Trend TA-10 Review
I have recently come back to the hobby and for fun have been trying to build a very musical system on a low budget- wanted to see what i could manage.
The Trends (unmodded) fit the bill and I can say that for the price it's outstanding- my experience has been that you need to spend $1k-$1.5k to get the same level of performance.
Is it perfect? No it isn't (is anything?) nor should it be at some $140.
Hopefully, the following comments can help a prospective buyer make a decision.
Treble is smooth and delicate and most importantly never harsh- I am particularly sensitive to this so this was a major plus.
Mids are wonderfully warm though at times i find them a little overemphasized vs the highs- could argue that the sound can be a tad bloated here. Not a major issue but can make the highs sound little recessed versus the overall presentation
Bass is fairly deep and very fast....the pace and rhythm reminded me somewhat of a Naim- maybe not as good in resolution but it has that all important drive.
Soundtage is quite good- laterally it extends beyond the speakers though not far and it has reasonable depth. You can clearly identify where the instruments are located even if they occasionally may seem a little too close together.
Overall, presentation might seem a little thin compared to the very best but remember what this thing costs- the price is ludicrously low for this kind of performance...when i plugged in the Trends I was shocked at what this mini integrated can do.
Mine is unmodded and I can only imagine how the mods (new caps, alps potentimeter, etc) could make the it sing- then we would be not looking at something competing at 6x it's price but potentially 12x's. I simply do not have the time but if i could find someone to mod it for me I would do it in a sec...there is too much performance and value in this thing not to want to make it into a greater giant killer than it already is!
One specific aspect I did notice with the Trends is that the sound is very suscptible to the speaker cables:
1. Started with a simple entry level Monster Cable Power Line 3 Plus (I have always felt this cable offers a very good set of compromises)- here the overemphasized mids were quite prominent. Listening to Patti Smith's Gloria you really hear her voice overpower the rest of the presentation- feels lush but a little too much so ( and I suspect that to some degree this is the quality that makes listeners say that this product, like other tripath based amps, is tube-like).
In fact, with AC/DC's Hells Bells Brian Johnson's voice which is tilted towards the high's sounded a little too recessed.
2. Then tried MIT Terminator 2's (left over from a home theater application) and that was positively horrible- sound became super thin and the high's were strident. When I played Respighi's Pini della Via Appia the sound was so unbearable I swapped out the cables instantly.
3. Lastly, with anticables, everything worked better- the mids are still a little prominent but less so.
Btw, the added "warmth" does wonders for cello music- Bach's Cello Suites played by the masterful Janos Starker sound wonderful though not entirely accurate.
Hope this helps- felt I should occasionally contribute when I have a little free time.
Anyway, give it a whirl- great stuff.
PS I have also ordered the Little Dot integrated- also Tripath based but with a different module- as I am curious to see how a tube preamp section would change the sound (not to mention it has a remote and several inputs). I will post a comparison once I get it and have had time to break it in.
Source: Musical Fidelity X-RAY v3 player + X-10v3 tube box
Speakers: Zu Cable Druids + Linn Tukan's
Interconnects: Mit Terminator