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Tom Christiansen Audio - Official Introduction
Old 14th June 2020
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Tom Christiansen Audio - Official Introduction

Hello Everyone,

Please allow me to introduce my latest adventure: Tom Christiansen Audio (TCA).

TCA delivers precision audio circuits that are rooted in science and solid engineering. I back my products with the most comprehensive set of measurements in the industry. My reason for this is simple: I firmly believe that more information is better, and that the accuracy of this information matters. I also sense that a sizeable and growing contingent of buyers – including many here on Gearslutz – value the measurements and use them in their purchasing decisions.
That said, some may value the opinions of trusted reviewers more highly than the measurements. That’s fine. I have no plans for preventing my buyers from reading reviews, and I will be just as happy filling the orders of those who base their purchase decisions on the opinions of reviewers. We can all coexist.

My design philosophy is pretty simple: Components used for the reproduction of audio should add as little as possible to the audio signal. I believe it should be up to the artists, recording engineers, and producers to convey emotionality or achieve a certain sound. In my view, the designers of audio gear should support this process by designing equipment that preserves as much of the original sound as possible.

My educational background is in engineering (B.Sc.EE. honours, Engineering College of Copenhagen, 1999; M.Sc.EE., University of Washington, 2002) and psychology (B.A., honours, University of Calgary, 2019).
Precision analog circuit design has been the defining feature of my professional life. I started with National Semiconductor, where I designed precision opamps. The LMP2021 is one of my designs. Following a reorg, I ended up in the Precision Timing Group, where I worked on clock jitter cleaners and low-jitter clock generators for the cellphone infrastructure (see the LMK04800 and LMX2581 for examples). National was acquired by Texas Instruments in 2012, and I ended up working at National/TI for a bit over a decade. I learned a lot. Both about circuit design, but also about what it takes to implement a circuit that can be mass-produced by the millions at a very high yield.

The combination of precision amplifier design, low-jitter clock generation, and design for mass-production sets me up rather well for a career in precision audio, hence my current adventure.

I’m not new to business ownership. Some of you may be familiar with my DIY business, Neurochrome, which I started in 2010. I deliver some of the lowest distortion amplifiers in the world. I realized, however, that to further push the performance of my circuits, I had to use surface mounted components, which necessitated the use of automated assembly and larger scale manufacturing. Thus, to fully pursue my passion for precision circuit design, I needed to take the next logical step and start a brand of retail products.

So that’s how Tom Christiansen Audio came to be. My TCA products are designed from the ground up as retail products. They are designed following industry best practices for the best performance and for the greatest longevity. That’s also why I back them up with a generous warranty.

A quality product starts with quality parts. My products are designed and assembled in Canada. The bare circuit boards are manufactured in the outskirts of Toronto, Canada. The circuit board assembly takes place in Calgary, Canada – a 15-minute drive from my house. I buy the electronic parts through authorized distributors and hand-deliver them with the bare circuit boards to my assembly house. I complete the assembly of the product and perform a performance test before packing and shipping the product.

Thanks,

Tom
Old 14th June 2020
  #2
Lives for gear
 
Ribbonmicguy's Avatar
Welcome and looking forward to listening to your headphone amp one day.
Old 15th June 2020
  #3
Greetings tomchr,

Welcome to Gearslutz
Old 19th June 2020
  #4
Here for the gear
 

Thank you for the warm welcome. I appreciate it.

I hope you'll allow me to introduce my TCA HPA-1 headphone amplifier. Although, it is not brand new it is still very new. It's a headphone amp with ultra-low distortion. I announced it and demoed a prototype of it last year at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest where it was very well received. I took delivery of the first batch at the end of January and started shipping in early February.

I presented the HPA-1 at the Florida Audio Expo in February where it won Best of Show.

The spec highlights include:
  • 1.2 W into 32 Ω
  • 1.0 W into 20 Ω
  • 250 mW into 300 Ω
  • THD < -130 dBc (0.00003 %)
  • 130 dB dynamic range
  • 132 dB SNR
  • 35 mΩ output impedance - compatible with any headphone!
  • 1.25 µV RMS integrated noise (20 Hz - 20 kHz, A-weighted)
  • ALPS RK271-series "Blue Velvet" volume pot
  • XLR and RCA inputs
  • Two gain settings, selectable by front-panel switch: 0 dB (unity); +12 dB (4x)
  • Protection against turn on/off thumps and DC on the output
  • Integrated power supply compatible with the household mains voltages world-wide (80-264 VAC, 47-440 Hz)
  • Designed and assembled in Canada
All this results in a super clean sound and a listening experience that is completely free of listening fatigue.

You can find the full specifications for the HPA-1 along with a comprehensive set of measurement results on the HPA-1 product page: TCA HPA-1.

As seen in the block diagram, the HPA-1 uses differential sensing of the signals on both the balanced (XLR) and unbalanced (RCA) inputs. The HPA-1 is balanced up to the balanced-to-unbalanced conversion just before the volume control. This maximizes the HPA-1's immunity to interference.

My design philosophy is simple: I design for the lowest distortion possible. I believe audio gear should pass the signals through without colouration. I'd rather leave the colouration to the artists, recording engineers, and producers. I back my claims up with the most comprehensive set of measurements in the industry. This way, you know exactly what you get and you can make an informed purchasing decision.

My TCA products are designed and assembled in Canada. In case of the HPA-1, the chassis comes from Japan. The circuit board is manufactured in the outskirts of Toronto and assembled in Calgary - a 10-minute drive from my house. I buy the parts from authorized distributors and hand-deliver them with the circuit boards to the assembly house. This ensures that I get genuine parts and that the products will perform as designed once assembled.

