Trends TA-10.1 optnions/input

looking for further input on the trends amp regarding general impressions as well as speaker/cable matching. thanks in advance for any and all replies!
I have just been breaking in a Michael Mardis modded Trends amps and I must say it is very impressive. I have played it for about 50-60 hours and seem to be improving all the time. This amp is very sensitive to different speaker cables. I have tried the cobalt cables and the ps audio statement and I think it likes the ps audio the best. I have it driven by a redwine audio sb 2 into a citypulse dac connected by fiber, then into a TAD 150 Sig preamp. The speakers are a set of soliloquy sm 2a3 minimonitors and a pair of Spendor s5e. I haven't decided which sounds better yet. I also have a vintage pair of spice tc 50 I am going to try and I might even experiment with a old set of magnapan mg1 I have in storage--never can tell what will work best
I use the TA-10.1 (system "budget dynamics", in the budget systems section) and am having great results with Klipsch RF-52 speakers and Signal Cable products. The amp is very even across the frequency range, so you don't need "tone control" cables unless you have to correct something else or are after a particular sound.

As far as general personal impressions go:

At the price it has to be worth a try!

If you have low efficiency speakers that you are very fond of, forget the Trends. Using 90dbs Acoustic Energy speakers worked, but I always felt the amp lacked drive. Swapping in the 96dbs Klipsch units REALLY kicked more life into my music.

The amp seems to take just a weekend's continuous use to get nicely burnt in... so far people seem to agree that 50 hours is sufficient to get good things happening.

The amp doesn't veil music (the level of detail is phenomenal given low cost). An example of this is with the Oppo 970HD as a source: when used with the Trends amp I can hear the lean bass of the Oppo that many owners and reviewers have commented on. Until the Trends amp combination I didn't notice this. The upside is that great recordings sound clear and crisp, and room ambiance is not lost even in complex passages.

The amp annoys the hell out of me!... I know it is geared as a low cost, budget amp and to an extent I am grateful, but why not use better quality binding posts as standard, reroute the input path instead of using copper trace on the PCB etc etc? The Mardis mods address all these factors, but surely Trends could engineer many of these improvements in a more cost efficient way?? I have never modded before, but I think I will give it a go at some point because there must be more performance locked up in there!

I hope my comments help. Overall, I think it is worth a pop if your speakers are efficient.
thanks larryrx7, i just upgraded mine to "mardis status," although i use the trends configured as a power amp. yes, the concensus (and my experience as well) seems to be that it is indeed sensitive to speaker cables, certainly benefitting from higher-quality. i use solid core acrotec (sadly no longer made) to very good effect.

adamj, do take the plunge and do the mods. audiomagus (no affiliation other than highly satisfied customer) offers great support, plus we on audiogon who have done them can help as well. you are correct in there being more performance "locked up in there."
Just wanted to report a rather strange experience with this amp. I at first ran with a pair of soliloquy sm 2a3 minimonitors thinking this would be an ideal match, considering the 11ohm impedence and 91 db sensitivity and the sound was very good but nothing exciting. So I decided to try it with a my spendor s5e's which are a much less sensitive speaker and a less favorable load to drive so I wasn't expecting much. But as usual in this hobby, things don't always happen as expected. In fact the sound I heard was much more detailed and coherent and I didn't hear any compression even at more than adequate volume levels. Can you figure that? I have never heard the unmodded version so I don't know if the upgrade has anything to do with this outcome.
larryrx7, i have no good explanation why an upgraded amp that gives a clean 6 wpc before distortion (at 8 ohms) shoots up can sound so good with your speakers. the upgrade gives larger tank caps but the same value input caps, albeit auricap. listening to the stock amp was serious cognitive dissonance for me. now that i've upgraded i don't question it anymore. i recall from my days in the military if an instructor couldn't answer a question as to how something worked it was written off to "PFM" (pure f*@#ing magic). my trends has some serious PFM.
I think the 6moons review mentioned successful results with 89db 8ohm JM Labs (and lab tests usually show JM Labs products to have inflated efficiency ratings). The tank caps in the Mardis amp *might* make a difference, but the specs on the Tripath website lead me to believe that you can't do much to improve the output power without switching out the chip.

Is it more likely that Spendor rate their speakers conservatively to ensure adequate amp power?... I always had them down as hard to drive too!

With the unmodded amp the difference between 90dbs and 96dbs was so striking that I personally wouldn't advise buying the TA-10.1 if you ONLY have hard load speakers... but as always, experimenting can prove magical!!
Well I have found out a very important aspect of the Trend..I just got off of the power grid and am using a 12 volt storage battery. I picked up the unit at Advance auto for 59 dollars and the difference it makes with this amp is jaw dropping. The tightness and depth of the bass increased at least 30% And the tactile sensation and presence also took a large jump. A layer or two of veiling also disappeared. So I guess the power supply quality is of prime importance with these amps. Has anybody discovered this or other tweaks with this amp?
Right, I am getting a battery!

Larryrx7, can you give a more detailed description of the type of battery you are using?... model number, which DC power cable you are using to feed the amp etc etc.
It is a battery jumper pack that can be bought at any auto parts store under different brands. The one I got has two cigarette lighter type jacks on it. The dc cable came from Radio Shack and cost about 30 dollars or so. It will support from 2 to 12volts and is switchable. Make sure you switch it to 12 volts or the amp will just sit there with the led on and thats it. It took me a while to notice the thumb switch and move it from 2 to 12v, then all was well and great music flowed.The difference is stunning and takes this amp up a couple notches to be sure. I am thinking of getting another one and biamping my spendors. I use a Red Wine Audio modded squeezebox 2 running into a citypulse dac.