Tandberg TCA-3008a Solid State Preamplifier with Phono, 120/220V, Made in Norway

$999

The TCA-3008a is a full featured preamp including a phono stage to connect your turntable. Best of all it has both MC (Moving Coil) and MM (Moving Magnet) inputs giving you ultimate flexibility as your cartridge tastes evolve.  It even has a high quality headphone amp capable of driving most headphones with ease.  There are treble and bass controls and a single button used to defeat them if you're a purist.  The loudness circuitry allows you to modify the equalization curve better suited for listening to music at a lower volume late at night, while retaining the full range impact.  Separate listen (program) and record buttons let you scroll through the various inputs.

It has a very sleek and attractive black aluminum anodized finish, with sleek Scandinavian design elements that will look the part in both a vintage 80/90's or modern system.  And a unique bottom feet configuration makes stacking other 3000 series components a dream. 

Condition is good with only a few light scuffs or scratches.  Very presentable and great condition with respect to its age.  This unit came from its original owner.

Fully tested in our lab where it performed without excessive noise or static of any sort, well within manufacturers specifications.

In the listening room this amp sounded glorious when paired with the matching TPA-3006a amplifier that we also have available for purchase on our website.  Super quiet and truthful!

Link to a 1996 review of this preamp

Please click here for detailed specifics regarding our specialized packing process that separates us from the rest.

Item

Included

Original Box

No

Manual

Printed

Remote

No

Cables

Power

Physical Condition

8

Working Condition

10

 

Great review from HiFi Classic:

The TCA 3008A is Tandberg's finest preamplifier, designed and styled with the conservatism and understatement that characterize Tandberg products. Physically and electrically, it matches the company's TPA 3009A power amplifier and TPT 3001A tuner. Outwardly similar to the earlier TCA 3002A, which it replaces in Tandberg's product line, the TCA 3008A incorporates numerous changes in internal components and mechanical design details.

Tandberg products typically offer the level of performance and quality of construction for which certain extremely expensive "high end" audio components have been noted, but at prices just above those of the better mass-market products. For instance, all the audio stages use polystyrene dielectric capacitors and metal-film resistors (with 1 percent tolerances in critical circuits). It is felt by some audio designers that the dielectric absorption of the more commonly used electrolytic capacitors causes a loss of detail in the reproduced sound, hence their preference for low-loss capacitors whose dielectric absorption is typically 500 times less than that of electrolytic types. For lower capactiance values, most manufacturers use ceramic capacitors, whose capacitance changes with the applied voltage (including the signal voltage itself). Taking the position that the phase shift introduced by such capacitance change can affect the sound, Tandberg uses only stable polystyrene capacitors instead of lower-cost ceramic units throughout the TCA 3008A. In addition, the entire audio section of the preamplifier uses discrete transistors (no IC chips).

The TCA 3008A's "mother board," on which almost all the circuitry is located, has been completely redesigned from that in the TCA 3002A. Layout revisions have reduced stray coupling between circuits, and many of the actual circuits differ from those of the TCA 3002A. Almost all of the surface on the mother board not occupied by circuit components or conductors is covered with a conductive "ground plane" that is said to reduce hum, noise, and stray coupling even further. According to Tandberg, the moving-coil (MC) preamplifier section was also modified for optimum performance with medium-output cartridges.

Like other Tandberg products, the TCA 3008A is finished in black with white panel markings and bright metal knobs and pushbuttons. A group of four tape-control buttons select playback from tape 1 or tape 2 or cross-connect the decks for dubbing from either machine to the other. Other buttons are used for power on/off and to select the infrasonic filter, tone-control defeat, mono/ stereo mode, and loudness compensation.

The headphone jack on the front panel has an independent volume control. Other small knobs operate the bass and treble tone controls (each has eleven detented positions), adjust balance (center detented), and select the program source. Besides the two tape decks, inputs include a tuner, CD player, MM phono, and MC phono. The main volume control is a large knob. A red LED pilot above each pushbutton lights when it is depressed.

