Thank you very much! Please find my comments inline below.Wish you and you family , puppy, good listening experience and service for years ahead.
God Bless you.
PMA 1600NE is cheaper on HiFiMart and I find it to be reasonably priced, considering the price abroad. Having no tone controls was one of my specific requirements because I was planning for a digital front end based on a media center, I believed I can do it there.I am a big time hard core fan of "Sansui" and "Accuphase ".I wished to buy Denon PMA 1600 NE amplifier (Made in Japan by
Shirikawa Audio Works ) which costs about INR 159,000 available at PRO FX Banglore and KEF speakers similarly priced. Where as Torvin Mosfier II costs one third ,but has no tone controls ( Bass , treble,Balance) which makes it entirely depend on the input source recording which has to be superior (either CD or Vinyl) other wise one wont get the desired result. Also Torvin personnel consider Mosfier II as audiophile grade.
Since the very definition of audiophile is subjective and personal, I highly recommend not giving much regard to such claims. Moreover, if you listen to such claims carefully, you can hear the sales pitch.Also Torvin personnel consider Mosfier II as audiophile grade.
I recommend auditioning both the products before making a decision. I have been enjoying music on my DIY systems for a long time. Some of the amps I built are still singing after 10 years. Given the attention to detail while making a product like Mosfier II, as you mentioned, I am sure both these amps can give you more or less the same years of service. Since you also mentioned a life time investment, which I am reading as a long term investment, in my opinion, cost must be given less weightage here. After auditioning, if both the amplifiers turn out to sound equally good, then you can make the decision based on other features like tone controls. Also, sentiments like Japanese make can be valued in this case, given you are buying something for the long term.Kindly advice me which one should I opt for Denon PMA 1600 NE (as they boasts the classic amplifiers of 70's) or for Torvin.
I mean should I save more money and go for Denon or go with Torvin Mosfier II as a life time investment.
None taken! There is a limit on the character count per post on the forum, something which I was not aware of, earlier. So, I had to cut corners and this is one place where I did.I really appreciated the review , but wished you provide more detailed listening experience (no offence!)
Other than Illayaraja and A. R. Rahman, I am also a fan of Western Pop. We are also using the system to watch movies. In all these cases, the system never failed to impress us and we continue to discover detail that we missed before in our favorite music. We are less of classical fans at the moment, and the closest we have come to instrumental is music from artists like Lindsey Striling, Tina Guo, etc. We are also discovering many new artists and are exploring other genres. Since I haven't heard the same content in many other systems, I find it hard to compare and is reluctant to give a verdict. I can only repeat what I said in the review - the system is non-fatiguing, bass is deep and non-bloated, vocals are clear, sound staging is good and the presentation is rhythmic.As you said about Roja and other Illayaraja hits , other than that did you try western classical piano or instrumental.
Well written. I own the Denon Pma 2010AE and the Denon A100 Sacd player. Both in top notch new condition. And I totally agree that the build quality and the musical quality is too good . And yes they both are made in Japan.. And I say this , as I also own the Rotel pre/power rc1570/rb1582. I personally feel the overall quality of the denons are superior.Dear Mr.Sasi,
I appreciate your prompt reply.Yes,your reply was really helpful indeed.
The reason why I preferred the Denon PMA 1600 AE is that ,Denon makes their Hi End amplifiers and CD players at their
Shirakawa Audio Works in Japan . Also , being closer with Japanese executives before , I have observed and confirmed one
thing , the ones they make in Japan , mostly they use Japanese suppliers (like capacitors :ELNA ,Nichicon,Rubycon).
The internal components , the fit and finish , the chassis (rustproof) compared to other country make .Japanese
Quality management is supreme.If you take Lexus and Mercedez and BMW , Lexus is the most reliable car and similar factor is in automatic watches as Japanese makes most accurate watches (Grand Seiko) than Rolex and others.What I find in them is that their mechanics are straight forward . I hope you will be aware that Toyota is expensive with the other cars in the segment ,but reliability and longevity is paramount. But the West always look down at them as "Cheap far east products" (Mentality).
