I think that the cover of the January issue of "High Fidelity" (January 2016, No. 141 ) really worked out. Mainly thanks to the beautiful body of the Silver Luna integrated amplifier placed on it . Wearing a large Fezz Audio logo, it sounded great, was very nicely made and cost little - for this type of device. He used classic vacuum tubes, working in push-pull, class AB, pentodes EL34, also controlled by classic low power triodes ECC83. Both types of lamps were originally designed to work in audio systems.
The amplifier looked especially because of the red housing; the company offers four basic colors of chassis painting. Low boxes enclosing transformers - power and loudspeakers - also attracted attention. This is where the secret of Fezz Audio lies: toroidal transformers. These types of transformers are rarely used in tube amplifiers, mainly because of the cost of the luck itself. An important reason is also the habit - historically the first were transformers with EI type core sheets, and so it remained.
Fezz Audio offers a different solution, mainly because it is a brand belonging to the manufacturer of toroidal transformers: Toroidy Transformatory Lachowski . So it can make exactly the transformers it needs and at the lowest possible price - the price. Other manufacturers have to buy them from external suppliers, relying on their reputation. Thanks to this, Fezz Audio amplifiers are relatively small - above all low - the boxes in which the transformers are closed can be really low.
The Silver Luna model opening the manufacturer's offer quickly found supporters, both among reviewers, shops, and among the most important group, i.e. music lovers. However, challenges came successfully - it turned out that in some systems the amplifier has too high power, and in others too low. For the former, the company designed the Mira Ceti amplifier based on single-ended 300B tubes, which will premiere at the November Audio Video Show 2016 . It will be a unique device - it will also work with toroids on the output and, as the manufacturer says, it will be the first tube amplifier in the world with this type of output transformers! For the latter, a model with the significant name Titania was created. At first glance, Silver Luna and Titania are very similar. However, it is enough to take a look a second time to find out that we are dealing with another project.
The amplifier is larger than its predecessor - wider and much deeper - but its height is almost identical, making it so light optically. The depth was forced by much larger transformers that had to be used - in the output stage instead of EL34 pentodes KT88 stream tetrodes were used. They require more powerful: power supply and output transformers. On "paper", the power increased little, from 35 W to 45 W, but only thanks to a trick - the power of Silver Luna is given at 1% distortion, and Titania at 0.2%. If the criteria adopted for tube amplifiers were used, i.e. power measurement at THD = 3%, the difference in power would be much larger. The power transformer was enclosed in a round shielding / suppressing can, similar to SL, but the output was given to stylized triangular shaped cans.
The workmanship is very good and only transformer boxes could be better finished (I think about the contact points). Large transformers forced all lamps to be placed in one line - two, working in class AB, in KT88 push-pull mode and a single ECC83 between them; this small, double triode works in the preamplifier section and controls the end tubes.
The amplifier has three unbalanced line inputs (RCA), between which we choose an aluminum knob on the front panel. Use the second knob to change the volume; the amplifier has no remote control. High-quality Nichicon Gold, Vishay high-voltage and WIMA coupling (polypropylene) capacitors were used in its construction. The output transformers have a wide frequency response, thanks to which the frequency response of the entire amplifier is as high as 103 Hz (-3 dB). Distortion at full power of 45 W is a small 0.2%. Titania looks very nice and neat. We received it for the test together with RCA FAC01 interconnects produced by Fezz Audio.
Titania is by far the most powerful amplifier in the Fezz Audio range. We decided to create just such a construction, because we received signals that in combination with the Silver Luna, from time to time, there are problems with driving low-efficiency loudspeakers. We still wanted the purchase of the Fezz amplifier not to ruin the potential customer's portfolio. For this reason, we used inexpensive KT88 lamps from Russian Electro-Harmonix. They are characterized by a very good price-quality ratio. As in the case of Silver Luna, Titania is based on toroidal output and network transformers from Toroidy.pl . Thanks to the experience gained while designing transformers for our previous amplifier, we can boast of even better parameters. Frequency response - below 20 Hz in the lower range and above 100 kHz in the upper range, with very low THD distortion <0.2% - we consider more than satisfactory. We make the FAC series interconnects ourselves. The executive design is also our authorship. The main goal was to create a high-class, inexpensive interconnect, not giving the music its color, but emphasizing the real characteristics of the material and faithfully depicting the width, depth and multiplicity of the stage. We think we have succeeded.
