pl | en


Allnic Audio

Manufacturer: ALLNIC AUDIO
Price (when reviewed): 46 800 PLN


Provided for the test by: 4HIFI


Images: Allnic Audio | Marek Dyba

No 211

December 1, 2021

ALLNIC AUDIO is a company from South Korea, founded by Mr. KANG SU PARK, which has been developing and manufacturing tube audio components for over 30 years. Their lineup includes amplifiers, preamplifiers, phono cartridges and cables. We are testing a special, new version of the top integrated, the T-2000 30th Anniversary, which uses a hot (literally and figuratively) novelty, the KT170 tubes.

HIS IS NOT THE FIRST AMPLIFIER featuring KT170 tubes in its output stage that we have reviewed. The first one came from our own Polish Warsaw-based Audio Reveal with their Second Signature model (see HERE). This particular tube was introduced to the market relatively recently and since perhaps not everyone has read that aforementioned review, let me recall some basic information about it and the whole KT family.


THE FIRST TUBE OF THE KT tetrodes family to be quite successful on the market was the KT66 launched by the British company Marconi-Osram Valve in 1937. These tubes were used from the very beginning in radios and amplifiers, later also in guitars amps. In other words, from the start they were used by the audio industry, which is worth emphasizing, because many tubes, even some of the so-called "iconic" ones, were actually designed for other (than audio) purposes and only later adapted for audio. In 1956, the GEC presented a larger version of the KT66, probably still the most often used and best known today, namely the KT88. It took much longer, closer to 40 years, before in the 1990s, the KT90 was developed by the Ei, and later also the KT120 was added to the family.

The 21st century saw two more KT premieres, both developed by Tung-Sol. First, in 2013, they introduced the KT150, which became quite popular - many top of the line tube amplifiers feature this type, and finally in 2020, also the KT170 saw the light of the day. It is actually the largest and most powerful representative of the KT beam tetrodes. The new tube offers, above all, new possibilities for the industry, allowing engineers to design even more powerful amplifiers.

ONE OF THE FIRST DESIGNERS who used the KT170 tubes in his amplifier was the aforementioned MICHAŁ POSIEWKA from Audio Reveal. His amps are quite special, as they all feature single ended output stage, which is also the case for the Second Signature.

Others, and such designs benefiting from this latest tube can be found in the lineup of, among others, the French Jadis (I-70) and now Allnic Audio, have chosen a different path. I mean the purpose that these bigger, more robust tubes have been primarily developed for, i.e. allowing manufacturers to design even more powerful amps that could drive even more difficult loads (speakers) with an ease and become more competitive compared to solid-state competitors in this regard. With such goals in mind designers build elaborate circuits around the KT170s to (safely) push them to the limits and get every last watt of output of them. Obviously, it can be achieved with push-pull rather than single ended circuits, using multiple tubes per channel.


AS THIS IS THE FIRST ALLNIC AUDIO REVIEW AT HIGHFIDELITY I feel like I should start with some basic information regarding the company. The Korean brand has been on the market for over three decades, but when telling the story about the roots of his firm, the man behind it, Mr. Kang Su Park, goes back to the beginning of the 20th century. Then, in 1916, one of Western Electric's engineers developed an alloy of iron and nickel, known today as Permalloy. It quickly found application in the audio industry, and it is still used today, among others, in amorphous transformers that are believed to one of the best available on the market. It was this material and its use in all brand’s signal transformers that contributed to the company’s name - Allnic Audio - or All Nickel Core Transformers, which indicated that the cores of all transformers used by of this manufacturer contain nickel.

Among important components of his company's philosophy, Mr. Kang Su Park indicates also the use of coupling transformers instead of capacitors in gain stages. As it reads on his website, the production of transformers with Permalloy is expensive and difficult, but the advantages of using them are worth it. The thing is, as we read, that such transformers can transfer more than 90% of the signal, while the efficiency of the capacitors is rated at around 5%. The advantage therefore is self-explanatory.

The manufacturer also emphasizes that the use of a preamplifier with transformers in the output stage, especially when combined with solid-state amplifiers, protects the latter, because these transformers block any voltage surges that could damage a connected amp.

The actual history of the Korean brand began with a launch of a stereo amplifier using two 300B triodes per channel. In the following years, other devices were added to the lineup - both stereo and mono amps, all of them still featuring 300B triodes, as well as preamplifiers. It was not until 2008 that the first Allnic Audio phono preamplifier, the H-1500, hit the market, and in 2011, the first amplifier based on a tube other than the 300B, namely one featuring the KT120. In 2014, the Korean manufacturer introduced another phono preamplifier - the H-5000 DHT (DHT stands for Direct Heated Triode), which I hosted in my system for several weeks and which left a huge impression on me a few years back.

