Allnic T1500 Integrated Amplifier (Black)
NOTE: This includes a BRAND NEW set of EAT 300b valves @ $1300 excluding shipping and taxes!!
The amplifier costs almost nothing…massive good buy.
Its MSRP: $6995
Who is Allnic?
Kang Su Park of South Korea built quite a good reputation with Silvaweld Electronics. Now he heads up a Korean company, a family-run company called Allnic Audio, where all seven employees are family members. It was my privilege to have a nice long phone interview with Mr. Park. I learned from the conversation that he loves music, tubes, and vinyl. It will also be my privilege to review several of his products, starting with this wonderful little integrated amp.
It was obvious from talking with Mr. Park that he insists on top-quality parts even if he has to build his own. These include hand built 41- or 61-stepped silver-contact, constant-impedance attenuators for his preamps and integrated amps. He has also developed patent-pending “Absorb-GEL” tube damper sockets to minimize tube microphonics. He builds his phono cartridges himself one at a time by hand. Mr. Park insists that all of their transformers are wound in-house and exclusively uses permalloy core signal-path transformers. He said all of Allnic’s equipment is assembled by hand.
Mr. Park shared that he believes in vacuum tube voltage regulation for superior noise floors of low-level phono circuits. He also believes in using power transformers and rectifying circuits that exceed the specifications for use in a particular circuit. He also spends a lot of time matching proper tube types for the intended application in each component.
Mr. Park has a little bit of an uphill battle of attempting to be seen by the audiophile world as an artisan, like those from Japan such as Shindo or Kondo. The recent onslaught of valued-based high-end audio products from China, as good as many are for the money, is not the goal that Mr. Park has set for Allnic Audio. He wants to build the very best. These fine audio products are being brought to North America by David Beetles of Hammertone Audio in Canada.
The build quality and looks of the T1500 300B Single-Ended Stereo Integrated Amplifier in no way gives away that this amp is as affordable as it is. I would go so far as to say this little amp looks as impressive any amp I have seen. I especially like the clear, cylinder tube protectors that are also nicely ventilated. Not only are they very attractive aesthetically, but they also keep the tubes protected from little children and pets.
The front panel has two attractive amber meters for biasing the tubes. Just to the inside of the left meter is an electronic selector switch, and to the inside of the right meter is the 41-stepped motorized volume control. In the center is a simple but elegant scripted name and model number. Near the front on the right side panel is the ON/OFF switch. The top plate of the amp has the tubes and the clever and elegant tube protectors. There are also five transformers that have nice looking gray covers. There is also a small yellow screw adjusters above each meter. The overall look is a great blend of modern elegance and retro styling.
Allnic uses at the grid of the power tubes what they refer to as a powerful “Inductor Drive” circuit. It gives up to 150V swing voltage with very low distortion, enabling the T1500 to have higher than normal output for 300Bs at 12.5 watts.
They use a choke inductor made of 100% nickel permalloy PC core. Mr. Park says this gives the amp a very low power-loss and an infinitely high load impedance. The output transformers have a custom ratio mixed nickel permalloy PB core. He says this special core makes it possible to use lower turns of primary winding with still higher ‘open circuit inductance’, to provide a very wide frequency range.
I was especially pleased with how the back of this integrated amp was laid out. The layout was clean and not at all crowed. It was easy to cleanly route the speaker cables, interconnects, and power cords.
By the way, this little SET amp was designed to be used with a remote control. It has been quite a while since I had the ease of a remote in my reference system. I have to admit I really enjoyed it when the phone rang, but what I really wish someone would invent is a universal remote controlled tonearm lift.
Being a simple design did not temper my opinion on this product. No, I was excited by the 300B. It played with authority and panache with whatever I fed it. What did surprise me, though, was just how heavy this beast was. This unit would be worth a lot just in scrap metal! Good job it has top and back handles, just to help you move it onto your reinforced shelf.
Initial comments on its performance were words like ‘flawless’, ‘spaceous’, ‘musical’ and ‘wow’. This unit had a forceful, exciting and excellent depth of field, with a very clear bass performance. There are 5 inputs, one being balanced. There are two knobs on the front; one to select the input (each with its own indicator) and the volume control. The on off switch is tucked on the right hand side. Each 300B has a small yellow screw current adjustment potentiometer next to the valve so you can ensure each is fed enough current, and which is the reason for the meters on the front. I’d prefer that after adjusting current the meters – perhaps with a button next to it to do that – would then register RMS level when not pressed. But this meter is useful if one of the valves is failing as the meter will decrease its reading, and with the bias adjustment means that you don’t need a matched pair of tubes.
The unit comes with an equally solid and heavy remote control, aka Krell, but I wonder why as well as separate buttons for inputs 1,2,3,4 and 5 there are also two buttons for scrolling channels up and down. Overkill.
To my music. Firstly I listened to vinyl, something made for valves. Classical music gave a powerful soundstage within the limits of vinyl but with depth of field and positioning of individual instruments that DACs still find hard. I did, however, feel the limited dynamic range of vinyl became very apparent when I was listening, and at times sounded cluttered. But once transferring to identical recordings via my DAC opened up much more and gave a more appealing presentation.
