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High Quality Mini HiFi Amplifier

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  • High Quality Mini HiFi Amplifier

    I'm looking for a physically small, high quality amplifier to drive a set of 8 ohm speakers in the home office. I don't need a bunch of frills, digital inputs, flashy LEDs etc, and I don't need much power. I'd be happy with >10W/channel or so, I'm more concerned about quality! Price range is in the $200 or less range. I'd also be open to a tube amp, knowing the physical size would be larger and may push the price range a bit. I mainly listen to acoustic, jazz, ambient stuff while working. I'd love to hear some options!

  • #2
    Rory thought this was an exceptional chip amp. Still available. Along with many other chip amps with more power.


    • #3
      People seem to like this. There are dozens of similar products available, I posted PE products because this is their forum.


      • #4
        There's this one. IIRC, based on TI's TDA3116 chip (good). The pic is from Amazon. It can be had cheaper, maybe $20 or less from eBay or the Chinese sites. Google NobSound. You'll need to add a PS. An old laptop supply at ~19 V would be perfect for you. And the anodized aluminum case comes in other colors

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        • djg
          djg commented
          Editing a comment
          I have two Nobsound (Douk Audio) 2.1 amps and a little BT preamp. I like their products.

        • Blenton
          Blenton commented
          Editing a comment
          djg - don't mean to hijack the thread, but I've look at those Nobsound/Douk Audio amps before and might pick one up for a project. Would you be willing to provide a little more feedback on them? I find that a lot of the cheaper chip amps have some hiss and such when the music is paused or not connected. Also, how close do you think they get to making rated power? I mean, they usually rate the 2x50 at something like 10% distortion, so I don't expect 50 watts, but do you think they would be sufficient to, say, drive a pair so smallish bookshelves and 8" sub in a living room?

      • #5
        I appreciate the replies! There are so many knockoff cheap class Ds out there that I'm a bit weary of. I saw that tube hybrid as well as the higher powered version that looked interesting as well - leaning that way because it is something different and looks pretty sweet along with lots of positive reviews. Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk


        • #6
          Topping MX3 might be interesting if you want digital input and headphone amp as well as speaker amp.


          • #7
            Blenton, I have two Nobsound 2.1 amps, one with bluetooth. That one is for a gift.

            As the owner's pamphlet states, with a 24V PS into 4 ohms, the output "may approach" rated. It comes with a little 19V PS. I like them, only used for 2.1 PC sound, but if you up the PS to 24V and have fairly efficient speakers, I'd try it in the living room. I like the controls, bass and treble for the satellites, sub volume and xo freq, main volume. If only it didn't run the mains full spectrum.

            I ran numerous satellites mostly 4 ohm, and a passive version of Tom Zarbo's Tenacious 8 sub, with a TB W8-740 and a Dayton 10" PR. Satisfying sound. It's powering a little bedroom 2.1 now.

            I moved on to the Dayton 250DSP sub and stereo amp for my PC, as that has total sat/sub XO control.

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            • #8
              SMSL still makes a nice small amp/Dac. I have an older one, SAD-01 for my desktop. It is rated for some silly power, but is actually a decent small amp. The newer class D will outshine the older chip-amps.
              The Topping is another option. Several have been commented on over on ASR. SMSL and Topping are legit companies.


              • #9
                I haven't heard one and more power than you are looking for but just yesterday I ran into the ALLO Volt+D amp ... tested well and adding the power supply is still under budget.


                • #10
                  I tried the Nobsound that djg posted (without the bluetooth) and compared it with my DTA2.1BT v.1 and Marantz 1403 driving Continuums. The Marantz sounds stellar, the DTA2.1 sounded a little grainy in the mids and highs but had close overall tone to the Marantz. The Nobsound sounded like Siss and Boom and I could not get the treble to sound remotely good even turned all the way down and the mids were very recessed - not good at all even though I really wanted it to work, Suspected and confirmed lesson to not go with any cheap chip amps with tone controls unless it has a setting to bypass them like on the Lepai 2020. I actually didn't compare it directly with the others but I did listen to some speakers later in the day with the Lepai 2020's ... sounded really good to me!


