The day we published the June 2009 review of Trend's new Special Edition PA-10 headphone and pre-amplifier, their Standard Edition of the same amplifier arrived. Instead of a Russian 6H23n, it has a Chinese 6N11 tube sticking out of the matchbox size aluminum case. The Standard version is less expensive, $225 versus $265. Both versions are small enough, even with the wall wart, to invite portable use; except for the fragile glass tube sticking out the top. Both versions tuck in nicely next to a PC monitor.
Side by side, the two versions are so completely identical that this tweaking audiophile put a red "C," for Chinese, on the serial number label on the bottom. Other than that, the only way to tell the difference is Trend's small purple shipping box.
There are six options on the box:
Tube BJ RU MIS
Cable CLTW BS VDE
The tube options indicate standard Chinese (BJ for
Also on the back are two properly labeled RCA audio inputs. One is "Pc/iPod," the other is "CD/DAC." You slide a little black selector to choose between the inputs. When using the PA-10 as a pre-amplifier, both switches are located inconveniently on the back. I warmed up both amplifiers. I reviewed them side-by-side using my winged Audio-Technica ATH-A700 and Sennheiser HD 650 cans; Sony and Klipsch Custom 1 in-ear buds, all on my Oppo DV-981HD player. I used the delicate white DACT Dual patch cords and a gold Radio shack ¼ to mini adapter. This is my seventh article in a series of headphone reviews. Read the previous Trend reviews for technical information about them and their amplifiers. I listened to the same tracks on both amplifiers, including my Test CDs. Once warmed up, both amplifiers are as hot as toaster to the touch.
Of the two tube amplifiers, Trend's Marketing Director David
Ho said the "
does DSD, track seven is the classic "Summertime." The Chinese version
rendered this song bright, hard and relentless. The piano notes are raw. The
cello has less growl than other amplifiers. While the attack seems fine, the
quick decay seems to loose the essence and texture of the notes. The Chinese
version has plenty of slam, but no soothing breathlessness to the flutes. With
the Klipsch buds, the clipping is noticeable, along with volume knob and
self-hissing noise. There is copious distortion near
The bass wasn't disappointing with action movies. Gunshots,
and other special movie effects, can shake the walls. Though bass has impact,
but the treble is too crisp and clean. Past
I award two Blue Notes for Enjoy the Music.com categories only where the component disappoints with below average performance, compared to other units. Enjoyment is my own category; yet it is the only one that truly matters. In the previous review, the Russian version is a weaker offering than the Antique Sound Lab HB1, which is close to the same price. The Chinese version of the PA-10 is weaker still. I didn't enjoy the music. I kept turning down the volume and switching to other cans and amplifiers.