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Old 31st March 2013, 02:08 PM   #161
xrk971 is online now xrk971  United States
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Default TPA3116D2 Listening Impressions (daytime)

With a proper heat sink installed and daytime hours to listen unrestricted by volume levels I put the amp through my usual CD's (Dave Brubeck, Suzanne Vega, Fiona Apple, Sade, Dire Straits, Cowboy Junkies, Blues Travellers, Led Zeppelin, Alicia Keys, Bruce Springsteen, Rebecca Pidgeon) I am running it off an old HP laptop power supply brick with 19 volts and about 65 watt capacity so I am not going to be able to get near the output capacity but that would be too loud to be tolerable.

The first thing that I am noticing is the resolution of micro dynamics that I did not hear before. Small nuances in vocal inflections are coming out. Some tracks that have a lot of jazz drums going on, I am hearing new detail that was missed before - very cool. It is like getting a new better recording of your favorite CD's. I turned volume up loud and the sound is clear and effortless no distortion at all. For CD's that are recorded with a 2 mic setup, the sound stage and spatial imaging is amazing. Overall, the amp is very balanced: it handles the lows, mids, highs all very well and neutrally. This would make sense according to published THD curves, if you stay below 30 watts/ch THD is less than 0.1%. With the heats sink installed there is never any perceptible warmth from the heat sink that can be felt. I would estimate that at levels I was listening to maybe less than 2 watts thru the heat sink. I will need drivers that can handle more than 30 watts to really give it a test at max power. I suppose I can just parallel a subwoofer to it and see how it handles the combined load.

Conclusion: this is the best amplifier I now have and one of the best sounding amplifiers I have heard at any price. Kind of strange to say it is one of the best I have heard but there you have it. I think Texas instruments has a new low power class D champ here. It will just be a matter of time before companies like Topping, Sure, Dayton, 41hz, and the numerous Chinese amp board companies, etc start to make commercially available units to replace the Tripath's that have long held these positions. After building it and seeing the cost of the SMD component BOM for single units, you can also expect that this will be a very reasonably priced nice sounding amp.
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Old 31st March 2013, 04:27 PM   #162
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These new chips seem very impressive but I am skeptical that Topping, Sure, Dayton, 41Hz and the numerous other Chinese companies will use them to replace their Tripath amplifiers. Texas Instruments has been making superior chips for a few years now and they have mostly gone widely ignored. I would suggest that some new business firms launch new amplifiers and maybe knock some of these older firms out of business. There are lots of opportunities to make money and it is just a matter of going to the trouble to get it done.
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Old 31st March 2013, 05:32 PM   #163
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That's why we need to get Cristi/Connexelectronic to build amps and get the ball rolling. So be sure to tell him in his forum!
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Old 31st March 2013, 05:36 PM   #164
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41hz is Swedish and are made in Sweden exclusively.

But I disagree. TI has made some good chips in the past 5 years but they were still lacking behind the superior Tripath chips in most areas. That is the main reason they haven't been used as widely until now in the DIY market.

Remember, to TI, the DIY market is a niche market. Most of their class D chips go in well-known brand name TVs, recievers, and so on. For Tripath chips the DIY is the only market as the company went bust over 5 years ago.
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Old 31st March 2013, 09:03 PM   #165
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Originally Posted by Saturnus View Post
41hz is Swedish and are made in Sweden exclusively.

But I disagree. TI has made some good chips in the past 5 years but they were still lacking behind the superior Tripath chips in most areas. That is the main reason they haven't been used as widely until now in the DIY market.

Remember, to TI, the DIY market is a niche market. Most of their class D chips go in well-known brand name TVs, recievers, and so on. For Tripath chips the DIY is the only market as the company went bust over 5 years ago.
I would not call the 10 year old Tripath chips market DIY only because they are still used pretty much exclusively in all Topping and similar small class D amplifiers on the market which are quickly becoming obsolete. The opportunity to replace these poor sounding amplifiers with much improved sounding lower cost units does exist and the first business firms to bring them to market will reap the benefits.
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Old 31st March 2013, 09:11 PM   #166
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Originally Posted by ssportclay View Post
I would not call the 10 year old Tripath chips market DIY only because they are still used pretty much exclusively in all Topping and similar small class D amplifiers on the market which are quickly becoming obsolete. The opportunity to replace these poor sounding amplifiers with much improved sounding lower cost units does exist and the first business firms to bring them to market will reap the benefits.
Topping, Sure and all the other small amp companies are peanuts for TI. They don't build and design chips with this market in mind at all.

