Altmann Tera-Player

I picked one of these recently to use as my portable source.  If you’re not familiar with the Altmann Tera-Player, it’s a portable audio player from German company Altmann Micro Machines.  The man behind Altmann Micro Machines is Charle’s Altmann and if you read some of the forums online you’ll soon find that there’s a general love-hate atmosphere out there regarding Charle’s Altmann.   Some of the hate comes from the price increases Charle’s has decided to offer the Tera-Player at.  It originally retailed for around 600 Euros and it was openly stated to be an introductory price so it should NOT come to anyone’s surprise that the price would eventually increase.  BUT, today, the Tera-player is priced on the Tera-Player website at 1780 euros.  That’s a HUGE price increase hence the feelings of discontent out there.

So, what’s the big deal?   If you read the comments of anyone’s who’s actually heard the Altmann Tera Player, you’ll find that the general consensus is that it sounds pretty freaking nice.   Check out Headfonia’s review and most reviews mirror Mike’s thoughts.  I  have to agree, not sure if i’d spend 1780 euros for one today, but the Tera Player sounds pretty good.   The best way I can describe the sound is that it’s not very digital sounding.   I would describe digital’s sound, in general, as cold, analytical, mechanical not organic.   The Tera-player sounds organic.  Most people reviews highlight “non-fatiguing” which I will agree with BUT, I’ll be honest, the first time I heard it I thought it sounded  a bit flat.  But after listening to it a little longer, I realized that what I was hearing  was full frequency sound without the harshness that comes with digital.    It’s a nice musical sounding player that doesn’t sound very digital.

Some interesting things to note.  Charle’s has his design notes for the Tera Player up online still so you can read how he first came up with the idea for the Tera Player and how it developed into what is being sold today.    As far as I can tell, while it will play your 24 bit wave files you aren’t actually getting full 24bit resolution at the output.   It will play the 24bit files but it’s not really outputing the full 24bits.  The Tera Player uses a 16bit dac.   Also, it’s my understanding from reading some online notes on the Tera Player is that the digital pot does not output the full bits until you listen to it at full volume.  So, to get the best results from the Tera Player you’ll need to max the volume and add an amp, and I’m just guy to sell you an amp.  😉

Portaphile627XStack

Check out some of the other products from Altmann, like the amplifier on a board.     Scroll down and read some of reviews here.  Interesting stuff.

 

3 Responses to “Altmann Tera-Player”

  1. Musi Call May 7, 2014 at 8:18 am #

    I’ve owned a Tera player for over one year. It’s a good sounding player for sure, better than an smart phone. I sounds very transparent and matches well with the cheap Koss Porta Pros! It’s diminutive size and over 12 Hrs battery are great. Very robust too.
    But it does have major shortcomings. Most importantly, it is hard to find headphones that sound good with it. It’s even more difficult to find portable in ear monitors that sound ok. Because of some impedance factor, the bass rolls off on nearly everything I tried with it.
    Adding an amplifier will do the trick but it also takes away on half its appeal: simplicity and portability.
    Quite frankly, I think the Tera is a nice player to have within a collection of players but in no way it is an end of the game type of player by any mean. I had 3 other players during the time I had the Tera and I probably listen to it 30% of the time. Other players (costing 3-5 times less) did other things for me the Tera couldn’t do.
    Because of the competition in this ever growing audio industry, the Tera player is worth about $400 to $600 top. Let’s be honest here, for $2300, one can get a top sounding DAP with top sounding custom in ear monitors or even full cans.
    Yeap, the Tera is a good $500 player, but that’s about it.

    • spitfire September 6, 2014 at 7:05 pm #

      Hi was thinking about buying the terra until I read your review. I see your point about the price. Have you tried the ak240. Again expensive but more on the device. Why are so many people taken with the Tera. Nice to hear your honest review. which players would you recommend.
      Regards rob

      • PortaphileAdmin October 1, 2014 at 3:39 am #

        Hi Rob, I hope I didn’t discourage you too much on the Tera-Player. Although there definitely are some things going against it, the device sounds pretty damn good and in the end, that is really what matters.

        As for other players, I’ve gone through a Hifiman 801, Tera Player, AK-100 and finally the Sony Zx1. I’ve kept the 801 and the ZX1 the longest. I’ve liked the way they’ve all sounded but each has had it’s strengths and weaknesses. The 801 was definitely one of the best sounding DAPs but the user interface and limited storage space combined with a rather large size kept it from being a keeper. I loved the user interface, expandable storage and form factor of the AK-100 but it was the worst sounding of the bunch. The Tera player sounded great, made even the some of my worst recordings sound musical and enjoyable but the limited storage and simple interface kept me wanting more. Then came the Sony, which sounds pretty good (much better than the Ak100 but not sure if it’s in HM801 territory) and the user interface along with other uses through Android apps make it a keeper. It’s beautifully crafted, definitely has pride of ownership appeal and the built in 128gb is just enough to carry enough of my hi-rez tunes. I’ve been pretty happy with it so far. Ak240 seems like a winner too but still haven’t had a chance to audition one. Happy listening!

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