Takatsuki is a city in Japan, where the company Air Tight is located. But not only that one – there is also a big company Takatsuki Electric Industry, known from, for example, modern LED lighting. Until recently. Because last year the information was released, that this company decided to manufacture in Japan (and this did not happen for a long time now) 300B electron tubes. Was Mr. Miura from Air Tight behind this inspiration, or somebody else – I do not know for sure. But because it is known, that those two companies are located close together, and Air Tight is responsible for the distribution of those tubes outside of Japan, it is highly possible.
1. Create Audio Golden Jazz Series vs Luxury Series
Anyway, it was quite a rumor about those new tubes. In Munich, during the show High End 2011 I saw them on the Air Tight stand and exchanged a few words about them with Mr. Miura. And this only sharpened my appetite.
The tubes arrived a month later. I had a pair available, but because I needed two pairs – the test was to be made in the amplifiers Ancient Audio Silver Grand Mono with 18W output power, which uses two parallel tubes in each channel. The amplifier is owned by Janusz, who made his system using Ancient Audio gear, Acrolink and Tara Labs cables and the Base Rack. He uses the Create Audio Golden Jazz Series 300B tubes on daily basis, I wrote about those HERE. Those are splendid, inexpensive tubes, which fared better than most of their predecessors. For some time Janusz also used their successors, the Create Audio Luxury Series 300B, but after initial euphoria he changed his mind about them. Although some of their assets, like the incredible smoothness and brilliant midrange required admiration, Janusz decided to return to the Golden Jazz.
This is the environment in which we tested the Takatsuki tubes. Because we could not make the direct AB comparison, we made the classic test of listening to a few pieces using one kind of tubes first (Golden Jazz Series), then the second ones (Luxury Series) and finally the Takatsuki TA-300B. The first impressions were noted after changing one Create Audio tubes for another, and then after changing to the Japanese ones. Our observations are quoted below.
For me it played better the second time. There was more of the treble (or it is the influence of the drunk champagne Proseco…). There was a visible increase, for me, in the amount of air around the performers. Możdżer sounded first in a compressed way, and now, with the Luxury series it sounded in a full, nice way.
I can say easily, that each time, first with the Golden Jazz Series, and then with the Luxury Series, you can hear all the characteristics of mesh and carbon tubes I know. I chose the carbon tubes, always and ever, because they have a warm, natural midrange. And this is most important for me in the sound. The mesh ones, what could be heard here, have a more equaled frequency response. There is also more of the micro-plankton in the sound, this is not an “empty” sound. And with the carbon, in this case the Luxury Series, I had a much better localization of the instruments, much better. I chose the second tubes./p>
Through the first two pieces, I mean the Brandenburg Concertos and with English Folksongs Sholl, I thought that the second tubes, the Luxury Series sound better. Everything was smoother, as if it would be better put together. But starting from the disc Mano Suave Yasmin Levy this has changed – I heard – it’s just that I do not know classical music – that earlier everything was more live, more precise, more dynamic. I was especially struck by this with Możdżer, when the Luxury Series tubes sounded in an lazy, withdrawn way. The Golden Jazz Series were vivid and clearer. This is why I bet on them.
Without a doubt the second tubes (Luxury series) were better in clarity and transparency. Other elements, like the extension of bass, dynamics, etc, were better with the Golden Jazz Series. In direct comparison it can be heard, that although the second tubes sound slightly lower, are fuller, they have in reality no lower bass, at all, and they stand in for that with a strong lower midrange. They do also not have such a great space, and for me without that element there is no high end. The second tubes did not differentiate, did not seduce as did the first ones. This is why I would pick the first ones, the Golden Jazz Series.
Much better, at least this time, sounded the first tubes, the Golden Jazz Series. Although with Bach I had the impression of a thin sound, as if the midrange would not be saturated. This impression returned once more, with the disc Maria Awaria by Maria Peszek. After changing the tubes to the Luxury Series I thought with Maria, and with other discs with vocals, that it was better. Finally I had the kick, power, energy coming from the palpable sound. But after the Maria disc, the further we went, the worse it got with the second tubes. Finally I chose the first tubes, with the second ones I lacked differentiation, refinement.