I admit I am not a tech geek or have any expertise in electronics , just a lay man with passion for audio , but always look for
Yes,I do agree 100% with you on "audiophile" category .Once a friend explained , an American Hi End brand was using a digital playerwith a Chinese chipset inside costing above US$ Two Thousand , where as the same supplier was selling their branded one
for US$ 300.Same result no modification.Some boutique brands charge astronomical.
I understood , you are using Media player /Network audio player , then the question of tone control is irrelevant as you can use the equalizer from the source itself for desired result of your taste. In my case I am using Audio CD , Vinyl (starter).
Denon PMA SX-1 is same with no tone control, but far beyond my budget and its Japanese domestic model .You can check
the link if you like https://www.denon.jp/jp/product/hificomponents/amplifiers/pmasx1
I have visited many years before at their showroom "National Audio Centre" at Post office Road , Thrissur, as late Mr.Baby was in charge (Thankachans brother).I loved their Triple force II speaker that time.Now they made a marvelous one "Canorous".
I am so delighted to read your review.I am a new member , but has been searching about Torvin for many years in the forum,
without signing in .But none has given a good review as many are not thoroughly aware of their products and build quality.
Its you who gave a first detailed review of Torvin. At the same time glad to hear that Mosfier II is easy to listen and "no
I thank you for taking time to read the post during the daily chores and replying to the point.
Hi,Just my Rs. 2/-
Pl place the the speakers with the tweeters to the extreme from the centre.
I believe this will give a wider soundstage.
Thanks for your candid comment.Yes , according to my experience Denon amplifier exterior designs are simple ,but graceful,
they always intent to say "hey I am very conservative outside , but I have high grade components inside and I dont intent
to compete with others , those who like me can buy or leave it , I am in another league!".
They focus more on internal components and their DNA is good.I planned to buy PMA 1520 AE(Advanced Evolution) couldn't
get that time.Then came the new PMA 1600 NE( New Era) but the price increase is more than double .So the budget exceeds
including speakers.This is why I am planning to have Torvin Mosfier II (Pure analog) ,Torvin Phono Premeo (Phono preamp) and floorstanders.I like Indian products , but we cannot deny the Japanese QC (top notch) and their specs are accurate .But Torvin offers five year service.Do you have any inputs to offer.
After several years of planning and waiting, finally my system is up and running. This thread is a log of my journey so far, into the world of high-fidelity audio, how this forum helped me in this, and a review of my system.
As I already mentioned during my introduction here, I am an IC design engineer working in Bangalore. My hi-fi audio journey started 20 years ago, in my home town Thrissur, when I started building audio amplifiers, as a hobbyist in electronics. Since then, I always had some DIY system to keep me company. Buying a more capable system had always been on top of my wish list. After getting a job, the realities of life struck harder than ever before. Due to various reasons, I had to keep postponing this plan. During this time, I changed cities multiple times, became a chip designer, got married and purchased an apartment in Bangalore. Finally, I decided to put my foot down, and chase my dream.
The Original Plan
First plan was to set-up a system in my man cave, a 11' x 11' room - a good example of a bad room, as far as acoustics is concerned. My choice of components were Rega Brio Amp and Quad S-2 speakers, a combo well received by one of Stereophile reviews. After factoring in quality interconnects and a power conditioner, I breached the limits of my budget. So, as source, I planned to use my phone's headphone output, until I can afford a CD player or a DAC. When all the furniture for the cave arrived, there was hardly any space left for speakers. Once again, I had to suspend the plan. I also made the mistake of giving away our old system for the gym in our apartment.
I prefer stereo to 5.1, music to movies. Given the conditions in Bangalore, my wife and I started to enjoy spending more time watching movies at home than going outside. During my wife's summer vacation, I had to pre-pone our plan to purchase a TV, a solution more economical than her other ideas to spend her vacation. I narrowed down the choice to LG 55C8 and Sony 55X9000F. After going through various threads in this forum, I realized that an LCD is a better choice, given the lighting in our living room, the general usage pattern and quality of the content that we watch. Our decision was rewarded with stunning visuals, and the only drawback was poor audio. A 5.1 was not easy to set-up in my living room, due to limited space and aesthetic reasons. I had a plan for a secondary system to pair with our TV, after some time. Now that the main system I had in mind is no longer going to see the light of the day any time soon, I decided to set-up a system in the living room. My prospects started to look better once again.
