It is just so easy to loose the nuances at the first stage of the amplification and this has driven Graham to work so meticulously on the Syren as a personal project. Graham handcrafts each Syren as an act of passion, which takes him nearly 2 weeks full time (over 70 hours of skilled labour). Probably the most difficult stage of amplification in any system is the first as it is dealing with the most sensitive signal, anything lost at this point will disappear forever. The preamplifier has the primary responsibility of preserving the music signal where the key is to maximise the dynamics and minimise any corruption, which will be magnified further down the signal path. Graham’s designs are by their very nature simple and concise, using the shortest possible signal path. A circuit board is used in preference to hard wiring because, when executed properly, it is more effective in reducing noise, resulting in a quieter background allowing more musical information to be heard. As with most things it all comes down to the quality and the execution. All circuit boards are not equal; Tron uses 1.6mm thick rigid boards that help stabilise micro resonances. The tracks are made of very high purity copper and elegantly laid out to minimise the length of the signal path.
The Syren is designed using four carefully divided partitions. These partitions help reduce the disruptive effect of magnetic, mechanical and electrical fields for the critical aspects of the circuit. All the components are oriented spatially to limit interference, and are of the highest quality available. Most are specially made to order and the strip core transformers and chokes are individually hand wound. This guarantees perfect pitch, rich tonal colour, and exposes the subtle timing and harmonic structure of the music, where lesser components corrupt and compress the signal. If you listen to a violin up very close then you can literally hear the harmonious chorus of every tiny resonance, and it is precisely this rich textural musical signature that we are passionate about preserving in combination with the timing and dynamics of the performance, in essence, to deliver the emotion of the music.
Phono stage can be specified with the following levels of gain:
1) +69dB for cartridges with an output of 0.3mV to 0.7mV.
2) +75dB for cartridges with an output of 0.1mV to 0.3mV.
3) Up to +89dB depending on customers cartridge.
Any of these options can be specified during the ordering process.
The Syren line stage has up to +12dB of gain.
Inputs: 1 RCA Phono input (L & R). 3 RCA Line inputs (L & R).
Outputs: 2 RCA Phono output (L & R)
Valve Complement: 2 × 12AX7 (low noise), 2 × 5687.
Frequency Response: 5Hz–37.5kHz ± 3dB. RIAA within ± 0.5dB
Phono Gain: 48dB – MM. 68dB – MC low gain. 74dB – MC high gain
Line Gain: 12dB.
Output Impedance: <600 Ohms
Mains Supply: 115–240 volts AC (50–60Hz). Earth lift included.
Power Consumption: Nominal 20 watts
Dimensions (mm): 450w × 340d × 105h
Weight: 25kg (net) including power supply
Warranty: 2 years (parts and labour)
The Syren II can be upgraded to the Reference specification to further improve the musical performance from all your musical sources. The output transformers form a critical stage in the amplification and to further improve the Syren II we have specially developed some unique non-standard core material that we keep as proprietary knowledge and simply refer to as exotic. These exotic core transformers help to lift the musical performance and enhance the vibrancy and intimacy of the music, in a way that just makes everything sound more immediate and tactile. We have been a little surprised, but delighted with how much a change in the core of a transformer can make to the musical performance, and this is why we have spent so long perfecting the materials we use in our exotic cores. Making these in such small quantities has also proved a challenge from some aspects of our sourcing, however we believe it has all been worth it.
The Ultimate comes with all the additions of the Reference model, but also uses 99.99% pure solid silver wiring throughout the critical signal path. Silver as a conductor has the advantage of a more revealing and transparent reproduction of the music, however care needs to be taken to ensure that this is delivered in a complete and unified manner as sections of silver in a component in isolation rarely provide a benefit. Finding the right dielectric (insulation) for the cables is also critical to extract the best from this expensive material. Our choice of dielectric enables the ‘skin effect’ associated with incompatible insulation to be rendered almost non existent. This helps to bring the music to a tighter and more cohesive performance, here conventional cables tend to render the small details essential for the whole piece to really hang together in a muddled and incongruent way.
GT Specification is the final step to perfection and to achieve this we have redesigned and build a more significant power supply that is housed in a completely separate box, matching the Syren II enclosure. The layout puts the power supply in it’s own housing, which allows us to place the components in their perfect orientation, and to shield the stages from cross interference. We have also wired the entire unit with 99.99% pure silver wire to be absolutely certain that the maximum possible performance is achieved. This has the effect of making silences darker and dynamic shifts in the music even more dramatic, and with a good recording this is phenomenal. Graham has described the improvements with the power supply as a little like cleaning your windows: You did not necessarily notice they were blocking any light, until afterwards. Well this power supply is like opening the French doors and looking straight out into the sunshine!
6moons review – Edward Barker