There are CDs that I like for the music they contain and for their sound. And although I know why I like music, I often don't quite understand what is so good about it and what captivated me so much.
From the methodological point of view, the matter is usually simple - the sound is described by means of specific expressions developed over the years and this type of discs easily submit to this procedure. From time to time, however, it turns out that apart from this known, objective (within the accepted methodology) description is something else, which we discover only after some time, often even years. It happens to me from time to time and usually it is one of two, less often both cases: the skills of specific people responsible for recording and mix of material and / or people responsible for mastering, or remastering.
I remembered this after the second or third song heard from the album Tricks Of Life by Katarzyna Nowicka, a Polish artist using the nickname Novik.
Released in 2006 by Kayax, the album includes compositions by Artur Rojek and Smolik, and in the title track Novika vocally supports Sqbass. And it was this song that accompanied me during the tests for years, because it showed electronic instruments in combination with the low sound of the bass clarinet (Pablo Pełczyński) and vocals. It sounds amazing and is one of the best examples of how to record club music. We owe this to watchful implementers - Bogdan Kondracki, Sebastian Witkowski and Mariusz Szypura - but not only. It turned out, during the listening of this disc on the Titania amplifier, that there is another "secret" component there. Secret because it seems he puts a stop over and not because you have to search for it somehow. And in the booklet accompanying the publishing house there is, like a bull: "Mastering: Jacek Gawłowski JG Mastering Lab". And all clear…
(I would add that this is a similar case to two other albums prepared by Jacek: Grand Piano and Anhelli , both Włodek Pawlik long before Night in Calisia , as well as 99 of the band Abraxas).
I reached for the exact description of the record because it sounded extremely pleasant and engaging. Of course, I knew that it would be good - although I haven't heard it in a long time, it belongs to the "sure men". Titania did something special, however: it brought out chords, harmonics and colors in the way they are usually extracted by high-end amplifiers. This is still a device from the medium price range and high-end is not yet, because it is neither this resolution nor selectivity, and finally the differentiation of high treble and low bass, as in the Audio Alto DMI 3H . But I didn't expect anything like that either. The thing is that colorfully it is a device from a completely different story than amplifiers up to PLN 10,000.
We get a deep, saturated sound with it.
The Silver Luna model prepared me for it, but here it goes even further, deeper, harder. Listened in this way Laurie Anderson from Homeland , or - to stay with the electronics - John Foxx from Empty Aveniues , sounded interesting and therefore addictive. The amplifier builds the sound by showing a strong midrange, with particular attention paid to the turn of the medium and low frequencies, which is accompanied by a strong, meaty, energetic bass. There is also a nice treble, it is not a muffled sound, but you do not need much experience to say that it is only a complement to what is happening below, not an equivalent partner. Interestingly, despite the shift of the accent towards the center and bass, the frequency response from the top seems very wide.
We perceive it primarily through the unique naturalness of the midrange, not the very top. This one is insulated and rounded. In part, this is probably only an impression, but there is something to it - the amplifier is not "open" in the way we describe the sound of products, eg Musical Fidelity , Norma and Linear Audio Research . Much closer in this respect to the sound from the "school" Audio Research Corporation and QUAD .
The combination of the features in question gave a large, powerful sound, in which the main thing is to convey the spirit of music, to saturate it with emotions. I would say that it is "expansive" sound, because it is usually associated with each other, but here we deal with a slightly different interplay of these elements. The amplifier plays legato , showing instruments on the line connecting the speakers and beyond. It does not push the sound towards us. It builds a wide and very deep stage, and it exceptionally nicely captures elements recorded in counter-phase, surrounding us with sound in a natural and unforced way (see Tricks Of Life and Falling from the Anderson album).
The warm-sounding devices tend to emphasize the solids of instruments and vocals placed in the foreground.
Titania does not do this. One could say, therefore, that it is a perfect partner for recordings of jazz and classical music - especially the last ones, where perspective is an essential element for creating the illusion of real sound given during a live performance. You could, if not for something more in this sound, which means that it played just as well - after all mentioned at the beginning - club music and old rock. This "more" results from how the amplifier "flourishes" on subsequent discs. We do not expect this from him because the dynamics on the macro scale are not very high; I would even say that Silver Luna gives the impression of an amplifier with greater dynamic potential.
