TRAFOMATIC AUDIO ELYSIUM POWER AMPLIFIER REVIEW


How do you approach and review of the amplifier like Trafomatic Audio Elysium? With awe, bowing down respect, unaltered audiophile criticism, sublime appreciation…?


Well, it depends on one’s modus operandi and purview of high end and ultra high-end audio. 

The exotic part of our beloved, yet still niche industry has certainly expanded in past few years. Along with the post effect of general world market trends, high-end audio also joined the unique world of luxury and started to follow its mechanics.

Expensive and ultra-exotic audio systems are not the recent re-invention. Even back in the second part of the twenty century,  the ultimate audiophile system was never affordable. Actually, it was out of the reach for most of the people. 



In past few years, Trafomatic Audio from Serbia established themselves not only in the high-end audio market with wide variety of products, but also in the bespoke-extreme-exotic high-end audio. 


The master tube brain Saša Čokić out of the box approach to the tube design circuits brought refreshing sonic excellence across brand’s complete price ranges. All with frequent and sensible time intervals for product upgrades. 


Trafomatic Audio also heavily invested into the transformer winding machines, that gave them a clear advantage to control each and every spec and to design any needed transformer for any application. With these assets, they could start also exploring a different kind of prototypes, that would usually cost an enormous amount of money if they had to reach out to the subcontractors. 

ELYSIUM 


So, is this and end of the road, an Elysium heaven and strictly reserved place to grasp in the Elysian audio fields where time is irrelevant? 


Saša Čokić built whole Elysium concept around the very peculiar Eimac 250TL tube. Years of experimenting and listening went by at Trafomatic HQ’s ad this particular tube (designed for high-frequency transmission) was chosen as Saša believes, how Eimac 250TL is not only the most transparent tube but per se most translucent transducer in general. 


Elysium’s is a pure Class A DHT (directly heated triode) single ended power amplifier, built from the ground up with no constraints in mind. With decades of proven track record,  the Balkanian Kondo San envisioned his state of the art, most linear DHT tube power amplifier with Elysium concept project. 


As with Eimac 250TL, both EML 20b-V4 DHT and EML 5Z3 rectifier are considered an ultra-linear matching partners. 


Elysium can operate in either Class A with 20W or in Class A1 where it can output up to 70W with both 4 and 8 ohms speaker outputs as well as single-ended and balanced inputs. 


Special slow start circuit was designed to prevent destroying the Eimac’s. They’re designed for 24/7 operation in mind and every day on and off switching would kill them in very short time. Slow start auto circuit, gradually heat 250TL and brings it to the optimum operating level. 


Everything connected with Elysium is zen-like, laid down logically and reachable instantly. It shows within each inch of the amps, how much time and dedication went into these amplifiers. I loved the big-break switch on the back, that instantly shuts down the amplifier is something would go wrong. Witty, my mind recalled the iron curtain era giant red knobs :).

THE SOUND


Trafomatic Elysium is full DHT single ended and from the ground up designed to be something very different. 


There was no usual warmish, tubish or saturated sonic traits. More the event horizon where the velocity of audio energy meets the music’s speed. 


It was hard to escape the sheer impact of balanced harmonic richness even from the first notes strike. There was something utterly different in the way that Elysium managed to portray the notes. With the complexity and in absence of unwanted sonic artifacts cluttering.

In past few years, everyone seems to be talking about THE transparency. It can be interpreted in many of ways, too often cast by either manufacturer vision or served as customer’s preferred tincture. 


On a completely opposite side, Trafomatic’s Elysium reveals itself with natural density, that by default operates deeply inside of transparency realms, but without unwanted bonding to particular shading. 

In both high and ultra high-end audio, we’re too often mingling between two extremes. One being kitted with the quasi-artillery of transparency attributes and the opposite one dwelling in the safer zone of saturation, masking. Elysium is not about forgiven an forget. Its dramatic realism lingers within one’s impressions bank for much longer, then it should by all means. 


In the 21st century, we can finally and openly talk about the solid state and tube-like sound. Why? With the progression, or perhaps even more accurately, with the abundance of audio companies, the market pushed both sides into the progressive state, leading to many explorations of both design approaches. 

The biggest compliment any power amplifier can get) no matter if solid state or tube) directly addresses the absence of both sonic imprints. Elysium operates exactly between and more precisely above both labelings, delivering music like a wind carries the scent with feather-like lightness, sublimeness and free of the designation entanglement. 


Elysium operates within the fractal world of music’s energy transfer, where unlike even some of the most exotic and expensive amps, the electronic/mechanical DNA is “fanatically” separated from the musical message. It felt like aural parts and tiniest parcels were enacted with Elysium gravitational force at music’s ground zero plane.