The living room is bigger and acoustically better than my man cave, for a stereo. I no longer needed to limit the choice to small stand mount speakers. Like it happens to many FMs here who start from a clean slate, I was lost among several options - all analog v/s mixed, tube v/s solid state, Indian v/s foreign, and the list goes on. As I work in a product design company based in India, I had no doubts about the quality of engineering in India. One of the audio equipment manufacturers in India, is Torvin, based in Chennai. In the early 2000s Torvin had a shop in the electronics hub of Thrissur and I have know them since then. I decided to audition their latest equipment and approached them with an open mind. They have a website, http://www.torvin.com, though it is not up to date and does not cover everything they have. I contacted them based on the info on their website, explained them my requirements and they provided a list of available products.
A demo is possible only at Torvin's office in Chennai. I planned for a one-day round-trip and was at their office by afternoon. As you enter the building, you won't fail to notice the demo room in the ground floor where they have many of their products on display. The sales person guided me through their product line. As I was aware of the CD collection of Mr. John Thankachan, the man behind Torvin, from various threads on this forum, I did not carry any of my favorite CDs with me. As time was premium, I mainly focused on an album I knew well, Roja.
My critical listening experience has only been with less capable systems, and I have not invested a lot of time in training my ears either. As we played various songs in the album, I immediately realized that every song is revealing more details than I have heard before. The revelation was even more as we moved from their basic towers to the model I had in mind, Euphonious - a two-way tower speakers with 8" woofers. In the mean time, the two options they had for amplification, meeting my requirements, arrived. Until then, the speakers were paired to one of the basic models that they have in their catalog. My requirements were for a high-fidelity analog only integrated amplifier with no tone controls and at least 3 inputs. I stressed on the high-fidelity aspect because, as I have read in many threads on this forum, they also have a PAS line of products. One of the amps was Flatone II, which is not listed on their website as I write today, and the other was Mosfier II, a device capable of driving 8 Ohms at 60W/channel, which is there on their website. A comparison revealed Mosfier II to be of more liking to my taste - laid back and slightly on the warmer side. I finalized Mosfier II and Euphonious.
After this, I got the chance to meet Mr. John Thankachan himself, in his listening room, in an upper floor of the building. He was in the final stages of testing one of his speakers, before they were going to be shipped. They were tall 3 way towers and were paired to a Mcintosh amp. Although I felt they were too big for the room, they sounded awesome, with deep and accurate bass, even at low volumes. Only if I had a room big enough for them, and of course deeper pockets to afford them. I had done my homework about Mr. Thankachan, thanks to this forum. Though we were meeting each other for the first time, I already knew many inspiring facts about this man - a guru in his field, soft-spoken and down to earth gentleman. His passion for music and audio and his efforts to live his passion is something for anyone to look up to. Both of us hail from the same town, by the way.
As I have read on Stereophile, high-end audio is a field in decline. The general outlook of this generation towards hi-fi, small customer base, narrow profit margins, and competition from large international players, makes it hard for local manufacturers to stay in business. Several threads on this forum cover this topic, to various lengths and breadths. Even then, before billing, I could't help but ask for a discount and Mr. Thankachan was kind enough to give a small discount. The journey back to Bangalore was more exciting than the onward journey.
Shipping and Unboxing
Both the speakers and amp were shipped to Bangalore to Chennai by parcel service. This kept the shipping costs down. The only difficulty is the limited tracking available for these services. Because we live in the world of Amazon and Flipkart, it was surprising that there are services that still operate in the last millennium. The speakers arrived first. As you can see, anything that we bring home has to undergo a strict lab test first.
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Lab test passed! The packaging was good and both speakers arrived without a scratch. Hoping that wider tweeter placement will slightly widen the sound stage, this was how the speakers were placed initially. The pic also shows a complete view of my listening area.
