Tron Atlantic dac disrupts both Audiophile and The Audiophile’s Wife.


We had the opportunity to listen to the Tron Atlantic dac in our home last week. I currently own a Mojo Audio Evo dac upgraded to what was esentially the Pro level. In 2021 it retailed for $12,000. We love the Mojo dac as it simply sounds so beautiful and un-digital if you will.

The Tron Atlantic is really not very well known and rarely gets any mention on the audio forums. This is the main reason I wanted to post on the Tron. If you are looking for a DAC that delivers “end game” sonics, then this dac should be on your list. They sell for $11-$17,000 depending on the version. We listened to the top GT model.

We have heard some fantastic dacs in our home selling for $5500-$14,000 and the Tron just moved us more. Let me say this fellow Agoners and I say this after some considerable thought. This single piece of audio gear elevated the realism and emotional beauty of music to a higher level than any other “rectangular box” we have placed in our system. It connected us to our music in a new and special way.

The inner detail and nuance of this dac is quite extraordinary. I really don’t want to use audiophile terms to communicate what the “sound” is like. They just don’t get at the truth of the experience well or completely enough. My wife was moved to tears listening to Heldinnenleben play Por Una Cabeza on their Die Kolophonistinnen recording. I have not seen music influence her like this before. A first. No matter what we played, the music moved and engaged us more deeply.

This dac is priced beyond what many of us can or will spend. This includes myself at this particular point in time. However, for those of you with the budget and in the market for a truly special dac, you are now aware of this wonderful music maker. I was also auditioning another dac priced within my budget that my dealer suggested vs. the Mojo. In the end, I felt that dac was simply a lateral move vs. my Mojo Dac. I was not expecting the Tron Atlantic to disrupt our home music experience so overwhelmingly. I really thought no dac could do that vs. my throughly enjoyable Mojo. Oh well, I was wrong.

I cannot tell you how this dac stacks up against the more known audiophile brands selling for $20,000-$30,000. Brands like MSB, Lampizator etc…I just don’t have that level of first hand experience. I do know the builder set out to make this dac for himself only. Why? Because he had yet to hear any dac that moved him like SOTA analog.

Here is a link to the Tron website: https://tron-electric.co.uk/

Here is a link to the Tron dealer I know (Colin): https://gestalt.audio/

 

 

 

128x128grannyring

Hey Bill thanks for the writeup I've been curious about Tron from afar for many years and have never had a chance to hear their gear. A few comments on the Dac first interesting that, as far as I can tell it's SS as I know Graham Tricker is a tube guy. Secondly the three levels thing is interesting like Sw1x it seems some good manufacturers are going the AN route so to speak. Looks nice a nice piece of gear and good understated industrial design as well.

@jond

 

That’s a great point. Yes, you are correct as it is a solid state dac with no tubes. Tron does indeed make some very fine tube amplifiers and preamplifiers. I heard their 300B integrated amp and was smitten. It was driving Horning speakers. Beautiful.

Cool I'd certainly love to hear some of their tube gear sometime perhaps they will come to CAF one year. Or maybe you guys can encourage Colin @ Gestalt to take a room there one year he's got some excellent lesser heard brands.

Hi Bill ,

Thanks for posting your listening impressions. I wasn’t aware that they offered a DAC. I was introduced to Tron Audio amplification about 10 years ago via High Water Sound rooms at audio shows. Proprietor Jeffrey "always" has superb sounding system set ups and often used Tron amplifiers .

I’ve heard their 211 and 300b SETs and both are divine sounding. If the Tron DAC is cut from similar cloth (And I’m sure this is the case) then you and your wife’s emotional response and engagement comes as no surprise. Some audio components have that very special ability to simply sound natural and provide a powerful sense of realism and emotion.

Charles

@grannyring - Bill thanks for sharing. Without derailing the thread , as a Mojo owner can I ask what the other DAC you also auditioned that you felt was a sideways move? If you prefer me to pm you just let me know

@grannyring Is this a DAC you'd ever be able to upgrade -- or are the internal parts on this DAC where they need to be?

