Jun 132010
 

The TC-7220 is a unique product these days, very much a one of a kind, not that there were ever too many of these available before. As far as I can recall QED and IXOS both had a switcher that allowed speakers to be hooked up to a pair of amplifiers (only one at any time though), but not now as they are discontinued. The TC-7220 is also unique as its the only analogue product that Beresford offer, at least so far.

Beresford are well known for their high quality range of digital to analogue converters, such as the TC-7510, TC-7520 and Caiman (which are also headphone amplifiers) that company owner and designer Stan Beresford produce. These very clever designs offer and deliver much, for very reasonable prices and have redefined what is possible from digital to analogue conversion for the computer audio and traditional two channel customer.

Having spent some time in the past with a Beresford TC-7510 DAC, in my main system, I can report that I was very impressed with it’s level of performance. I hope to be able re-publish the review I did including the TC-7510 soon.

Stan Beresford, much like Nelson Pass of Passlabs also positively encourages and offers advice on how to mod his DACs. His hands on involvement with the after market DIY modifiers is very much a breath of fresh air in the audio world as most companies do not encourage such activity, whereas Stan seems to thrive on it.

Unlike normal speaker switching boxes which allow one amplifier to be connected to multiple pairs of speakers and will facilitate either all operating at once or only a few, the Beresford TC-7220 is very much not a normal speaker switching box, as it is also designed to allow two pairs of speakers to be driven by a choice of two amplifiers, either amplifier A or B, but not I should hasten to add both amplifiers at once (you have been warned ! Only one amplifier at a time can be used.). Amplifier A can drive speakers one and two together or either speaker one or two or you can have amplifier B driving both speakers together or individually.

The Beresford TC-7220 has been designed with a ” completely separate left and right channels” in order to facilitate ” safe operation with all types of amplifiers, including those with a “bridging” output”. In fact there is no type of amplification you can’t use the TC-7220 with but of course your amplifier will need to be able to drive the speakers you have selected to use with it; especially if you want to drive two pairs of speakers at once.

Now you may wonder what the uses of this product might be. Well there are a number of applications for this type of switcher, or as Beresford call it an “Audio Crossover Network” but before going into that in too much detail I think it worth while explaining the origin of the TC-7220 first; which will also outline one use for the TC-7220….

The beginnings of this product can be found in Stan Beresford’s (owner and designer of Beresford products) desire to be able to assess and compare the sound of different speakers being driven by different amplifiers, by the means of a simple switching unit. In the main this was to save the time and hassle of having to disconnect and reconnect speaker cables (something I as a reviewer know all about) which sometimes requires an amplifier to be switched off as well, to allow safe disconnection. The TC-7220 allows all of this to happen without having to disconnect anything, with the simple push of a button.  So unable to find such a product extant in the current domestic market he decided to design one himself and then offer it as a Beresford product.

One of  Stan Beresford’s design goals was that he wanted this switching device to be as transparent to the amplifiers signal as possible, something existing speaker switching units are not normally.

I will let Stan illuminate this design point himself…

An ordinary amplifier-speaker selector can degrade both amplifier and speaker performance…..

Many people would like the flexibility and convenience of using different amplifiers and speakers combination in their system. You can achieve this by connecting your speakers to a multiple speaker selector. However, ordinary speaker selectors can also degrade system performance. These ordinary spring loaded speaker connectors can cause noticeable frequency, soundstage, and dynamic loss. So you hear less detailed music reproduction. The power rating of the connectors, switches, and wiring is often low, potentially damaging your speaker selector if you’re using a high current amplifier.”

He also wanted….

“The TC-7220 to deliver an unbeatable combination of performance and convenience…..

With the TC-7220 Audio Crossover Network you can enjoy the convenience and flexibility of listening to different speaker and amplifier combinations. The TC-7220 Audio Crossover Network features high quality, precision – crafted, speaker connectors for maximum reliability and durability, The TC-7220 has a flat frequency response, so you’ll enjoy fuller, more three dimensional music reproduction. And, all the connections to the circuit board are completely wired with high wattage OFC cable for the best possible sound.”

I asked Stan what it was about the design that made it special, he was only prepared to tell me the following about it “the reason it is good at what it does, is purely down to hundreds of hours of listening tests, and fine tuning of layout and component selection.”
As the TC-7220 has a non-tamper sticker on it and I promised not to open it, we only have what Stan tells us above and below in the features listing to go on; so sadly these details will have to suffice at this time.

