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Need to downsize my Amp - Spec me please.

Discussion in 'Sound City' started by teejay73, Oct 21, 2018.

  1. teejay73

    Hitman

    Joined: May 20, 2009

    Posts: 829

    Location: Essex

    Hi all,

    I currently have a pair of Wharfedale diamonds 9's, powered by an old Cambridge Audio A1 amp. Been putting off replacing the amp for a while, but now realise it is just too big. My question is, is there another, smaller amp that I can get for about £100 that will offer similar sound quality to what I have already? I keep hearing T-Amp getting mentioned but have no idea with these.

    I have also been thinking I might just replace the lot with some powered Edifier's or similar? Once again any idea what would be best with a budget of £120 ish? Could squeeze to £150 - Would like similar or maybe better performance/sound than what I have already.

    Only used in a very small room as desk speakers for pc. TIA Terry
     
  2. Marsman

    Capodecina

    Joined: Oct 18, 2009

    Posts: 10,245

    Edifier make some good powered speakers, but I'd keep the speakers you have and get a T amp.

    I have some Wharfedale 9.1's, but I have them on stands either side of TV cabinet connected to a Cambridge Audio Azur 350A. Tried them on my desk; too big. :p

    On my desk I have Roth Oli 1's (same size as 9.0's) connected to a Topping T amp. For the size and cost it does a great job.

    You can get a SMSL SA36 or SA50 for around £50.
     
  3. teejay73

    Hitman

    Joined: May 20, 2009

    Posts: 829

    Location: Essex

    How will either of these Amps compare to what I have already, from a sound perspective, if you know?
     
  4. Marsman

    Capodecina

    Joined: Oct 18, 2009

    Posts: 10,245

    Either should compare well. The Topping I have was similar cost to the SMSL's and I can only speak of my own experience with that and the full size amps that I've owned, but I've found it does a great job in comparison; especially considering the size and cost. I'm not a great believer in an amp making a significant difference to the sound though, but there are people who say they notice differences in sound between amplifier brands. Maybe some other people's experiences will differ when comparing a full size amp to a T amp. In my opinion, I think unless you've got demanding or expensive speakers, a T amp can be a good replacement for a full size integrated amp.

    In the comment section of the video below, some guy says he swapped his NAD D3020 for a SMSL SA36. Some people might think that madness, swapping a £400 amp for a £50 one, but he says the SMSL powers his Q Acoustic 3020's fine. If the SA36 didn't sound anywhere near as good, I'm sure that's something he would have mentioned.

    Anyway; have a watch of Zeos' review of both.

     
  5. teejay73

    Hitman

    Joined: May 20, 2009

    Posts: 829

    Location: Essex

    Great stuff! Think I will go for one of the SMSL's. Seems to tick the boxes for my needs. I think my A1 amp is rated at 25w rms per channel at 8 ohms, so shouldn't be much difference. My room is tiny like 2m by 1.5, so sound is prob overkill in there anyway. Thanks for your very useful help :)
     
  6. Marsman

    Capodecina

    Joined: Oct 18, 2009

    Posts: 10,245

    One thing I forgot to mention, is that the rating of these amps is into 4 Ohm; so for the SA36, 8 Ohm is 12W. They probably do that because power into 4 Ohm is higher than it is for 8 Ohm. For the SA36, 20W per channel displayed in the blurb is going to grab attention more than if they put 12W; which is what it is into 8 Ohm.

    Now, you might be thinking that 12W into 8 Ohm is a bit weedy, but it's more than it sounds; especially for close listening. The room where I have my desk is about 4x4m and my Topping TP21 is the same power output as the SA36 (12W into 8 Ohm). Sitting at my desk, I can't put the volume dial near 12 o'clock without it being way too loud for me to bare for any length of time. The Roth's are 8 Ohm as well, where as the Wharfedale 9.0/9.1 are 6 Ohm. I'd guess for the Wharfedale's, it will be around 16W.

    If you do like it really loud, maybe the SA50 would be the better choice; but to be honest, I think you'd have to have ears of iron for the SA36 not to be enough.

    Edit: There's not that much difference in price between the two on the jungle site; £14 or so.
     
  7. teejay73

    Hitman

    Joined: May 20, 2009

    Posts: 829

    Location: Essex

    Thanks Marsman! The SA50 is already in my basket. Just off topic slightly, been looking at external DAC's, mainly the SMSL sanskrit 6 - will this give me much of an improvement over the onboard DAC on my motherboard?
     
  8. Marsman

    Capodecina

    Joined: Oct 18, 2009

    Posts: 10,245

    It depends on the onboard audio in question and people have differing opinions on whether buying a DAC is worth the money, compared to using onboard audio.

    I think the biggest advantage of a external DAC, is if there is any interference or a ground loop. If you have no issues there, then the benefit in my opinion will be subtle, if any.

    I do have a DAC as well; a Topping D2, which serves as a DAC/headphone amp. My onboard is not the best though and I have what sounds like a ground loop (buzzing), when I connect the speaker amp directly to the motherboard. I've not bothered to investigate it, because it's not an issue when the speaker amp is connected to the D2 DAC.

    If you want to use headphones as well, then an SMSL SD793II would be good inexpensive choice, regardless of whether the DAC provides any sound quality benefit over the onboard audio. If you have no use for headphones, and have no issues with any interference, then a DAC may not be any improvement over the onboard audio.

    Could always get one and try it, then judge for yourself whether there is any improvement and whether it's worth the money; if not, return it.
     
  9. teejay73

    Hitman

    Joined: May 20, 2009

    Posts: 829

    Location: Essex

    Tbh, I don't suffer from any noise interference, so will prob sack the idea of getting a DAC. I do use headphones just for gaming, but the sound is plenty good enough for my needs from them.
    Thanks for all your help. I will go ahead and get the SA50.
     
  10. roadie

    Mobster

    Joined: May 22, 2003

    Posts: 2,539

    Location: Hampshire

    I have a SMSL SA-36A Pro. Get's a massive meh from me because although it is very precise, it has no bass.

    I replaced it with a Topping MX3 that has a DAC and Bluetooth. Notwithstanding the extra connectivity and features, the sound is massively better.
     
  11. rids57

    Soldato

    Joined: Jul 25, 2012

    Posts: 5,886

    Location: Ankh Morpork

    Surely the bass depends on what you speakers you are using, amps normally have a flat frequency response from 20Hz to 20kHz
     
  12. roadie

    Mobster

    Joined: May 22, 2003

    Posts: 2,539

    Location: Hampshire

    Not in the case of the SA-36 I have.