Luxury Series is for me clarity, power (they seem louder subjectively). Golden Jazz Series is for me – especially with Możdżer – clearly superior in terms of transparency and speed. With those tubes differentiation is phenomenal, and it dies off with the Luxury Series. This time I thought, that those tubes have a slightly cut midrange, and they are more “shouting” as the Golden Jazz Series. I have to admit to Rysiek, who pointed that out the last time, and what I did not hear before. I was wrong.
2. Create Audio Golden Jazz Series vs Luxury Series
As you can see, the Luxury Series tubes were not so well received as the last time. Is this because they got played out, that we got used to their assets – most of the listeners, although not all of them, found the Golden Jazz series play better. Interestingly, both followers of the second tubes listen to classical music. This is why the incredible midrange of the Luxury Series, lack of aggressiveness, etc, were for them more attractive than dynamics and vividness of the Golden Jazz Series.
For me, this time, the Golden Jazz Series tubes were better – more dynamic, vivid. I know, that I heard the same last time, but I judged differently. Although… this midrange of the Luxury Series – this is not there in the first tubes, and I miss that in them.
Takastsuki tubes seems to be closer to the “carbon sound”, a little like the Create Audio Luxury Series, although in terms of timbre. They added to that a better lower midrange and the music got an extra load of energy. Clearly most interesting tubes in terms of timbre, very mature, refined. And we can hear at that, that they have cut treble, again – like the Luxury series. This is of course a flaw. And although with the Create, both versions, it was a bit boring, here you could get emotionally involved in everything. For me there is no question – Takatsuki are very, very similar to the NOS Western Electric 300B, which I use in my amplifier. And I like that…
Decidedly yes. I will not prolong that – this presentation really involves. Superb, really superb!
Putting those tubes on after the Luxury Series was something for me, at least in this system it was the golden middle. This is by far the best sound I heard here. Ever, I mean I never experienced something like that before, and no system did sound like that – at least for me. I mean so good, so fluent, so holistic. I am shaken, how big was the change introduced by those tubes. This is a very mature sound.
I have my mouth tied shut – from emotion, like the Piglet in Winnie the Pooh. There is something worth living for…
I cannot agree with Mariusz, that there was no treble. For me there is exactly the right amount of it. In some pieces there was even too much of it! Because those discs are recorded that way! Because those tubes differentiate perfectly, showing exactly how the recording was done. They are incredibly even from the top and the bottom. In beautiful proportions. I never heard something like this – maturity, refinement, lack of bias. I have to have those tubes…
The descriptive part was short, but not the listening part: instead of talking we listened to discs, also from outside the list used for comparisons. Those are by far the best tubes I heard in my life and only direct comparisons with the Western Electric 300B from old stock (but really old, and not from the last re-edition) could change something about that. But not for sure.
Smoothness, full midrange, incredible energy of those tubes did not only shatter me. The Create Audio tubes are fantastic and unbeatable for their money. Both series differ, what makes it possible to choose. But the Takatsuki is another league. It is also another money, I know, but when you look for something at the top, then there are only the old WE or the mentioned TA-300B.
It was fantastic, that we could compare the Japanese tubes to both series of Create. This allowed me to look at the first ones from a certain distance – during the first session of the Luxury Series we thought, that their brilliant midrange and fluency level the worse treble and bass. Also now I can hear, that the Takatsuki are more extinguished than the Golden Jazz Series. So I do not really agree with Janusz – but this is the right of each of the listeners during our meeting. In my opinion, in such comparison we can hear, what else can be improved, what can be bettered. Because also the lower bass is better in the Chinese tubes, deeper, more dynamic. I think, that those are the things to improve.
Nevertheless I have no doubt about the value of the Takatsuki tubes. This is a real discovery – the Japanese created something like the WE of our times. And until I do not hear anything better, better organized, more mature, those tubes will be the reference for me.
I am quoting the disc titles and then, respectively, the volume level on the Ancient Audio Lektor Grand CD player – each unit corresponds to 1dB – and then the chosen piece from the discs.