The main design features are…

  • 200 Watt Maximum Power Capacity
  • 1, 2, Switch Selections
  • All Black Metal Case
  • Non-skid Pads
  • Color Coded Wiring Terminals
  • Heavy-duty terminals for easy wiring
  • Accepts 2 amplifiers and 2 pairs of speakers
  • Completely separate left and right channels for safe operation with all types of amplifiers, including those with a “bridging” output.

The Berseford TC-7220 is a fairly unassuming, 25 cm by 11 cm by 4 cm, black box, with 4 metallic mid grey push buttons on the front, labelled Amplifier A, B and Speaker 1, 2. The back has 4 pairs of 4 plastic shrouded gold plated speaker binding posts (which will take bare wire and banana plugs), two sets of 4 for connection to amplifiers A or B and two sets of 4 for connection to speakers 1 and 2 and that’s your lot.

I was unaware of this product’s existence, so Stan’s contacting me and asking if I would like to test it and write a review for Adventures in High Fidelity Audio came as a very pleasant surprise. I should point out that the TC-7220 is new to the Beresford product portfolio.

On reading a bit about it I got quite excited about the TC-7220 possible potential for use in audio/video systems. On a personal note I wish I could have had access to this sort of thing in the past, alas for me personally this product is just a few years too late but not perhaps for Adventures in High Fidelity Audio readers.

I suspect that very few will want to buy a TC-7220 in order to use it like Stan wanted too (though this is an excellent use for the TC-7220), instead I suspect some will want to operate it as a quality speaker switch.  However while this is fine up to a point, I think you will be missing a trick if you limit the TC-7220 to this role only; no matter how good it might be in this role. This is where my above comment of being “a few years late” comes in; let me explain….

At one time I wanted to combine a Home Cinema System and HiFi system together and be able to use one pair of main speakers rather than use multiple speakers for the left and right front pair. I don’t know about you but having two pairs of speakers sitting to either side of your TV did not seem to me to be that attractive or desirable a thing to do, both from an aesthetic point of view or a sound quality one. At the time I was unable to find a simple switching unit that would allow this as the afore mentioned QED and IXOS units were of the market. So I abandoned the idea in favour of two separate systems at both ends of the living room (I am blessed with a very sympathetic wife).

The main reason for me abandoning this was the lazy part of me (yes there is a lazy bit to me) that just could not face the hassle of having to plug and unplug speaker cables between speakers  and the possibility of an accidental cable short, that might reduce an amplifier’s circuitry to a smoky ruin (slight exaggeration there for artistic effect).

The Beresford TC-7220 now allows the sound quality concious audio and videophile to have his or her two channel amplifier and Home Cinema amplifier connected to a single pair of main speakers (and if they want, another pair in the same room or another room) and not loose any of that important sound quality they have paid so much to obtain. That at least is the main claim made for the TC-7220.

As they say the “proof in the pudding is the eating” and the main question I wanted answered was “will the TC-7220 being in circuit effect sound quality or not ?”

There were a few logistic hurdles to jump in order to answer this question properly.

I wanted to use a complete speaker cable loom between the power amplifier, the TC-7220 and the Anthony Gallo Reference 3.1 speakers but I was unable to do that with my normal reference speaker cable, Atlas Mavros as I only had one pair of cables to hand.  So I had to have a dig about in my spare cables box and I was able to find there a set of QED Genesis speaker cables and a set of jumper leads made from the same cable.

The jumper leads were just long enough to connect between the TC-7220 and the back of the amplifier, with the TC-7220 sat on top of the Meridian G56. However this proved to be a bit awkward to implement. In the main this was down to me not having rear entry banana plugs and only having side entry Michell ones.

The next difficulty involved dressing the very heavy Genesis cable in such away as to not pull the TC-7220 off the top of the amplifier I was going to use for the review. Anyway after much fiddling around I achieved a stable position and left the system to play.

I was concious of the Genesis cable not being used for quite awhile and also the possible requirement, that the TC-7220 might require burn in for any components/cables within it (?)  So I erred to the side of caution and feed music through the system for three days, before sitting down to listen properly.

I should also like to point out at this stage that I did not test the TC-7220 with two sets of speakers attached or two amplifiers as I did not have enough cables to do this. However despite this I feel I have tested the TC-7220 fully enough to answer my question above. The ability of the product to accomplish its functional design brief was not in question but its ability to pass a speaker level signal unharmed was !

