SINGLE-ENDED TRIODE TUBE HEADPHONE & SPEAKER AMPLIFIER
A Lyrical Tale of the Beauty and the Beast
Thivan Labs artfully combines a very distinctive and minimalist, highly functional and bold Bauhaus aesthetic with an unmistakable sonic identity … one that, with disarming honesty, infuses the “system equation” with a rich and lyrical narrative … a sonic narrative that is beguilingly poetic in cadence, such that the more you listen, the more lyrical the musical journey becomes !
THIVAN LABS 811SE HPA Integrated
THIVAN LABS 811SE HPA Integrated
Thivan Labs 811 SE HPA Integrated
811A / 572B Integrated Headphone Amplifier
Output power to Headphones :
32 Ohms : 3.2W
50 Ohms : 2.0W
150 Ohms : 670 mW
300 Ohms : 335 mW
600 Ohms : 170 mW
Output power to Loudspeakers : 2x10W
Class of operation : SE (class A)
Tube complement :
2x 811A/572B, 1x 12AU7, 1x 6SN7, 2x 6V6
Inputs : 2x RCA , 1x XLR
Outputs / Loudspeaker : 4,6,8,16 ohm
Outputs / Headphones : 1x 1/4", 1x XLR
Input sensitivity : 0.8V rms
Input impedance : 100K
Frequency bandwidth : 10Hz-30KHz (-3dB)
Remote : No
The 811 SE HPA Integrated is derived from Thivan Labs' 811 SE Anniversary Integrated amplifier.
The Headphone Amplifier circuit is designed to allow the use of 2 headphones simultaneously, and is compatible with HP loads from 32 ohms to 600 ohms. Power output to Headphones ranges from 3.2W at 32 ohms to 170mW at 600 ohms.
Its 2 x 10 Watt from a SE Class A circuit (20 Watt peak per channel), and its 4, 6 ,8 and 16 ohm output taps, allow the 811 SE Anniversary to drive almost all loudspeakers currently available. It is recommended however to pair this amplifier with loudspeakers with input sensitivity ratings of 89 dB and above.
As is customary with ThivanLabs amps, the transformers are heavily oversized, and sport very high quality metallurgy, which is what makes this amplifier's superior sound quality possible. Total weight ? No less than 31 kg ... or 68 lbs !
As with all Thivan Labs amplifiers and preamplifiers, the 811 SE Anniversary is built entirely by hand using a point-to-point method. This results in an extremely durable and reliable amplifier ... one that can operate 24/7 continuously and that is unconditionally stable.
It's tube compliment -- 2 x 572B/811A power tubes driven by two 6V6 beam tetrodes, and sourced by a two stage tube circuit consisting of one 12AU7 and a 6SN7 can be qualified as being "recherché" ... French for rare, sought after, exotic and refined. It's sound can be characterized as having enormous dynamic articulation, drive-power, and an impressive command of detail and space ... fantastically beautiful vocals, a deep and tight lower spectrum, and silky highs."
Power consumption : 170VA
Size : 450×400 x290mm
Weight : 31kg (68 lbs)
Hardwired Point-to-Point Circuit
... about the tubes ...
... "to roll or not to roll" ...
What they say ...
Roland Schmenner | January 2020
Excerpts - translated to English
"With the 811 Anniversary, Thivan Labs presents a triode amplifier that will lead even die-hard transistor fans astray"
I have seldom seen a device that looks so unique. In its matt gray basic color, it not only quickly wipes the standard black and silver aside, but also alternates wonderfully between Vintage and Avant-garde. The fine wood inlays on the front make the heavyweight completely suitable for living rooms, and add a touch of fine elegance.
From a technical point of view, even inexperienced tube enthusiasts can quickly make friends with the device. The quiescent current is completely regulated by auto-bias ... there is no need for expert knowledge ... after inserting the tubes and a short pre-heating period, you can start listening immediately. The Thivan is one of those pleasant, tubey contemporaries who can call up full power and full sound after just a few minutes ... so you don't have to worry that from now on it will be a high-fidelity duty to let the alarm clock ring 30 minutes in order to be reminded to start up the amplifier before the desired listening pleasure can be experienced.
