Anyone heard of this little wonder?

 

nout
Unregistered guest
Is it really that good?

http://www.tnt-audio.com/ampli/t-amp_e.html


 

Silver Member
Username: Varney

BirminghamEngland, UK

Post Number: 210
Registered: Sep-04
We're not going to know until someone here buys one and gives the good old once over with the recommended, sensitive speakerage.

I notice the reviewer seems to contradict himself - repeatedly and in many places. First he says it beats the Hi-End, big-dollar amps, then he says it doesn't quite, with a "....what can you expect from a £23 amp?"

It seems to me, if it sounded like Mid-End Hi-Fi, with the price tag fully visible around it's little neck, this would impress like buggery.

Looking at the maker's website, I do, however see the sense in keeping the hefty power units out of the plan to minimize electrical field distortion to the signal, but then, isn't that what seperate two/three box units are all about? Same goes with outboard DACs; keeping your power-end seperate to your control....?

I dunno. Proof of the pudding, as they say.... I'm thinking of buying one out of curiosity. That weighs in about 14 English pounds for me!

V

 

Silver Member
Username: Varney

BirminghamEngland, UK

Post Number: 211
Registered: Sep-04
Doctor Vigne? Nurses A and Kegger? Please report to the infirmary - could this be the cure for Audiophilis Less-budgetus in deprived areas?

V
 

J. Vigne
Unregistered guest

After having read a few comments on this amp, I'd say it certainly sounds impressive in print. Audio has always been looking for the great budget component that blows away the big guys at a fraction of the cost. And, there have always been a group of contenders for the crown of best hifi bargain - EVER! In the '60's it was the poor man's McIntosh in the form of a Citation or the Dynaco ST70. In the '70's there was a SWTP Tiger amp. In the '80's it was the B&K and Adcom amps. In the '90's there was the CD-34 from Radio Shack. Back in the 1980's when Sam Tellig began writing for Stereophile, his column was called "The Audio Cheapskate". He was constantly searching for the best stuff for the least amount of money. And he did quite well at it for several years until he decided he'd listened to enough cheapskate hifi. Nowdays, like everyone, he likes a good bargain and loves rubbing a cheap product in the tweeter of the guy with the mega buck system. But, he doesn't own cheap hifi anymore, he just finds it to write about. Ultimately the mega buck stuff sounds better. The really good stuff costs money to make in any field. A Subaru WRX Sti isn't a Ford GT or a Ferrari. A good $12 bottle of wine isn't a 12 year old Barollo. A Canon Rebel isn't ... A whatever isn't something else. It can come suprisingly close in some areas; but, it will never be the top of the game. That costs money.

Without hearing the T-amp it's difficult to assess how good it actually is. But, my guess would be it is the WRX STi of audio. At the moment. It probably has the ability to do somethings very well. When you consider the simpler the circuit, the better the system usually sounds; this amp has at least that going for it. When you consider the power supply is the most expensive part of any audio component, this amp has that going for it; it doesn't have one. When you consider that amplifiers run on DC, not AC, through the circuitry, batteries have long been considered the best way to source your voltage and current (there's no AC ripple to the waveform with batteries). When you consider there is a rather large group of audiophiles who listen to lower powered SET amps, this little 7 watt wonder isn't that small. It amounts to thinking beyond the normal constraints of a system. It requires the willingness to think about speakers that start out at 98 dB with one watt in and have no X-over. Or possibly speakers that have expotential horns. And then it takes the combination of likes and dislikes to make this amp's performance suit what your idea of hifi really is. It's bound to have weaknesses, everything does. Most certainly the budget stuff always does. In come the tweekers and the power supply is available that will give this 7 watts some guts. It costs more than the amp did to begin with, but, you only spent a few bucks on the amp, so why not. As it stands it has no switching, so here come the tweekers to fix that. It costs more than the amp and the power supply but you only spent a few dollars on the amp, so why not. The speaker connectors and the input jack are fixed and since you didn't spend much on the amp; why not? After everything is reworked you still have a very inexpensive component. It's not the same component you began with, but it's still cheap for the quality. It's fun and it does let you spend some money on speakers that are not the average run of the mill speaker. You realize the strengths and weaknesses of the simple 7 watt amp; and , if you can live with what it does well (the question of musicality) you can certainly enjoy what you're hearing. It's not a mega buck system, but, you didn't pay mega bucks for the sound. A little rolled at this point ( add a subwoofer?)or a little soft at another isn't the point of this type of product. Can it make music. I see no real reason it can't. What this type product will usually do is allow someone to take a look at other parts of how they reproduce music. What's important becomes the question more so in the budget stuff than in the high dollar gear. Sooner or later this amp is most likely to die, and, you don't fix a $30 amp. Then the question becomes where do you go from there. Will there be another $30 amp that will do what this one did? Probably not. But there are some other amps that can drive your new speakers. Not all of them cost a fortune. More than $30, but, not a fortune. You can now take the knowledge of a good $30 amp and go looking for the replacement. You've thought about your system in a different way and you have learned something in the process. What more could you ask for $30?