It is an illusion, Titania has higher power, higher current efficiency (which you can hear) and thus higher dynamics. This one, however, is not exposed and is part of a dense, "thick" sound, which seems calm down. I think this is simply the result of the heat that this amplifier charms and the rounding of the attack. So in my opinion it will not be a good partner for strong rock because it lacks punch and claw. The low bass is not differentiated, although we have full control over it. It is not extended, which was shown by the vigilant handling of it in the song Falling from the album Laurie Anderson.
These are very low electronic sounds that are deliberately quickly quenched. Titania keeps up with that. Also, the visuals are excellent and thanks to it the instruments have a large volume. Their body has no three-dimensional "departure", they are rather part of a larger whole. But this is the domain of much more expensive devices. Within these limits, the Polish amplifier beautifully emphasizes the forehead of the instruments, giving them a distinct character.
Titania is not so much more powerful - although it is - but simply a better amplifier than Silver Luna. It is more expensive, so it should not come as a surprise, but on the other hand one could assume that it is only about higher power and you pay for power. Here we get both higher power and better sound. This is an amplifier operating with above-average colors, showing the exceptionally rich harmonic structure of the songs. It does not manifest high resolution, although it does, due to masked selectivity. The instruments have a large body, are part of the whole and are not extracted from the mix. The amplifier has high power and easily controlled such large speakers as the Harbeth M40.1. However, power is not an end, but a means to enter deeper into the sound, to sophisticated colors. The dynamics do not seem large, which is related to what I wrote above. In fact, Titania is not lacking in this respect until we want to listen to her with Anthrax, Marylin Manson and Megadeth. But the amplifier does not discriminate against inferior recordings, and even slightly "improves" them, boosting the lower midrange and bass. This is a very successful design, not only for loudspeakers with low efficiency, but also for those that are traditionally combined with several-watt triodes. It is worth trying out this combination, you will be surprised by the effects.Titania by Fezz Audio is an integrated tube amplifier with a semiconductor power supply. It was built around the KT88EH power tubes from Electro-Harmonix, working in push-pull mode, in AB class. They are controlled by triodes (one per channel) of 12AX7EH from the same company. Next to the lamps, you can see the measuring points that adjust the bias, e.g. after changing lamps. The lamps are not protected by a mesh or other cover.
The electrical system is simple and transparent. Each channel received its own printed circuit board, into which components were soldered and gilded ceramic lamp stands. The elements were soldered on both sides of the board - from the side to which I had access, WIMA polypropylene capacitors are visible. The damper is a black Alps potentiometer, interestingly, with a control motor. All you need to do is add the receiver system, power supply to the engine and we have remote control.
The input switch is mechanical, located at the front panel. Long interconnects run to him and then to the potentiometer. Speaker transformers have a toroidal core. In company materials we read: Toroidal signal transformers used in the output circuits of tube amplifiers is a product to which Fezz devoted an extremely long time. Construction of measuring stations based on various types of lamps and tedious, time-consuming measurements lasted nearly 12 months. During this period, about 100 prototype transformers were made, which allowed to perform tests, and at the same time to acquire a broad knowledge of the mechanisms of toroid operation in the output path of a tube amplifier. These studies have shown that the use of toroidal cores has several very interesting advantages over shaped cores working in the same system. The design-optimized toroidal output transformer exhibits above all an excellent degree of coupling between the primary and secondary windings.
This results in an extremely low leakage inductance value. In connection with the very high inductance of the primary winding, the amplifier obtains very high values of goodness. The power supply is a "Pi" type system with a large toroidal choke. Each channel received a separate battery of four capacitors suppressing network ripples. Separate capacitors, very good Nichicon Muse, were used to suppress pulsation of constant filament voltage. The capacitance of the capacitors in the power supply is 770 μF. The voltage common to both channels and the filament voltage is provided by a large toroidal transformer, flooded in vibration damping resin. The housing is made of nicely bent and welded steel sheets. It is painted in one of four basic colors to a high gloss. In turn, the transformer covers are matt.
Technical data (according to manufacturer)
Type: integrated stereo amplifier
Maximum power: 2 x 45 W / 8 Ω Circuit
type: push-pull, class AB1
Output impedance: 4 Ω / 8 Ω
Inputs: 3 x RCA
THD distortion: <0.2%
Frequency range: 18 Hz -103 kHz (-3 dB)
Power consumption: 180 W
Weight: 17.5 kg
Dimensions: 420 x 410 x 175 mm
Lamps: KT88 x 4, ECC83 (12AX7) x 2
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