Most helpful critical review
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Cute little amp, but severe treble distortion makes it just about ok for £35
on 21 March 2015
EDIT: The brand and model number shown above is wrong. My review is actually of the better Lepai LP-2020A+ amplifier, which uses a better version of the Tripath chip.
I got this amp to use with my PC to drive a pair of large Hi-Fi speakers. It's main advantage for me is that 12v power input, which I can use to power it off the PC instead of its own PSU so that it switches on and off with the PC.
At lowish volumes the sound is very good indeed. Bass is tight, decent mids and sparkling, clear treble. Turn up the volume to "loudish" and the sound is soon ruined. This isn't your normal clipping that you'd get with any amplifier either. While the bass and mids remain fine, the treble completely smears out, sounding a complete mess, with the effect getting worse as the volume is increased. Turning up the treble control and / or playing modern all-digital recordings which feature lots of sharp, sparkling treble makes this happen a whole lot sooner, too. The effect is so awful that it's completely unlistenable like this.
This is caused by an effect called slew rate limiting and is a hallmark of very cheap amplifiers, which this is. It's just about acceptable for the £35 I paid for it, even a little bit less maybe, but no more. The problem might be relieved when I connect it to the better, higher current PC power supply, but I doubt it.
Also, when turning the volume up quite high, the relay tends to trip for a couple of seconds or so, cutting off the sound. I've never seen this behaviour in any other amplifier before and is another demerit.
I think this is why Tripath, the company which invented this class-T technology, went bust and you don't see this technology in any more expensive, quality amplifiers. In fact, other cheap amplifiers using more traditional technology will have this problem to a much lesser extent.
On the plus side, it's very small, doesn't weigh much (no heavy heatsink) it's cute looking, is unobtrusive and is finished quite nicely, plus has a handy tone defeat button. Also, it generates very little heat, so can be squeezed into any small space you have handy, such as my PC case.
I'll be keeping my amplifier, but I'm not happy about this problem and will be looking to replace it eventually with something better.
If it hadn't been for this dealbreaker problem, I'd have given it 4 or 5 stars.