The Tsakiridis Devices Hermes is a tube integrated amplifier known for its compact size and impressive performance. Priced at 2,300 euros, it has garnered attention for its ability to deliver rich and engaging audio experiences. In this review, we’ll delve into its features, design, and sound quality to understand what makes the Hermes a notable amplifier in its class.
Design and Features
The Hermes amplifier measures a mere 28 centimeters in width, making it a suitable addition to a desktop setup. Its compact size allows it to fit on desks and deliver high-quality audio to desktop users. Additionally, it can also serve as a powerful amplifier for medium-sized spaces when paired with high-efficiency horn speakers.
One notable feature of the Hermes is its built-in DAC, which enables direct connections to desktop computers. However, it’s essential to consider the amplifier’s depth, which measures 48 centimeters, as it may affect its placement on some desks.
The Tsakiridis Hermes caters to tube enthusiasts who appreciate the unique characteristics of the EL84 power pentodes. This amplifier employs four EL84 tubes per channel, arranged in a parallel push-pull circuit (PPP). EL84 tubes are celebrated for their durability and ease of use, making them a practical choice for this amplifier.
Controls and User Interface
The Hermes comes equipped with a remote control, enhancing its usability in larger listening spaces. The remote allows users to adjust the volume and select input sources from a distance. Input switching is achieved through relay-based mechanisms, ensuring seamless transitions between audio sources.
On the front panel of the amplifier, you’ll find a power switch, a precise volume control knob, a 6.35 mm headphone jack, and a unique instrument displaying the quiescent current of the power tubes for each channel. Notably, the amplifier features an auto-bias circuit, eliminating the need for manual bias adjustments.
Tube Cover and Cooling
Tsakiridis Devices provides a well-crafted cover for the tubes, offering the option to showcase the tubes through a thick plexiglass pane. However, it’s essential to consider safety, especially if there are children or pets present. Some users may prefer to leave the cover off for an unobstructed view of the tubes.
EL84 tubes are known to generate heat, and the Hermes is no exception. Adequate ventilation and proper spacing are crucial to prevent overheating. Tsakiridis estimates that the included JJ EL84 tubes from Slovakia will last approximately 5,000 hours, making tube replacements an affordable and manageable maintenance task.
The Tsakiridis Hermes provides one pair of speaker terminals per channel, designed for speakers with a six-ohm impedance. This approach aligns with the practice of many tube amplifier manufacturers, prioritizing practicality and simplified impedance matching.
While Tsakiridis Devices doesn’t disclose detailed specifications of the built-in DAC, it functions adequately for its intended purpose. The DAC supports PCM data up to 24-bit/96kHz, allowing users to enjoy high-resolution audio playback.
Distortion Values and Harmonic Characteristics
Distortion values for the Hermes are disclosed, with distortion ranging from 0.5% to 1.2% for one watt of power and 1.5% to 2.3% for ten watts. Tube amplifiers often exhibit even-order harmonic distortion, characterized by distortions that align with even multiples of the fundamental frequency. This harmonic distortion can be perceived as musical and pleasant, contributing to the amplifier’s unique sound character.
The sound test of the Tsakiridis Hermes reveals its remarkable performance. Despite its modest 20-watt power rating, the amplifier produces powerful and engaging audio. It surprises listeners with its robust bass, delivering a full-bodied low-end experience. While the bass may lack some precision, its overall quality is enjoyable.
The amplifier excels in rendering voices and instruments, enhancing their timbral richness with a touch of overtones. This characteristic contributes to its warm and engaging tonal character, offering a pleasant listening experience.
Fine dynamics and resolution are also strengths of the Hermes, allowing it to reproduce subtle volume gradations with finesse. The amplifier demonstrates its ability to handle large orchestral dynamics with confidence, even at higher listening volumes.
In terms of treble performance, the Hermes may not match some solid-state amplifiers in terms of resolution, but it compensates with a pleasant overtone spectrum. The highs are less bright but possess a rich quality that complements the amplifier’s overall tonal warmth.
Sound Test of the Tsakiridis Devices Hermes
In the sound test of the Tsakiridis Devices Hermes tube integrated amplifier, we explore its performance in greater detail, focusing on various aspects of sound quality and how it handles different types of music.
1. Initial Impressions and Power Delivery
Upon listening to the Hermes, the immediate impression is that it possesses a more substantial power output than one might expect from its modest 20-watt rating. This initial surprise prompts listeners to raise the volume slightly, which reveals the amplifier’s ability to deliver robust and impactful sound.
The amplifier demonstrates its capability to breathe life into music right from the start, catching listeners off guard with its dynamic performance. This characteristic makes it engaging and well-suited for a range of musical genres and recording styles.
2. Bass Response
One of the noteworthy qualities of the Hermes is its bass response. It ventures into the lower frequency spectrum, reproducing frequencies that can be challenging for tube amplifiers. To illustrate this, let’s consider a bass-heavy track like Tove Lo’s “2 Die 4” from the album “Dirt Femme.”
