Hafler, well known for its patented Trans·nova power amplifies and active studio monitors, recently introduced its TA series of power amplifiers. The two-channel TA1100 and TA1600 (50 watts/channel and 75 watts/channel into 4 ohms respectively) are designed to provide Hafler quality and reliability at entry-level prices.
Product Points
Applications: Studio, live sound, broadcast

Key Features: Two-channel; 75 watts per channel at 4 ohms, 60 watts per channel at 8 ohms (TA 1600); thermal heat sink; short circuit protection

Price: $249

Contact: Hafler at 888-423-5371, Web Site

Features

The two-rackspace TA1100 ($199) and TA1600 ($249) amplifiers both feature an attractive silver and purple faceplate flanked by two large dark-gray rack ears. Behind each rack ear panel is a heatsink system that runs the depth of the unit. The TA1100 uses Hafler's Trans·ana circuitry while the larger TA1600 uses Trans·nova topology.

The front panel features two continuously variable volume knobs, a lighted power switch and a 1/4-inch stereo headphone jack. Two multipurpose channel status LEDs indicate signal clipping, thermal standby and short protection shutdown.

The rear of the unit features balanced 1/4-inch (TRS) and unbalanced RCA input jacks. Amplified outputs are available on spring-loaded contact barriers and 1/4-inch jacks. A fuse-loaded IEC A/C jack completes the connections.

The TA Series amplifiers use a lower-wattage version of Hafler's patented Trans·nova technology, which essentially keeps circuit voltage levels low until the MOSFET output stage of the amplifier. This allows for a simpler circuit design in general and, according to Hafler, better linearity and distortion specs.

The convection-cooled TA amplifiers feature heatsink and transformer thermal monitoring networks to protect the amplifier from excessive operating temperatures. An output sensing circuit shuts the amp down in case of a short in the attached output load.

The TA1600 model provided for review boasts very respectable specs: power ratings are 75 watts per channel at 4 ohms and 60 watts per channel at 8 ohms (1 kHz, 0.1 THD); signal-to-noise >102 dB below rated output (A-weighted); and a full-power frequency bandwidth from 1 Hz to 300 kHz (+0/-3 dB).

Manufacturer-stated slew rate of the TA1600 is 100V/µs and balanced input impedance is 47 ohms per phase. The amplifier provides a maximum gain of 29dB and features a common mode rejection ratio (CMRR) of >65dB at 1 kHz.

The 8.5-inch deep TA1600 is primarily intended for fixed-installation use but, at a light 22 pounds and ruggedly built, taking it on the road for instrument amplification or monitor duties is no problem.

In use

The sleek look of the model TA1600 set a tone right out of the box. Happily, the streamlined design of the unit's faceplate and simple circuit design paralleled the clear, transparent audio I noted during my testing of this amplifier.

I first swapped my Hafler P3000 amplifier in my studio monitoring system with the TA1600. This took a small bit of reconfiguration since the balanced outputs of my system are on XLR and my speaker cables are configured for banana plug/binding posts; the TA1600 only accepts balanced signals on TRS 1/4-inch and has no binding post outputs.

While this cost-saving measure was a minor inconvenience, it in no way affects sound quality or performance - the kind of target-price modification I applaud (as opposed to cheaper parts in the signal path, for instance).

With the TA1600 driving a pair of Westlake Lc8.1 studio monitors, I listened to a variety of material with which I am intimately familiar. It took practically no time to feel comfortable with the new kid in my setup. The amp reproduced the program material clearly and faithfully at low to moderate volumes.

While I knew driving the eight-inch woofers in the Westlakes with 65 watts per channel (into 8 ohms) at higher volumes would not provide enough overall transient headroom, the rugged Hafler kicked out the jams admirably! I was surprised by the still-pristine signal quality of the resilient TA1600 driving the Westlakes at moderately high volumes for sustained periods.

Although the possibility of damage to speakers and/or amp existed, between the clean reproduction I continuously heard from the Hafler and its watchful protection circuits, neither showed any sign of real danger; very impressive, indeed.

I continued my evaluation of the TA1600 by driving several different pairs of alternate mix speakers during critical mixing jobs. The first set of alternate speakers (i.e. in addition to the Hafler P3000/Westlake Lc8.1 combo) was a pair of the ubiquitous Yamaha NS10Ms. This seemed to be a perfect pairing of power, price and performance. No matter what I threw at the combo, the pairing sounded linearily linked.

Similarly-sized Tannoy 6.5 and SRD Speakerworks speakers also felt perfectly matched with the TA1600. With this size speaker, I almost felt as if the amplifier was reacting to specific and changing characteristics of the load attached.

I also used the Hafler TA1600 to drive a pair of new TripleP Pyramid speakers with the equally pleasing results. These neat little speakers are designed to fill the role that Auratone speakers did years ago, but with a sound and construction more relevant to small speakers of today. Look for a review of these handy speakers in an upcoming issue of PAR.

Summary

Hafler's TA Series amplifiers are predictably impressive sounding, especially considering their price point. I found the TA1600 ideally suited for use with typically-sized closefield monitors. In addition to studio reference monitoring, these amps will be right at home for smaller DJ and live sound applications, driving guitar cabinets, and fixed installations.

REVIEW SETUP

Westlake Lc8.1, Yamaha NS10M, TripleP Pyramid, Tannoy 6.5, SRD Speakerworks studio monitors; Auralex MoPad monitor isolation pads; TASCAM DA-45HR DAT recorder; Digidesign Pro Tools MixPlus workstation; Zaolla Silverline analog and digital cables.