When I received the TTVJ Slim, I was curious on how it would compare to the TTVJ Millet Hybrid Portable. Conveniently enough, Todd had also shipped me the TTVJ Millet Hybrid so I can do a comparison to the new one side by side.
Although quite different in their topology, both TTVJ amplifiers definitely have the same house sound sound. You can tell that both are developed by the same person with a good ear for musicality. The TTVJ Slim may be a solid state design, but it is far from sounding like a dry solid state. As a matter of fact, it not only matches the musicality of the Hybrid Tube TTVJ portable amplifier, but it actually outdoes the Hybrid’s Sound Quality.
The TTVJ Millett Hybrid is a hybrid tube design that utilizes a miniature vacuum tubes on the gain stage, followed by a solid state buffer. The volume knob that sticks out from the front panel hints the use of a conventional potentiometer volume control. When the amplifier was released to the market, it was the first portable, battery powered tube hybrid amplifier. It was quite a sensation, utilizing lithium-ion batteries to supply the power supply unit that supplies both high voltage power for the tubes and a lower voltage power for the solid-state output buffers. However, the vacuum tubes can’t withstand a lot of shock, and impacts on the casing, as well as vibrations from plugging and unplugging the headphone sends a “ping” sound that’s audible on the headphone. These were known as the tube-microphonics, and there were no way around the problem.
The newer TTVJ Slim amplifier is a new design that no longer utilizes vacuum tubes. The newer amplifier sounds like the Millet Hybrid, but better. One of the things that Todd did was by installing a 32-step stepped attenuator to minimize degradation from the input signal. Everything is more controlled and precise, instruments are less mixed up, and they have a better separation with the TTVJ Slim. Technology certainly have its merits.
I am not sure if it’s the stepped attenuator, or the newer circuitry of the TTVJ Slim that does this, but everytime I listen to the TTVJ Hybrid, the bass sounds muddy and uncontrolled. The TTVJ Slim is definitely superior, presenting just as much bass impact, but much cleaner and better separation on the low frequencies. The highs are also better on the TTVJ Slim, where the Hybrid can sound a little harsh in the treble.
The new TTVJ Slim comes with a bunch of other improvements as well. It has a very usable three gain position switch, and along with the 32 steps stepped attenuator, makes listening to the most sensitive IEM trouble free. The highest gain is setting is enough if you have to drive big full size headphones with big impedances. The rechargeable battery doesn’t require a dedicated charger, as you can charge it from any USB port. And most importantly, it is rid of the tube-microphonics issues that is present on the Hybrid portable.
All these improvements, and the better sound quality, come in a slimmer package too! The TTVJ Millet Hybrid portable amplifier is a great amp by itself, but it’s hard to go back to the Hybrid portable after you’ve heard the new amplifier.