 

Silver Member
Username: Varney

BirminghamEngland, UK

Post Number: 221
Registered: Sep-04
Well, I've certainly learnt something, just by reading.

For me it's broken the need-big-wattage-for-good-sound myth, with the understanding of the limitations. I gues it presents 'problems' that can be fixed. We all know that fixing problems is the path to discovery.

I can also see that a big sound needs big watts, and that a bad sound can also arise from it just as easily.

V
 

Silver Member
Username: Varney

BirminghamEngland, UK

Post Number: 222
Registered: Sep-04
Haaaaaannnngggg on-a-sec!!!!!!

Before you leave us with that thought....

So does this mean that if one can solder, one can put right the build limitations? I'm talking about the crap speaker terminals?

What if I put it in a polished mahogany box? What if I turned my own volume knob from brass? Hmmm. For 14 Quid, it's a ready made project! Since it needs some work to make it better, I shall purchase one and name it 'Marcel'.

V
 

J. Vigne
Unregistered guest

If it's named Marcel, won't it be very, very quiet?


 

J. Vigne
Unregistered guest

If it's named Marcel, won't it be very, very quiet?



 

J. Vigne
Unregistered guest

It wasn't that good to post twice. Sorry.


 

Gold Member
Username: Myrantz

Post Number: 1248
Registered: Aug-04
Actually - it was that good!
 

Silver Member
Username: Varney

BirminghamEngland, UK

Post Number: 223
Registered: Sep-04
Hmm, that's a point. Maybe I shall call it John instead :-)
 

Silver Member
Username: Varney

BirminghamEngland, UK

Post Number: 224
Registered: Sep-04
I'd like to ask you, though....

In the original link, where the Italian guy reviews it, he says that it's better with the adapter - then I think, better still with a slightly more powerful adaptor.... I think he's still talking about plug in adapters here, rather than seperate power supplies. I don't know what to think of this, as you've said, J, that battery power is really best for audio, because there are no fluctuations. I can believe this, obviously, as electricity from the wall fluctuates rather a lot and dependant often on where you live.

The other thing which bothers me is the illumination of the reviewer's accuracy, through his self contradictions and I qoute:

" Male and female voices and even choirs do possess a realism that belongs to high class amplifications only. I'm not referring to a particular price range here, I'm talking in absolute terms. Only from time to time, especially when pushed hard to deliver all of its power, the T-Amp reveals traces of hardness and harshness."

Then:

"Despite all my stupid prejudices the T-Amp delivers a tight and fast bass with excellent extension and impact. Of course, within the 6 watt limitation!"

Against....

"sometimes it sounds harsh in the highs and slow in the first octave. The bass range, from time to time, lacks control, especially when pushed too hard."

And....

"Overall dynamics not excellent"

"This is a TRUE audiophile-grade amplifier, it will rock your World like no other HiFi component you've come across till now."

My thoughts after reading all this is that it's probably NOT a true audiophile-grade amp at all. It is sold as a 'portable' amp for parties, computer systems, etc etc. Maybe what he's hearing with his low sensitivity speakers is more what the speakers are capable of conveying, rather than what the T-Amp is providing them with? (Don't know if that makes sense, actually, but I've left it in.)

So, if we are to believe all the pros of this review, we are looking at a manufacturer who does not yet know they have produced audiophile-grade amplification. Can a thing like that happen by accident, as Louis Pasteur happened upon the basis of vaccination? If not, why would they keep it's qaulities quiet until an audiophile tried it out?

When you come to add it up, it doesn't really make sense. After I've bought the audiophile version, I will have paid nearly the same for it as a mid-market NAD or a Rotel, even a Marantz. The reviews of many of these, as we all know say: "Shouldnt't sound this good at this price" etc.

Makes you think when you come to weigh it all up. You dont get something for nothing.

V

 

nout
Unregistered guest
Thanks for the comments!

I think Jan is right with his Subaru WRX Ti analogy (although I've never heard of this car) as all the other things in his expert view, as ever well written.

