Review: Dayton Audio MK402X speakers, Douk Audio T2 6N3 tube preamp, Viborg PC follow-up
Budget Esoterica Review Magazine
May 2021 Follow-up Bonus Issue
Dayton Audio MK402X speakers, Douk Audio T2 6N3 tube preamp with power supply, Viborg 10AWG power cord follow up
In my last review system i used the Viborg 10AWG power cord, but i didn't realize just how good it was until i hooked it up to my Parasound Zamp. The dynamics and feeling of effortless power really picked it up a notch to a point i didn't think was attainable. Today's review system consists of the excellent and cheap Dayton Audio MK402X speakers, the Douk Audio T2 preamp , Parasound Zamp, and the Geoyeao dvd player connected with Virtue Audio Nirvana and Wireworld Luna 6 interconnects. The T2 preamp power supply was connected to my Supra power strip with an entry level Audioquest power cord. This little system kicked some major league Butt!
Most people are familiar with the new Dayton Audio speakers, but i don't think they realize just how good they are. I am sure if they were in a real wood cabinet they would be much more expensive than the $70 price tag they are now being sold for. The components in this speaker system seem to be of very high quality. I especially like the appearance of the woofer and crossover as well as the seemingly aerodynamic cabinet shape. If you are looking for a speaker that fits well in small places yet has good bass response the MK402X is an excellent choice. I used Virtue Audio Nirvana speaker cables and 20 inch Target stands with the Dayton speakers.
I have had pretty good luck with inexpensive tube preamps , but i wanted to try the Douk T2 because it has an outboard power supply. This preamp uses two 6N3 tubes and one 6Z4 tube. It includes a separate 12 volt 2 amp hi-end switching power supply that connects to the preamp via a high quality one foot cable. The Douk Audio T2 preamp is available from Ebay doukstore for $110 with free shipping. A good deal for the price, i think. A good quality preamp will give you the impression that the preamp is driving the amp rather than just acting as a volume control, and that is the impression i got with the Parasound / Douk Audio combination.
The first thing i wanted to find out with this sytem is if the tubes were doing their job. A good example of this can be found while listening to the song ,"Guardians Of The Breath", by Howard Jones from the Cross That Line album. If you listen to certain percussion instruments you can hear a slightly more glassy, colorful sound than is possible with a solid state amp. Whether or not this is to your taste is another matter , but some people like it. A few of my solid state amps came real close to the same sound, so it will be a personal decision for you whether or not you want the slightly better tube sound.
What i like most about the Dayton speakers is their impressive bass performance considering the size of the box. Switching to track number 8 , "Fresh Air Waltz", from the same album , at moderate volumes i noticed a little bit of a snappy whack to the drums. On the following track the drums were even deeper and more tuneful.
I also wanted to check and see if i heard any difference between a tube preamp system and solid state system while listening to vibes, so i listened to my favorite vibe artist, Lionel Hampton , "Just One Of Those Things", the opening title track featuring Oscar Peterson. I had a hard time discerning any meaningful differences between the Parasound / Tube preamp combination and the Toshiba stereo receiver / NHT speaker combination when it comes to vibe performance. I felt the tone of the piano and vibes on the Douk Audio tube preamp system was very good and the sound was pretty smooth also. The sound was rather lively and had good detail retrieval.
I did notice a slightly better horn sound also with the tube preamp system. On track number 1 of the Charles Lloyd and the Marvels , I Long To See You album, the saxophone just seemed a little bit brassier and more realistic than it did with the Toshiba receiver. Listening to track number 7 , "Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream", there might have been a slight perceptible advantage of openness, tonal color and harmonic range. Overall, i would say that the advantages of having a tube preamp in this system was worth it. There was certainly a harmonious pairing between the Parasound Zamp and the Douk T2 preamp.
It should come as no surprise that Dayton Audio has designed another good pair of speakers and the MK402X should be recognized as their best effort to date, especially when it comes to cutting edge bass performance in a small box. If you are looking for a good starter preamp and only have one source the Douk Audio T2 preamp should fill your needs. The gain control reminds me a little of the well reviewed Onkyo A-9010 integrated amplifier. Coincidentally both of these units have overly large volume controls that are a joy to use. Recommended times two!