Review: Tact Audio Tact 2.2x Preamplifier

Category: Preamps

I've owned my Tact 2.2x for 4 years now, and thought I'd communicate some impressions of it in my system. At first I used it stock, and with the internal DAC, without subs--then with other DACs, including Tact's 2150, with subs, and for the last two years with the Aberdeen signature power supply.

I have a dedicated audio/video room, and had experimented with room treatments form Argent, Room tunes and Echo Busters. They all helped, but I couldn't get used to the impression that the mids of my speakers were over-ripe (Talon Khorus at the time) muddy and obscured by excessive bass nodes. The room treatments helped. Cable and amp changes helped. The Tact, however, was a revelation. Everything opened up and I felt I was hearing musicians playing in my room.

Measurements showed huge deviations from flat in the bass range (as much as 30dB). My thought at the time was that it seemed a blanket had been removed from covering the speakers. Increases in clarity, low-level detail, bass detail, dynamics, soundstage, openess---everything just sounded better. I've since changed to line array spekers with corner subs, and eliminated most of my room treatments (still have a couple of bass busters and roomtunes).

The line arrays load the room better, but still benefit from the room correction. I find very little loss in transparency using the digital processing (if any). The gains in clarity are astounding. Probably the most significant improvement is bass detail and clarity. Using two subs in the corners allows them to be palced where they sound best, and the speakers where they sound best (7 feet into the room) and the Tact phase and time aligns them to integrate seamlessly.

The stock DAC card is good but a little to the ruthlessly revealing side of the spectrum. My Audio Logic DAC was significantly better, as is the DAC in the Tact 2150. I now use the internal DAC to power the subs. The Aberdeen PS upgrade is worthwhile. It lowers the noise floor and adds to the delicacy of the musical presentation.

Some will prefer the warmth of tube preamps, and I have no qualms with that. I've used tube preamps before and have used tube DACs with the Tact, and appreciate some extra presence and warmth. That said, the added detail and clarity the Tact provides is more meaningful to me than the extra warmth.

It's an expensive piece of equipment, and not for everyone. But it does something few other products can do---it minimizes the effect of the room, and that provides a positive influence on the musical getalt that no other component change (and I've changed a lot) has been able to achieve. And it mates incredibly well with the Tact DAC/amp, which allows the signal to remain in the digital domain all the way to the speaker.

Highly recommended!

Associated gear
Click to view my Virtual System
Thanks Richard...esp. for that bit of poetry on your VS site,I should have payed a bit more attention at school....Helmut

"A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul."
Richard, thanks for sharing your thoughts on the TacT gear. You have a very nice system. And I like your style... a sound system for every major room of the house. It makes perfect sense to me. :)
Re: the multiple music rooms -- my wife has been very accommodating, especially since she's not an audiophile. But she was very happy with my Tact purchase, as she absolutely hated all my Roomlenses.

I was at a local audiophile listening session this weekend, and while the system sounded very good (tube amps) I was happy to come home and listen on my system, which provides an openess and clarity I really appreciate -- and which the Tact plays a big part in.

One of the guys there used to own a Tact and has sold it (he's going overboard building a dedicated sound room) so I can appreciate that there are many ways to address the room problems. The Tact however (and probably also the DEQX) is the most elegant and WAF-acceptable way I've found.

I suppose we all get used to the strengths of our own system and learn to overlook the weaknesses, but since owning the Tact, when I hear other audiophile's systems I become acutely aware of the room's 'contributions.' When the bass is evened out and corrected, there's a refreshing clarity and openess displayed in the mids that is otherwise masked by bass nodes.

Some folks only use the Tact's correction in the bass. I like to make mild corrections all the way up. The presets on the Tact allow you to tailor the frequency response for different recordings and types of music. For those who've exhausted themselves pursuing the 'absolute sound' and can appreciate discovering what sounds good to you, the Tact can be a lot of fun.
At the recent NY Home Entertainment show I found the clarity and neutrality of the TACT room refreshing in comparison to 80% of other systems in untreated or lightly treated rooms. Most systems displayed boomy bass and brittle treble belying their high price. Since these mediocre displays received subsequent praise on internet forums, I can only assume that some listeners have accustomed themselves to the same problems at home, perhaps to the point of prefering anomalies over neutrality.

The TACT system can remind audiophiles with conventional systems how hard it is to tame all the vectors of the listening experience in a balanced whole. Now for the tough question: Does the TACT do it all for you, or is there anything you find lacking in it relative to a top analog system?
The analog vs. digital debate (as well as tubes vs. SS) will never have a clear winner -- it's a matter of personal preferences and trade-offs. I recently sold a wonderful sounding tube DAC (Audio Logic) in favor of my Tact pre/amp combo. Is the Tact better? Not necessarily. Does it do some things I like better? Yes. Do I prefer the Audio Logic in some ways? Yes.

For me, the Tact's strengths outweigh its weaknesses, but I can appreciate the opposite view also. The Tact provides impressive air and palpability, great extension and detail, good transparency, remarkable openess, and a wide, deep and nicely layered soundstage. But it can sound a bit on the clinical side, lacking the rich tonality and fluidity some folks crave. I don't hear it that way, or at least I feel that what it does right so overshadows it's limitations that it's a no-brainer for me.

I haven't owned an analog set-up for over a decade, since I sold my Oracle/ET/Troika. I miss the ease and fluidity of that set-up, but the presentation never left me feeling that I was in the presence of musicians the way I do with the Tact. I've heard some good and more recent top-tier analog set-ups at a local dealer's, and was very impressed. But I no longer have the patience to clean records, cue them up, turn them over, listen through the scratches, etc. And I listen to a lot of jazz and appreciate being able to skip over songs I don't feel like listening to.

I've also become enamored with hard-drive storage (Red Wine Olive Musica). To me, it sounds better than spinning discs. And it's so nice to sit in your listening chair and select from your whole collection at a push of a button.'s all a matter of priorities and trade-offs. The Tact works for me. I can't remember the last piece of equipment I've owned for more than four years.