The GT version of the Tron Seven phono preamplifier marks the ultimate evolution of the series design. The range starts with a MM base model, with the MC variant next. The Reference model adds high quality resistors and capacitors; the Ultimate adds silver-wired MC transformers and ‘four nines’ silver internal wiring. It also has twin switched inputs, with MM/MC, or MC/MC options. Finally, the new GT adds a unique power supply configuration; and Tron claims that it offers a valve life of up to ten years in normal use thanks to its soft-start feature.

The PSU is housed in its own screened compartment within the enclosure and its connections pass through to the Seven GT’s meticulously designed, multi-layer amplifier PCB. Further PCBs accommodate the input connection and gain stages, keeping hard wiring to a minimum – important for the low noise required of such a design. Finally, all components are hand-matched, down to tolerances of 0.1% in some cases. The three triodes are the readily available 12AX7 and 12AU7s.

The GT is offered in MC format, albeit with two user-specified gain settings: +24dB and +30dB (plus +49dB fixed gain). Cartridge loading is fixed and is quoted as 184ohm for the 24dB setting and 46ohm for the 30dB.

Input and output socketry quality is high while there is one of the most glorious earthing terminals we have encountered, plus small yet solid switches for gain, channel selection and earth lift. The power on/off switch is tucked just under the right hand side of the front panel.

Swathes of sound

With the Seven GT connected to a Michell Gyro SE turntable, SME 309 tonearm and Ortofon Kontrapunkt B cartridge, we selected the 24dB gain setting for the cartridge’s rated 0.47mV output. Patience proved not only a virtue but a necessity with the Seven GT. Initial results were pleasant, but after a few weeks of continuous operation the transformation in performance was little short of astonishing.

Listening to both new records and well played favourites through the Seven GT was an absolute joy, as the unit has an uncanny ability to present music as it is rarely heard. No matter what we chose, everything seemed to have an increased scale and taken a giant step forward in both dynamics and clarity.

A measured rise in output at higher frequencies undoubtedly helps here, but it is never overbearing and simply serves to ensure that ‘warm and woolly’ the GT most certainly is not. Cueing up ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’ from Kylie Minogue’s new Abbey Road Sessions LP [Parlophone] we were enthralled by the size and depth perspective that the Tron conferred. Backing strings were gloriously vivid but without any sense of strain or screech. When the bass-drum came in, we nearly fell off our chairs! The rest of the album was no less delightful – the Tron’s dynamic ebullience taking the experience to a whole new level.

As the Seven GT warmed up and hit its stride everything seemed to take on a whole new level of intimacy. Graham Tricker’s design is uncannily free from background noise, so retrieval of fine subtleties at the furthest depths of recordings is rarely less than breathtaking.

Playing ‘The Awakening Of A Woman’ from the Cinematic Orchestra’s Man With A Movie Camera [Ninja Tune] our listening room was filled with a huge swathe of sound – the word ‘immersive’ has never been more apt – and we were bombarded with musical information.

At the top end, the Seven GT has a captivating purity and articulation. The bass was beyond complaint as well. Not only was it astoundingly deep but blessed with fluency and pace.

Verdict

This is one of the finest of current phono stages. It combines superb design, magnificent build quality, high quality components and a good dose of the Graham Tricker magic to create a veritable vinyl tour de force.

Originally published in the 2013 Yearbook