                  • #11
                    Originally posted by tvrgeek View Post
                    SMSL still makes a nice small amp/Dac. I have an older one, SAD-01 for my desktop. It is rated for some silly power, but is actually a decent small amp. The newer class D will outshine the older chip-amps.
                    The Topping is another option. Several have been commented on over on ASR. SMSL and Topping are legit companies.
                    I second the advice for SMLS and Topping. There are a couple of options for you to choose, if you do or don't want an internal DAC.
                    How do you plan on getting output from your office computer to the amp? I've been disappointed with some laptop DACs quality.

                    I think I hear a difference - wow, it's amazing!" Ethan Winer: audio myths
                    "As God is my witness I'll never be without a good pair of speakers!" Scarlett O'Hara

                    High value, high quality RS150/TB28-537SH bookshelf - TARGAS NLA!
                    SB13/Vifa BC25SC06 MTM DCR Galeons-SB13-MTM
                    My Voxel min sub Yet-another-Voxel-build

                    Tangband W6-sub


                    • #12
                      I was worried I was recommending a bogus amp, the Nobsound 2.1. So I dragged some stuff out to the living room to compare. The Nobsound, an SMSL SA50 2.0, a Sonance 75 watt per buyout amp, and a bunch of speakers. I did not have another 2.1 to compare, but I did run all three full range on the Zingers.

                      I really didn't hear anything bad out of any of the amps. Some of the smaller speakers suffer in a large room while sounding fine in a nearfield 2.1 setting.

                      I still recommend the Nobsound, I found it convenient to change sub parameters when switching between various speaker sizes.

                      Note the SMSL 24 Volt 5 Amp brick used with both amps. That came with the SMSL amp. The Nobsound comes with a 19 Volt brick.

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                      Last edited by djg; 12-31-2020, 01:54 AM.


                      • #13
                        The Apple dongle is actually highly respected and as good or better than some esoteric multi-thousand dollar kluges. $20.

                        As most of these are all on Amazon, you can limit your risk as if it is bad, you can send it back. Thanks for the Nobsound recommendation. Maybe another brand becoming legit. I think Fosi is also legit now.


                        • #14
                          Are there any good, low wattage class A/B amps of small size that are noteworthy? For the intended use, small wattage needs, workplace use, so lower volume etc., I would think that one of those would be a nice sounding option. Kind of like the tube amp option, but easier to live with.

                          I can't think of even one though to be honest, maybe a DIY option with an amp board from other sites, but I don't think that was what the OP wanted to do.

                          I've heard this one only at a few PE events, but liked what I heard:

                          May not be small enough though depending.

                          I have, and still use the original Dayton T-amp, the one they redid from Sonic Impact or something like that... it has a curved top and can run off internal batteries... the PE one is black, that sounds good to me, kind of mellow and a little warm like an old A/B would. Source matters a lot though. Yeah, I'm no help.

                          Zarbo Audio Projects Youtube Channel: * 320-641 Amp Review Youtube: *Veneering curves, seams, using heat-lock iron on method *Trimming veneer & tips *Curved Sides glue-up video
                          *Part 2 *Gluing multiple curved laminations of HDF


                          • djg
                            djg commented
                            Editing a comment
                            I gave a couple of those old T amps to friends at work along with a pair of speakers. One friend got the T amp with a pair of those speakers I sent to you for your church. He liked the sound.

                        • #15
                          Great recommendations everyone. What is your audio source Eric? If it will be a computer, I would recommend a separate DAC. Like tvrgeek said, the Apple dongle is a great budget option. In the $100 range, SMSL and Topping have DACs with remotes. The Khadas Tone Board is also a nice DAC in that range. For not much more, there are compact all in one devices like the Loxie A30. Many of the amps that were recommended are based on the TPA3116 chip which is rated for 50w x 2 @ 4 ohms and are powered from laptop power bricks. The TPA3251/TPA3255 family are newer and higher powered chips and there are some amps that are well received in your price range. There is another forum that does scientific audio reviews that may be helpful in your quest. A $9 Apple dongle, $30 amp, and a repurposed laptop power supply may be all you need. On the other hand there are many options under your $200 budget as well.
                          Good luck in your quest! djg is well into his
                          My Builds - Vigor (Nola Brio Knockoff) - Overnight Sensations w/ Voxel - Speedsters in surplus boxes - Zaph B3N's in bamboo - Classix II in BR-1 cabinets - Dual TPA3116 D2 amp in an old music box - Mariposas