In 2020, the company presented two new moving coil cartridges, Rose and Amber, and this year we saw an introduction of, amongst others, the latest H-5500 entry level phono preamplifier. It was the Amber and the H-5500 that were the first two Allnic Audio products that I had an opportunity and true pleasure to review, and you will find both tests on my website: Each of them, as well as both combined together, confirmed all those great impressions from the listening sessions with the H-5000 DHT (even if the latter was superior in terms of performance to the H-5500). It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that I was anxious to get to know more Allnic Audio products. Polish distributor, 4HiFi, was kind enough to offer me two more chances quite quickly. Herewith you can read my assessment of the first of them, the T-2000 30th Anniversary and soon you will find another review on my website with my impressions on the T-1500 mk2 integrated (a 300B SET).


MICHAŁ POSIEWKA, WHILE DEVELOPING his first KT170 amplifier, (a version of previously available Second), did not change his philosophy. He created a single-ended amplifier that by definition does not offer particularly high output. Mr. Kang Su Park, chief of the Allnic Audio followed a similar path, using these tubes to develop a new version of an already existing model - the predecessor was the T-2000 25th Anniversary. The new version uses the KT170 tubes instead of the KT150 used previously (I guess it’s not the only change he had to introduce to optimize the circuit for a different, more powerful valve, but it is the most obvious one).

The T-2000 30th Anniversary is a huge and heavy beast offering high output due to it’s push-pull circuit, and replacing the KT150 with the KT170 increased the maximum output from 100 to 120 watts in pentode mode and from 50 to 60 W in a triode one. As a result we have an amplifier capable of driving most speakers, even so-called „difficult to drive”, with ease. This feature will matter obviously to many potential customers as it increases significantly a pool of speakers they can choose from.

In the T-2000 30th Anniversary’s output stage there are four KT170 tubes (two per channel). The input stage, or as the manufacturer calls it: the first drive stage, features two 6J4 triodes. In turn, four D3a pentodes (but operating in triode mode) were used as drivers (the second drive stage). This is one of the highlighted features of this device: there are only two drive stages, which, however, generate as much as +40 dB of voltage gain. The aforementioned D3a’s are loaded with an impedance of 9 kΩ (most amplifiers featuring the more popular 12AU7 or 12BH7 tubes operate with a load of 47 kΩ) and with 12 mA current. The layout has been designed to minimize sound coloration.

A longer life-span of tubes is ensured by a soft-start circuit, which translates into less than a minute that you have to wait after turning the integrated on before you can start playing music. Interestingly, since the bias is set separately for each of the output tubes (KT170), the manufacturer does not require use of matched pairs. Based on the lack of such requirement it seems that when only one KT170 fails only one needs replacing instead of two, or even all four valves.

The tested amplifier follows the characteristic design of most Allnic Audio components. The most characteristic elements are the transparent individual tube covers, each of which is closed from the top with a perforated round metal element (finished with the same color as the whole chassis). After unpacking the amplifier from a solid, double cardboard box, it is necessary to unscrew a dozen or so screws in order to remove the above-mentioned metal elements from the tube covers to remove pieces of cardboard stuck inside that are protecting tubes during transport. And then to screw the tops back on.

In line with the brand's philosophy, the amplifier is available in two color versions - silver and black. Another element, characteristic for many Allnic Audio models, are metal handles attached to the top panel, which make it easier (not easy though) to carry the heavy load. Mind you, the weight of the tested integrated is considerable (36kg!) so it’s better to have some help you while unpacking and setting it up. The T-2000 30th Anniversary, measures 440 x 480 x 300 mm.

On the one hand, the amplifier doesn’t have as striking appearance as, for example, ones by Kondo (e.g. ONGAKU, test HERE), on the other hand, though, it’s make and finish are flawless and eye-catching. In the center of the thick aluminum front there is a large volume control knob, and the amplifier features a nice, metal remote control. The latter allows user to turn the amplifier on and off, adjust the volume, mute the output and select an active input.

One can choose an active input, and there are five of them - 3 x RCA and 2 x XLR - either directly from the numeric keypad or by using arrows to scroll through them. After a few weeks of using the T-2000 30th Anniversary, I must say that the only thing that bothered me a bit was the fact that each time the device is turned on, input no. 1 is automatically selected instead of the last one used. So if you use most frequently any other one, you have to remember to select it each time you turn the T-2000 30th Anniversary on.