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The amplifier was not in stock and they had to build a new one. During subsequent interactions with folks at Torvin, I also came to know that Mr. Thankachan not only designs the amp but only hand builds it by himself. After a few weeks, the amp also arrived. Once again, the amp and the interconnect had to pass the lab test!
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I was happy with the fit and finish of both the speakers and the amp. The speakers have a glossy laminate finish and the amp is finished in matt black.
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The amp is very heavy for a 60W/channel stereo amp. As I was informed later by the folks at Torvin, this build has been optimized for driving large 8" towers like Euphonious.
AV Rack, Power and Interconnect
I got a custom AV rack done, wide enough to house a 55" TV. Since our place suffers from dust attack, I made sure that the rack is of a closed design with glass doors, a poor choice for heat dissipation. I leave the door open for air circulation, during long playback sessions.
I also upgraded the switchboard components of the power outlet. I am using V-Guard DIGI 200 stabilizer for the TV and set-top box and V-Guard VGMW 200+ for the amp. VGMW series is V-Guard's line of mainline stabilizers. Though both these models are of the same capacity, VGMW 200+ has a metal cabinet for better heat dissipation, a larger transformer and is much heavier than DIGI 200. Only drawback is that, the former doesn't come with a plug head and I installed a Crabtree plug head for VGMW 200+.
I am using DAC interconnect and speaker cables, which I purchased from HiFiMART. I also upgraded the stock power cord that came with the amp with a Sound Foundations New Truline MK2 model, purchased from HiFiMART. I also purchased spike shoes for the towers, directly from Sound Foundations.
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I opted out of the plan to use my phone as a source. I was looking for various options when I came across Allo Katana DAC based on ESS9038Q2M chip. Being in audio chip design business, I used to follow the development of this part very carefully. This chip is a highly capable device and rest of the audio IC manufacturers don't even have a competing part yet. However, a chip doesn't make a DAC, but how well the designer implements the chip is what does. Anyway, since Katana player is based on Raspberry Pi, this was a strong compelling reason to go in this direction.
I came to know from various threads on this forum that Allo has a manufacturing unit in Bangalore and their products can be picked-up directly from their unit, thereby reducing the shipping costs as well. After a couple of e-mail exchanges with the folks at Allo, they made a quote in INR that turned-out to be 100$ cheaper than the price on their website in dollars. The folks there are extremely helpful and their communication over e-mail was precise and concise. I opted for Allo Katana Player with Isolator, calibrated for better sound quality and picked-up the player from their manufacturing unit in the outskirts of Bangalore on Hosur road.
I did not want to complicate the set-up any further by using a powered USB hub, connected to the Pi, to mount an external hard drive containing my music collection. So, I purchased a 128GB USB 2.0 SanDisk pen-drive to store just my favorite tracks. Since this will only use one out of the 4 USB receptacles of the Pi, and it took a while for my digital music collection to grow to the current size, this solution gives me enough room for future expansion. The Pi can easily power pen-drives. Currently, I am running the player using two switched power supplies. Over time, I plan to upgrade to linear power supplies for the analog section.
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As playback/media management S/W, I am using Volumio, which supports Katana out-of-the-box. Setting up the player was a seamless process, and well documented in Volumio's and Katana's manuals.
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Other than the splash screen you see above, GUI is disabled by default, and all you get is the Linux command-line. Everything is controlled over network from a browser. Volumio provides all essentials and supports all lossy and lossless formats including WAV, FLAC and SACD rips like DSF and DFF. The only problem I face is that, the URL to connect to Volumio is not accessible from my Android phone. I had to find the IP address of the Raspberry Pi after connecting to Volumio from my PC, and then use this IP address directly to connect from my phone browser, a workaround well documented in the Volumio forum.
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Though Volumio is designed to wok off the RAM with minimal uSD card access, what I read from Volumio forum is that most of the people who have sworn by this feature have ended up with a bricked system during power failures and had to re-flash the OS and set-up once again, something I want to avoid. After considering several DIY solutions and weighing in total cost, time required to build a solution and operating expenses, I decided to go for a UPS, suitable for small PCs. A bit of research led me to APC BX600C-IN model. I purchased it directly from the APC website and also got an additional year of Warranty for the battery, for free, making the total Warranty period 3 years.