I don't know yet if TI is finally going to match Tripath in sound quality, so far all their attempts have been inferior. I see great potential in the TPA3116D2 though. Might still not be up to Tripath in sound quality but on other parameters it's an improvement, most significantly in efficiency at real music levels.

Last edited by Saturnus; 31st March 2013 at 09:18 PM.
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Old 31st March 2013, 09:19 PM   #167
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ssportclay View Post
I would not call the 10 year old Tripath chips market DIY only because they are still used pretty much exclusively in all Topping and similar small class D amplifiers on the market which are quickly becoming obsolete. The opportunity to replace these poor sounding amplifiers with much improved sounding lower cost units does exist and the first business firms to bring them to market will reap the benefits.
Exactly. The only commercially available (in the US) TPA-based amp currently is the TBI Millenia for $500. It lingered in obscurity for the past few years, then an audiophile reviewer got a hold of it and now it is getting rave reviews from people with $$$$ amps, including Pass amps. Not that I'm saying the TPAs are that good, I don't own $$$$ gear - but the TPA chip has now put TBI on the map. And it's using the older TPA3100D2, not the newer 3116/8.

If audiophiles want to spend $500+ that's fine, but I'd rather have something much cheaper and tweakable. Enclosures are for wimps anyway

@ Saturnus: So far I have yet to read of someone listening to a TPA-based that did not think it equal if not better than a similar powered Tripath. Not that that means anything. Just my experience so far across different forums. I have heard enough Class D amps (except Hypex) to be genuinely excited about what I hear from the TPA chips.

Last edited by wushuliu; 31st March 2013 at 09:26 PM.
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Old 31st March 2013, 09:45 PM   #168
xrk971 is online now xrk971  United States
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Wushu,
It's interesting that when I read the review of the TBI Millenium it was after I had written my own impressions and noticed the main thing they noticed too: the resolution and micro details that you hear in your favorite CD's, the spatial imaging (or holographic), and the neutrality of the amp. I am not surprised that they compared it too really high end amps costing as you say, $$$$$ and for audiophiles, $500 seems like a steal. I think this amp will be in the $100 price point when packaged with a case, binding posts, etc. I think it can be made very compact - which is not always a good thing because people equate massive size with how good it sounds. After reading the review on the TBI Millenium I don't feel so crazy to think that this is one of the best sounding amps I have ever heard.
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Old 2nd April 2013, 09:33 AM   #169
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It makes you wonder what the potential is with better drivers. Have you tried two-way designs with Seas, Scan-Speak or SB Acoustics drivers? (I'm thinking if you tried a well-regarded design like the ones sold by meniscusaudio it might reveal how good the amp really is.)
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Old 2nd April 2013, 09:47 AM   #170
xrk971 is online now xrk971  United States
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I did a switch between the 3116 and 3118 listening to the same track with same 65 watt power supply, same CD player volume setting, and I am noticing some minor differences: obviously the power output is different for the same input setting (determined by voltage divider split on gain pins) the 3118 is lower in volume. It required me to move the volume knob from 10 o'clock to 12 o'clock to get about the same volume as I got on the 3116. There is a slight difference in the power caps between the two (560 uF vs 470 uF on the 3118), I think it might make a bit of difference because I like the bass on the 3116 better - a little more powerful. But in all other regards, once the power output was adjusted to be equivalent (by ear) both amps were very similar in their fantastic detail and ability to bring out micro dynamics and wide sound stage with pinpoint spatial imaging capability. Right now, I am going to listen to the 3118 for a few more days to see if I can hear any more differences. I just realized that I now have two very similar and well matched amps suitable for driving a bi-amped FAST. I am thinking of using TI's ultra low distortion audio opamp quad package (LME49740) to make a nice preamp for buffering, splitting signals, and active high pass and low pass filters prior to driving the 311x amps. Let's me skip that passive crossover business. I think a home built active crossover with quality components is a lot less expensive than components for a passive crossover.

Last edited by xrk971; 2nd April 2013 at 09:51 AM.
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