Tom Evans Audio Design
Many of our customers use Tom Evans Audio Design phono stages. All sound great. These units are priced fairly, carrying a lot of value to audiophiles. All our customers think highly of Tom’s products. So, I decided to represent Tom and offer his great products to you.
Tom is a very nice man, with two kids. He began his electronics career in defense industry. In 1989 he went back to his first professional love, building high quality and great sounding hi-fi gear. Tom always has time for his representatives and customers, explaining all the details of his products in detail. He takes great pride in his name and the products he produces. Tom’s Hi-Fi gears are so good that he called them Tom Evans Audio Design.
Tom Evans manufactures phono stages, preamps, power amps and speakers. Most information below is copied from Tom Evans Audio Design website by permission.
Review below is by a customer of ours Mr. Paul Folbrecht.
“I’ve been using a Tom Evans Audio Design Microgroove +X for about the last three months. I consider it to be my last phono stage. (I hope I’m serious this time, and three months is a long time to go without having any desire for something better or different – at least for me.)Discovering Tom Evans gear was a bit of a revelation for me, that began last year. I had read of it but never heard it – after all, it’s not very easy to hear (the phono stages are easier to come across than the Vibe/Pulse and the Linear A). I started with a used Linear A, and was very impressed with that piece: it had an uncanny ability to unravel detail (including microdynamics) against an absolutely black background, and was spectacularly “fast” and extended as well. Of course, those things in itself are not too mean a trick – a lot of good (solid-state) gear can do that. But what the Linear A did that did set it apart was being as fast, quiet, and detailed while simultaneously having *full* tonal saturation and *never* sounding the slightest bit edgy, or bright.
I then added a Vibe/Pulse (Lithos 7 version, bought used from the same dealer) – and it made an even bigger difference to the system (over the highly-regarded tube line stage I had been using). It was the Vibe/Pulse that was really a game-changing piece of equipment for me: a blackground blacker than I had ever heard before, with quite stunning macro dynamics, and full and complete tonal saturation with a lovely, perfectly smooth and rich midrange and treble. After using it for several months, any tubed preamp was just too slow and veiled for me. Prior to that point, I had never found a solid-state preamp I preferred to even a mediocre valved unit. I’m not saying they’re not out there – I’m sure very prices MBL and other solid-state gear can pull of proper tonal saturation without being edgy – but I do believe it is generally VERY expensive to do it.
At this point I decided I wanted to go “the full monty” with a Tom Evans phono stage and that I should buy a new piece to support the company. I decided on the middle-of-the-read Microgroove + X after reading reviews. (I have seriously toyed with abandoning vinyl altogether, and done so for short periods, so I didn’t think a greater expense was warranted.)
I placed the order through local dealer SORAsound (great to deal with) and received the unit after only a few weeks.
After being plugged-in for only a few hours, the unit’s potential was evident, but it did seem to take a few days to display what it’s really capable of. Once it had settled down, I was quite thrilled, and amazed – it really exceeded my expectations.
It was the signature Tom Evans sound – fast, neutral, completely extended, but tonally pure and harmonically complete, with perfect balance – to an even higher degree. (After all, the line stage is providing something like 12 dB of gain while the phono stage is at around 70 dB! I guess it’s hard to argue that the phono stage is not the most important part of a vinyl amplification chain.)
My analog setup is a Basis Ovation table, early TriPlanar arm, and Ortofon Rondo Red cartridge. (Yes, the cart is the bottleneck there in terms of cost, but it doesn’t really sound like it!) I had on-hand with the Microgroove +X a well-regarded tubed phono stage (with SUTs for the MC gain stage) that retails for about $6000 (almost three times the TE’s price). The tubed unit was also *very* good, and they were surprisingly close not only in overall performance but in sonics, but I did end up preferring the Microgroove. It had a substantially lower noise floor and was audibly more extended, although the tubed unit was very good in both regards too. The tubed unit was more “lush” in the midrange but I came to see that as a coloration and preferred good recordings without it.
That’s about it. Like most Tom Evans gear, it doesn’t really look like it’s worth the asking price and it’s so light that thick interconnects can lift it, but, well, who cares. Tom is, I think, proud of the fact that he refused to market “audio jewelry”, and isn’t it more sensible to put the money where it counts? (I’ve come to like the understated but purposeful aesthetic of the Vibe, but the Microgroove is so tiny I hide it behind the platform the line stage is on anyway.)”
Tom Evans Audio Design phono stages include:
- The Microgroove ($1,050) uses high grade silicon. The signal path is DC coupled. Built as a steereo amp powered by by standard industry voltage regulators. Like all Tom Evans phono stages, Microgroove can be configured to suit any moving coil or moving magnet cartridge. Great entry level phono stage upgradable to The Plus.