- Bach, Brandenburg Concertos, English Baroque Soloists, dyr. John Eliot Gardiner, Soli Deo Gloria, SDG 707, 2 x CD. (69; 13)
- Andreas Sholl, English Folksongs & Lute Songs, Harmonia Mundi, 901603, CD. (74; 6)
- Leszek Możdżer, Komeda, ACT Music + Vision, ACT 9516-2, CD. (70; 6)
- Beethoven, Symphonien Nos. 5&7, Wiener Philharmoniker, dyr. Carlos Kleiber, Deutsche Grammophon/Universal Music Japan, UCCG 9701, SHM-CD. (72; 1)
- Yasmin Levy, Mano Suave, World Village, 450003, CD; (72; 4)
- Laurie Anderson, Homeland, Nonesuch, 524055-2, CD+DVD; (72; 6)
· Maria Peszek, Maria Awaria, Kayax Music, 24358521, CD. (69; 2)
- The Four Brothers, …Together Again!!!, RCA/VIK/BMG Funhous, BVCJ-37347, CD. (69; 2)
- Nine Horses, Snow Borne Sorrow, WHD Entertainment, IECP-10002, CD. (70; 6)
- Eric Burdon, War, Avenue Gold/Navarre Corporation, ASR 10604-2, gold-CD. (72; 2)
- Loudspeakers – Sonus Faber Electa Amator (I); description HERE
- Power amplifiers (monoblocks) – Ancient Audio Silver Grand Mono; review HERE
- CD player/preamplifier – Ancient Audio Lektor Grand SE; review HERE
- Power conditioner – Ancient Audio First Generator
- Rack – Base
- Interconnects – Acrolink Mexcel 7N-D6300; review HERE
- Power cables – Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9300; review HERE
- anti-vibration shelf under the CD and amplifier: Acoustic Revive RAF-48; description HERE
- quartz supports Acoustic Revive RIQ-5010 and loudspeaker cable supports Acoustic Revive RCI-3; description HERE
- supports for loudspeakers Acoustic Revive RST-38; description HERE
Distribution in Poland:
1. Create Audio Golden Jazz Series/Luxury Series
Synergy HiFi Europe
tel.: (+48) 509 278 949
2. Takatsuki Electric Industry
ul. Skrzetuskiego 42
tel.: 22 586 3270 | fax: 22 586 3271
Previous Krakow Sonic Society meetings:
#77: 1. Power amplifier Reimyo KAP-777; 2. Vacuum tubes Create Audio Luxury Series 300B
#75: What sampling frequency? How many bits?
#74: Acoustic Revive RST-38 and RAF-48 – anti-vibration platform
#73: Kazuo Kiuchi (Combak Corporation) in Krakow
#72: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9100 vs. Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9300
#71: Capacitors in loudspeaker cross-over
#70: Blue Note on XRCD24 Audio Wave
#69: Power in the walls
#68: McIntosh – MCD7000+MA250 vs. MCD301+MA275
#67: Tara Labs The Zero
#64: HQCD + Blu-spec CD
#63: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-D6300
#62: System RCM
#61: KT88 tubes
#60: Power cable Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9100
#59: Power amplifiers - Ancient Audio Silver Grand Mono Vs. Reimyo PAT-777
#58: Cables over the top
#55: Racks, part 1
#54: Power, part 2 (Furutech power cables)
#53: K2HD discs
#52: SACD player Accuphase DP-700
#51: Isolators (anti-vibration platforms)
#50: Power, part 1 (power plugs)
#49: Accuphase – digital (r)evolution
#40: Digital vs analog or 25 years of the silver disc
#35: CD players – Accuphase vs. Ancient Audio
#34: Jazz in The Pawnshop. Vol. 1
#33: Power amplifier Ancient Audio Silver Grand pre-premiere
#32: Power amplifiers Nagra MPA vs Ancient Audio Silver Grand (prototype)
#31: SONUS FABER Minima Amator vs Electa Amator vs Guarnieri Homage
#30: Loudspeakers Eryk S. Concept Nuvo in Krakow