I don't think that Bill could resist modification in some shape or form. It's in is DNA.😊

Charles 

Charles you are spot on regarding some designers and builders just have that special artist’s touch with gear! Tron is one such brand for certain.  No, I would not change one thing about the Tron dac as one more cook would likely spoil the broth! 🙂.  

@facten 

I will message you. I must share that our Mojo dac is just marvelous.  I have put many a dac in my system and the Mojo has always proved to be superb. It is in rarified air in terms of natural tone and musicality. 

LOL! I guess sometimes a piece of audio gear so impacts one’s enjoyment of music at home that the price actually seems understandable. I understand not all of us are driven to find such a piece and I get it.  

granny,

It is always great to hear positive reports on hifi equipment. Especially when they come from people who’s opinion you respect.  I can’t stand when people shill for a product.  “But wait, there’s more!”

JD

For more context around my experience with the Tron Atlantic I think knowing my system helps. System synergy is always an important factor. I have the Network Acoustics Muon ethernet filter and cables and well as the English Electric switch feeding my Innuos Zenith 3 Server. The switch and my modem are powered by an LPS. I use the Tchernov Ultimate USB cable. My amplifier is the Circle Labs A200 integrated amp. Finally, my speakers are the Fyne F704 with upgraded crossover parts and internal wiring. Top flight parts and wire.

The Tron’s remarkable extraction of inner detail and dynamic speed are a big plus for my system. My system is in a large 26x34 room with 10 foot ceilings and the speakers 13 feet apart. I do have some diffusion panels on the front and side walls. Before the Tron my system threw a very large stage with what I would describe as natural ease and flow. The sound was always beautiful and full of texture and weight. No problem playing loudly with no fatigue.

With the Tron inserted the experience changed from hearing a beautiful sounding system playing recorded music to more of a live event in my room. Piano key stokes had an energetic vibrancy and tone that I hear when listening to the real thing. This sort of experience was true for all instruments and voice now. This was a real shift upward in realism in my particular system. Some may find this difference small,  while others would just crave it intensely. The audiophile community is diverse and not all crave this sort of experience equally. It seems my wife and I do appreciate it.

 

I wonder if it makes more sense to just go with a tube amp, and not need to spend so much money on a DAC?  Problem for me is the heat it generates.

Not sure what tubes have to do with this particular thread?  My amp does have tubes for what it is worth. Tron builds nothing but top flight tube gear, however here they determined the best dac they could make was this SS unit. Love to hear more from the builder on this decision and story behind the design.

I wonder if it makes more sense to just go with a tube amp, and not need to spend so much money on a DAC?

I don't see what a tube amplifier would have to do with this scenario.  Bill is describing attributes that are specifically due to the quality level of this DAC. Even a high quality tube amplifier will be limited by the DAC 's performance upstream in the signal path. 

Bill's detailed listening impressions tell me it is the very high sound quality of the Tron Atlantic itself that's so musically unique and impactful.  The best tube amplifiers can't do this with a mediocre DAC thrown in front of it.

This is why those who focus heavily on the particular chips used or believe that "bits are simply bits" are quite far off base. So much more involved in making a truly good sounding DAC.

Bill do you know what are the power supply and analogue output stage upgrades that distinguish between the 3 different levels of the Tron Atlantic?

Charles 

Charles, the only information I have is from the website. It gives some good information, but not quite complete enough for me. Top models use pure silver internal wire, better quality parts and more robust power supplies. The power supply is particularly important and upgraded with the top models.  Here is the info from the website;

 

Atlantic Deluxe DAC
The Tron Atlantic Deluxe DAC is a beautifully hand crafted Digital to Analogue converter. Great attention has been paid to every area of the design including the power supply and the Class A audio output stage. Each DAC is hand made by Graham in the UK for each owner. All parts come from the UK, Europe and the USA. It is available in a luxurious Silver and Black anodised aluminium finish as shown. The chassis is made from CNC machined Aircraft grade alloy chassis, designed so that no screws/bolts/nuts or other fasteners are showing.
Colour Finish: Silver/Black.
Price: Please call/email me for details