Among all the stuff I have unloaded in this thread, this could be the section that matters the most to many audio gurus here. Before describing my experience here, I would like to bailout in advance by saying that I am just a novice listener. Also, given that I have already purchased this system, however hard I try, I may not be able to avoid a bias. So, you can take my observations with a pinch of salt.
Of the three inputs the amp has, one is dedicated to the DAC and another has been brought out using a 3.5mm-to-RCA cable which can be connected either to the TV's or a phone's headphone output. I only used the Katana player as the source, for this review. My listening area is also our living room and this gives me limited options for speaker placement. Throw-in a sofa and a teapoy, the available space will shrink even more. I placed the speakers about 6 feet away from each other and about one foot away from the rear wall, all that I can afford in this setting and quite inadequate for rear-ported towers of this size. While there is a pillar behind and a glass window to the left of the speaker in the corner (left speaker), there is no side wall as such for the right speaker. I am aware of the effect of this asymmetry on stereo imaging and I toed-in the speakers as much as possible to minimize the side-effects of asymmetry. I also made sure that the faces of both speakers extend beyond the AV rack. No room treatment has been done yet and the speakers rest over tiled flooring. While tweaking the placement, I only listened for a brief amount of time after each tweak. I observed that the speakers sounded best when the tweeters are closer to each other, in contrast to what I assumed during the initial set-up. This is probably due to less reflections off the glass door on the side of the left speaker. I also left the grills on because that is how I'll be listening to them most of the time.
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After setting up the system, I tried to reproduce the magic I experienced during the demo by playing the tracks in Roja which were ripped from Pyramid's release of the album on CD. At half the volume setting on the amp and three-fourth the level on Volumio, the sound was already too loud by my preference. I did not observe any muddiness in base. My wife was also listening along with me and she was not impressed. She said that the sound was not that great, for a system of this size and cost. Then I switched to the song Enna Solla from Thangamagan, and she began to notice the detail of the presentation. Extended version of Aluma Doluma from Vedalam demonstrated how deep the system can go in bass and my wife was instantly hooked. She also took over the listening session and for rest of the day, most of the tracks we played were her favorites. Finally, before shutting down, I played Senthoora Poove form the movie 16 Vayathinile. Most of the songs my wife like are from the 90s and beyond, and given the relatively poor recording of this song, my wife went away before the song ended. However, next day I observed the "Illayaraja Effect", as I would like to call it; my wife was humming the song in the morning.
Another thing that I noticed is about our pup. During long and loud musical sessions in our old system, he was the first to get up and leave. I used to suspect that it was probably due to the cheap tweeters, dog's ears are more sensitive than ours. But with this system, he continued to stay with us for the entire session and none of us experienced any listening fatigue. As a bonus, this system is pet friendly too.
Next day, I was able to get the system all for myself, and that is when I started some serious listening. When we played Kadhal Rojave from Roja the previous day, SPB's voice was as brilliant as usual, but what really caught my attention was the beauty of Sujatha Mohan's voice. I played a couple of malayalam songs sung by Sujatha Mohan. Though the tracks were 320kbps mp3s, I enjoyed the music anyway. Moving on, I played various tacks by the King of Pop. The beats in the song 'Who is She' revealed once again, how deep the base can go without sounding muddy, in spite of the limited breathing room the speakers have. Smooth Criminal makes you want to dance. I got a better sense of sound staging when I played the album Live in Prague by Hans Zimmer, a live recording. My Heart Will Go On by Celine Dion took me out on a mesmerizing voyage. Overall, the system sounds tonally rich and balanced to my amateur ears, has good rhythm and sound staging and the detail of the presentation is excellent.