On the rear of the preamplifier, besides the various signal input and output jacks, there is a pair of three-position toggle switches. These select MM phono-input terminations of 33,000, 47,000, or 100,000 ohms and shunting capacitances of 20, 120, or 350 picofarads. Next to the power-cord socket is a voltage selector for 115- or 230-volt operation. There are three switched a.c. outlets, with a total capacity of 300 watts, and there is a single unswitched outlet.

The Tandberg TCA 3008A measures 17-1/8 inches wide, 13-3/4 inches deep, and 3-1/4 inches high, and it weighs 12-1/2 pounds. Available options include black acrylic side panels or 19-inch rack-mounting attachments. Price: $795.

Lab Tests

Measured with the EIA standard load of 10,000 ohms in parallel with 1.000 picofarads (pF), the output of the Tandberg TCA 3008A clipped at 11 volts at any frequency from 20 to 20.000 Hz. The headphone output (unloaded) clipped at 27 volts at 1.000 Hz. Since the headphone jack is driven by a separate amplifier stage, taking its input ahead of the tone controls, the headphone sound is not affected by the volume, tone, or loudness circuits.

At the standard EIA reference line-level output of 2 volts, distortion was between 0.0024 and 0.0028 percent over the entire audio range. The sensitivity for a 0.5-volt reference output was 67 millivolts (mV) for the high-level inputs, 1.05 mV for the MM phono input, and 0.055 mV for the MC phono input. The respective A-weighted signal-to-noise ratios (referred to 0.5 volt) were 96, 81, and 78 dB.

The high-level inputs could not be overloaded by the highest signal available to us (10 volts). The MM phono input overloaded at about 300 mV at 1,000 Hz and higher, and at 110 mV at 20 Hz (this is still more than adequate reserve headroom). The MC input overloaded at 16 to 17 mV at middle and high frequencies, and at about 14 mV at 20 Hz. The measured resistance at the MM phono input was exactly as indicated for the three positions of the switch in the rear. The capacitance values differed somewhat from the nominal values, reading 115 pF at the 20-pF setting, 180 pF at the 120-pF setting, and 315 pF at the 350-pF setting.

The tone-control circuit provided an adequate range near the frequency extremes and, as is desirable, had almost no effect between 200 and 3,000 Hz. With tone-control defeat, the basic response was as flat as our test instruments could resolve, varying less than 0.1 dB overall from 20 to 20,000 Hz. The loudness compensation, which affected only the low frequencies, was very moderate and did not degrade the sound in our use tests. The turnover frequency was in the 200- to 300-Hz range, with a maximum boost of about 9 dB below 40 Hz. The infra-sonic filter, which has a rated - 3-dB point of 15 Hz, affected the response by only about 1 dB at 20 Hz. Finally, the RIAA phono equalization was as flat as we have ever measured, varying ±0.5 dB from 20 to 20,000 Hz.

Comments

We have never heard (or heard of) any properly controlled tests demonstrating the audible differences that are claimed by some to exist between various types of electronic components (principally capacitors and resistors). Under the circumstances, we confess to considerable skepticism. However, we needed no such evidence to convince us of the superior qualities of the Tandberg TCA 3008A, many of which are readily measurable without probing the outer limits of human experience. It is unquestionably one of the quietest, flattest (in frequency response), and most bug-free pieces of audio equipment we have had the pleasure of using.

The preamplifier delivered no unwanted surprises-no switching transients, no turn-on or turn-off transients, no crosstalk between inputs, no noise at maximum volume settings, and so forth. It is one of the few preamplifiers we have used whose noise level matches or surpasses that of a good CD player. Whether or not that made an audible difference, there is no doubt that it contributed to a thoroughly satisfying listening experience.

The TCA 3008A is also one of the few preamplifiers that can drive medium-impedance headphones to ear-shattering levels. Music lovers whose family or neighbors do not share their enthusiasm can dispense with a power amplifier and speakers and treat themselves to state-of-the-art sound with the help of a pair of high-quality phones and the Tandberg TCA 3008A.

Probably much or even all of the same performance can be obtained from some of the exotic preamplifiers selling for up to several times as much as the TCA 3008A, but the Tandberg unit provides what we would consider the highest caliber of audio preamplifier performance for a relatively reasonable price. Incidentally, opening up its top reveals an interior layout as clean and attractive as the electrical and acoustic performance it delivers.

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