Review: Thor Audio TA-1000 Tube preamp
Review: Thor a Phoenix from the ashes and soaring
My interest in tube audio began 9 years ago. I knew little to nothing about tube gear and began researching. Thor was a brand that caught my eye: fantastic timeless design, rave reviews, a warranty for life, and a price out of my range at the time. Then a few years later, the company went under.
A few months ago, I got an itch to see what might be available to upgrade. I’m a person who hardly changes gear. While perusing the preamp listings on Audiogon there were 2 Thor TA 1000s for sale. I hadn’t thought about Thor for years. Out of curiosity, took a look at them. There again was that fantastic design and the descriptions of the signature Thor sound. The asking prices were great for such well reviewed pieces of equipment. The one draw back; where and how would I get it serviced. I Googled Thor and was directed to Highend Audio. I learned that Ted Lindblad and his partner Jordan Hill had purchased Thor and resurrected the brand. I sent an email to make sure that they were indeed servicing Thors. I received an email back from Ted stating that yes they did service and offered upgrade packages that would elevate existing Thor products into something incredible.
I exchanged emails with one of the Audiogoners who had the TA 1000 for sale that I was interested in. He was a really nice guy and out of the blue offered it to me for the price I couldn't refuse. So I bought it and was blown away. Everything I had read about Thor was true. It bettered my existing preamp in every way except for sound stage. I read the glowing reviews on Audiogon of the signal capacitor upgrade offered by Highend Audio. One customer stated exactly what I was experiencing: the Thor’s presentation seemed to be coming from behind the speakers and this was totally eliminated with the cap upgrade. I exchanged a few emails with Ted regarding this upgrade. Ted put me in touch with one of his oldest customers, a really good guy, who had the upgrade done. He’d owned his Thor for a decade. He recommended which tubes for me to try in my TA 1000 and flat out stated that the signal capacitor upgrade had transformed his preamp into something astonishing. I bit the bullet, sent my Thor in for the cap upgrade, and then left the country for a month.
I received my upgraded Thor a little over a week ago. I honestly couldn’t believe the difference from the moment music started pouring from my speakers, not just pouring but BLOSSOMING. Everything the Thor was, Ted and Jordan had preserved and improved significantly. The amazing difference is how it totally filled up my room with a tremendous sound stage of layer upon layer of razor sharp clarity and tonality. Mind you, I’d just come in from traveling that day over 400 miles on my motorcycle. My ears were ringing and I could hear the difference, that’s how spectacular the transformation was! I listened for hours. The next day my ears were back to normal and now I was able to focus on the minute details and subtleties that I’d never heard before. My system had been transformed and I was still using the same cables, power cords, etc. as before. The cap upgrade being the only difference.
If you’re interested in owning a Thor (like I was) or have been thinking of upgrading yours, you won’t go wrong. I mean Ted and Jordan offer a money back guarantee if you aren’t satisfied and if you are, like I am, then it’s a 5 year warranty. Smoking deal in my book.
Ted’s customer whom I’ve been communicating with put it best. He said that if a person wants world class gear for a great price his recommendation would be to go out pick up a Thor for as little as possible and then send it to Ted and Jordan for them to perform their magic. I couldn’t agree more. For the money it’s impossible to imagine getting anything better.
So far I’ve put about 70 hours on my upgraded Thor TA 1000 and the sound is improving with each passing hour. Ted stated that it would take approximately 400 hours to break-in. It’s gonna be a great 400 hours and then beyond that, I have a line stage for life.