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JM. ARMENGOL

www.revistaonoff.es

JANUARY 2021

ON OFF: TB200 bench test

We moved for this Test Bench to the Assai Audio establishment in Madrid, centrally located and managed by José Félix Fernández Peña, a key figure in the Spanish Hi-Fi industry and in Madrid in particular. There another great character of the national HiFi was waiting for us next to the host: Rafael Ibarbia, who was going to present us the new company No Limits Audio in which he is in charge of the sales department.

Right now they import and distribute in Spain the German tube amplifiers Lyric Audio, which were not yet available, the famous British Falcon Loudspeakers (well known for their version of the BBC LS3/5a) and the French amplifiers Kora, object of this first contact.

 

KORA
Kora is a French company located in the technological heart of the neighboring country: next to Toulouse, after supplying electronic boards to the powerful local aeronautical and military industry, and to laboratories, they decided to turn their passion into a profession by starting to design and manufacture High Fidelity electronics three decades ago. Today they have specialized in amplifiers, with their own exclusive hybrid technology, and their range comprises three integrated power amplifiers: the TB140, TB200 (which we tested in this opportunity) and TB400. Their respective prices are 4,990 euros, 9,990 euros and 14,990 euros for the most powerful one.

Hybrid amplifiers on the market usually combine a tube preamp part with the transistor power section, except for some cases that are just the opposite. Kora does not exactly follow that recipe: their amplifier uses a proprietary circuit called “Square Tube technology”. Each channel uses two double triodes in an amplifier stage, hence the name. They use two high voltage voltages, one positive (+300 V) and one negative (-200 V), to amplify the signal to its maximum level symmetrically and attack the speakers. From there, it will be the transistor section that applies the current necessary for the speaker, but without intervening in the amplification: they act as a “buffer”.

In addition, the power supplies work thoroughly: the high voltage supply is stabilized, the filament supply is stabilized, and the transistor supply is generous. In the TB200 the latter uses two toroidal transformers of 300 VA each (so it weighs almost 20 kg) and a lot of filtering power, plus another one for the valves. A remote control facilitates volume control.

 

SOUND
The sound of the Kora hybrid amplifier is immediately striking for its dynamics and beauty with vocals, as well as offering in Assai Audio’s main room (wide and “open”) a three-dimensional scene of large dimensions in both width and depth. Voices have a great realism and we appreciate an excellent transparency, if anything with some added “freshness”. But it is remarkable how the inflections are reproduced in the voices, a microdynamics that gets us closer to the real interpretation: that and the beauty of the timbres reminds us of the presence of valves in the device, because although the Kora is hybrid, the valves are “key” in its performance.

The transistor output provides the necessary current and power: it never fell short, neither with a big symphony nor with a well-populated flamenco tablao… We got a very good feeling from this test, the Kora brings new ideas and its sound fulfills that hybrid ideal of the beauty of the tubes with the strength of the transistors.

 

HIGHLIGHTS ON OFF
+ Hybrid amplifier with unique proprietary technology
+ The dynamics and timbre of tubes, with the power of transistors.
+ Very “open” and 3D sound, with great transparency.
+ Excellent construction of European origin (France)

 

RATINGS KORA TB200 AMPLIFIER:
CONSTRUCTION : 5/5
DESIGN : 4/5
QUALITY : 5/5
PERFORMANCE : 5/5
PRICE/QUALITY : 5/5

 

www.revistaonoff.es/banco-de-pruebas-kora-tb200

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