The system used for this review was my current set up of Moon Andormeda CD player, Meridian G02 pre-amplifier, Meridian G56 Power-amplifier, Anthony Gallo Reference 3.1 speakers. Cabling was Mark Grant G1000HD RCA TO RCA cables used between the CD to Pre to power, with the aforementioned QED Genesis cable connected to the speakers via the TC7220.

All the equipment was housed on Clearlight audio Aspeckt Racks, with SSC isolation platforms underneath the Meridian items. Mains leads were Audience AU24 and Analysis Plus Power Oval 2. No mains conditioners or filters were used during the test.

Music used – Nitin Sawhney-Beyond Skin and the Dali Test CD track 3 Stimela by Hugh Masakela.

I had a few casual listens over the few days before the review proper and I was not aware of any significant oddities to the sound quality I normally enjoy, other than those the change to QED Genesis brought. So after I felt burn in might be completed I sat down to have a serious listen.

Up first was Nitin Sawhney with Broken Skin, Letting Go, The Pilgrim and Tides, all from his album Broken Skin and the music flowed forth as it always has with no obvious tonal shifts or loss of detail. I then had a listen to the Hugh Masekela track Stimela and I felt pretty happy about how it sounded too.

I removed the TC-7220 and once again played the previously mentioned tracks but focused on Stimela, The Pilgrim and Tides. I did this several times and I am pleased to say that the presence of the TC-7220 did not result in any major sound quality issues. In fact it was only after several listens with and without, that I feel I can say that the only very slight negative, is just a wee hint of a loss in the upper treble and the overall openness of music. However I want to stress that I really had to struggle to hear this, as the loss was really at the end of the day very minuscule.

All the information contained in the music past through the TC-7220 for the most part arrived at the speakers totally intact and it could be the case that the different banana plugs I was forced to use, may be the cause of this slight loss. So to be safe, I would suggest that if you use a TC-7220 that you insure that all the cables are the same and  the banana plugs you use are also all identical,  in order to eliminate any questions in this regard.

Are there any other negatives ? Well a few and I would not be doing my job properly if I do not mention them….

The speaker terminals are very close together, which will prevent the use of spades (more common in America than the UK , though some of the cables I own do use spade termination) and heavy duty bare-wire cables will be a very tight squeeze; which could lead to shorts, if your not very careful.

The unit is also relatively light weight, so careful dressing of cables will be required if they are heavy, so as not to lift the TC-7220 into the air. However lighter gauge cables should not cause any issues in this regard.

I also felt that larger rubber feet on the bottom of the TC-7220 might be better than the small ones, simply from the point of view that they are mounted in quite a bit from the edges and if the unit tips up, it could if mounted on another piece of equipment scratch it. This nearly happened to me, so that’s why I mention it here.

Overall build quality is very good, though the back panel moved inwards a little when I was fitting the speaker cables. The action of the selector buttons, when operated was smooth and positive and using them did not result in the TC-7220 moving.

Overall the TC-7220 is a very welcome and a unique addition to the audio accessory product world, which will no doubt find a place in many systems around the country and beyond.

However to only say that, does not really give the full measure of credit to Stan Beresford and the TC-7220 that they deserve.  to be able to pass a signal through any extra box without significant degradation of that signal is a major triumph and to do it for £49.99 + VAT is a nothing short of miraculous.

Well done Stan.

Neil

Source of Review Product Loan….. Beresford Audio (Manufacturer)

The TC-7220 “Audio Crossover Network” £49.99 + VAT, is available direct from http://www.homehifi.co.uk/main/main.html

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Switch Type: Stereo Amplifier-Speaker Selector – 2 Way
Product No.: TC-7220
Compatibility: Suitable for amplifiers up to 200 Watts
Input: A – B   (Right & Left)
Output: 1 – 2 (Right & Left)
Switch Selections Amplifier: A or B
Switch Selections Speaker : 1 or 2
Weight: 1.2KG
Dimensions: 235mm W x 50mm H x 140mm D
Power requirement Does not requires power to operate. .

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© Text and Photos Copyright 2010 Adventures in High Fidelity Audio, except album sleeves and the studio photos of the Beresford TC-7220 and Caiman Dac. Copyright for those resides with their original owners.

NB No part or portion of this article may be reproduced or quoted without written permission.

 Posted by at 4:53 pm

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