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Class D Switching Power Amplifiers and Power D/A conversion

Zero T-amp TA2020 (eBay)
Zero T-amp TA2020 (eBay)
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Old 20th May 2009, 10:16 AM   #1
superR is offline superR  Netherlands
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Default Zero T-amp TA2020 (eBay)

Yesterday, I found the long awaited package at my doorstep. After some time of shipping from China to Holland, I got my (first?) Class D/T amplifier.

The item was purchase from eBay.
It is a so-called Zero Class-T amp which has the well known TA2020 on it's PCB. A switching supply, rated at 12V 3.3A was supplied. After connecting some quite sensitive 6 ohm speakers (old Duals which I have been using for a couple of years before switching to better ones) I turned it up; a very slight "pop", and we're off. The amp is quiet, at least; At no-input/max volume, I could only hear the purring notebook on my desk.
First impression;
What is all the Class D/T fuss about? Although I love the fact that it's smaller than most pencil cases, the sound quality wasn't astounding. Of course I was curious about the difference between a previous purchase from eBay, a 20 dollar TDA7294 stereo board. This might not seem fair because of the fact the TDA is able to deliver MUCH more power than the TA2020, but the TDA is connected to a very modest +-15V 1,5A regulated power supply which should make it as powerful as the TA2020.

I took the notebook output (very hifi.. ) and connected one channel to the TDA and the other to the TA chip. After balancing the channels (the TDA had a way higher gain because it is designed to be used at higher voltage/power!) I started comparing the two cheapest PCB's on the market.

Flipping the balance from left te right made me able to compare the two amplifiers. The TDA seemed to be a bit "muddy", while the TA was very "clear". This isn't however a compliment for the TA chip: After some different songs I got a friend of mine to ask for his opinion. After ten seconds, he hit the mark by saying; "That channel seems to be further away, compared to the other". The previously mentioned muddy amp seemed to be translating to music more accurately and with far more "body", while the TA was making the music seem coming from a smaller/cheaper loudspeaker.

Maybe it's the power supply, right?...

I moved the loudspeakers to a better source, a M-Audio soundcard playing lossless files, and connected it to an oversized regulated power supply of 12V and was hoping for a big improvement. But.. Even though UB40 and Van Morrisson sounded crips and clean in the highs, the "rest of the music" seemed damped.

What am I doing wrong? Is this a typical TA chip characteristic? Adding elco's on the supply will most probably not improve the sound since the oversized 12V supply has more capacitance than most "upgraded" t-amps. Will changing input caps make a drastic difference in terms of previously mentioned "body"? if so, which ones should I use?

Please share your experiences!
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Old 24th May 2009, 09:22 PM   #2
superR is offline superR  Netherlands
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Still kind of curious. Is this previously mentioned sound a typical Class T TA2020 sound or will a (cheap) fix make the amplifier perform better?
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Old 27th May 2009, 01:37 AM   #3
nrg2009 is offline nrg2009  United States
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I'm also following this thread. Interesting discovery. Would you mind posting a photos of each amp?
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Old 27th May 2009, 10:21 AM   #4
superR is offline superR  Netherlands
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Currently I have no camera available. I will open it as soon as I have a camera.
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Old 27th May 2009, 11:15 AM   #5
Zero One is offline Zero One  Australia
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Hello Super R

I am not much of a knowledge base on digital amps, however they do need some time to settle in so it will likely sound somewhat better after 20 hrs or so.

Secondly it seems almost universal that small digital amps sound significantly better running off 12V SLA supplies, well worth a try I'd say.

Overall the amp looks to be well made.

Address the burn in and the power supply before trying to change anything else. Overall I doubt that adding extra capacitance will change much and it doesn't really need more PS capacity than the one supplied. Probably a better cleaner supply if anything.

If Bass is really rolled off it may be an input cap issue but I'd wait before touching them.

Keep us posted, there are probably a few people interested in this little amp.
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Old 4th June 2009, 06:09 PM   #6
gychang is offline gychang  United States
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would like another review on the sound once it is settled down. Would appreciate the picture of the unit.

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Old 4th June 2009, 10:28 PM   #7
superR is offline superR  Netherlands
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I must make a confession....

I was so disappointed about the device, I sold it to a less "audiophile" person who was very pleased since it was so small. No more (for now!) class D/T amps for me.
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Old 28th June 2009, 09:44 AM   #8
jean-paul is offline jean-paul  Netherlands
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A "drawing conclusions too early" type of thing it seems. They really need the hours to sound right.

Only thing that I can remark from the pics is that the output coils look small. For a few Euro that can be solved. Those are very important for the final result. But it still needs to break in before doing any changes.
It's only audio. Member of the non modular PCB design committee
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Old 22nd September 2010, 07:17 PM   #9
TA2020 is offline TA2020  Netherlands
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Yes R. you sold it to me, the "less audiophile" person Still living and studying in D. (ZH)?

I'm now heading for a Trend TA 10.1 something more "audiophile" and your Zero class-t TA2020 is still connected to my Mac Mini, where it does an awesome job. The speakers you were using in your dorm, are just lousy ones...

Here at my desk, the amp performs a lot better with 2x40 watt Pioneer speakers (not really top of the bill- but they do a good job), gladly for me.
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Old 23rd September 2010, 08:42 AM   #10
tuyen is offline tuyen  Australia
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I am using one of Arjen Helder's TA2020 MKIII boards and it acutally sounds very good compared to my tricked out valve el34 valve amps.

I am very suprised actually as I had lost faith in digital amps after I sold my old Bel Canto S300 class D power amps because of its sonic characteristics not suiting my taste.

But the TA2020 board from Arjen is actually quite suprisingly good. Thumbs up from me.
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