THE MUSIC 


John Scofield ‎– Country For Old Men is one of the albums, that from my first listening, simply stuck with me with, with what it seems endless repetitions.


Country For Old Men comes as entirely non-original music, where John expertly and soulfully renders the compositions of George Jones, Hank Williams, Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton...

The album never loses the jazz equivalence, yet it encompasses the vibrancy and emotional essence, that is rarely infused at such rate and with such intimacy. I've had a strong feeling why John's playing is so powerful, but I'll not dig deeper into this occasion.

In the company of Larry Goldings (piano, Hammond organ), Steve Swallow (bass) and Bill Stewart (drums) the quartet forms a world class band with a fantastic musical power, that had earned Scofield a Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Album.

Yes, Country for Old Men is a studio album, but it offers a great balanced sound (recorded and mixed at The Carriage House Studios), that compliments all the instruments an equal way. Still, when needed, especially on my favorite track "You're Still the One" (Shania Twain, John Robert Lange) John's guitar bites with the unmistakable grip, signature off timing and with almost poignant energy, that fully resonate with the very nucleus of the original. John managed to infuse something very, very personal, that resonates deeply with me.

Trafomatic Audio Elysium power amplifiers projected the John Scofield rigorously and imperatively, by creating a unique sonic dwelling, with the uncommon zest, that fused the dynamism of solid state and the vitality of the tube domain with unforgettable easiness.

Country For Old Man embarks rare guilelessness and Elysium elucidated the very foundation with unrivaled, unequivocal ability. It's complicated to translate the experience with the exact wording and phrasing, but Trafomatic Audio Elysium have stepped deeper into the music's core, that I'm used to. And I've witnessed quite some of the extraordinariness...

We're mostly bound to the great classical performances from the past in sort of hypnotic following. Well, personally in most cases I do prefer the earlier performances from the previous century, where there was no cut & paste, collaging like with many modern classical productions. And on top of it, the musicians, as well as conductors, were first class.

Then again, I don't to be related with the snobbery. There are quite few of the present-day-golden-exception like fairly recent Anne-Sophie Mutter, Wiener Philharmoniker, James Levine ‎– Carmen-Fantasie 'Deutsche Grammophon ‎– 00289 477 9179). One just needs to be a bit open-minded and au courant.

With this riveting recording, no upper echelon amplifier, either solid state or tube should take anything away from the flow of both violin and the orchestra. Particularly with Carmen-Fantasie, everything can fall apart without proper definition. But, there is more. There is a certain level of enticement, that some stick out high-performance power amplifiers can accomplish. Yet, there are still some greyish, anodyne peculiarities, that prevents the very last bits to enter the mind of the distinguished listener.

Yes, there will always be some traits of the initial design choices, but these are more in the domain of subtle flavoring and not major sonic shifts. We do live in a material world, where utterly perfection seems to be reserved for non-conditioned abode. Yet, the material conditioned nature can be perfected to a certain, still high degree, and as such we can enjoy the heavy portion of such perfection. Even within high-end audio.

And within these highest attributes, Trafomatic Audio Elysium amplifiers have unveiled the very entrance to the non-typical sonic horizons where each and every detail matters. Returning to the Anne-Sophie Mutter and Wiener Philharmoniker, the Elysium expertly handled convoluted passages without being too forceful and in absence of becoming a dynamic beast. It's one thing to handle the audio energy transfer in a profound way. The complete opposite mechanics deliver the power as an aural tornado, where music is thrown around and parcelled into the non-harmonics bits and pieces. On contrary Trafomatic Audio tube amps' delivered raw energy of the orchestra estimably, persuasive and with the most healthy dominance over the PRAT!

The Elysium feather-like lightness ability was quickly revealed with the wonderful Hans-Martin Linde & Konrad Ragossnig: Musik für Flöte und Gitarre. As non-complex as baroque music might seem, it's not! There is always a hidden mosaic structure behind the baroque's modesty. It's actually the purity, that is never easily chased within the high-end audio reproduction realms. Especially in the ultra-fi domain fortitudinous nature is more than desired and Trafomatic Audio Elysium managed to act homogeneously within baroque elementariness. The interplay of guitar and flute creates particular vibrancy and note overlapping, that demands more than typical high-end audio amp's gestalt in order to form the objective and fully believable illusion. Elysium remarkable straightforwardness and naturalness, had encapsulated naiveté and sophistication with impressive classicality, that not only heavily stood out of the crowd, but have also created a norm of itself.

