T+A PA 1100 E Integrated Amp/DAC Page 2

The way this amplifier was able to convey the air around performers within a three-dimensional soundstage was satisfying too. Music is always best enjoyed when one is able to suspend belief that one is listening to a recording, and the PA 1100 E never let its grip slip when it came to delivering the ambience of a performance. At the same time it positioned instruments across a wide soundstage in a manner that was never less than highly believable.

First up was a 96kHz/24-bit HDtracks download of Michael Kiwanuka's 'Love And Hate' from his album of the same name [Polydor 4785905], streamed from my home server via the Naim NDX. With the PA 1100 E hooked up to the NDX via its RCA inputs, and the latter's built-in DAC doing the number-crunching, the room was suddenly alive with the singer's mellow vocals, his wonderfully rich and textured voice conveyed with all its honey-drizzled warmth intact. Particularly striking was the way the amplifier conveyed the space between the performers, especially when it came to the sense of stage depth between the lead and backing vocalists.

520ta.remSwitching to the PA 1100 E's built-in DAC fed by the Naim NDX's coaxial digital output revealed the Naim DAC to be a tad more incisive in its presentation of the Kiwanuka track. There was also a feeling of greater dynamics. Yet both renditions were close, and I could happily live with either. The PA 1100 E certainly impressed with its seamless top-end, and there wasn't a hint of harshness to be heard from the fuzz of the soaring lead electric guitar solo that carries the song to its close. This was quite a feat given that this isn't the cleanest piece of production out there.

True To Life
Conversely, 'I'm Just An Old Blues Singer' by The Blues Company & The Fabulous BC Horns [O'Town Grooves; In-Akustik INAK 9096 CD] is a superbly well-engineered recording and one with a wonderful live feel. The PA 1100 E was convincing and compelling in its delivery of the band, both as individual players and as a cohesive whole. The electric guitars were full-sounding and warm, while the drums not only enjoyed fine impact but a scale that was strikingly true to life. Yes, the bass line was a little softer than ideal, sounding 'bloomy' at times, yet never did this detract from the sheer musicality on offer.

The ability to accommodate a range of digital feeds is one of the key benefits of this flexible amplifier and the inclusion of a USB input enables a PC to act as a high-quality music source. Deacon Blue's Live At Glasgow Barrowlands set [EAR Music 02111866EMU] captures the Scottish band in blistering form. On the track 'When Will You (Make My Telephone Ring)?' there's wonderful interplay between Hammond organ and piano that relies on the touch and feel of the musician to convey the emotional message. 

Grand Master
The PA 1100 E rendered the leading edges of the piano notes – which are so crucial to the song – beautifully, setting them in front of the laconic, but skilfully-judged drum work. Heard via lesser amplifiers this track can sound cloying and overblown, but not a whisper of its intimacy and immediacy was lost in the capable hands of the T+A PA 1100 E.


Switching between the FIR and Bezier-style filters was instructive here. With the standard FIR filter, just a hint of glare was present on Lorraine McIntosh's backing vocals. Engaging the Bezier filter eliminated this and made everything from cymbals and Hammond organ sound a shade more real. With other tracks, the Bezier filter resulted in greater dynamics along with improved clarity and detail. If you do decide to audition this amplifier it's crucial you explore the two filter options. As it was, the quality of sound possible via USB from PC was highly impressive and came close to equalling that available from my dedicated NDX streamer.

A variety of high-definition files encoded at both 192kHz/24-bit in FLAC/WAV and DSD64 were also used. One was the stunning performance of Beethoven's Piano Sonatas by Mari Kodama from HDtracks [Pentatone PTC 5186 067]. Replayed via T+A's USB DAC the tremendous scale and authority of the Steinway Model D concert grand used for the recording was in full evidence. The sense of majesty and awe this instrument conveys live is extremely difficult to reproduce through a domestic hi-fi system, but here the T+A PA 1100 E came remarkably close. It felt like listening to the master tape, and while there were subtleties of reproduction that favoured DSD as opposed to FLAC – especially in terms of the top end sounding smoother – both were far superior to plain vanilla CD.

Hi-Fi News Verdict
The T+A PA 1100 E is a supremely flexible stereo amp, capable of handling almost any two-channel source – whether analogue or digital. Its construction is immaculate, the aesthetics understated and the whole thing feels built to last a lifetime. Its sound seems similarly robust and 'three dimensional', fully capable of revealing the emotional intent and drama of a recording. Try it at the heart of a modern system.

T+A elektroakustik GmbH & Co. KG
Supplied by: Kog Audio, UK
01353 721089