Trends Audio TA10.1
The penny banger of amplifiers.
- Small size, warm and clear signature
- No line-out, only 15 Watts maximum output
If you want high quality sound from your PC but aren’t prepared to shell out for a massive power-hungry amplifier, Trends Audio’s TA10.1 amplifier can handle almost anything you throw at it.
Price$ 200.00 (AUD)
Trends Audio is another company in the vein of Kingrex — the manufacturer of the tiny T20 and UD-01, both of which we loved. Trends Audio's flagship amplifier product is the TA10.1. It’s thinner but taller than its Kingrex competitor and packs the same kind of warm, clear aural tone. If you just want to use this to power some hi-fi audio from your PC it’ll be more than capable. But don’t expect it to blast you away in terms of volume.
The TA10.1 is yet another 'Class T' amplifier: a Class D model based on the increasingly popular Tripath TA2024 integrated circuit. This chip is the same as the one used in the Kingrex T20 and it has gained a great reputation in audiophile circles for its combination of clear, warm sound quality and low distortion and noise interference levels.
The TA10.1 is slightly taller than its competitor, measuring 46 millimetres in height. This increase is made up for by a reduction in width — down to just 76 millimetres. This is definitely a very small unit and doesn’t sit obtrusively wherever it’s located. To have such a small amplifier capably powering a pair of speakers is slightly unsettling; we’re used to amplifiers being large, heavy and power-hungry.
One of the beautiful things about the increasingly large number of Class T amplifiers on the market is their simplicity. The TA10.1 is no different, with a single stereo set of analog RCA connectors and two pairs of twist-type speaker wire terminals. These sit on the back of the unit, and the volume control is on the front. Nothing else to worry about — and nothing to go wrong. It’s possible to see this as a failing of the TA10.1: it doesn’t have any audio outputs for headphones or additional amplifier connections. This might be vexing for anyone wanting to use the amplifier with multiple sources, but if you’re just running it from a PC or an external DAC like the UD-01 you’ll be fine.
The TA10.1 only runs slightly warm to the touch, despite its reasonable output wattage. This is thanks to a power efficiency of 90 per cent at its maximum level (a level that we haven’t seen very many other products reach).
The TA10.1 has the slightly warm, rich sound that we’ve come to expect from that particular Tripath amplification chip. This means it’s not so great if you need utterly bit-perfect line-level amplification — it's the kind of miniscule inaccuracy that makes audio engineers pull their hair out — but for the vast majority of users it will most likely add to the sound rather than detract from it.
One flaw that small amplifiers have is their inability to power large speakers and capably provide powerful bass. We tested the TA10.1 with a series of floor-standing and bookshelf speakers of varying sizes, impedances and power ratings. Our conclusion is that in the vast majority of scenarios the TA10.1 provides more than enough power for energetic music playback.
This is strengthened by the TA10.1’s spacious soundstage. Music is presented with very noticeable definition between stereo channels; it’s a real boon for music that’s mixed binaurally. Orchestral music is a great example of this, and Trends Audio’s little amplifier handled itself exceptionally.
It’s not particularly expensive, either — it's available for under $200 if you search around — which makes this little power-house an attractive proposition if you’re looking for a miniature high-definition audio system.
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