- The Microgroove x ($1,192).
- The Microgroove plus ($2,100) is a stereo phono-amp that has one of Tom Evans’ Lithos 7 Class A regulators in place of the standard industry regulators. This improves the sound significantly, lowers the hoise floor, faster risting and falling edges of notes highlighting the spaces between them. John Cage would have had a hay day.
- The Groove ($4,000). This dual mono phono-amp uses one Lithos 7 regulator per side to supply power to each mono signal path p.c.b. All resistors are Holco precision metal film. All silicon is premium grade. The regulators are powered by a dual mono mains power supply. Since its launch in the UK, it has become the industry standard. The Groove can be upgraded to the Plus spec.
- The Groove x ($4,725).
- The Groove plus ($7,600). In this design the mains pcb has been replaced by the Lithos 6, a complex class A regulator (as used in the pulse power supply). Its outputs then feed the dual mono Lithos 7’s on the signal pcb’s. The external mains supply box contains a 70 watt transformer designed and manufactured in house. This transformer has an electrostatic screen to remove any R.F. noise, then rectified, smoothed, and regulated before leaving the box and heading for Lithos 6. The ultra low noise and distortion of this product provide audiophiles with the greatest possible dynamic range and resolution available.
- The Groove+ SRX ($8,900) has adjustable load and gain. The Groove+ SRX,in addition to the loading pcb has a front end gain stage that has 50% less noise and distortion than the Groove and Groove+.
- Upgrade of Microgroove to Groove Plus ($4,600).
Tom Evans Audio Design pre-amps include:
- The Vibe ($6,000) is a DC coupled preamp that has five sets of stereo inputs, one pair of record out, and two pairs of outputs enabling up to four sets of mono power amps to be driven. The output stages are capable of driving 100 meters of cable! The output stage is relay protected and has DC detection and DC protection. The volume is controlled by a 24 step DACT attenuator with channel matching of plus/mius 0.05db, attenuation accuracy plus/minus 0.05 db, THD 0.0001. The 5 way switch used for input switching.
- Two optional power supply upgrade for the vibe $4,950
- The Vibe and Pulse – two power supplies ($10.950). The Pulse power supply provides the Vibe preamp with the ultimate in ultra low noise class A regulator technology. The transformer used to power The Pulse is designed and manufactured in house. It was developed to eliminate Radio Frequency (RF), unwanted hash, sounds like glare. The sonic benefit of adding The Pulse to The Vibe is an obvious increase in dynamic range and resolution coming from a black background. The Pulse 2 is a one box PSU and looks like a mini Linear A.
The amps include two products, very different in design:
- The Linear A amp ($8,900) is a 25 wpc hybrid Class A single ended stereo power amp. This amplifier is a new precision design with extremely low distortion. Although the Linear A is only rated at 25.2 watts p/c, it is able to produce 150 decibels of dynamic range. The output transformers have been designed to produce real power into loudspeaker impedances of 5 ohms and above. Recommended loudspeaker sensitivity of 87 db or higher.
- The Linear B amp ($17,000) is a new breed of power amp. It uses Differential Global Feedback, a world first. As a 55 watt mono amplifier, The Linear B is able to produce 150 decibels of dynamic range. The output transformers have been designed to produce real power into loudspeaker impedances of 3 ohms and above.
Tom Evans electronics contain phase error correction circuitry. To ‘get’ what they are really capable of you need a speaker that will show the spatial cues (because of this the ear / brain is able to make much more sense of what it is being fed, it sounds like more information gets in) needed to reproduce a real stereo picture in true perspective. So you can now see the importance of this speaker design to Tom Evans.
While Tom Evans is best known for his phono amps, his amplifiers the Linear A and B’s and his pre-amp Vibe are as good as the Groove +SRX. Tom has essentially put over 25 years of his life in re-producing music better and better. In fact, in recent years he has been working on building a pair of speakers he would love enough to put his name on it.
All of the speaker electronics were designed using a Jordan Jx92s run full range without a crossover. In this new design the Jordan driver is limited to 120 Hz only by the volume of air behind it (lowering distortion with the reduced excursion without any crossover parts). The bass system is deep tight and very fast. It works from 120Hz down. This driver is (like most mid bass units ) is a little peaky at 2Khz and because it starts to roll off at 120Hz the peaky rubbish is greater than 24db down (inaudible). Because it has a narrow bandwidth, it does not excite the cabinet (no box honk). Tom Evans is on a mission to reproduce the recorded arts accurately.
SORAsound offers Tom Evans speakers at 6,000 GBP, exact same price as in the UK.