Jan, did you ever think about writing for a hifi magazine or website?
Maybe reviewing equipment and along that (classical) music?
There aren't many Hifi-reviewers and writers who put the music first in their reviews and articles.
Hasn't anyone ever asked you to write for their website?

And Varney, the inconsistency in that review I noticed too, but the T-amp is definetely worth to check out, I guess.
30$, don't go to the pub for one day...
 

J. Vigne
Unregistered guest

Nout - Thanks for the compliment, and, no, haven't thought about it or been asked.

Varney - Once again I fall back on my most used comment to my clients, there is no free lunch. You're perfectly correct in most everything you state from what I read in the same review. Let me start with where you have missed the boat slightly. The battery power that the reviewer used amounted to the supply of AA alkaline batteries that fit inside the case of the amp. If you rely on the amount of current, not voltage, supplied by a few AA batteries you will be seriously limited in the amount of amperage you can source. Even the recommended external power supply only provides 1.2 amps. When you see the battery power supplies on the Rowland Research and Naim gear, they are quite hefty units. Since a battery is a form of capacitor, and thus is the equivalent of the power supply storage caps in a conventional unit; the weight of the battery supply in the Naim amp is several times the weight of the actual circuitry box itself. This isn't the case with the battery supply of the T-amp. In this case the stiffer supply from the wall outlet would probably offer better response in some areas, especially the bass where current is never a bad thing. On the other hand the batteries may provide a more open sound since the limitations of the wall outlet's power delivery have been avoided. Units that offer both types of operation have the ability to be better at one thing with batteries and another with AC supplies. Along with the known and common nasties that come in through the AC line, the AC ripple I mentioned is an artifact of the rectification from AC to DC voltage that is common in most audio gear. The ripple rides on the DC voltages and is a disruption to the signal flow as the audio signal rides along with the supply voltage. It is not a major concern in most audio gear, but, at the high end of resolution the noise injects a grain that can be eliminated by making the switch to battery power and avoiding the rectification all together. This will also save money in a product such as the T-amp.

So far we've eliminated the power supply (mostly); the input jacks , tape loop and switching; the active pre amp circuitry with just a volume control in line now, and we have minimal speaker connectors. The casework is simple since the 1/2" face plates on the Adcom don't have anything to do with how the amp sounds. That takes quite a bit of the price out of the product.

I would guess if this amp is the niche item it's written up to be, the tweekers will begin to work on the amp (the article reads as if they already have) and you'll see a dedicated power supply and better casework for the amp. Switching will probably follow and the modifiers will begin adding the needed inputs and speaker connectors.

This unit reminds me of the Radio Shack CD-34 portable CD player that was popular as a transport in the mid '90's. It was a matter of synchronicity that it did so well at such a reasonable price. As it became popular as a transport, the modifiers and tweekers moved in with accessories that cost many times the CD-34's original price. The modifications all helped the player but it was doomed by it's price. When the player finally gave up the ghost, there wasn't any fixing the player. Without the player, all the accessories were useless. What happens when a $30 amp breaks? Maybe it's best to buy two now.

*****************

"Only from time to time, especially when pushed hard to deliver all of its power, the T-Amp reveals traces of hardness and harshness."

Not much of a contradiction really. Most amps show some hardness when pushed to and beyond their limit. Many amps have a degree of hardness even within their power limitations. The T-amp seems to hold together up to the limits of its power, that's the important thing here. Of course, with the small wattage, power limits come early even with efficient speakers. Most music requires about 10dB of headroom. This amp can barely squeeze that out with all its wattage. You would definitely want to start out with a speaker that could manage 90 dB + with a few watts.

********************

"Despite all my stupid prejudices the T-Amp delivers a tight and fast bass with excellent extension and impact. Of course, within the 6 watt limitation!"

I'd say that's the headroom issue and can be alleviated somewhat by a better power supply. And the speakers have to play a part in this. Even a Klipschorn at 104 dB @1 watt is only going to produce bass into the mid 30 Hz range. Even then it takes some amount of current to handle the Klipsch's 15" woofer.

*******************

"Overall dynamics not excellent"

This would certainly improve with a better power supply, but, you have to wonder how much. Dynamics have been one of the constant weaknesses of IC outputs. This may be where the T-amp can never really improve enough. Though dynamics can be a relative idea which the small wattage SET's prove when given the right speaker.

********************

"Maybe what he's hearing with his low sensitivity speakers is more what the speakers are capable of conveying, rather than what the T-Amp is providing them with?"

