling a 14' x 16' room to very loud levels with this amp/speaker combo. The RSMs look more inefficient when using S/N ratings but its the recommended power that shows the RSM is much more efficient. I may be hearing some of the distortion you are describing once the volume hits the 12 O'clock setting but by that point, it's too loud anyways.

I do tip my hat to the ASL AQ1003DT at doing a better job than the Cayin on your Thiels. However, the bottom line is don't waste time and money pairing the wrong amp with the wrong speaker; you're just asking for a fried driver or amp component (and dissappointing sound as seen with the TA-30).

Mr. Kidknow
I strongly feel that the Cayin is a better performer in every way, as I once owned both units. Get rid of the Thiels, they sound WRONG with most tube amps. Get some tube-friendly speakers and your Cayin will sing, making the ASL sound pretty rough by comparison. As good as the ASL is, the Cayin, by virtue of its flexibility and musicality, is the proverbial best buy.