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Old 17th December 2012, 08:35 PM   #1
Hammett is offline Hammett  United States
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Default TA2021 treble/ta2020 bass

I've been enjoying a trip through T-ampvillle and I like what I hear, but I have not yet hit the exact sound I want. If anyone has suggestions for a reasonably-priced and compact t-amp based on the following, please do share.

Arjen Helder's ta2024 mkii--a very good deal on a very musical and clear amp. The treble is a little hard and the bass a little light, but the main problem is that it runs out of steam relatively quickly (or, if using an MP3 player as input, it runs out extremely quickly). A nice amp for my office, where I cannot play music loudly, but let's leave the ta2024 out of the discussion.

SMSL SA-S1--A musical amp, with an above average mid-range, but the highs strike me (on several different speakers, multiple sources, multiple smps supplies and on 12-volt battery) as leaning toward stridency (although also very clear and revealing). The biggest problem here is that the bass seems to have a sharp cutoff. Deep bass just does not seem to exist on speakers that can produce it.

Indeedhifi TA2021s--My favorite, but with some problems.

The good: amazing bass (deep, relatively tight, very musical--this is a surprisingly muscular amp); delightful midrange (warm, perhaps slightly emphasized, but in a very pleasant way); imaging (the best of the three, with a wide, deep soundstage and easily-heard placement of individual instruments).

The bad: the highs on the TA2021s are just not nearly as resolved as those of the ta2020. Listening to The Lord of the Rings, I switched amps midway from the SA-S1 because the soundtrack's many heavy rumbles, crashes and so on had no impact, to the TA2021s. In doing so, the bass impact came back, but it was no longer possible to hear the musical background (particular on higher pitched instruments, such as the violin) very clearly. All of a sudden, the orchestral background music, which had been clear enough to elicit an emotional response, suddenly just sounded like generic, emotionless adventure movie noise, with no sense of the instruments as having physical bodies.

When playing music, the more poor presentation of highs is not noticeable...until switching to the SA-S1, and then I wonder how I so enjoyed the ta2021.

I know this is all highly subjective, but it seems like if the two sounds (SMSL SA-S1 and Indeedhifi TA2021s) could be averaged, it would be one great amp.

Does anyone have any experience with a t-amp implementation that is more neutral, rather than being biased toward warmth and bass (TA2021) or clarity and treble (SA-S1).

Let me say that I like ALL of these amps. As is, I have been switching back and forth as I get an urge for more bass or greater treble clarity, and I have enough systems, in enough places that they will always have a home.

For reading your way through this, let me suggest a really nice performance that sounds quite lovely on a T-amp: Bill Frisell Plays John Lennon, Live In Concert: Newport Jazz 2012 : NPR

Thanks for any help or direction that anyone has.
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Old 18th December 2012, 08:42 PM   #2
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I have been using the simular Muse M21 EX2 TA2021B amp and it sounds like you might enjoy it. I must admit I did bypass the volume control and switched the input caps for wima's (notthing fancy).
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Old 18th December 2012, 10:09 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hammett View Post
SMSL SA-S1--A musical amp, with an above average mid-range, but the highs strike me
..
Indeedhifi TA2021s--My favorite, but with some problems.
..

All those two have air core output inductors?
Try one without, like Muse M20 EX2.

Last edited by tamphist; 18th December 2012 at 10:12 PM.
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Old 18th December 2012, 10:37 PM   #4
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Just to set the record straight. The TA2020, TA2021 and TA2024 are the exact same chip internally. The only difference between the 3 is the chip package. Any differences in sound you may experience comes from external components, and most likely the output coils. Which should not be air cores, btw.
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Old 19th December 2012, 01:30 AM   #5
Hammett is offline Hammett  United States
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Thank you all!

I have been looking at other TA2021 models (Muse, SMSL SA-S3).

I have also wondered about air coils, vs iron. One idea in the mix is the SMSL Amp 03/Indeed "Cute" Mini.

Saturnus, I know that the air coils have a lot more potential for emitting RFI/EMI. Could this contribute to a less than satisfactory treble?
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Old 20th December 2012, 05:25 AM   #6
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I have the "Indeed" TA2021, and though I complained about harsh treble the first day I had it, let's say that 10 days later, I can rave about its imaging, and treble is detailed, and still a bit grainy, but bass is lacking weight (on my Tannoys) Could a better power supply improve it? as well as better caps?
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Old 20th December 2012, 12:31 PM   #7
Hammett is offline Hammett  United States
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I agree that the Indeed TA2021 is a brilliant amp. My complaints on it are comparatively minor (but we all want perfection, eh?). It still boggles my mind that such a cheap amp can image so well (height, width, and depth of image, with clear placement of instruments).

In regard to power supplies, I have tried both the Indeed (12.2v-measured, 5A) and Liteon (14.3-measured, 4A) power supplies and the Indeed is definitely the better sounding. It does not strike me that the extra two volts makes any sort of positive difference. The Liteon produces a more congested sound, which is brighter, but not in a good way.

Without a doubt, my favorite source of power has been a 12V 7A battery (I've got a deep cycle 12v 18A on its way). With battery power all of the amps sound best, but the Indeed really seems to benefit. In all cases the presentation becomes more relaxed and it is easier to pick out individual instruments. Depth of soundstage is noticeably greater, particularly on the SMSL SA-S1, which does not image as well as the Indeed. Much to my surprise, with battery power they all seem to produce a more full bottom end, with much improved deep bass. Highly recommended.
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Old 20th December 2012, 01:06 PM   #8
redkid is offline redkid  United States
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Hammett
I also enjoy all the T-amps best on battery power, compared with switch mode ps. The bottom end is fuller because the battery itself is the "always on demand-at the ready capacitor". When you need instant power it is already there waiting Fast!, when the battery amps drop then switch out and re-charge.
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Old 20th December 2012, 01:19 PM   #9
redkid is offline redkid  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Saturnus View Post
Just to set the record straight. The TA2020, TA2021 and TA2024 are the exact same chip internally. The only difference between the 3 is the chip package. Any differences in sound you may experience comes from external components, and most likely the output coils. Which should not be air cores, btw.
Not to get in a ******* match but, I really tend to disagree with this as far as the "Sound" of the chips
I have many TA2024,TA2020 &TA2050 amps. I really think they "tuned" these when they were originally designed and produced. The TA2024 has less Bass but a more pronounced mid range and high end. The TA2020 definitely has a better Lower end (bass) but misses the sparkle that the TA2024 has. Now the TA2050 I have still yet to figure out. I have Many Sure Electronics, and (2) HIFI-medley TA2050 amps, I have run them on 24Volt battery power and yet I still prefer the TA2024 and the TA2020 even if it means lower volume.

But these are just my thoughts and opinions.
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