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Tuner group test - Creek T50

Article Index
Tuner group test
NAD C422
Creek T50
Cambridge Audio 640T
Pure DRX 702ES
Arcam DT91
NTL/Pace Di1000
Leak Troughline 3
Conclusion
All Pages

 

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CREEK T50  £550

An ostensibly simple looking affair, measuring only 430x60x250mm and weighing 4kg, it doesn’t immediately strike you as being (materially) worth £550. The Creek is quite simply attired with an internal folded silver chassis and black rear plate. The front plate is nice though, being a solid brushed silver affair, which contrasts nicely with the rather thin and resonant black top plate. At the front there is a superb rotary tuning knob which has excellent feel and is a delight to operate.

 

The vacuum fluorescent display has an attractive green lighting to the frequency legends that is both precise and clearly legible from a distance at different viewing angles. When tuning, the display becomes brightest to indicate when a station has been tuned, (similar to the old Naim NAT03 tuner) and also shows its name if it is RDS compliant. There are 99 presets for FM and 29 for AM. The main tuner circuit board is one of Creek’s own, with no discernable bolted-on OEM tuner modulator. There is a series of Samwha capacitors spread across it. There is a separate mains filter PCB which contains the T50s fuse that sits in between the IEC socket input and the power transformer. The display PCBs are mounted vertically across the inside of the front panel.

SOUND QUALITY

On Radio Two FM, The sound was well balanced with a really amazing bass in both extension and tunefulness. Treble was sophisticated because it was controlled, textured and expressive. These qualities enabled the Creek to have a very high resolution sound for the price, even comparing brilliantly to the group reference. The speech was entirely natural with no sibilance and was perfectly weighted. The Creek preferred to concentrate on the high resolution of instruments and timing over ultimate spatiality and as such may not be as immediately vibrant as say the Cambridge continued to be, however it didn’t take too long for the Creek’s real musical abilities to come forth. On Radio Three FM, the high resolution presentation continued where the vocals were nicely resolved and there was extended and tuneful bass. With excellent instrumental separation, the Creek produced an atmospheric and continuously listenable sound.

 

Horns were nicely rendered and the orchestral string sections emotive yet smooth. Orchestration was expressive, emotional and had in-room impact. Timing overall was also good, (if not the best in the group when considering price) where all instruments and vocals had a sympathetic relationship to each other, never once sounding dislocated.

 

I really enjoyed the Creek as a tuner. It has an excellent display and tuning knob alloyed to brilliant sound quality that in some respects runs with the far more expensive and esoteric reference tuner right up to the wire, with only depth perspective pulling it back from pole position. It is only let down by the rudimentary finish considering its price, but considering the design and engineering work that’s obviously gone into it, then it’s churlish to complain.

MEASURED PERFORMANCE

The T50 was notable for its absence of a pilot tone filter, something our frequency response analysis clearly shows by lack of a filter notch at right. There are two main effects: a smooth audio response that will sound great in terms of naturalness, but the presence of strong intermodulation distortion against 19kHz pilot. This may intrude at high levels, possibly muddying violins and complex material a little. Our distortion analysis shows that, otherwise, the T50 produces little harmonic distortion.

 

At –67dB (IEC A wtd.) a little hiss might well be noticeable on stereo, typically during Radio 3 silences, and speech intervals on Radio 4, etc. Sensitivity was respectable at 42uV and full quieting occurred at just 530uV, but then it would since noise floor is high in any case.

Against today’s rivals the T50 looks a little dated in some areas, but I suspect it will sound pretty good all the same. NK

 

Frequency response  10Hz-14kHz

Stereo separation 44dB

Distortion (50% mod.) 0.3%

Hiss (CCIR) -67dB

Signal for minimum hiss 0.53mV

Output 0.95V

Sensitivity

mono  6µV

stereo 42µV

signal strength meter: none

 

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verdict five globes

Creek Audio Ltd.

+44(0)1442 260 146

www.creekaudio.com

 

FOR

- outstanding sound quality

- tactile use, discrete

- excellent display

 

AGAINST

- finish



 

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