T + A K8 (5900 euro) is the most complex German Hi-Fi and home cinema component. The Blu-ray receiver waiting with gigantic equipment and innovative features. He sounds better than a combination of individual devices?
Here, engineers have the say. For decades, well-thought-out and excellently processed HiFi devices come from the Westphalian manufacture excellent T + A. But now Chief Scientist Lothar Wiemann’s team on a technically truly gigantic project dared approach. The K8 is the third evolution of compact devices that combine all of the digital drive up to the amp – the elegantly curved aluminum block includes a Blu-ray Player, an Audio-Streaming-Client, a network switch, a surroundand Multi-zone preamplifier plus seven powerful amplifiers.
What sounds just like busywork, carries enormous development services on analog and digital side – and last but not least a high legal and financial effort. At the recent DVD Receiver K2 the technical and legal situation proved to be relatively simple. There, a few licenses for the DVD drive and the surround decoder were due.
The K8 is now in addition to dozens of audio and video decoder and formats, also, Apple keeps on hand for the iPod interface, HDMI hang dozens of patents and rights for the various copy protection measures. Wiemann admits this is the most complex, which currently – to a medium-sized company on its feet financially, technically and legally.
With almost 20 kilos from the sturdy cardboard box, he is so elegant and airy as the K8 visually works so hard to balance. Despite aluminium lightweight he makes it clear that here is anything but air was installed. The design is good for the apparent absence of chunky cooling measures of like fat fins or large cooling holes.
Virtually all installed components develop only moderate heat, this is especially true for the highly efficient switching power amplifiers, which emit little heat loss. A single internal, slowly rotating fan is enough to prevent climate catastrophe in the K8. He is practically inaudible. Wonderful.
The tidy front is dominated by the huge, dimmable graphical display. It shows all menu items and status information in clear letters. It shows the current parameter – about the volume – so great that you can read him well from long distance. You don’t miss the still missing in the test device firmware screen menu. The automatic measurement for the AV mode was also still not integrated. The measuring microphone is but the Pack already, and the final firmware should be available in the course of the year.
The integrated Blu-ray player meets the profile 2.0, so plays No 3D-Blu-rays. If you necessarily want to enjoy 3D-Blu-rays, requires an external player, but can use the HDMI-switching of the T + A, which dominated all the latest tricks – and really all of 3D Audio Return Channel (ARC) for the TV sound without extra cables up to LAN via HDMI. The latter supports the next generation of TV sets and feeding devices only, but the K8 dominates the Internet and network communications via HDMI already, what saves again extra cable. The integrated network switch offers two conventional RJ45 jacks. This saves the external switch behind the plant. Handy.
Of course, the K8 has as well a conventional RDS tuner. IOS devices connected to the USB socket A2 from iPod on iPhone to iPad sounded very well in the test thanks to the use of digital audio interface. The Clou: Via HDMI, you can watch videos and photos from iOS devices.
The integrated streaming client processes data from common Internet radio stations as well as locally streamed songs and tracks from connected via USB memory sticks, MP3 players or drives. He plays all the popular formats: from filthy data reduced MP3-, AAC-, OGG Vorbisand WMA- compressed to FLACand uncompressed WAV files.
Appropriate coding, the K8 dominated even Gapless Playback without gap between related pieces, if they are appropriately coded. In the test the client immediately recognized all existing servers and indemnify played off the promised formats. Here, the menu on the front panel display settled quickly and relatively easily navigate.
The integrated surround amplifier offers everything one knows today by bulk devices, from very flexible bass management and adapt to the loudspeaker and the space up to the one measuring automatic, if the new firmware comes. Just the automatic equalization is relatively simple, it adjusts only the tone controls for each channel. Thus it reduces no room resonances, but adjusts the tonal balance of the system.
Course on board, even Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HDare all current surround decoder. Developers “Dolby Volume” have also been integrated. This great-sounding Dynamics compression, the effect of which can be regulated in four stages, is mainly listening to soft – so fine details don’t go down and action sequences or tutti get the neighbors from the bed. For surround sound in stereo headphones there are also Dolby Headphone.
The K8 can provide three more listening zones with stereo signals. You can also use unused power amplifiers of surround channels to operate up to two zones. Connectors for T + A-radio transmissions as well as remote control receiver for the Additional zones can be found also. Certain TV by Metz and Loewe directly via the K8 can be controlled via RS-232.
The switching power amplifiers are one T + A-in-house development and work with an analog over all negative feedback. They achieve an efficiency of almost 90 percent and require therefore actually no cooling. The fan is required mainly for the processors and the drive.
The integrated Blu-ray player builds on the Broadcom Board, which pleasantly afloat acts – this even with Java programmed discs with their animated menus and online features. The Player module passes audio signals by default as a bit stream to the decoder of the preamplifier. You need secondary audio, even for a Director’s commentary, it can also reconfigure.
Multimedia sound dream
In the listening room musten, the tester will first find a suitable opponent for sound classification. It quickly became clear that this could be none of the usual surround receiver, to clear, plastic and free the K8played. Finally, the British Creek destiny 2 offered an appropriate level. Character differently, the two played however. The tonal balance of the Creek was on the dark that the T + A on the bright side, more.
The Creek painted a smaller but sharper outlined space as the K8, which distributed something opulenter, but less contoured was formed. Overall the Creek was a track coherent, the T + A played a touch with his almost Bell-clear characteristic light-footed. Nevertheless, 50 points for a surround sound amplifier are a sensation. Congratulations, Mr. Wiemann.
The K8 was a complete system on the amount of time, with turquoise facilities, latest features – and wonderfully clean sound T + A.