This writer has used the amp with more conventional speakers and with what he describes as the most efficicient, easy to drive horn loaded speakers. Obviously the more efficient the speaker the better here. That would usually mean a fast, tight, punchy bottom end on the horn loaded speakers. If the amp doesn't have to work through a complicated X-over it could have a fair amount of grunt even at 6 watts.

*******************

" ... if we are to believe all the pros of this review, we are looking at a manufacturer who does not yet know they have produced audiophile-grade amplification. Can a thing like that happen by accident ... "

I think this is a case of synchronicity being the benefactor of the T-amp. When discussing the idea of musicality, probably the simplest way to describe the term would be a product which has strengths that outweigh its weaknesses and neither good nor bad is higlighted. The CD-34 was such an item. It was good, though not a giant killer, and meant to sell for a reasonable price. That everything worked as well as it did with the CD-34 was probably a bit of engineering and a bit of luck. That it became a cult item was also a bit of luck. Whether its musicality was to your taste was a matter of what your taste amounted to. I would guess the same is true of the T-amp.

I think your assessment of the amp compared to a mid priced NAD or the like is pretty accurate. Certainly the difference in sound quality between a good budget amp and a top of the line amp is most often a matter of degree. One thing that does change is the budget product is seldom built to last more than a limited amount of time. Does anyone know of a Superphon pre amp still working? The best gear is built to last for several generations. At $30 is that much of a consideration though?


 

Bronze Member
Username: Cory

Canada

Post Number: 51
Registered: Jan-05
wow J Vigne you write alot. LoL. It takes me about twenty minutes to read the posts but no matter how long, you make a point!

About that T amp I would think that it would have lots of distortion since it is class T amp and to limt that distortion you would need a filter that would limit the bandwidth of the amplifier as well. I will admite that having it battery powered is a great advantige

But we will never know intill so one gets it
 

Silver Member
Username: Varney

BirminghamEngland, UK

Post Number: 227
Registered: Sep-04
Thankyou for your latest essay on the T-Amp, J. I'm still reading it actually, meticulously and with great interest.

I did not know that NAIM used battery units. In fact, I had no idea that Hi(Hi)-end used this at all. Now it makes sense. I don't agree with much of what the guys on the "How can I.... Car amps - home stereo" thread are driving at - but I can identify at least with their juicing issues. Maybe they have one thing right, at least.

The thing which has sparked my interest in the T-Amp is more to do with what I could be getting into, by playing with it and what I could learn from this experience. It's low price is very attractive for leisurely experimentation purposes, whereas I was a little put off by the serious commitment involved both financially and otherwise in undertaking a DIY kit amp.

It's not as if I am desperate for a good sounding system. I'm very happy with what I've got. I have a breakfast-time listening session each morning,which promises something new from each CD I put on and makes a rather nice start to the day before going into the studio. Since throwing together this stack, it makes waking up that little bit more exciting and has already started driving me further into Classical music, which before, only provided me with a background 'muzakal' experience. Luckily, my wife works in information services at the Barber Institute and can bring home about any seminal work I can name. It's a whole new interest for me, in itself.

The point I'm driving at here, is that experimenting with cable and listening arrangements have brought me this far. I've been lucky enough to find extremely good bargains on directional OFC leads, etc, which I know for a fact have brought in a 'controlled' sense to the sound. If that is the 'tip' of the iceberg, so to speak, the T-Amp maybe is the next step up to tweaking without needing to become an electronics expert.

"I think your assessment of the amp compared to a mid priced NAD or the like is pretty accurate."

Thankyou. I'm very glad to hear that. I feel quite pleased that I can rely on a brand like NAD to offer longevity at a budget price. My feelings towards nearly everything I own necessitates that they last. I absolutely love the idea of Hi-Fi passed down through generations. One may do this with a timepiece - why not a music system? I've just worked it out, my favourite garment - a gentleman's overcoat - is around 4 times my own age! If it can still be worn and not look 140 yrs old, but for the tailoring evident, then I clearly have something which was built to last. I once had a friend who thought that buying worn clothes even from this century, was a disgusting and tramplike thing to be involved in. These kind of people completely miss the things which were handmade to perfection and to this day carry a charisma which simply cannot be replicated or faked. In our teens, he sought my 'knowledge' to buy a system. I chose Yamaha & Kef and he said he loved it. It was much better than I could ever have afforded back then. Only six months later, he was trying to show off the tackiest pretend seperates 'system' I have ever seen as his 'second system'. Damn thing cost even more than the real seperates and he said he loved that, too. I was disgusted. It had all the dynamics of a mono radio alarm clock. However, my calm was only broken, when he suggested I was jealous because my system lacked remote control and a sleep timer.

