|Audio Tweaks - Ah! Njoe Tjoeb 4000
The Ah! Njoe Tjoeb 4000 CD Player
Many audiophiles believe that the front-end of any system
ultimately determines how good that system is. Consequently the
CD player or the turntable (with its arm and cartridge) set the
bar for the entire system. So what's lost upstream cannot be
recovered downstream, in other words the rest of the system can
not do better than what the front-end audio component is capable
of. It's therefore reasonable to assume that your front-end is
the most important audio components of all and that it should
bare the lion's share of the system's cost. Then again today's
advancements in audio equipment is fast paced, especially with
digital front ends. The CD format, be it Redbook, SACD or DVD-A
is gaining considerable ground every year. "Reference"
class digital front-ends are quickly being overcome by less
expensive and better sounding machines. Given this fast pace of
change, investing heavily in a digital front-end may not be the
best-spent audio dollar after all. If you're in the market for a
new digital front-end, it would be perhaps better to search out
those players that perform exceptionally well within an
acceptable price limit. Such is the case with the now
well-established Ah! Njoe Tjoeb 4000 CD player.
About two months ago I set out to upgrade my CD player. After
considering SACD machines I ended up focusing on standard
(Redbook) CD players. Although I believe SACD to be a superior
format I ended up postponing my first SACD player purchase
because of software limitations and because my collection is
predominantly standard, Redbook CDs. I was in the market for
a $1000 (USD) machine that would provide me with a noticeably
better sound than my aging, but still excellent for the money,
Cambridge Audio D500SE. After short-listing a number of
players the Ah! Njoe Tjoeb 4000 was of particular interest. It
had many things I was looking for: It's a stock modified
player with quality components, it has a 24Bit/96kHz
upsampling board as an upgrade option, it's equipped with a
tube output stage (buffered), and something rarely offered by
any other player: It's tweakable inside and out.
Strictly speaking the Ah! Njoe Tjoeb 4000 CD player is not
necessarily a fair candidate for an AudioTweaks review. After
all it's an audio component all on its own and as such does
not quite fit in with the usual reviews done here. However
this player being a highly tweakable production unit, straight
out of the box, deserves most certainly a closer look.
|The Ah! Njoe Tjoeb 4000 CD player is designed
and made in the Netherlands. The "Njoe Tjoeb" really
means "New Tube". The player is built around a stock
Marantz CD4000 machine. What makes it sound good are the
various mods done on the stock unit. What makes it sound even
better are the different accessories you can incorporate on
top of what is an already tasty package.
The player has a number of standard accessories you can
augment it with either immediately or at a later date as funds
permit. The accessories are:
* Different tubes allowing for varying levels in sound quality
but also different flavors in sound.
* Ah! AC Direkt power cord. The player does not have an
intergraded IEC socket but rather provisions to directly
mounting a power cord.
* Ah! Tjoeb Tjoens (Tube Tunes) Op-amp Flavor Kits allowing
you to play with different Op-amps.
* Ah! Tjoeb Shoes, the recommended footer upgrades to the
stock unit ones.
* Ah! TjoUpsampler 24 Bit /192 kHz Upsampling Board, in my
opinion the exclamation in the "Ah!" of this
* Ah! Tjoeb Spare Ribs, i.e. nifty little tube dampers.
* De Mat CD stabilizer.
The drive mechanism is an excellent Philips VAM-1201 transport
commonly used in players costing thousands more. The power
supply has been beefed up by the addition of a second,
dedicated toroidal transformer powering the tube output stage,
and the entire output board has been revamped with quality
components including, the jewels of the crown: A pair of tubes
in buffer output mode. The unit comes standard with Philips
JAN 6922 tubes but you will probably want to replace these
with something more exotic. Also standard is a Torx T-10
wrench allowing you easy access to the innards of the player. The
Torx wrench is really mandatory; you will soon find yourself
going under the hood, over and over again.