- Integrated Amplifier - Torvin Mosfier II capable of driving 60W/channel into 8 Ohms, having 3 analog inputs
- FS Speakers - Torvin Euphonious two-way rear-ported towers with 8" woofers and 1" tweeters, having a nominal impedance of 8 Ohms
- Source - Allo Katana Player with isolator, calibrated for sound quality running Volumio. Pi version is Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+
- Stabilizer - V-Guard stabilizers VGMW 200+ for the amp and DIGI 200 for TV, set-top box and the DAC. APC BX600C-IN UPS is the back-up power source for the Pi
- Interconnect and Termination - DAC ARX01A 2RCA to 2RCA interconnect, DAC SPK14 AWG OFC Dual Speaker Cables and DAC Gold Banana Plugs for termination. Stock power cable of the amp was upgraded to Sound Foundations New Truline MK2 Power Cable
- Misc -SoundFoundations Contoured Spike Feet are used to place the towers on tiled floor
As you can see, my rig is far from ideal and with my limited knowledge, I was able to identify scope for improvement in several areas. Can my system reproduce every nitty-gritty nuance of a well recorded track or even disappear when I play music? Well, I doubt that. Can my system transpose us to a different place and time, from our otherwise black and white lives, and make us disappear into a world of music? Well, it's doing that, and doing that welll. As Tyrion has said, once we learn to wear our flaws like an armor, nothing else matters.
I also would like to thank Mr. John Thankachan and his team for creating this marvelous system and wish them good luck in all their future endeavors. I also would like to express my gratitude towards hifivision.com and its several FMs, with whom though I have never interacted in person, but whose valuable advise has helped me a lot in the decision making process, during my audio journey. As I conclude this review, I can hear my system play Billie Jean in the background and I think its time for a moonwalk...
Thanks! It was not intended to be a listening chair when we purchased it and a sofa will be replacing it soon.Great Setup! Love the chair too!
As for the storage and the source, the first thing I realized within a few months of usage was that my plan to store all music (both ripped and downloaded) on 128GB pendrive(s) was not going to work out. I started running out of space sooner than I anticipated. After considering various options, right now I have arrived at 2 x 2TB external hard drives, connected to the Raspberry Pi SBC via a powered USB hub. As you might have already read, I am using Allo Katana Player as the source. It was an attractive choice back then because it is a streamer, DAC and pre-amp in one package, sold at a very reasonable price. It is a great source as far as the sound and sound for pound goes. Only downside is that the unit is less flexible - for example, it is difficult to connect other SPDIF-coaxial and -optical sources to the chain and still use the Katana DAC and pre-amp. If I were to rebuild my system today, I would choose a separate streamer and a DAC over Katana - something like Allo USB Bridge + Revolution or Topping DAC. Anyway, one upgrade that I'm planning to do is to switch over to Allo Shanti LPS from their basic SMPS wall warts that is powering the Katana now.Kindly share your long time experience with it.
I have a few videos of the system that were recorded using my phone. I don't think any of them do true justice to the system. The bass is barely there and the highs sound a bit recessed in the videos.A video of them singing would be dank too!
Thanks! It was not intended to be a listening chair when we purchased it and a sofa will be replacing it soon.
As for the storage and the source, the first thing I realized within a few months of usage was that my plan to store all music (both ripped and downloaded) on 128GB pendrive(s) was not going to work out. I started running out of space sooner than I anticipated. After considering various options, right now I have arrived at 2 x 2TB external hard drives, connected to the Raspberry Pi SBC via a powered USB hub. As you might have already read, I am using Allo Katana Player as the source. It was an attractive choice back then because it is a streamer, DAC and pre-amp in one package, sold at a very reasonable price. It is a great source as far as the sound and sound for pound goes. Only downside is that the unit is less flexible - for example, it is difficult to connect other SPDIF-coaxial and -optical sources to the chain and still use the Katana DAC and pre-amp. If I were to rebuild my system today, I would choose a separate streamer and a DAC over Katana - something like Allo USB Bridge + Revolution or Topping DAC. Anyway, one upgrade that I'm planning to do is to switch over to Allo Shanti LPS from their basic SMPS wall warts that is powering the Katana now.
1'O Clock?!Mosfier II is a sweet sounding amp and high quality components have been used throughout it's construction. Only drawback I have felt is its modest output power of 30W/60W into 8/4 Ohm loads - so, it requires to be paired with efficient speakers and I won't be able to swap speakers as easily. With my existing pair of speakers, Euphonious, the system gets pretty loud quickly and I have never gone beyond the 1 o'Clock setting on the volume knob.