This amp is almost a plug'n'play amplifier for the 21st century. You should only be careful with the choice of speakers. In order not to start with wild experiments, I connected Ulf Moning's high-efficiency DynamiKKs! Model 12 loudspeaker, which with an efficiency of 94 db seems made for the 10 watt output power of the Thivan Labs 811 SE.
DYNAMISM WITHOUT LIMITS
In order to experience the Thivan dynamic talents, we played Ronald Brautigam's recordings of Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" performed on a reconstructed fortepiano from the early 19th century. This piece shows in the fast final movement of the sonata, with its dynamic explosions and hard sforzati, how Beethoven pushed the instruments of his time to the limits of what was playable. What is no longer a problem for a modern grand piano today, was an existential problem for Beethoven's pianos.
If you want to know why Beethoven's performances and improvisations made the audience catch their breath at the time, listen to the recordings of Brautigam. After just a few bars of listening, it becomes clear that the 811 SE Anniversary's triode circuit works wonderfully here. The sharp peaks in the treble are not smoothed in the slightest, because nothing of the hardness of the sound is put in a more comforting light, and the dynamic surges of the pianist are not reduced at any point. On the contrary :
Thanks to an inimitable flow that the amplifier gives the music, the musical perfection rides during the reproduction with a naturalness that not every amplifier can manage.
BASS ... AND MORE BASS
I know that tube amplifiers and high-efficiency loudspeakers get along well with harp "plucking" and female voices ... but more often than not struggle with Bass. So I treated myself to Yello's “The Expert” from the 2009 album Touch. Here, the 811 SE's bass extension combined with the sheer thrust of the DynamiKKs! loudspeaker literally "takes your breath away". You don't even have to turn up the volume control far.
But what do Yello’s electric bullets look like on a “normal” loudspeaker? For several months now the Wharfedales Linton 85 Heritage speaker has been doing duty in my listening room as an "all-purpose weapon" in my other listening room. With an impedance of 6 ohms and an efficiency of 90 db, they are not quite as easy to drive as the DynamiKKs, but they also do not require a huge power plant - like some boxes with an efficiency of <90 db. Here, the very fact that Yello’s bass passages no longer sound so abysmal is certainly due to the different bass driver concepts and simply the difference in size between the two speakers.
Although I had to nudge the volume control a bit higher than with the 94 db of the DynamiKKs, the 811 SE's triodes easily animated the Linton to thoroughly dynamic electronic fireworks that delight the pit of one's stomach with plenty of punch.
After a few weeks of enjoyable listening with the Thivan Labs 811 SE Anniversary, I was compelled to slightly modify the assessments I had made from my previous adventures into the "tube amplifier playground".
This single ended tube amplifier turns out to be an absolutely uncomplicated and contemporary performer. It only needs a little break-in time, and the auto-bias makes life easy for tube initiates. With the standard tube complement delivered ex-works, the desire for tube rolling and / or for tuning measures does not even arise. If you then take into account the excellent workmanship, the generous design features, and the more than acceptable price, then there is actually no good reason to bypass the "tube rolling adventure". The 811 SE Anniversary offers the perfect introduction to this intriguing journey.
And for reasons of sound quality alone, I boldly suggest that it is downright compulsory to consider the Thivan SE Triode Line amplifiers when buying an amplifier.
Alexander Aschenbrunner | December 2020
Excerpts - translated to English
The Thivan Labs 811A SE is a single-ended tube amplifier that works in pure Class A. With this (well-known) circuit topology, the working point of the amplifier lies exactly in the middle of the straight part of its characteristic curve. Although this ensures the lowest possible distortion, it also means that a very high current always flows. This type of circuit is anything but energy-efficient - a lot of energy is converted into heat, and very little into power - but the pulse stability is very good indeed.
These amplifier types require correspondingly large and powerful transformers as well as correspondingly large electrolytic capacitors in the power supply units - which explains the weight of around 36 kg of this amplifier. Most notably, the Thivan Labs 811A operates permanently in the rather rare Class A2 operating mode. In principle, this has the same functionality as Class-A, the only difference being that with A2 an additional voltage is applied to the control grid of the power tubes. As a result, the control grid becomes more positive than the cathode, and the so-called grid current flows between the control grid and the cathode, which you normally don't really want in all other tube devices.
