AOM Logo February 2001

The Calm Before the Storm
The Talk Electronics Thunder 3 CD player, Hurricane 3 pre amplifier and Tornado 3 power amplifier

David Aspinall

Having spent three happy months with this Talk Electronics integrated system, I can report with confidence that the preliminary reviews did not exaggerate. The Thunder 3 CD player, Hurricane 3 preamp, and Tornado 3 amplifier will give great satisfaction to any but the most profligate high-end spenders, and, value-for-dollar, will not disappoint any.

Thunder 3 CD player

As a stubborn, vinyl-rules-stick-in-the-groove (thus not easily convinced to spend multiple hours listening to any CD system), I confess to having to eat crow frequently during LP/CD comparisons over these three months. Whole weeks have gone by, I admit, with nary a new 33 appearing on my turntable. Much of the pleasure of the Talk experience was in just inserting one familiar CD after another into the tray and revelling in the newly-revealed detail, soundstage and sonic balance which, very often, turned formerly oppressive sections of familiar CDs into revelatory experiences. At the very least, even with the worst-sounding CDs, the clean Talk sound softened the sonic aggression. And with the best CDs the final result approached, even matched, my most mystical vinyl moments.

Matched with the Soliloquy monitors and subwoofer reviewed elsewhere in, the Talk integrated system not only made some ill-sounding CDs more than bearable, it also refurbished some of my favourites. Beecham's early stereo Delius collection (EMI 7 47509 8) sounds utterly natural, and there's no need, in sheerly sonic terms, to prefer any longer the vinyl HMV SXLP pressings which have been my standard in the past. Other vintage analog favourites reheard with similar conclusions include The Reiner Sound, the Herrmann Phase 4 spectaculars and the Munch Saint-Saens Third. Perhaps the starkest contrast was the Goossens/Everest Rachmaninov Symphonic Dances (EVC 9002), which, on the Talk circuitry, takes its place as one of the greatest of all analog experiences. Particularly pleasurable because the dynamics and contrasts of this most underrated of 20th century works were often undermined - as in "sonic minefield" - by the often execrable surfaces and hiss on the Everest LP originals. The Talk trio has replicated the ambience and clarity of the Walthamstow Town Hall soundstage, and, more crucially, the glow and richness of the LSO in a great performance, which, in my opinion, tops even the TAS superlist Johanos/Dallas.

Hurricane 3 pre amplifier

When we move into the digital era, however, the sonic improvement is far more dramatic. While Chandos recordings, to these ears, still sound on the bright side, one of the worst offenders in my experience, the William Alwyn film scores (CHAN 9243) has become bearable finally. Mind you, Alwyn's score to Carol Reed's masterpiece of compassion I would listen to frequently even if I had to go to Belfast. But hearing it without the overbearingly bright brass - or at least with the rest of Hickox's LSO offering timbral compensation for said brass - Odd Man Out's brilliant score, accompanying some of the most hallucinatory visuals ever shot and one of James Mason's greatest performances as wounded IRA leader in flight from his destiny, is an audio experience one can return to frequently - and now, thanks to Talk, with untarnished pleasure.

In another world altogether, the famous Verve Songbooks by Ella need no audio help on any system. Yet one comes to their CD issues with a new anticipation when the soundstage and timbral fidelity are as spectacular as they are as retrieved by the Talk combination. Listen to Ella's exquisite Someone to Watch Over Me and hear her voice at its peak, her phrasing so elegantly simple as not to distract us from one of the golden age's most gorgeous melodies. As reproduced here, with an amazingly deep soundstage adding caressing air between the instruments, an unforgettable aural as well as aesthetic pleasure. Powering the player was the Tornado 3 stereo amplifier, with its hundred watt power capacity adding a sense of ease to all but the most demanding sources.

Talk's engineers seem convinced that their success in these areas is connected to "the latest generation 24-bit Crystal Semiconductors digital to analogue conversion unit". They also boast that the Thunder 3 is one of a very few CD players to achieve zero power supply jitter. I am no techno wiz and cannot comment (although I was impressed that the Sony transport mechanism did not mistrack once during the entire audition period). I am no chef either. But my ear is to my audible preferences what my palate is to my edible preferences. By that elementary test, I can testify to the Talk technicians, and to you readers, that this system does the job marvelously.

Thunder 3 CD Player
Hurricane 3 pre amplifier
Tornado 3 stereo power amplifier
Manufactured by Talk Electronics Ltd.
Unit J, Albany Park, Camberley, Surrey, England, GU15 2PL
phone: +44 (0) 1276 686030, fax: +44 (0) 1276 686353
web:, e-mail:

Source of review sample: Audiopathic (Canadian Distributor)
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