AOM Logo May 2001


The Elnika 'Edgar' TP 101 integrated amplifier


David Aspinall

This interesting tube integrated amplifier caught my eye recently in the warehouse of its Canadian distributor. Although relatively unknown this side of the Atlantic, the distributor sung Czech manufacturer Elnika's praises loudly enough that a home listen was in order.

Edgar TP 101 integrated amp

The TP 101 is a striking piece; glowing tubes, a beech frame with chromium tin shelters attract the eye as only a tube amp can - a little bit of retro and a little Bauhaus combine quite attractively. Four Tesla EL 34s dominate the glowing skyline with 1 ECC 83 and 2 ECC 85s rectifying things quite nicely; I used the stock tubes for the entire audition period. The TP 101 was a hefty little beast, weighing in at 51 lbs with dimensions of 18"w x 7¼"h x 14¾"d .

Technically, the '...amplifier contains two AB output stages in ultralinear connection, making use of high current. An input signal transmitted to one of the four inputs is connected to the volume controller through the input selector and to the record output selector whose position is independent of that of the input selector. The amplifier is provided with controlled heating up and delayed connection of an anode voltage. The amplifier enables the connection of earphones and unconnection of the loudspeaker systems.'. It has 4 and 8 Ohm taps, with output power of 100 watts. The 8 Ohm taps were used for the review.

When faced with the task of familiar sonic pleasures, our test model did not disappoint. The Rachmaninov/Reiner Isle of the Dead (RCA 09026-61250-2) has sounded at least wonderful on virtually any setup I've tried, so there were no major aural revelations in the performance of our test amp. That said, the depth perspective and ambient space between instruments and sections, always outstanding on this recording, seemed even more finely sculpted in sonic space than I've grown used to.

I can't say yet, however, that the Reiner gained as much as some of his digitally-challenged rivals. A quick dip into the Bryden Thomson Bax symphonies and tone poems (Chandos) revealed the chronic glare of digitalis in less than all its dubious glory - but tamed to within bearability for extended listening (aaah! - that felt good). Another CD to demonstrate the conspicuous benefit of tube technology was the splendid Peter Donohoe/Simon Rattle Rhapsody in Blue/Concerto in F (with Gershwin piano solos, EMI CDS 7 54280 2). The Rhapsody has seldom sounded as sassy as in this performance of the original augmented jazz band arrangement (small scale to be sure, but not scaled down; Gershwin didn't know the full orchestra version we're familiar with). Here, I'm pleased to report, the clarity of the digital recording, indubitably a boon in unveiling the felicities of Ferde Grofé's orchestration, is not fatally compromised by the edge and attack of digital nasties. Here, pleasingly, the timbral bark is for once more noticeable than the digital bite.

Even when faced with the near field test (as close as 4 feet), the amp yielded pleasing results. The Korngold Sea Hawk (Kojian/Utah, Varese Sarabande VSD 47304) has always struck me as rather aggressively bright before, but in this test its rather sharp images were rounded and solid, though in perspective still rather shallow, but that due probably more to the engineer's attempt to replicate the Warner soundstage in contrast to the concert sound favoured by Gerhardt. The 1987 recording suddenly had an unaccustomed warmth, encouraging the suggestion that there is yet hope for some of the victims of that dark decade's digitized legacy.

I would have loved to dedicate even more time to the EDGAR TP 101. My few weeks making its acquaintance were an enticing introduction, especially as to its potential for (somewhat) redeeming the 80s, so often written-off as a catastrophic decade by classical audiophiles.

EDGAR TP 101 tube integrated amplifier
Manufactured by Elnika
Volgogradská 13, 080 01 Prešov, Cz
phone: 091 / 7710 396, fax: 091 / 7710 396
web: http://www.elnika.sk/indexuk.htm, e-mail: elnika@elnika.sk
Price: US$1500.00
Source of review sample: Canadian Distributor
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