The amplifier’s bass output sounds pleasantly full, presenting a sense of richness and weight. While it may not exhibit the surgical precision of solid-state amplifiers, it retains an enjoyable and textured low-end experience. It’s important to note that this characteristic may vary depending on the associated speakers.
3. Vocal and Timbral Characteristics
Moving on to the realm of vocals and timbral qualities, the Tsakiridis Hermes proves its mettle. Vocals, like those of Ms. Nilsson singing, “Look alive and come with me, you’re to die for every day,” sound captivating. The amplifier imparts a touch of fundamental warmth to the voices, enhancing their emotional resonance.
This warmth extends to various instruments, particularly those with expressive timbres. For instance, Beethoven’s Violin Concerto performed by the Vienna Philharmonic with María Dueñas benefits greatly from the amplifier’s ability to capture the intricacies of the violin’s tone. The overtones are enriched, resulting in a “tube melting” effect that contributes to the overall musicality.
4. Dynamics and Resolution
The Tsakiridis Hermes excels in both dynamics and resolution. It demonstrates its prowess in handling the dynamic swings of orchestral compositions, even at higher volume levels. This is particularly impressive given its relatively modest power output.
The amplifier’s capacity for fine dynamic nuances is also a standout feature. It excels in reproducing the subtlest gradations in volume, showcasing the nuances and intricacies of music. This is a hallmark of many tube amplifiers, and the Hermes is no exception.
5. Treble Performance
Tubes, as a category of amplifiers, can sometimes struggle with treble frequencies due to the inherent limitations of the transformers used. While the Hermes may not offer the same level of treble resolution as some solid-state counterparts, it compensates with its unique charm.
Treble frequencies from the Hermes exhibit a character of warmth and richness. While they may lack the crystalline sparkle of solid-state amplifiers, they possess a mellowness that complements the amplifier’s overall tonal signature. This characteristic contributes to long-term listening comfort and musical enjoyment.
6. Integrated DAC Performance
The Tsakiridis Hermes comes equipped with an integrated DAC, allowing users to enjoy digital audio sources with ease. While it may not reach the same level of resolution and fine dynamics as external studio-grade DACs, it performs adequately for its intended purpose. The DAC supports PCM data up to 24-bit/96kHz, providing high-quality audio playback.
In summary, the Tsakiridis Devices Hermes impresses with its engaging and musical sound quality. It may not compete with high-end amplifiers in every technical aspect, but it excels in delivering an enjoyable listening experience characterized by warmth, timbral richness, and dynamic engagement. For music enthusiasts seeking an amplifier that prioritizes musicality and emotional connection, the Hermes proves to be a compelling choice.
In conclusion, the Tsakiridis Devices Hermes is a tube integrated amplifier that excels in delivering an enjoyable and engaging listening experience. While it may not excel in all audiophile disciplines, it captivates listeners with its warm tonal character, beautiful timbres, and musicality. The amplifier encourages listeners to relax and enjoy the music, prioritizing the essence of musical enjoyment over technical intricacies.
The Tsakiridis Devices Hermes…
- Plays deep and powerful in the bass – he does a little more than the pure teaching demands, but on the other hand, this is still far from insubordinate exaggeration. Overall, the “semi-dry” bass range is fun. He’s fast, swinging, and has a good punch.
- Offers a slightly sonorous fundamental tone that adds warmth to its sound character. The whole thing is kept within permissible limits; we are still far from real whitewashing.
- Shines in the mids with convincing tones and a quick acceleration. The latter applies to all frequency ranges. In my experience, tubes usually sound “fast” without seeming strained. The Hermes is no exception.
- Scores with a rather gentle yet “rich” high tone. It shines less with “air” and the finest resolution than with its strong timbres.
- Creates an impressive stage that appears larger than usual and whose dimensions can be experienced. It’s nice that the Hermes also manages a clean-depth display. The depiction of individual sounds appears authentic but could be even more holographic.
- It resolves very well, especially in the mids, and the fine detail in the bass and treble is good.
- In terms of gross dynamics, it belies its supposedly weak 20-watt output power. It perfectly presents a large orchestra from the quietest piano pianissimo to fortefortissimo, even at a significantly higher room volume. His fine-dynamic differentiation ability is remarkable which can be considered above average.
- Model: Tsakiridis Hermes
- Concept: tube integrated amplifier
- Price: 2,300 euros
- Dimensions and weight: 28 x 18.5 x 48 cm (WxHxD); 14kg
- Inputs: 3 x high level (RCA); 1 x USB B
- Outputs: speaker terminals for a pair of speakers (6 ohms), 6.3 mm jack for headphones
- Output power: 2 x 20 watts
- Power consumption when idle: around 130 watts
- Other: built-in DAC (USB), remote control, display instrument for the quiescent current
- Warranty: 3 years (tubes: 6 months)