FOR THE VOLUME CONTROL function in the T-2000 30th Anniversary the manufacturer uses a proprietary 61-step constant impedance silver contact attenuator. As Allnic Audio declares, it is a unique solution that guarantees precise volume control and perfect balance between the channels at any volume level (which I can confirm!), and thus it has no negative impact on the sound quality.

THE CONTROLS ON THE FRONT PANEL include also a smaller knob that acts as an input selector and a small button which is used to select an operating mode of the output stage. The latter can be used in triode mode, delivering 60 W into 8 Ω per channel, or in pentode mode, doubling the maximum output power (120 W for 8 Ω).

According to the manual, the modes can be switched "on-the-fly", i.e. while the amplifier is working, which makes the T-2000 30th Anniversary a unique and even more interesting product. Usually, changing the mode requires turning off the device, and thus each time a period of several minutes of warm-up is required before it returns to an optimal operating temperature. At first I was reluctant to actually switch the output mode on the fly and at least stopped playback while using this option, but after a while I gave it up and just played around with the switch whenever I felt like it. After all, it was manufacturer’s suggestion to use it this way and he must have been sure it doesn’t create any risk for the amplifier’s circuits and/or tubes.

The main switch of the device is placed, quite unusually, on a side panel (on the right). On the rear, there are five line inputs, three with RCA, two with XLR sockets, IEC power inlet, and single loudspeaker outputs with a toggle switch (to choose 4 or 8 Ω loading) between them. The whole device stands on four solid feet made of some kind of quite hard rubber (I believe). As I’ve already mentioned, at some point I placed the amplifier on three IC-35 Graphite Audio cones instead (made of a special polymer enriched with graphite) and was quite pleased with the sonic results, so I believe it is worth considering investing in some quality anti-vibration feet/cones for this amplifier which should be considered a relatively inexpensive upgrade for this amplifier.

On the top of the amplifier’s chassis, in addition to the already mentioned tubes in individual covers, there are two analogue VA meters that allow you to check bias for the output tubes. Behind the tubes there are three black painted covers hiding the power supply (the largest in the center) and output transformers. The readings for the aforementioned meters are constantly coming from a special analog bias measuring system. Two small knobs, also located on the upper surface of the amplifier's housing, allow the user to make required adjustments, if necessary (there was no such need for adjustment throughout the entire test period).

The output transformers not only use Permalloy large diameter (96 mm) cores (more precisely with a mixture of nickel and FeSi), but also use a solution described by the manufacturer as "full engagement". Usually, tube amplifiers are equipped with output transformers with separate taps for different impedances (4 and 8 Ω in most cases, sometimes 8 and 16). When using one, the other ones are disconnected, which reduces the efficiency of the transformers. Allnic Audio equips its transformers with four taps, but all of them remain connected all the time, so that the transformer efficiency does not decrease, regardless of which taps (loading) we use at any moment.


⸤ HOW WE LISTENED During this test, the Allnic Audio T-2000 30th drove primarily the GrandiNote MACH4 speakers, but I also combined it with the Kharma Elegance S7 and Ubiq Audio Model One Duelund Edition. The amplifier was placed on the top shelf of the BASE VI rack, and additionally on the Acoustic Revive RST-36 quartz platform. Later I also added one more anti-vibration element, three IC-35 cones from the Polish brand Graphite Audio, which did such a good job that they remained in the system for the rest of the test.

My trusted J. Sikora Standard Max turntable with the KV12 tonearm and the Air Tight PC-3 cartridge worked as an analog source, and the analog setup was complemented by the ESE Labs Nibiru phono preamplifier. On the digital front, the main role was played by the reference LampizatOr Pacific digital-to-analog converter (also benefiting from a set of IC-35 cones), that was "fed" a digital signal from a custom audio server featuring JCAT USB XE and NET XE cards supported by Ferrum Hypsos power supply) either via LAN or and USB (David Laboga) cables.


AS IT IS OFTEN THE CASE WITH ME, I started the adventure with the reviewed amplifier by placing it in a system I’d just finished reviewing, hence featuring some „foreign” component/s. This time these were Kharma Elegance S-7 speakers that I had just finished reviewing. These are medium-size, 2-way floor-standing speakers with a beryllium tweeter and 7-inch mid-woofer in a ventilated cabinet with a rear-firing bass-reflex. They are an 8-ohm but quite low sensitivity design (86 dB) which makes them pretty difficult to drive.

