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Old 28th May 2013, 11:41 AM   #11
a3aan92 is offline a3aan92  Belgium
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Thank you for your feedback! Do you know if the SMSL SA-S1 is better quality than the SMSL SA-36A? They are both TA2020, but have other components. The SA-S1 looks better to me, although it is cheaper... What would you say if you compare the quality of both SMSL's to the Indeed TA2021? (New Indeed Class T Amp Tripath TA2021 25WX2 Amplifier Improved 20000 MFD Cap | eBay) It looks to me the Indeed got higher quality components, or am I wrong? It is more expensive though, so it's not a comparison at the same level... :-)
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Old 28th May 2013, 01:33 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by rhing View Post
I recently purchased an SMSL SA-S1 TA2020 T-amp. Overall, I am happy with my purchase. However, I have two issues with this amp.

1. The volume pot is imbalanced at low volume levels. The left channel is stronger than the right channel up to a certain point, and then both channels come in balanced. I raised this issue with SMSL. They would have sent me an entire unit, but I told them it would be fine to send me a replacement pot, and I'll install it myself.

2. The sound is a little brighter than I prefer. A couple other people who have the same amp have said the same on another Web audio forum. For a quick experiment, I added a couple Sonicap Gen 2 0.1uF/250V metallized Polyproprylene (MKP) caps as temporary bypasses to the stock ERO MKT1813 metallized Polyester (MKT) input caps. This really smoothed out the highs and allowed more midrange detail to come through; however, the midrange sounded out-of-phase, especially with female vocals. I've taken the Sonicaps out and the MKT1813 caps sound like they've settled in, but with some recordings the sound can still be bright and shrill. My plan is to replace the ERO MKT1813's with a pair of 2.2uF Mundorf Mcap MKP caps. They will fit inside the chassis and based on prior experience in using these caps, the sound quality should be better too.

Even with these issues, I still like this amp more than my modified Sonic Impact 5065 Gen 2 TA-2024 T-amp and my Arjen Helder TA2020 MkIII T-amp. The amp is capable of smooth, warm sound with a larger and deeper soundstage than the other two amps and I really like the Aluminum chassis. Compared to other fully assembled TA2020 T-amps, this amp has enough room to fit in the Mcaps and has decent components like the Rubycon and Nichicon power supply caps, quality output filter components, and decent connectors.
Just a thought but would replacing the pot with a switched resistor volume control solve this? My Muse MU-15 was all over the place at low volumes too. I built a small passive with a cheep off ebay switched resistor pot and now no more chanel drift.
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Old 28th May 2013, 11:25 PM   #13
rhing is online now rhing  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by a3aan92 View Post
Thank you for your feedback! Do you know if the SMSL SA-S1 is better quality than the SMSL SA-36A? They are both TA2020, but have other components. The SA-S1 looks better to me, although it is cheaper... What would you say if you compare the quality of both SMSL's to the Indeed TA2021? (New Indeed Class T Amp Tripath TA2021 25WX2 Amplifier Improved 20000 MFD Cap | eBay) It looks to me the Indeed got higher quality components, or am I wrong? It is more expensive though, so it's not a comparison at the same level... :-)
The SMSL SA-S1 appears to be a better amp than the SA-36 on paper, but I have not heard an SMSL SA-36A amp. They probably sound more similar than different. The SA-S1 has a bit more space to roll input caps and it has the air core inductors (not necessarily better, but different).

As for the Indeed TA2021 amp, I have never heard that amp begore, but it looks like it might have a bit more power than the TA2020 amps. I have upgraded Klipsch Forte II's, so the SA-S1 has plenty of power for me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by alex1966 View Post
Just a thought but would replacing the pot with a switched resistor volume control solve this? My Muse MU-15 was all over the place at low volumes too. I built a small passive with a cheep off ebay switched resistor pot and now no more chanel drift.
Are you referring to the small SMD resistor-based stepped attenuators, or something else? I've used small SMD resistor-based stepped attenuators to replace volume pots like the small Alps used in the SMSL SA-S1 with great results. I'm thinking about doing the same with the SMSL amp.
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Old 29th May 2013, 07:35 AM   #14
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Are you referring to the small SMD resistor-based stepped attenuators, or something else? I've used small SMD resistor-based stepped attenuators to replace volume pots like the small Alps used in the SMSL SA-S1 with great results. I'm thinking about doing the same with the SMSL amp.[/QUOTE]

Yes it is the SMD based ones I used. I have a high intolerance to the soundstage drifting with volume control movement so I look for a pot with a low varience between tracks.
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Old 29th May 2013, 08:25 AM   #15
a3aan92 is offline a3aan92  Belgium
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I guess that, in the end, it is still very subjective of course, since it's just a perspective of hearing. Some people may be satisfied with a crappy non-modded Lepai, whereas others might think that a Topping TP-60 isn't good enough. ^^ Thank you for the honest feedback! I'll order one of these magical tiny amps soon!
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Old 30th May 2013, 01:17 AM   #16
rhing is online now rhing  United States
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I must have 70-80 hours on this amp, and the sound quality is still changing--all for the better. The hot highs are cooling off and the midrange detail is coming through nicely. Only with the brightest recordings is the listening on the edge. For the most part though, this SMSL SA-S1 is sounding richer and warmer. I wonder how long this amp takes to finally settle in. If you aren't a believer in burn-in, this little T-amp will make you a believer, the changes are that noticeable.

I removed the front faceplate to determine if an SMD stepped attenuator would fit where the Alps RK097 volume pot sits. It would be a very tight fit and the pin spacing is much tighter with an RK097 volume pot versus one of the SMD stepped attenuators.
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Old 30th May 2013, 07:45 AM   #17
a3aan92 is offline a3aan92  Belgium
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Yeah they do need alot of burn-in time. Some of the sellers even claim it needs 180-200 hours to fully burn-in. That does look alot to me, but I can believe it. ^^
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Old 2nd June 2013, 11:04 AM   #18
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I have the smsl sa-s3 ta2021b which is a fantastic amp still burning in but sounds great as is.i run mine off a 16v 6amp smps power supply which has given me more headroom it plays louder before clipping now.so whichever amp you buy I would advise you to get a decent power supply as this makes quite a big difference.i know you say you want to run it from 12v but 16v power supplies are cheap and make a big difference. just my opinion
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Old 2nd June 2013, 12:32 PM   #19
a3aan92 is offline a3aan92  Belgium
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Are you sure 16v isn't too much? ^^ Doesn't your amp get hot after a long time of playing? Wouldn't this risk frying your amp?
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Old 2nd June 2013, 12:41 PM   #20
a3aan92 is offline a3aan92  Belgium
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Topping TP21 - 15v PSU too much?
In this thread they say "The absolute maximum voltage for the TA2021 is 16V, but the maximum operating voltage is 14.6V.", so I would be careful with your 16v power supply!
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