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T-Amp or NAD 3020, who is the winner?

 

Bronze Member
Username: Ruve

Post Number: 31
Registered: Mar-06
It seems that Sonic Impact's T-Amp has a good potential to become a legendary success in the 21st century, which is comparable to the success with NAD 3020 about 27 years ago.

Has anyone had a chance to compare these two directly? Judging purely from sonic performance, who do you think would be the winner?
 

Gold Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 8292
Registered: May-04


I haven't had a 3020 for the last twenty five years to compare against anything. But, as I recall the sound of the NAD, the T amp is the clear winner in all areas other than sheer volume potential and input flexibility. Sonically there is no real comparison.

 

Bronze Member
Username: Ruve

Post Number: 32
Registered: Mar-06
Jan, are you referring to the stock unmodified form of T-AMP?
 

Gold Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 8293
Registered: May-04


Uh-huh.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Musicluvr

Post Number: 57
Registered: Apr-05
I own a 20 something year old NAD 3125 integrated amplifier that was released when the 3020 was retired. Based on comparisons from many years ago, my 3125 sounds very similar to the 3020. A couple of years ago I upgraded to a NAD C372, but I still occasionally listen to he 3125.

I recently purchased the $40 Sonic Impact T-Amp and I have spent the last several weeks with this little amp. I think that the Sonic Impact T-Amp demonstrates the potential of the Tripath chip technology, but on its own merits, it may not be the sort of breakaway product that the NAD 3020 was.

The main issue I have with the T-Amp is its power. The T-Amp sounds wonderful right up to the point where it clips. When it reaches its limit, the sound of the clipping T-Amp is particularly nasty. In another post I compared the sound to cutting bricks with a table saw, and that was not an exaggeration. I have now used the T-Amp with 4 different pairs of speakers, NHT SB-3s, NHT ST-4s, Boston Acoustics T830s, and Radio Shack Minimus 7s. The NHTs sound fantastic, but they are only rated at 86db/W/m, and they are very power hungry. I can't get the volume up high enough to fill my medium sized living room without the T-Amp clipping. The Boston Acoustics T830s are rated at 90db/W/m and they do a little better. But even at a level just above drowning out a polite conversation, the T-Amp would occasionally clip. I am currently using the T-Amp with the Radio Shack Minimus 7s, which are mini speakers, connected to my laptop computer on my office desk. I'm quite happy with this setup. There are speakers that are better suited to the T-Amp. Based on my experience with the T-Amp I would guess that it would be best matched to speakers rated at 93db/W/m and up, and the higher the better. I would have trouble living with the T-Amp for my main amplifier in a music or home theater system. I would find that restriction in speaker choices confining.

In contrast, the 3125 has no trouble driving any of the above mentioned speakers to a satisfying volume in my living room. Even the tiny Radio Shack speakers can fill the room suprisingly well if you forgive them their lack of bass. I've matched the 3125 with a fair number of speakers over the years, and I have never run into a lack of power in rooms up to about 20x30. I think that one of the factors that led to early NAD amps gaining their legendary reputation is that it could be matched to pretty much any speakers available, from budget mini monitors to high end floorstanders and still deliver very good sound quality.

I am keeping my eye on the Sonic Impact amps and other Tripath chip based amplifiers. I think they are on to something. If someone comes up with an amplifier that can deliver the T-Amp sound driving a wider range of speakers to satisfying volumes and do that at a competitive price, that would be something really special.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Ravbains

MelbourneAustralia

Post Number: 47
Registered: Mar-06
Hi ctanaka,

thanks for your post, for me, it was a very good read.

I think it really put the T-amp into a meaningful perspective for me.

many thanks
Rav
 

Gold Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 8315
Registered: May-04


Sorry, but suggesting the "problem" of the T amp is it doesn't have enough power to drive some inefficient speakers is not taking the amplifier on its own merits. This is like saying your Honda Civic can't haul 4X8 sheets of plywood so, therefore, it's not a good car. (Here it might be worth pointing out the Civic has won awards based on a comparison to products in its own "class".) The function desired wasn't the intent when the car, or amplifier, was designed and there are models of both products which offer the versatility desired for the job proposed. If you need more power, there are Tripath chip amps available with more wattage output. They do not cost $25. That is the point of the T amp as presented by Sonic Impact. If you need a more efficient speaker, they are also available. You just have to look at what is available. Not clean out your closet.




My comments regarding the comparison of the two amplifiers is based on the sound quality of both amplifiers when driving speakers suited to their needs. Not the other way around. True, since the mass market speaker industry is reluctant to produce speaker systems with high efficiency and generally good sound, your choices of well suited matches is more limited with the T amp. That, however, would make a comparison between a $99 Integra(?) house brand HT receiver at Best Buy the better choice than the T amp. With its 100 watts per channel, the house brand amp will surely drive speakers to volume levels the T amp can't approach. Will it sound good doing it? I'll let your imagination answer that question.


If the question had been originally posed to ask which amplifier could play louder, I would not have given the unequivocal reply I did in my first response. The T amp is a product you must take on its own merits just as you would a 2 1/2 watt single ended triode amplifier. Or, just as you would a pick up truck rather than a subcompact.



When you simply listen to the sound quality of both amplifiers, the T amp is the clear winner. Now, it is up to you to do your job properly and match it to speakers which satisfy your needs in regard to volume. Anyone who buys the T amp with serious evaluation in mind should know they are getting a 6 watt amplifier. If you proceed without calculating how loud the amplifier will play with the speakers you want to use, that cannot be blamed on the amplifier. If you had a pair of 104dB efficient speakers available, the issue of volume would not have come up.


 

Bronze Member
Username: Ravbains

MelbourneAustralia

Post Number: 53
Registered: Mar-06
Hi Jan,

cannot argue with what you say dude!

For me, I feel that the previous poster (ctanaka) was also a good post since it put things in perspective i.e. if you use most main-stream speakers with a T-amp, you probably won't hear the T-amp at its best!

Also most dumb fools (myself included...) probably just read what they want to, and will rush out and get a T-amp and end up frustrated with the results.

Anyhows, interesting reading gentlemen.

I think I would like to try the T-amp someday, when I get a bit of a respite.....

best wishes
Rav
 

Gold Member
Username: Nuck

Post Number: 2298
Registered: Dec-04
The T-amp (the surviving one), shall drive Ling's at the computer desk @1 meter, or so.
I feel this is a more appropriate use and probably a more rewarding experience for 40 bucks. Uh...80 bucks.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Musicluvr

Post Number: 58
Registered: Apr-05
Taking on the duties of computer system amplifier is an important and respectable role in my opinion. I'll accumulate more time listening to the T-Amp connected to my computer than with my music/home theater system. As an added bonus, the T-Amp seems to be less susceptible than anything else I've used to picking up those annoying computer noises.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Subiedriver

Post Number: 70
Registered: Apr-05
I have the fancier T-amp, the one in the metal case. Hooked to a Mac Mini playing uncompressed music files, and an old pair of KEF bookshelf speakers, rated about 86 db. Granted I'm not trying to blow the windows out. But this "system" (it's in my office) sounds amazingly good and plays plenty loud.

Just one man's opinion.
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