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September 2009
Enjoy the Music.com Review Magazine
World Premiere!
Trend Standard Edition PA-10 Headphone Amplifier
With Chinese 6N11 Tube
Side by side comparison of two versions.
Review By A. Colin Flood

Click here to e-mail reviewer


Trend Standard Edition PA-10 Headphone Amplifier  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 Beijing ), special edition Russian and new 12AU7 tube versions. The cable options are U.S. (grounded three-prong plug), Europe/French and U.K/H.K. In China they call the common 6922/6DJ8 pre-amplifier tube a 6N11. These thumb size tubes are common in many amplifiers and pre-amplifiers. Trend presets the jumpers and DC bias voltage for the packaged vacuum tube. Oddly, the power switch on the back operated in the opposite direction: down was "on," but then the Chinese read backward too (from right to left side).

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 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 " Beijing 6N11 is providing the balance sound in full range and good fidelity." He says, "over 35% sales of Trends PA-10 is in headphone market." On my Oppo player, the difference between the two versions was remarkable. The Russian version was much better than the Chinese one. Presentation was smoother, the highs were much better. The edges were gone. On both versions, the PA-10 sound opens up about 10:00 on the dial. Neither version could get the Sennheiser 650s to open up and sound strong or loud. Most listening therefore was with the ATH-A700s.


Number 7s
Trend Standard Edition PA-10 Headphone AmplifierOn many types of music, the Chinese version sounds harsh, with too many rough edges. On Dire Straits' classic Brothers in Arms (Warner Brothers), song seven is "The Man's Too Strong." The Chinese version struggled with the piano, making it sharp and raw; vocals are more direct and forward. Bass is slightly more solid and simple. The Chinese version crushes the crescendo against a wall of resistance. It adds a PA quality to Mark Knopfer's sotto voce. It mashed instruments together like an AM radio. It made guitar strings brittle and bright. Although this Lilliputian amplifier is generally easy to listen to at modest volumes, higher levels quickly reveals glaring faults. Mid-range vocals do not have the "naturalness" of tubes. Voices are physically present. They just don't have tangible texture. Perhaps because of their harsh edge, vocals are not overly convincing, detailed or coherent.

On DMP 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 noon on the dial.

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 midnight on the dial and the high-end stabs your ear.


Similar Scores
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.



Sub-bass (10Hz - 60Hz)

Mid-bass (80Hz - 200Hz)

Midrange (200Hz - 3,000Hz)

High Frequencies (3,000Hz On Up)



Inner Resolution

Soundscape Width Front


Fit And Finish

Self Noise

Value For The Money


Type: Vacuum tube headphone amplifier 
Frequency Response: 15 Hz to 100 kHz (-1dB)
Power Output: 3.0 Watts per channel on 33 Ohm Headphone
Amplification Gain: x3 (for Audio CD/DAC IN), x20 (for Audio PC/iPod IN)
SNR: 92dB
Input Impedance: 100k Ohms
THD+Noise: 0.05% @ 10k ohm, 0.15% @ 33 ohm
Dimensions: 76 x 46 x 114 (WxHxD in mm)
Weight: 13.5 ounces
Price: $225


Company Information
ITOK Media Ltd
Room 1011-12, 10/F Tower1
Millennium City 1
388 Kwun Tong Rd
Kwun Tong
Hong Kong

E-mail: sales@trendsaudio.com
Website: www.TrendsAudio.com














































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