Tom
Attached Thumbnails
Tom Christiansen Audio - Official Introduction-hpa-1_wfocal.jpg   Tom Christiansen Audio - Official Introduction-hpa-1_front.jpg   Tom Christiansen Audio - Official Introduction-hpa-1_rear.jpg   Tom Christiansen Audio - Official Introduction-hpa-1_inside.jpg   Tom Christiansen Audio - Official Introduction-hpa-1_blockdiagram.jpg  

Old 19th June 2020
  #5
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tomchr View Post
Thank you for the warm welcome. I appreciate it.

I hope you'll allow me to introduce my TCA HPA-1 headphone amplifier. Although, it is not brand new it is still very new. It's a headphone amp with ultra-low distortion. I announced it and demoed a prototype of it last year at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest where it was very well received. I took delivery of the first batch at the end of January and started shipping in early February.

I presented the HPA-1 at the Florida Audio Expo in February where it won Best of Show.

The spec highlights include:
  • 1.2 W into 32 Ω
  • 1.0 W into 20 Ω
  • 250 mW into 300 Ω
  • THD < -130 dBc (0.00003 %)
  • 130 dB dynamic range
  • 132 dB SNR
  • 35 mΩ output impedance - compatible with any headphone!
  • 1.25 µV RMS integrated noise (20 Hz - 20 kHz, A-weighted)
  • ALPS RK271-series "Blue Velvet" volume pot
  • XLR and RCA inputs
  • Two gain settings, selectable by front-panel switch: 0 dB (unity); +12 dB (4x)
  • Protection against turn on/off thumps and DC on the output
  • Integrated power supply compatible with the household mains voltages world-wide (80-264 VAC, 47-440 Hz)
  • Designed and assembled in Canada
All this results in a super clean sound and a listening experience that is completely free of listening fatigue.

You can find the full specifications for the HPA-1 along with a comprehensive set of measurement results on the HPA-1 product page: TCA HPA-1.

As seen in the block diagram, the HPA-1 uses differential sensing of the signals on both the balanced (XLR) and unbalanced (RCA) inputs. The HPA-1 is balanced up to the balanced-to-unbalanced conversion just before the volume control. This maximizes the HPA-1's immunity to interference.

My design philosophy is simple: I design for the lowest distortion possible. I believe audio gear should pass the signals through without colouration. I'd rather leave the colouration to the artists, recording engineers, and producers. I back my claims up with the most comprehensive set of measurements in the industry. This way, you know exactly what you get and you can make an informed purchasing decision.

My TCA products are designed and assembled in Canada. In case of the HPA-1, the chassis comes from Japan. The circuit board is manufactured in the outskirts of Toronto and assembled in Calgary - a 10-minute drive from my house. I buy the parts from authorized distributors and hand-deliver them with the circuit boards to the assembly house. This ensures that I get genuine parts and that the products will perform as designed once assembled.

Tom
as much as i like your design principles, i find headphone amps without a crossfeed matrix of some sort close to useless...
Old 19th June 2020
  #6
Here for the gear
 

Thank you for your opinion. It seems cross-feed is something that is a must-have for some, but most (or at least many) would rather be without it.

That said, I am considering including cross-feed in an even higher end headphone amp.

Tom
Old 19th June 2020
  #7
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tomchr View Post
Thank you for your opinion. It seems cross-feed is something that is a must-have for some, but most (or at least many) would rather be without it.

That said, I am considering including cross-feed in an even higher end headphone amp.

Tom
looking forward to that!

[for me, the x-feed is mandatory as i simply don't want to adapt to a vastly different soundfield when switching between listening on speakers and headphones]
Old 19th June 2020
  #8
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
[for me, the x-feed is mandatory as i simply don't want to adapt to a vastly different soundfield when switching between listening on speakers and headphones]
Completely fair. Do you have a favourite cross-feed circuit in mind? Or can you point me to an amp or plug-in with the features you like?

Thanks,

Tom
Old 19th June 2020
  #9
Lives for gear
 

i've been using the spl phonitor mini for years, grace 9xx when travelling or lately merging anubis occasionally.

out of these, i still vastly prefer the spl device, not least thanks to the simple yet effective and adjustable options it offers - could also be out of habit, at least to some degree, although it's indeed a very powerful amp which can drive even the most 'wimpy' headphones...
Old 20th June 2020
  #10
Here for the gear
 

Fantastic. Thank you. That gives me something to aim for.

Tom
Old 21st June 2020
  #11
Lives for gear
 
Ribbonmicguy's Avatar
I've used a few headphone amps in the past 5 years.
Burson, Little Labs Monotor, Goly, RNHP.

Would be great to try yours one day.

I have no use for crossfeed.
Old 21st June 2020
  #12
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ribbonmicguy View Post
I've used a few headphone amps in the past 5 years.
Burson, Little Labs Monotor, Goly, RNHP.

Would be great to try yours one day.
Well. Once the world opens up again, I'll start hitting the trade show circuit again. I'm currently eyeing CanJam SoCal, albeit, with some trepidation. Next summer is probably more realistic. It would be great to meet you at one of the shows.

Tom
Old 22nd June 2020
  #13
Lives for gear
 
Ribbonmicguy's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by tomchr View Post
Well. Once the world opens up again, I'll start hitting the trade show circuit again. I'm currently eyeing CanJam SoCal, albeit, with some trepidation. Next summer is probably more realistic. It would be great to meet you at one of the shows.

Tom
I frequented Canjam Singapore twice. Would be awesome to meet you there.
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