After listening to them in my own system, I decided to check how the 60 or 120 W delivered by the Allnic Audio T-2000 30th Anniversary would do in terms of driving these Dutch loudspeakers. Let me add for those who don’t know this model, that for their size, they offer a very solid, well-extended bass, so they require an amplifier that can keep them in check, so to speak. Any loosening of the control results in a slight, but noticeable, dominance of a insufficiently controlled and defined bass. The T-2000 30th Anniversary on paper seemed powerful enough to handle Kharmas properly even in triode mode.

Listening to the reviewed amp driving Elegance S-7 in this mode I had some mixed feelings. On the one hand, the excellent, delicate, but pure, precise, beautifully vibrant treble offered by the T-2000 perfectly matched the extremely resolving, precise and expressive Kharma’s beryllium dome tweeter. The result was a perfect combination of these features, and thus a top notch presentation, highly impressive, yet not at all showy. On the other hand, however, the control of this powerful, very present lower end was not as good as I would have liked.

The triode mode introduced in this part of the range its own weight, rich timbre, good differentiation, but also softness, which in this setup was not desirable, at least for my ears. To put it another way, the control of the woofer was not good enough, which resulted in an additional, disliked (by me) effect of bass-reflex "rumbling". The effect was not particularly big, and, I guess, it would have probably not even bothered people who are used to such (less-than-perfect bass-reflex) sound, but it was sufficient for a person (me) somewhat oversensitive about it to become an issue.

Only switching to the pentode mode, i.e. doubling the maximum output power of the T-2000 30th Anniversary, offered the desired effect. The good (though still not perfect) control and definition of the bass was back, one I knew from listening sessions with the GrandiNote Shinai solid-state amplifier. The bass was still tuneful, dense, but also tight and fast enough so that the constant awareness of the bass-reflex presence in the sound disappeared. The treble lost a bit of this unique, so attractive triode sweetness, but it gained in terms of energy and definition, which became clear when I listened to, for example, drummers hitting cymbals and other percussion (metal and wood) elements hard.

The whole sounded dynamic, coherent and, as befits a good tube amplifier, rather smooth and still a bit on the warmer side. Now, however, the deviation from „absolute” neutrality was way smaller. There was no question of the Allnic „warming the sound up” or smoothing it out artificially. It seemed to me that it focused on delivering as natural a sound of the instruments as possible. The conclusion, from this part of the listening session, was that this was a good setup, even if not a perfect one. For these speakers I would love to have the midrange and treble performance of the T-2000 30th Anniversary (preferably in a triode mode) combined with a perfect control and definition of bass of some high end solid-state. But that’s me - others could be fully satisfied with Allnic driving Kharmas the way it did.

Before switching to the main intended partner for T-2000 30th Anniversary, i.e. the MACH4 speakers, I listened to it for a short time driving my other speakers, the Ubiq Audio Model One Duelund Edition. In case you don’t know, this is a large, three-way, closed-cabinet design, and despite the size and lack of the bass-reflex, it is certainly easier to drive than the Kharmas. Still, as it turned out, also in this case taking into account all pros and cons I preferred the pentode mode as it offered slightly better control and definition of the lower end. It is true that even in the triode mode the bass was sufficiently tight and fast, the timing was good, but in the pentode it was slightly better differentiated, more precise, also better weighted at the very bottom of the band, and therefore even more interesting.

The treble in this mode was a bit more expressive, with a bit more strongly pronounced attack than in the triode mode, but the perception of this difference was more a matter of taste and personal preference, than actual objective assessment of which option was better and which was worse. On the plus side of the triode mode I would definitely put the midrange performance, which was more tangible, more colorful and relaxed. The latter feature was later confirmed with the GrandiNote speakers - the pentode mode has its advantages, but it’s triode one that makes the sound friendlier, more enjoyable, or fatigue-less, which makes it a better choice for long listening sessions. Obviously, my personal preferences played a role here, but I believe many music lovers might agree.

When it finally came to the "ultimate" listening session, i.e. with the Allnic Audio T-2000 30th Anniversary driving the Italian MACH4 loudspeakers, that I use most often, I again compared the two operating modes, even though these are easy to drive speakers, which meant that already the triode mode had more than enough juice for them. No wonder it turned out that they (I really mean ME) preferred the triode mode. These are fast, dynamic, transparent, but direct (yet able to create a huge, deep soundstage) sounding speakers, so in a way similar in their sonic character to the pentode mode of the tested amp. That meant that when combined, these features of both components were even more pronounced than usual. Still, the sound was clear, energetic, with great PRAT, bass was very well-differentiated and tight, reaching as low as only these speakers allowed, but it did not have such a rich texture and dense timbre, it was not as saturated, as tuneful as with the triode mode.