However, the control grids of most of the large transmitter tubes, such as the type 811A / 572, 805 and 211 (not that of an 845!), are specially designed for this operating mode ! As a result, these tube types are only really “let off the chain” with the corresponding portion of grid current. Another characteristic of the Class A2 operating mode is an intermediate "interstage" transformer which, in the case of the Thivan Lab 811A, is controlled by a 6SN7 triode.
In order to keep the positive grid current applied in a stable and above all hum-free manner, a lot of power supply voltage (975 volts) is required for this mode of operation. This fact should be taken into account when "rolling" tubes , and one should not insert alternative tube types until the voltage is switched off and the previous tubes are actually removed. The Thivan Labs 811A comes as standard with two Shuguang 572B / T160L. There are two 6V6s, one 12AU7 (ECC82) and the already mentioned 6SN7 in the pre- and driver stage. The amplifier has an autobias control and thus the tube swaps can be carried out easily.
BUILD & FINISH
The amplifier's plinth is available in two veneers : rosewood and walnut. The hammerite finish paint is perfectly applied to the metalwork, and the entire workmanship is perfect all around. A look inside shows that the parts are built in a spotlessly clean manner. The wiring is secured multiple times, the circuit boards are lovingly equipped with robust components - and the transformers come from the company's own winding station. There is absolutely nothing to criticize here !
[ please note that the reviewer making this observation is German ! ]
BREAK IN & COMPATIBILITY
Thivan Labs speaks of a break in time for the amplifier of around 200 hours. In my opinion, it's a little faster. After the first 50 hours something positive begins to happen audibly ... after a further 50 hours, a further maturing of the sound can be heard ... and after a playing time of 150 hours everything falls into place.
The relatively humble power output of 10 watts per channel -- at no matter how many ohms (the amp can handle 4, 6, 8 and 16 ohm speakers) -- is in some ways "merciless" in that this requires an easy-to-drive speaker partner. To fully meet the requirements of this amplifier in our test, we used a loudspeaker from Blumenhofer Acoustics with a solid 96 dB of efficiency. That these horn loudspeakers cost ten times what you pay for the amp is admittedly a bit decadent, but we wanted to know what this amplifier can do.
The Thivan Labs amplifiers have a tonal peculiarity that is valued, and not only by me : They "march forward with sound" !
When I visited DynamiKKs! to listen to their loudspeakers, I was very impressed by the 7.5W Thivan Labs 300B ... and the 811A SE in our test has exactly the needed 30% percent more power that I really appreciate having when listening to a wide variety styles of music genres.
I decided to listen to "Cold Flame", "Electrified" and "Kiss The Cloud", three popular and very high-energy-laden tracks from the "Yello Live in Berlin" album. Incidentally, the selection of these tracks was very deliberate, as these tracks contain a wide variety of different sound characteristics and vocals, all of which cover a wide frequency band. As for the softer passages of music, these were brought forward by the vocals of Malia and Fifi Rong. The amp immediately showed a wide, deep space with the finest divisions ... it immediately showed a very clean and bass-strong sound with a good punch ... it immediately allowed a very authentic flow in the music... and I thought to myself : "Heaven, this is a great tube amp ...". In essence, the tonal alignment and cohesion of the 811A SE from Thivan Labs is unpretentiously straight forward, wonderfully dynamic and potent, and very finely resolved. Without a doubt, it does all the important things really well.
This tube amplifier is a "real hot tip" - especially for this price ...
Quite frankly, I really did not need another amp, but I just “have to have” this Thivan Labs 811 Anniversary in my collection - I just think it's too good to give it back ... Also : Once you begin to take a walk down “Tube Rolling Lane”, the amp transitions into a completely different comparative price range – it’s as though it had only been waiting for you to take it there … some gear just makes an audiophile’s life "real easy" !
Other Thivan Labs
HPA Integrated Amps