Stereophile’s “Sounds Like? An Audio Glossary” describes the term inner detail as “The sonic subtleties within a complex program signal, reproducible only by a system having high resolution.”
As in, when the music is playing and the layers become many, or the soundstage is filled with a multitude of elements, individual instruments or sounds can still be seen by the ear and retain their own characteristics amid the crowd.
This can be a function of the speaker system design as a whole, describing the quality of the drivers along with the transparency of the crossover and its group of components.
But even the best speakers won’t have impressive inner detail without being fed a signal rich with it. Today on my test bench at The Music Room I was treated to a pair of monaural power amplifiers that practically forced my desktop speakers to be perfect.
Often times, a great set of speakers here will show up and cast a huge soundstage effortlessly. I think it’s a little more rare to see amplification or source gear that makes that much of an affect on the status quo, though it does happen.
Today it’s happening in a big way. These Theta Digital Enterprise mono power amplifiers, uncolored and neutral in presentation as they are, have simply forced the issue in my test rig, and I’m witness to more inner detail in some of my favorite recordings than usual. Far more than usual.
I’ve got an interesting thing going on lately with my testing speakers. I listen to four at once. The main pair are standmounts / bookshelves that my engineer friend and I designed and built, with external crossovers full of choice parts. They live on a set of IsoAcoustics Aperta stands I purchased long ago from TMR, but they’re not the only speakers in the mix.
In parallel, and widened out to the width of the speaker arc I also have a pair of Decware’s new tiny desktop omnidirectional speakers, called Tiny Radials. When all four speakers on the desk are driven by the same amplifier, the soundstage is massive and realistic in height. It’s not relegated to a somewhat 2-dimensional plane, but rather something that more closely resembles the width and shape of an IMAX screen, with some added 3-dimensionality.
The Theta amps are pushing music into this relatively low load (slightly less than 3 ohms a channel, but fairly stable) with the capability and nimbleness of a single ended triode amplifier feeding ultra-high efficiency speakers. But it’s the soundstaging and inner detail that have me mesmerized. In my last blog post, I talked about how delicious I found the pairing of my main standmounts with a VAC 30/30 tube amplifier. Thing is, I wouldn’t be so comfortable feeding that lovely tube amp a tiny load like this… 2.7 ohms is too low for 300B and 6SN7 tubes, I think.
Yet these Thetas are handling it with supreme ease, and showing me things I heard when the VAC amp was lighting up my speakers, well before the Decware desktop omnis made an appearance.
If you’ve got a desire for a very neutral and uncolored presentation filled with piles of inner detail, and perhaps a challenging speaker load that keeps you from being able to try low power or low feedback tube designs, I urge you to take a very hard look at these Theta Digital Enterprise monos. They get my highest recommendation, and I really can’t believe they’re priced where they are for the performance they’re capable of.
Interested in hearing these in your system?
Shop them while they are here.