Audio Power Lab TNT50 amplifiers

It has been a long while that a pair of tube amplifiers are good enough to catch the attention of JLam. Of course, he is waiting for the cost-no-object 3 chassis statement tube amplifier from Dalby due at the end of this year. Still, this monster amp coming from the US is something special or else it will not show up under the AE portfolio. We are going to stress them to the maximum through the Tidal Sunray T1 system which has been serving well by Tidal 200watt impulse amplifier in conjuction with the almighty 1,000 watt Artemis by Analog Domain. How can 50 watt push pull compete with the solid state super heroes?

The answer is in the design. Normal high voltage power supply of other tube amplifiers will be capped at 400watt but the TNT50's high voltage supply is capable of deliveriing 800watts continuously. That is the technical reason why user of Sunray in the US informed us the TNT50 can rock the Sunray with very articulated bass control. The distortions of lower frequencies that are common with most other tube amplifiers do not happen with APL's TNT50 given the genius and unconventional power supply design.


  • The amplifier is well built in every aspect.
  • The Art deco style of the amplifiers hides the technological achievements of the engineer. Let's scrap the tech part. Owners of APL is an weatlh entrepreneur in the US who collects RADIOs used by broadcast station in the old days. He doesn't give a damn about economic factors when they launched the TNT833 at USD175,000 for a pair. We had not time flying to the US for a genuine audition. This is not JLam's style anyway. But JLam did was audition the playback of this amp via a video clip at YOUTUBE driving a pair of Tidal speakers. The he called me one day and said "PT, this amp smashes the Wavac 833 into pieces. The Wavac 833 has no control on bass. There is no resolution. There is no speed. But not with the TNT833. The characteristic of the 833 tubes is lesser felt."

    That was about one year ago. JLam dose not like the 833 tubes for personal reasons. He does not like the mid range to be fleshed out saying I am here for you. At that time he was wondering if the same engineering circuitry will work well with some other tubes that are not similar to 833. Then here comes the TNT50.
  • edited October 2012
    At AE, we look at hi end audio with different perspective. Behind the scenes, our selection criteria is based on people more than technical spec. It is because the latter is a result of the quality of the designer. Brands like Zanden (Yamada san), Dalby (Lee Paul Dalby), Tron (Graham Tricker), Da Vinci (Peter Brem), Takumi (Robert Koda)are all about the sole philosophy of one single man. And very often, they are very "FINE" man holding respectively their very own philosophy and design principles. And the personalities of them are often manifested in the orientation of sound through their electronics.

    The folks at Audio Power Labs, however, work as a team. Considering the bold and retro look of the TNT50, I would have otherwise thought it comes from a man that is an old guard of the vintage school. Instead, this engineering marvel is achieved by a team of 4 man:

    Peeya Iwagoshi - Project Management and Mechanical Engineering

    Squeek Rieker - Power Supply and Circuit Board Design

    Tim DeLashmutt - Software Development and Graphical User Interface

    Ryan Meldahl - Audio Circuit Design (Tube Enthusiast and a real Piano Tuner)

    Ryan is responsible for the final tuning of the amplifier. Like Gerry (the big boss at APL), Ryan is a big collector of all kinds of tube gear as well as Hammond B3 type organs. He plays keyboards. APL has a incredible collection of custom built gears just for testing and doing tube "burn-in" that Ryan has built.

    The reason we want to highlight these names is because we at AE, think, they had done an tremendous job that is rarely seen in the domain of a tube amplifiers. As I mentioned here yesterday, the super heroes of solid state amplifiers at AE are not toys for the boys'. And solid state often exihibits superior transient resolution alongside much better bass control. And Sunray is not a very easy to drive speakers, frankly speaking. The moment the music was on, I knew it is something very special.

    And the connection of Da Vinci's Virtu mono preamp graces the APL TNT50 even more. I do not have any feeling at all that I am listening to a pair of tube amp. Speed and articulation are of tremendous importance to me. But that does not mean textual resolution can be spared. Vocal is excellent by any standard. I also stressed test them with electronic hard rock music. I was thrilled completely.

    This is only the eary days, and by no means represent any serious reviews. But I do know that this belong to the super league akin to Da Vinci Virtu mono amplifiers under the 50watt category. And don't let the number fool you.

