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In the Discovery there are only 5 tubes. In the power supply there’s a single 5Z3 rectifier, the driver stage sports one 6C45 per channel and on the far side of the coupling transformers sits a matching 300B. In this configuration with these output transformers there’s a generous 8wpc available. As we will see later with the Seven preamp, the Discovery is always custom-tailored to match the other components as a whole. In case of the power amp the matching occurs in the output transformer impedance. In our case the Discovery was equipped with hand-wound OPTs suitable for a 16Ω load because our Avantgarde Duo Omega just like our Arcadian Audio Pnoe horns are a 16-ohm average load. Once the audio signal enters the Discovery, it only passes through two tubes and two transformers. There are no resistors or capacitors in the signal path.
All components are of the highest quality available in the UK and EU, many custom-made to order. This might not be cheap but guarantees the best performance and longevity. Graham designed the chassis to be non-ferrous to avoid magnetic induction. He used mirror-polished stainless steel for its non-ferrous behavior and clean looks on the outside whilst less polished stainless steel divides the interior into separate compartments to further reduce magnetic interferences. The review sample was the basic Discovery with all internal wiring high-class copper in PTFE dielectric. When desired the Discovery can be supplied with exotic core transformers in the Reference version and exotic cores and all silver wiring as the Discovery Ultimate. While mentioning availability, take note that assembly of one Discovery takes 40 days. This is not a commodity item.
Graham’s background breathes tubes - or valves as the British say. In his professional life prior to Tron he started as electronics engineer in the telecom sector and specialized in valve designs. He finishing his telecom career as a consultant with a business degree. Back then hardwired connections were the de facto standard to still be found in Tron designs today. There are no loose wires like you might find in many Asian tube amplifiers but decent hardwiring using circuit boards for rigidity and noise interference control. One look at the meticulous lined-up components shows the sheer class of build quality. Taking off the cover from our UK-built Audio Note shows a horrific difference. Sure all parts are accounted for with plenty of space for easy access to tweak and repair but it is a bit messy. Just take the soldering. In the Tron Discovery all solder joints are equal in size and weight. In the AN they vary and thus introduce channel differences. British charm some might say. Very well. But not in a high-end amplifier!
Our Tron loaner was equipped with Furutech binding posts but Graham since switched to the latest WBT Nextgen model. The RCA inputs already were silver WBT. A huge toggle switch powers the amp on and off. The overall outside impression is clean and well balanced. Placement of the five tubes and five transformers in their black casings is classic but the shiny stainless steel top introduces light and less ‘seriousness’. The bottom of the chassis is slotted for cool operation and the amp sits on four Millennium Audio feet. As these work well under TW Acustic turntables, Graham adopted them for his amp to decouple it from its surroundings.
Around our table a discussion commenced on various makes of 300Bs with all their different nuances to the typical 300B sound—far from neutral—culminating quickly in a shared admiration for the Emission Labs variety. A steady source of high-quality tubes that keep their vacuum for a long time combined with a steep but fair price makes this species a winner. Even more a winner is the neutral-for-a-300B sound and EU production.
On to the Tron Seven preamp with phono stage. Just as with the Discovery this Tron is customized to fit the rest of the chain. Prior to delivery Graham wanted to know what kind of cartridge would be used. From that he determined the best cartridge loading to adjust the Seven’s phono stage accordingly. Unlike the glass and stainless steel accents of the power amp, the Seven hides inside a plain black jacket broken up by two rotary knobs and two toggle switches. The rotary knobs operate an Elna input selector on the left and a Noble volume control on the right. Hidden on the bottom but easily accessible from the front resides the on/off switch. The other two switches at the front put the Seven in monophonic mode or mute.
Around back are five silver-plated RCA inputs where the first pair is the phono input. This is joined by a separate ground connection. Four other input pairs are line level. Outputs are fixed and variable. The Seven weighs in at a nice 7kg. This Seven with phono stage is an addition to the company’s Seven range. Just like with the Discovery there is an option to include higher-spec parts in the Reference or Ultimate versions. Our loaner was the Reference with what appeared at first sight to be a very simple phono stage. Graham explained however that the design of his ‘simple’ phono stage had been a challenge to nail the proper layout. This struggle also dictated that the line stage circuit be slightly changed to assemble all components on the board without mutual interference.