PA 3000 HV – not the catchiest name is it? It’s a shame that T+A has chosen to give such a distinctive stereo amplifier such an anonymous title.
In the metal, this amplifier is anything but forgettable.
There’s good build quality, great build quality and then there’s this T+A. It’s truly immaculate.
Each panel on its impressively hefty casework – this amp weighs in at a chiropractor-pleasing 38kg – is perfectly aligned and both control dials work with lovely precision.
That said, we’re not such great fans of the touch controls on the front panel.
Not only does their use invite greasy finger marks on that clean-cut display, but they’re a little hit and miss in use. Conventional buttons would be better.
Take a look inside the amplifier and, if anything, things get even more impressive. One glance at the engineering and attention to detail here will show you where the money goes.
This may be an integrated amp but inside you’ll find the preamplifier and power amplifier sections are physically separated. The preamplifier section sits in the top half of the casework.
It’s a proper dual-mono design where the left and right channels are separated. A great deal of care has been paid to component quality, right down to using decay-resistant air-sealed gold contact relays.
Equally, the company hasn’t tried to cut corners with its engineering solutions. Rather than using a traditional volume control it uses a series of precision resistors for each channel.
You’ll hear a faint click as the volume is changed, caused by the relays that switch between differing values of resistors and so change the signal level.
All the control circuitry is housed in the front panel. Not only does this look neat, but the 4cm-thick panel – yes, that’s right, 4cm – shields the sensitive audio circuitry from any electrical noise generated by the display and controls.
The PA 3000 HV is a powerful unit. Its output is rated at 300W per channel into eight ohms. More revealing is the peak power at four ohms, which is 700W per channel. Should be enough for most situations…
The HV in this product’s name refers to the fact that T+A has designed this amplifier to drive its transistors at a higher voltage to take advantage of the greater linearity available when they’re driven harder.
The downside to this approach is the need for top-quality parts and careful development for everything to work properly.
Also, it’s a challenge to come up with a circuit that operates in this way yet still offers more than a nod to eco considerations.
This level of engineering appeals strongly to the inner nerd in us, but in the end it has to translate into a sound that lives up to that massive price tag. In the case of PA 3000 HV it does.
Strangely, this T+A doesn’t produce the big, bombastic sound its appearance and specifications suggest.
It prefers to paint with a very fine brush, and revels in delivering the intricacies of Kate Bush’s voice or the delicate dynamic ripples of Arvo Pärt’s Tabula Rasa, rather than shaking the floor with Major Lazer’s Pon De Floor.
Don’t get us wrong. This amplifier goes every bit as loud as its power figures suggest, regardless of speakers tried.
Everything from our reference ATC SCM 50 to Monitor Audio’s PL 300s delivered a huge sound at ear-splitting levels when required.
But the amplifier’s natural disposition is to be just a little understated, preferring to draw the listener into the music rather than smash it over their heads.
We expect loads of detail, and get it. There’s a superb level of clarity here, with even complex pieces of music such as Orff’s Carmina Burana laid bare with surgical precision.
Soundstaging is immaculately layered, and possesses an enviable amount of stability when things get dynamically demanding. There’s lots of refinement too, and a tonal balance that is as even-handed and seamless as we’ve heard.
Sometimes products that share these qualities can easily sound clinical, something the T+A manages to avoid.
Criticisms? We’d like a more determined way with rhythms – Kanye West’s I Am A God doesn’t charge along with quite enough verve for us.
Some will want a bit more attack to the sound too – it is a touch on the polite side. Despite this, we’re never in doubt about the song’s aggressive attitude.
On the plus side, it’s with tracks such as these that we also come across this T+A’s star turn: it has truly fabulous bass. The quality of that power supply shines through in the immensely taut and textured low frequencies we hear.
Rarely have we heard any amplifier sound so in control, yet so fluid and powerful in the process.
It doesn’t matter whether you listen to acoustic bass or the kind of lows that disturb the rest of the street, this T+A will deliver it brilliantly.
The PA 3000 HV lives in the same space as some really tasty pre/power combinations, but it can more than hold its own.
Build quality is brilliant, as is its ability to unravel a recording – this is a product to take very seriously indeed.
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