View Full Version : Caiman+ with Amptastic Mini T: first impressions

Mr Nad
07-01-2012, 18:10
So the Caiman+ DAC and the Mini T amp arrived… what follows is the result of my fairly limited testing.

When the Caiman arrived, with the help of my eldest son I performed a blind listening test. The setup was:

Sony BDP-S380 connected via SPDIF to the Caiman which was connected via the line level output to a Nad 302 integrated amp. I used floorstanding Tannoy Mercury F3 speakers. These are not ideally places, as they are in corners, quite close to the walls. They have forward facing ports. There is no possibility of me moving the speakers to a more favourable position.

I played ‘The Bell’ and ‘Moonshine’ from Tubular Bells II to assess any
improvements in sound.

When playing ‘The Bell’ it turned out that I preferred the sound WITHOUT the Caiman. The soundstage seemed wider without it. This confused me as I expected the Caiman to have the wider sound stage.
However, when I tried ‘Moonshine’ I preferred the Caiman. The sound was tauter, and I could hear nuances in the mid to upper frequencies that I hadn’t previously noticed.

Result – I could take or leave the Caiman.

Next, I tried using the Nad purely as a power amp, and letter the Caiman serve as a pre-amp. Setup was as above, except the I connected the Caiman via its variable output to the Nad’s power amp inputs.
Wow, what a difference. Now the instruments snapped into focus, and the bass especially became more tuneful and defined. The ‘bass guitar’ and ‘two slightly sampled electric guitars’ in ‘The Bell’ became much clearer and I could actually discern TWO electric guitars. Viv Stanshall’s voice was rich and resonated. Lovely!

I inserted a Penguin Café Orchestra CD and the instruments were much more recognisable and beautifully focused. The B-52s sounded superb, too.

And then the Mini T arrived.

Setup as in test 1. The Mini T is amazingly tuneful. It’s definitely on par with, and probably better than, the Nad. Given the placement of my speakers – and their budget value – it’s hard to tell how much better. It’s definitely a little more musical in the bass, and crisper in the treble, whereas mid-range seems no better or worse.

For £60, the Mini T is a bargain. I like the sound of it a lot, and have taken the decision to let it take over the role of the Nad for a while to see how much better it sounds after being run in.

Other tests – optical out from PVR is very clear and nuances in the audio are more obvious than before; SPDIF from satellite receiver (radio channels) reveals just how horribly compressed the likes of Absolute Radio and Capital Radio are. So compressed I couldn’t listen to the sound. I have yet to test audio from the minidisc (it has been disconnected completely from the setup – it’s time to transfer all recording to CD…)

So, my overall impression: both the Caiman and the Mini T are excellent. Together they are superb. Tuneful, clear, crisp without becoming strident or tiresome. Exceptional budget equipment.

07-01-2012, 18:44
So... I take it that you consider a name change ;-)

Mr Nad
07-01-2012, 19:33
Go-Nad, No-Nad, Hidden Nads, Nad-Be-Gone, Nadless... If you can think of a better name, please let me know.

The Nad will reside in the study, replacing the Rotel.


Been listening to some Morrissey (Bona Drag) and I am blown away by the new details in songs I thought I knew so well. 'He knows I'd love to see him'... it's like a dirty window has been cleaned.

Truly astonishing. I'll try some Smiths and Cure tomorrow, and I'll try to fish out closely mic'd vocals.