Atlantic Reference DAC
The Atlantic Reference DAC is based on the Deluxe model but has an upgraded power supply as well as selected parts chosen by Graham for the best performance and sound quality. Pretty much the whole power supply gets an uplift and as many of you will know power supplies make a huge contribution to the performance of a DAC. The audio output stage is also improved for better fidelity. It is available in a luxurious Silver and Black anodised aluminium finish as shown. The chassis is made from CNC machined Aircraft grade alloy chassis, designed so that no screws/bolts/nuts or other fasteners are showing.
Colour Finish: Silver/Black
Price: Please call/email me for details

Atlantic Signature DAC
The Atlantic Signature DAC uses a completely different circuit board designed specifically for the Signature model. It uses the same DAC R2R processor as the Deluxe and Reference models but that is where the similarity finishes. The Signature board houses a new power supply rarely used in anything Audio today which gives the Signature model its superior performance. Added to this Graham has used a different Class A output stage to which ensures maximum fidelity is delivered to the amplifier. It is available in a luxurious Silver and Black anodised aluminium finish as shown. The chassis is made from CNC machined Aircraft grade alloy chassis, designed so that no screws/bolts/nuts or other fasteners are showing.
Colour Finish: Silver/Black

The “more affordable”  Deluxe is priced more to my budget.  I did not hear it and wonder just how much of the greatness I experienced with the top model comes through? I would have to compare the two in my system to really know. That will likely never happen ☹️  

I am only familiar with Tron's tube linestage and phono stage.  I like what I heard with these components.  That someone making tube gear would make a pure solid state DAC is not that surprising given that the only part of a DAC that can be done with tubes is an analogue gain stage.  If their DAC fits the type of sound and sensibilities of their tube gear, I bet it is a winner.

Hi Bill,

Yes I ventured to the Tron Audio website after reading your listening impression comments yesterday. But the information was vague. Having heard their amplifiers and line stage I have no doubt that the DAC sounds as you attest to. I was hoping to learn more about what parts/design changes that seperate the Deluxe-Reference-Signature models.

Power supply and analog output stage make much more of a difference in sound quality than is often appreciated. So I’m not at all surprised that is where Graham T. wisely focused his attention  for improvement and upgrading. I wonder what I/V conversation approach he chose. It requires an excellent ear to do what he is able to accomplish.

Charles

That someone making tube gear would make a pure solid state DAC is not that surprising given that the only part of a DAC that can be done with tubes is an analogue gain stage

 

There is a small manufacturer actually using tubes in the Digital to analog conversion, 8 dual triodes.

nice info Bill. We have older Tron preamp and phono stage in our listening room. Nice sounding stuff. Have not heard their DAC products though. The DACs we manufacturer offer all point to point wiring, 101D Direct Heated Triode tube design and we also offer a 6SN7 tube design in one DAC model, R2R, copper plates, V-Caps, Audio Note, custom chokes and transformers, etc.

Happy Listening.

@charles1dad Give Graham Tricker of Tron an email, he is certainly a very approachable guy, I am sure he would answer your questions barring maybe some things he might not want to disclose due to design etc. 

 

I think Tron products are certainly worth taking a listen to if you can. 

This statement really caught my eye.......

 

The Signature board houses a new power supply rarely used in anything Audio today

 

I wonder how different it could be from a good power supply.

In countless audio forum threads where  DACs are discussed,the overwhelming emphasis is focused on the "chips" employed. I genuinely believe that the analog output stage and the power supply are more influential in determining the DAC sound quality.  

So it doesn't surprise me that Graham Tricker improvement gradients of his Atlantic DAC involve additional attention to his power supplies. It seems no matter what the audio component may be, to make it sound better,  improve the quality of the power supply. 

Charles 

 I wonder what I/V conversation approach he chose. 

Given its a discrete R2R topology, there may not be any need for I/V. He could be using a voltage-out configuration.