I have always liked a very in your face midrange, with the vocals delivering a great sense of intimacy and that’s how I find the CA-1 to be, I’m very together with the vocalist, especially if they are female (I know, what more could you want) as this does have a little slant upwards. We get an energetic, upstart pace in the midrange; it does seem to be pretty excitable. This of course goes hand in hand with the brightness that does show its face in the midrange, and you get a really detailed presentation and heaps of clarity as well like I said earlier. The thing is when comparing to something like the Questyle CMA800R, it lacks certain smoothness round the edge and the more forward, brighter tone doesn’t seem as natural or true. I have been impressed by this showing of some bigger dynamics well, even if it the over sound is quite light and lacking body.
Although having an accelerated and very audible treble, I would not say it adds any truly bad qualities to the sound and if you wish a darker headphone just didn’t struggle in the high frequencies this will really help them push on. The treble is a bit strident and can be nice and splashy in the sparkle regions but it comes with plenty of air, extension, and glassy details! If you have a headphone that can be sibilant, bright to an extent of fatigue or you generally like to keep your headphones, dark, this will probably take them to a place you don’t want to go, that being said if you wish your headphones, like the HD650 or my ZMF Headphones, just a little more zip in the upper ranges, this really put a smile on my face, I mean it’s only an amp, it’s not outright changing the frequency response but just putting its own little mark on the sound signature of the headphones.
Compared to other amps I have to say this does have its own unique voicing that does stand it quite different to competitor amps. In the price range and a bit above, the most popular sound of an amp is either a more warm and resolving tone (such as Graham Slee Solo Ultra Linear) or a darker sound (like the Yulong A28) so an amp with a brighter, faster, albeit less bodied amp is welcome even if it didn’t stick to the claims of pure transparency and was a colored amp in its own right. When it comes to picking an amp, synergy should be the first thing in your mind and this amp could really just do it with your headphones, I mean with ZMFs it boasted both the power to drive them and sound signature to tame them and that’s what it’s all about and as much as I can enjoy an easy, relaxed listen to the Graham Slee, it lacks dynamics and a forwardness that the Tisbury can deliver very nicely.
Aesthetically Tisbury have made a great product but when it comes down to final performance I have to say that I have found more underwhelming combinations with my vast range of headphones than ones I have been able to sink my teeth into though when they are good, they have been especially great! It does seem that Tisbury are very passionate though and I love the versatility of this amp, I can take all my collection on a spin which proves very handy and I am sure that they are going to develop on what they already have in the future and I am very excited for that.
L’s take is on the next page!