With Musik für Flöte und Gitarre's obviousness of tone and timbre, there is no easy deciphering of this music's blending; especially when lurking into the endless microcosmos of quark like resonant anchor points. Elysium carried out the transmission with articulate timbre and with most cogent narrative, entering the new, so far very, very rarely explored heights and with quite a few of the attributes established new landmarks in my reviewer's book of truths.


CONCLUSION


Everything Saša and his team learned over the past two (+) decades was infused into the Elysium. Elysium is Trafomatic Audio crown jewel and a proud exploration of ultimate tube amplification design.


So before any philosophical arguing regarding the exuberant pricing will sparkle, believe it or not, there are more than few audiophiles and music lovers around the world, that can not only cover the six digits instantly, but they're willing to spend suso much money to enjoy the music! We live in the era where some of the people can enjoy the bespoke, ultra-fi creations and there’s no doubt that Trafomatic Audio Elysium will found happy homes, as many of other Saša Čokič’s extreme and bespoke creations.

In an utmost sense, the time rarely stops with any tube amplifier, but I’m yet to stumble upon such objet d' acoustique art as Trafomatic Audio Elysium monoblock power amplifiers. They can   (as esoteric as this might sound) somehow manipulate senses and fool them with a grander illusion, where time seems to disappear and lose its earthly value; translated into the earthly language-it offers extremely-prolonged-fatigue-free listenings.

For me, the music was always something beyond mortal comprehension. Even quite a few different ancient teachings talk about the sound being the very constitutional part of the creation and how the music follows such paths with the endowed, timeless DNA.

High-End audio and especially ultra-high-end audio should deliver more than what's normally expected when it comes to the reproduction of the music. At such level, electronics must disappear and whole music momentum should operate in the absence of typical mechanics (that can be sometimes highly notable with the listening). Trafomatic Audio Elysium ultimate tube power amplifiers are the exemplary creations, that avoid such traits with the complex and utterly potent design.

It was both privilege and the real luxury to spend so much time with Trafomatic’s ultimate tube power amplifiers. At one point I had to let them go and let me assure you, how I was not the happiest man in the world when the tube masterpieces had to return to the proud fathers…


"Voici mon secret. Il est très simple: on ne voit bien qu'avec le cœur. L'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux." - Le Petit Prince - Antoine de Saint Exupéry

Here is my secret. It is very simple: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.

This quote from the - Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince) by Antoine de Saint Exupéry sums up my review thoughts perfectly. Trafomatic Audio Elysium acts and performs beyond typical norms and in absence of typical solid state of tube sound designations. It can touch the very core of the heart and these amplifiers have touch mine! Profoundly and deeply!

Even as sole creation Elysium has a meaning that a simple commodity, even high-priced amplifier rarely have. The ownership of these bespoke beauties would tell a lot about such person as Elysium expose more enduring value, that many would dare to think out loud.

The demand for such sonic marvels as Trafomatic Elysium will never disappear as long there are people appreciate the finer things and are willing to shell out money for them. As much as some audiophiles and music lovers morally fight against such bespoke and highly priced products, the wide array of people usually benefits from trickle-down technology, that is associated with such Objet d'art. It's no different in the car or watch industry, but there the hidden marketing mechanics are running for far longer time.

While Elysium tube monoblocks were not designed with any particular type of speakers in mind and they will work with all types of speakers, I've really liked and loved how they've locked with the contemporary and classical horn speakers. There is some special chemistry in play with horns, that

For what Elysium represents technically, for the amount of dedication and efforts, that Saša Čokić and Trafomatic team have invested into this project, and most importantly, for the sonic excellency, that it can deliver, I'm wholeheartedly awarding these tube amplifiers with Mono & Stereo Upper Echelon Class Award.  

Matej Isak


PRICE


120.009 EUR (without vat)

TECHNICAL



Output power: 70W
Class of operation: Full DHT SE
Class A  20W, Class A1 20-70W
Tubes complement: 2x 20B-V4 EML
1x 5Z3 EML , 1x 250TL EIMAC
Inputs: RCA/XLR
Tubes protect: Wood/glass cover
Outputs: 4 and 8 ohms
Input sensitivity: 3.5Vrms
THD %: 0.3% – 1W/1KHz, 4% – 70W/1KHz
Frequency bandwidth: 10Hz(-2dB)-60KHz( -3dB)
S/N Ratio: 79dB
Input inpedance: 47K
Power consuption: 500VA
Input voltage: 230V/50Hz (100-120-220-240V
available on request)
Size: 620x520x800mm
Weight: 85kg per mono

CONTACT


Trafomatic Ltd.
Učiteljska 15
11400 Mladenovac
Serbia

tel/fax: +381 (0)11/8236-258
e-mail: office@trafomatic.com
Tel: +381 11 8239 380