The treble and midrange in the triode mode were also fuller and more colorful. They had this unique "triode" sweetness combined with sonority and high energy. In the pentode mode, sounds both in the midrange and treble, had slightly harder edges and were more direct. There was less (not by much, but still) decay behind the sounds, a bit less air around the instruments. In the triode mode, the presentation was a bit less precise, there was not such a good insight into every detail of the recording (still very good though), but it delivered a more present, tangible performance, presented in an even more vivid and spatial way.

It is not even about the objective superiority of one presentation (mode) over the other, because both were excellent, but still different enough to make a choice that better satisfied my personal preferences and expectations - the triode mode was more of my cup of tea (which was no surprise as I am SET fan). At least as long as I listened to acoustic and vocal music.

Right, vocals ... I haven't actually mentioned them yet. Regardless of the mode, they sounded beautiful, expressive, emotional, rich, always immersive, attracting my attention. Regardless of the mode... but more so in the triode one :) But when it came to large scale, dense, complex music - say symphonies by Beethoven, Mahler or Mozart - where the macro-dynamics played a more significant role - same as in operas and rock music - an easy upgrade of the performance was always within a push of a button. All I had to do was to switch to the pentode mode to get more powerful, faster, larger, yet more effortless presentation with an even higher „fun factor”.

It was during the longer listening sessions, in which I often changed not only artists but also music genres, that allowed me to fully appreciate what a fantastic solution is the on-the-fly output mode switching. I have never really used this option much with other amplifiers because it always means losing some time to switch an amp off and back on and to wait until it properly warms up. The Allnic Audio T-2000 30th Anniversary is a unique design in this particular respect which is definitely a cherry on the top of its immersive, top-class performance.


IT IS TRUE that Allnic Audio T-2000 30th Anniversary is quite an expensive integrated and it is nothing more than that, i.e. there is no built-in DAC, phono preamplifier, streamer, etc. It has its obvious advantages - all the time, effort and cost invested in its development were used to get the best possible performance out of it. Same, as in the case of the Amber cartridge and the H-5500 phono preamplifier, Mr. Kang Su Park did not disappoint my expectations, but rather exceeded them. He created an amplifier, that for many people, may be the (so-called) last one they’ll ever need, even in their truly high-end systems.

Not only does its high output allow it to drive most loudspeakers, but with it we get, in a sense, two amplifiers in one chassis. I mean, obviously, two selectable output stage modes, both excellent, both sonically different enough to be used depending on your preferences, mood, or the music being played. The T-2000 30th Anniversary offers a refined, resolving sound, extracting a huge amount of information from the best recordings, skillfully using them to weave colorful, extremely coherent, fluid, engaging, if not addictive musical stories. Especially in triode mode (that’s my bias speaking again).

The pentode mode, on the other hand, is perfect when the music needs a „powerful kick", so to speak, or in other words when it requires proper momentum and energy, when the key is also perfect control over the entire frequency range. I’d suggest you may use the T-2000 instead of an espresso - as it should have a similar effect on you. Your hands and feet will involuntarily tap the rhythm and you’ll find yourself relaxed and energized at the same time. And it will work even when playing non-audiophile recordings, such as most rock, hard-rock or even blues albums. The Allnic Audio’s top integrated, in such cases, never focuses on technical problems or weaknesses of such recordings, but rather tries to shift listener’s attention to music and emotions.

The T-2000 30th Anniversary is an excellent amplifier, and is one of the best integrated I have listened to so far. With its design, fit & finish and performance, it will be a perfect addition to many high-end systems and will, (I’m sure of it) make its owners proud and happy for many, many years.

Technical specifications (according to the manufacturer)

Nominal output:
• 120 W (8 Ω/1 kHz) – pentode mode
• 60 W (8 Ω/1 kHz) – triode mode
THD: 0.17% (1 kHz/10 W)
Frequency range: 20 Hz-20 kHz
S/N: -80 dB (CCIR, 1 kHz)
Damping Factor: 8 (8 Ω/1 kHz)
Gain: +26 dB
Input impedance: 100 kΩ
Input sensitivity: 1.3 V
Dimensions (W x D x H): 440 x 480 x 300 mm
Weight: 36 kg