Playing on vinyl the duo of Charlie Haden (double bass) and Antonio Forcione (guitar) in Naim’s ‘Heat Play’ album and specifically the track “Silence” gave enviable musicality and space, with plenty of silence and time to think. Recorded in “true stereo” by Ken Christianson at California Institute of Art, this is easily able to convey the 3D that a coincident pair can muster.
Turning to my prize Dave Brubeck’s ‘Direct-Cut Disc’ gave a very controlled and relaxed performance with everything there, including my sensing of the musicians nerves as they tried to get through the pieces without making any mistakes (the album being recorded directly onto a specially designed inverted stylus so limited vinyl copies could be made direct from this ‘negative’). I was there in the room with Dave and his sons.
Turning to digital sources gave me a very warm and musical performance that an uncomplicated Class A 300B design could do so very well. This amplifier also has a pre-output so that you could add a powered subwoofer, bi-amp or, if you need more power, plug into another power amplifier. This amplifier however needed not to feel insufficient. Output was flat all the way up and signal to noise was pretty low down, indeed much better than I expected and as good as most transistor amplifiers. Overall spec on paper might not be mouthwatering, but the performance certainly was. With a name that could come from America the Allnic had muscle and grunt that could well originate from the new world. This product was priced well to provides great competition to any valve amplifier made anywhere. Playing Tolga Kashif’s ‘The Queen Symphony’ track 3 cello and violin solos gave realism and naturalness in a way that many amplifiers cannot do whilst being fed from a DAC. Playing Linn Records 24/192 Chopin Piano Concertos (Ingrid Fliter, Scottish Chamber Orchestra conducted by Jun Märkl) the pianoforte sounded very forte, unlike anaemic upright piano sounding renditions on many so-called weighty amps. Whatever I played worked a treat. Ella and Louis “Isnt this a Lovely Day” gave a musicality full of warmth and ‘class’ that made me, oh dear, ignore the fact that this was recorded in mono. Christos Anesti (Agnes de Venice 24bit/96kHz) was clear and full of depth of field whether the piano, the organ, the voice, the sea hitting the pebbles on the beach, the reverb, the ping-pong-delay in this montage. This was fun and very easy to listen to. If you want a no-hassle and mightily good looking valve amplifier, this should be at the top of your shortlist.
A surprisingly fun piece of kit that looked as good as it sounded, retrieving as much detail as there was from the music, whatever the instrument, and doing it equally well at low or high levels. This little sister to the 40kg 10-valve T2000 with its KT120’s, D3a’s, and 6485’s, is no lesser a machine. Indeed at its price vs sound quality vs looks vs weight, this is a surprisingly agile proposition.
I fell in love for the few days I had it.
Top-end and Midrange
These are the glory of the Allnic T1500 integrated amp. It simply lights up the music. It’s as if you can see it more clearly than with other amps. Compared to other amps even my beloved Wavac EC300B, the Allnic made it sounded like someone came along and hit a light switch and now I can hear everything clearer than before. Voices, strings, and horns all sounded so clear and allowed me to hear more air and nuances than I knew were there. This made the music sound so fast and so exciting.
One of the main reasons for owning a 300B SET amp is the scary-real way the best of them produce voices. When I installed my Western Electric 300Bs in the T1500, it did female voices superbly, while male vocals revealed the $5,700 Allnic as not quite up to the standard set by the $40,000 Wavac/Shindo combination.
In the midrange, the micro-dynamics were very impressive. The midrange was very quick and lively, it is simply impressive. I have to admit that sometimes it seemed a little quicker and clearer than live music, but is that even possible? I don’t know, but one thing is for sure: this is an amp that in the midrange and top-end sparkles with life.
Soundstage and Imaging
This is the area where this amp out performs SET amps I have heard for under $9,000. The stage is not only extremely wide and deep, but incredibly three-dimensional. The imaging is pinpoint, yet very palpable. This is the kind of soundstage that most audiophiles dream of. Still, to expect the T1500 to have the kind of scale and weight of the Shindo/Wavac combo is unrealistic. When opportunity permits, we’ll see what the T1500’s big brothers can do.
It’s in the bass that the sound of the T1500 is most dependent on which phono section and which speakers you use. It’s not that it sounds like an inexpensive 300B amp in the bass, but neither does it sound like a Wavac or Shindo. Of course, it costs one-sixth of these. Still, it has very musical bass, although it’s not quite as world-class as its own midrange. Neither the bass nor the lower midrange will ever bother you by being overblown or slow. It’s just tends to being a little lean, so be careful with what you match it with. I had always rather have lean bass than overblown bass myself.
The Allnic T1500 is an outstanding bargain. It’s more than a power amp with a volume control, it has a complete linestage and the icing on the cake: it has a remote. This is a beautiful looking and sounding amp. There’s no doubt it’s a lot more amp than you would think from the price.
Output Power : 12.5w + 12.5w (8Ω load, at 1KHz)
Distortion : 0.3% at 1KHz, 2.83V
Frequency Response : 20Hz – 20KHz Flat
S/N Ratio : -76dB(CCIR, 1KHz)
Damping Factor : 3 at 8Ω load at 1KHz
Voltage gain : +35dB
Input Impedance : 10KΩ(unbalanced)
Input Sensitivity : 200mV for rated power
Tubes : 300B X 2, 14GW8 X 2
Dimensions : 430mm X 330mm X 240mm(W.D.H)
Weight : 20Kg net