V


 

J. Vigne
Unregistered guest

If you'll read page 11 of the tripath spec sheet you'll see the IC was designed to not require heavy output filtration. The power output according to the spec sheet does seem to indicate when the amp has run out of juice it has NO headroom.

The IC does have a "sleep" function though.


 

Silver Member
Username: Varney

BirminghamEngland, UK

Post Number: 231
Registered: Sep-04
Then perhaps we can learn from this, the T-Amp is little more than a very, very good PC sound utility, which would surprise the non-audiophile listener into reccomending it. Smart marketing strategy.

V
 

Bronze Member
Username: Cory

Canada

Post Number: 59
Registered: Jan-05
yeah J.vigne they even give you a schematic so you can out onre together your self witch i think would be cheaper than buying one

Ex: TDA 7294 $11ea cdn 100watts class AB amp
plus 20 dollars of capicators, resistors, etc..

the point im trying to make is that cheap amps are easy and cheap to make if you know what the symbols mean then buying it from a companiey that puts it together for you
 

Silver Member
Username: Varney

BirminghamEngland, UK

Post Number: 235
Registered: Sep-04
It's even cheaper than that to sing in the bath, whilst rattling a couple of soap boxes together.
 

Shades
Unregistered guest

Jus' be careful youse don't slip and fall in the shower like some people have been known to do. Not that I would know anything about such matters, of course.


 

Silver Member
Username: Varney

BirminghamEngland, UK

Post Number: 237
Registered: Sep-04
Isn't that how Jimi Hendrix died?
 

Shades
Unregistered guest

I wouldn't know, I was in Cincinatti at the time.


 

Silver Member
Username: Frank_abela

Berkshire UK

Post Number: 296
Registered: Sep-04
Varney et al,

Naim don't use Battery supplies. They use very large toroidal transformers with smoothing capacitors. This doesn't actually act as a battery which would have the amp seeing the caps as the supply, rather than the transformer, rather it's a fully coupled AC supply.

Naim had investigated using battery power in order to provide the smoothest possible supply, but they never got round the basic problems of battery power, being a continually dwindling power supply as the battery drains. In analogue electronics this is a real bind since you get performance variance as voltage drops. With digital, it either works or it doesn't. the added benefit which isn't mentioned in the 'review' is the fact that class T amps are around 85% efficient where traditional class B amps are more like 30% efficient and class A amps are only 10% efficient. Therefore a battery supply is likely to last a lot longer with a class T amp.

Regards,
Frank.
 

J. Vigne
Unregistered guest

My apologies. I was under the impression Naim had used battery supplies back in the early '80's. Frank should know this brand better than I do.


 

Bronze Member
Username: Touche6784

Post Number: 91
Registered: Nov-04
didnt jimmy hendrix die in a pool of his own vomit?
 

Silver Member
Username: Varney

BirminghamEngland, UK

Post Number: 240
Registered: Sep-04
No, he choked on a pool of Janis Joplin's.
 

Markle
Unregistered guest
Well does anyone know where you can buy the tripath chip for the UK? and even more important who will import The T-amp to the uk... I tried all over the web and everyone's out of stock and wouldn't send to uk anyway, even sonic impact (the manufacturer). Any clues?
 

Anonymous
 
joeman12
 

Anonymous
 
Gentlemen,
allow me to throw in my two pence and state that with the right speakers and a 1700mA lead acid battery this little amp can indeed match the quality of my 300B SET's. I used Bastanis Prometheus speaker (100DB) www.bastanis.de. and the sound is audiophile with this little amp. In fact I would boldly state with a speaker system such as the Prometheus the modified Sonic Impact is the best sounding solid state amp I have ever heard. The sealed Panasonic 1700aha 12 volt battery will power the amp for over 8 hours before I recharge it with a simple wall wort charger. I simply dropped the 2" by 2" circuit board and battery into a hobby box and wired up speaker and input jacks. It must have something to do with the simplicity of the circuit. The sound is really, really special. I hear that you may be able to get your hands on a simular battery powered amp at www.baulsaudio.com in the near future. No AC mains means it will work anywhere in the world as long as you can supply a 12v charger. I have also ran my amp on a 13.5v 1700ma wall wort power supply. No where near as clean but it still sounds great. The battery and replacing all the caps with high quality "poly caps" seems to be the secret to making these amps sing like angels. Good luck finding one of these amps but for you patient few ..... its worth the pursuit.

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