    I remember the very joy of achieving something remarkably by team-work. Though it happened long time ago, the feelings still resonate if I think about it momentarily. Recongition must be given to where credit is due. Well done to the APL team! I got a feeling that the average age of this team is about 45 because the sound tells me only matured engineers can do something like this.
  • Given my memory recollections, none of the US made pre/power has ever impressed Mr.JLam. The AE portfolio is dominated by European/Japanese for a few years. APL should be something very special.
  • This amp is phenomenal, I truly mean it.
  • PT, could you please give some input on the control and damping perspectives of this amp and how it interacts with Tidal compared to AD Artemis.
  • marvel bro,

    the APL TNT50 can play Muse' latest album "2nd Law" with ease. Most of the tracks are interweaved with highly complex electronic music. The stage remains stable at high volume. That's says something. If you don't know muse, google it. The high definition file is amazing.

    Can't beleive Da Vinci can play Muse nowadays.

    Of course, the big monster Artemis has the last authority on bass control and resolution but the APL TNT50 is the most resolute and control tube amp I have ever heard. Forget wavac, and Shindo. The former has no resolution beginning lower mid range, and the latter has no speed at all. But who cares when people said this equal musiclaity, right?
  • Voy,

    Didn't know you like POP. Muse is a good band though they are highly influenced by their New Wave predecessors in both 80's & 90's of the last Century.

    Most of the AE comrades here are Jazz & Classical enthusiasts. While most of us are enthralled by Dalby handicrafts, Mr Lee Paul Dalby is indeed a fan of Depeche Mode, a legendary British band of Electro Pop. I know this by chance when I browsed the Dalby page in Facebook. In this regard, the D7 will certainly be the most compelling in bringing out the best of the New Wave sound.

    Do you like Kraftwerk? They invent modern Electro Pop.

    I know why PT said that TNT will show up in my place...

  • Des, I also like Jason Mraz and Bruno Mars. These young song writers refresh my mind. Didn't I tell you I listen to ipod during daytime? By the way, the 24/96 high definition file of Jason Mraz's latest album is very good. John Mayer also not bad. My musical preferences are very diverse. I definitely do not live in the old world all the time. I move forward with the current generation. I agree with you that the AE universe is pre-occupied by classical fans.

    By the way, don't you know Jorn Janczak is a big fan of a band called "AGROIA" that plays complex electronic music?
  • Bro Voy,

    If we don't feed our beloved systems with a catholic taste of music, it would be an insult to PT & JLam as both of them spend so much time & efforts in exploring the uncharted territories of music playback.

    Whenever I pick up a favorite CD / LP which has been with me since schooling days, it brings back nostalgic memories recalling the first time I played it in my father's amateur system (Philips CD304 + Musical Fidelity A100 + Mission Speakers). Time flies but they are still with me. Not only I am moved by the sentiment attached, the ever-improving quality in playback somehow making the music travel with time.

    When I listened again to Chariots of Fire (the full 20-min epic) by Vangelis not long ago, the melancholic passages evoked piles of recollections.

    PT is right. I add a lot of emotions in listening to music and does not bother with precision.

    My latest idol is Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (BRMC). Google it if you like and let see whether TNT can work magic...

  • 夠竟邊個大哥買了TNT50? 搞到我昨天摸門釘. 好想聽下50watt推挽是否真的掂Sunray
  • It's me. The finesse of tone by Kabi Laretei playing Handel's Chaconne G major made me goosebumps all over. Can't believe the artistry is executed by an American made amplifiers. This tube amp eclipses all other top Japanese/UK made tube amplifiers regardless of price. Yes PT was using them to drive Sunray! It is not an easy task.

    I was hooked. But not decisive enough to make a quick bite until Milstein's bow started playing Geminiani's Sonata in A major, opus 4, no.10. That touches the inner part of my soul. The purity of tone pierces directly to my senses. This American amp can reproduce the "stillness" in music, and to me this is spiritual.
  • Wchow,
    You are so quick! It would be a while until the next pair is delivered...I was hoping to have a quick audition of it yesterday....please share more how it goes along with your entire system.

  • Marvel,

    The magic of amplifier is startling. I was told Danny So bought the Da Vinci Virtu mono based on 1 listening session. Shanghai bigpiece also made the decision to buy the Virtu mono after 1 hour of listening. Cassph bought the Artemis by analog domain on the spot after testing at his home. There is an endless list of people in this group procuring power amplifiers with split second decisions.

    It often takes more time to decide on the source and preamplifiers and speakers. But amplifiers, once it clicks with the speakers, the passion explodes. It is an easy call on the Audio Power Labs TNT50.
  • Which speakers of yours being driven by TNT50?
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