This is a companion piece to my earlier review of the Tact 2.2x room-correcting preamp. The Tact 2150 is a unique device in that it is actually a DAC that swings enough voltage to drive speakers directly, dismissing the need of a conventional amplifier. When partnered to the 2.2x, it is used as a DAC and AMP, in which case the signal is kept in the digital domain all the way to the speaker. In this application, the 2.2x adjusts the volume rails on the 2150 so no bits are ‘thrown away.’
The 2150 can also be used on it’s own as an integrated amp w/ DAC. All you need is a digital source – anything from a CD player/transport to a Squeezebox/ Olive music server, or a cable or satellite receiver – and a pair of speakers. It accepts a 16/44 digital signal via coax or AES/EBU (or toslink) and upsamples to 24/192. This use provides a simple, uncluttered system (great WAF) in addition to what you save on cables. This kind of technology was very expensive just a few years ago (think Wadia Power DAC) and Tact should be commended for improving their products while at the same time lowering their prices (the less sophisticated original Millenium was $10K). It can also be ordered with optional analog inputs with A –to– D converters.
I use the 2150 in two systems: my main system, in conjunction with the 2.2x, and in a second system as an integrated with an Olive Musica. Mine are the original S2150 version (with minor Aberdeen mods). The newer models allow for dynamic room correction, at a price, and can dispense with the need for a 2.2x and computer, provided you’re not using subs.
Previously, I’ve owned several top DACs, including Theta, Muse and the Audio Logic 24mxl, and mono amps from Rowland, Pass, and Bel Canto (and Aloia and Gamut stereo amps). The 2150 has sequentially replaced these, providing sound in the same league at a considerable savings. My musical tastes are mostly jazz,classical and world (esp. Indian classical).
OK, so what does it sound like? To me, a breath of fresh air. I also own other so-called ‘digital amps’ (Bel Canto S-300 and a modded PS Audio—the Tact is one of the few that are truly digital, with digital inputs). The 2150 provides a refreshing sense of ease with considerably more body. Not as much body as good tube equipment, but enough to sound natural and effortless. Great clarity and inner detail. Soundstage width and depth are very good, very genuine. Imaging is first-rate. Tonality is excellent. Strings are open and wind instruments provide nice attack and decay. Voices are palpable with life-like presence.
The stage isn’t as expansive as the Gamut was. Strings aren’t as sweet as the Rowlands. Voices aren’t quite as natural as the Pass. Ease isn’t as fluid as with the Audio Logic. But it’s close in all these areas and brings its own strengths to the table, especially regarding liveliness and natural detail and dynamics.
The presentation is more to the detailed side than the warm side, though never sounding etched or lean. Those desiring a lush tube sound should probably look elsewhere. I’m on the downhill side of 50, and I’ve grown increasingly more appreciative of detail in my system, as long as it’s clean (yes, I love ribbon tweeters). I can appreciate tubes and have owned tube products in the past, but the trade-offs often come up short for me.
I’m actually quite surprised the Tact products haven’t been more popular. They’re excellent stock, and mods can bring them into the top tier. Yes, the 2.2x is expensive, but the 2150 is remarkably affordable. It competes with (probably betters) most amps at $2K, as well as DACs in that price range. Alone, it gives me much of the musical finesse I’d achieved with much more expensive products, and when partnered with the 2.2x, provides world-class sound. Count me impressed.Associated gear Click to view my Virtual SystemSimilar products
Audio Logic 24mxl, and mono amps from Rowland, Pass, and Bel Canto (and Aloia and Gamut stereo amps)