by Alberto Guerrini
We tested a little headphone tube amplifier that has a very interesting feature: in fact Xindak MT-2 has two loudspeakers output connectors on its rear panel, apparently suitable to connect efficient loudspeakers, considering the 1.5 Watts output power (but we were amazed when we found that you can connect also not very efficient loudpseakers, like Tannoy Fusion Custom with 87dB 8 ohm).
Xindak is a Chinese brand, but it is famous for its remarkable products since 1988, when it was established Factory in Chengdu (it is a Sichuan's region, located in South-Western China).
This Company imports many famous components from european manufacturers, and it is a strange and positive behaviour, considering that a lot of european products that are made in China are filled with chinese components only.
In this case, external shape, probably was not the main Xindak's purpose: it is austere and its customers know what they bought it for its internal high quality components and features.
Effectively, looking to the left and right tubes side, you can appreciate that you see an input transformer and output transformers, that Xindak says are specifically "custom made"; particularly power transformer is an 85 watt type "E" transformer.
In addition you can clearly see japanese Rubycon 220 pF capacitors, well estimated: they are a very good choice.
Tubes are well covered by a metallic grill: there are two 6P1 preamplifier tubes and two 6J1 drives, they are claimed to be NOS from militar stocks.
Volume's knob and power led are on the front panel; on the right side you can find one USB input (in fact this amplifier can be used like an external DAC with your personal computer) and one headphone connector (we have a standard 6.35mm connector jack).
On the left side, there is a small and rounded on/off power button; on the rear panel you can find four binding pots for loudspeakers (you can use spades connectors), one RCA input, and one IEC power socket, with a fuse box incorporated.
All surfaces of amplifier, protection cover and even transformers are accurately finished using a black special epossidic paint: this assure a very pleasant and nostalgic look to this amplifier.
Inside carton box there are a pair of white gloves to properly handle tubes, one power cord, and a small but clear user manual.
Listening session was performed comparing MT-2 results (using Tannoy Fusion 1 Custom loudspeakers, loudspeakers cables Monster Cable Reference M2.5, AKG K240 Monitor Headphones at 600Ohm. Digital source netbook pc Samsung NT10, Windows XP SP3. CD Player Marantz CD 73) versus my reference system: integrated tube amplifier by Emmeb Custom EL34 Push Pull, Rogers JR149 loudspeakers, Harbeth 15Ohm LS3/5a, System and Magic Black Noise 500 power conditioner, power cord Nordost Brahma, signal cables Nordost SPM Reference, loudspeaker cables Wirewold Eclipse and Nordost SPM Reference.
Burn-in was fully performed in about 200 hours. I used my AKG K240 Monitor headphones. Their 600 Ohm are the higher value that is suitable for MT-2, so I guess that I really well tested it during all time I used it.
I started listening to a track from a WLM CD Test: a drum session, just to immediately evaluate if this small amplifier was able to correctly drive my AKG headphones, that usually are not so simply tolerated by other headphone amplifiers.
Instead, despite its very low output power, Xindak MT-2 was really able to drive it very well, quick and agile during dynamical transitions, with no hesitations. Obviously you can't rotate a lot its volume knob, otherwise you will be in clipping zone.
I found many merits, expecially listening to tracks that are full of very low frequencies, like organ tracks: a very good amount of details, a remarkable dynamical contrast and a decent soundstage and focus ability.
Strings, for example, like classical guitar and harp, are very neutral, and also flutes are realistic and natural.
Voices are really pleasant and free from any extra coloration.
Even orchestra, usually an Achilles heel, is very enjoyable and articulated.
Sound layers are well delineated. Tubes give a natural warmth, but you can still have a very good detail and dynamical contrast.
I started testing this headphone tube amplifier listening it through loudspeakers and I can say that performances are really good, and I was surprised, because I wasn't expected that a so small amplifier was able to drive 86dB bookshelf loudspeakers using so few watts.
Using Tannoy Fusion 1 Custom I was impressed by sound pressure that I was able to obtain without distorsions.
Sound quality is the same that you can obtain using headphones.
Maybe you will obtain also a more steady output power and dynamics, also sound stage's width seems to be wider than the 6.35mm jack.
If you would like to buy an amplifier for a little room, I absolutely will suggest you to buy this small integrated tube amplifier: you will obtain a quality system.
USING OF INTERNAL DAC
Connecting MT-2 to my PC Windows XP-SP3 immediately found it like Burr Brown Japan PCM 2702 (a real warranty quality chip!) and it was configured as USB speakers: I was not asked for any drivers.
Please let me say some words on this DAC unit that you will find inside this Xindak, because on its user manual it is not explained: I found many texts on Internet.
It is a single chip from Texas Instruments, with an independent clock generator and with an 8x oversample filter using digital interpolation and an analog low-pass filter output.
Based on a D/A converter with delta-sigma modulation.
I started listening one of my favourite CD "Taking Hands" by guitarist Antonio Forcione (Naim Records), ripped to WAV directly from original CD tracks, using Windows Media Player to rip and to play tracks.
Considering that I'm not using a Wadia tray, neither some special trick and esotheric cables, result is very good, with dynamics and details usually related to a very high quality CD player.
In addition it sounds very good using my headphone, but it sounds as better also using external loudspeakers Tannoy!
Dynamical content is better than Marantz CD-73, a very good digital source.
Timbre is brighter and more open, but with contrast and details and a very good spatial reconstruction.
Than I listened some pure rock with "Made in Japan" by Deep Purple, to check one more time these features: and I obtained them again. I also listened at "Kiss" Anthology, and I found an honest and good low-frequency control.
All my conclusion should be calibrated considering Xindak MT-2 enduser pricelist (very low and affordable) and comparing it to similar devices. It is not a giant killer, able to kill devices with a quadruple pricelist. But really this device has a lot of very good features, that