Very well written review. Kudos to you.
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Thanks for the review. I've always wondered if the new Distinction series would not only measure up but catch on as well. The TEAC PD-H600 that I have is considered 'Esoteric Lite' and with the intervening years it sounds like some more of that Esoteric sound is filtering down to TEACs more affordable lines.
All the best,
I just picked up the smaller brother piece to this a few days ago (Teac AI-2000) at a local hifi shop and I am shocked on how good it sounds! Best purchase in the last 10 years as the sonic performance comes pretty darn close to my Musical Fidelity KW-500 at a fraction of the cost. Nice to see Gibson Guitars and now bought 2 Japanese companies over the last couple of years Onkyo/Teac and hopefully we will see more pieces that sound this good in the future as well!
This is, in my opinion, the best deal and most over looked amplifier in high end audio. The AI-3000 absolutely stomps on many amplifiers costing 3 times as much, and every amp I've ever heard in it's original $3,000 price range don't even come close.
Incredibly clean and detailed, superb timing, throws a huge stage, has a tube/class A finesse to it. Not to mention, this level of build quality is few and far between these days.
It's also in another league compared to the AI-1000 and AI-2000 below it.
smoothfidelity: I would agree as I have owned both and currently have my AI-2000 in a separate office system. The AI-3000 had more head room power all depends on what size room etc.. But the AI-2000 and AI-3000 sonically sounded very close. The level of build quality is that of Esoteric their sister company, which says a lot of what these units sound like and build quality!
Would you please comment on the sound of the 2000 and if you have compared it to other units you may have had? I ask this because it seems the trend now is for much gear to have a thin detailed and sometimes even thin and warm sound. I guess ears have changed I want the things to have somewhat of a rich neutral to slightly warm sound with some body to it. Like a real instrument has. As an example I tried a Yamaha AS 2000 best thing since sliced bread. Not to my ears. Sounded thin in the mids and top and almost bright. REALLY wanted to like it but preffered the smaller 801 and 700 I tried. Thanks
Gandalf: I have owned and compared the 2000 and 3000 side by side many times over and the differences are large between the two. They do NOT sound the same. The only similarity they have is the clarity to the midrange. The 3000 throws a wider stage, digs WAY deeper in the low end, and has a more balanced overall smoother sound.
As good as the 2000 is for the money, the 3000 walks all over it.
smoothfidelity: I have never had them side by side, I do see the 3000 online for decent prices, and I use the AI-2000 as a backup and with a decent dac it sounds great, but running a CD player into it directly a tad bright for my ears, hence my backup. I did have a chance to use several Hegel H100/H160 and H360 units and compared them to AI-2000 and AI-3000 before I sold it. And your statement "Walks all over it" applies when comparing these units, the Hegel sounded superior in every way. But that’s my ears. There are several units on Ebay selling for the $1200 range, not bad for a decent performer. Another great performer that doesn’t get much press is Belles! I see your a Sony HAP user as well, that's my main unit that is currently feeding my AI-2000 I am getting a H160 shortly and will most likely keep that unit.