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I think you would be better off looking for some used rti bookshelves or maybe even some old school monitor 4 . Decided I'm just going to return it and picked up the matching Audio Engine N22 amp instead. N22 is supposed to arrive this afternoon at my house, so I'll hook it up in the office tomorrow and give my initial impressions.
I'm gonna see how good the onboard DAC in my machine is, but I'll probably get a Dragonfly or AE D3 as well.
Small, inexpensive amplifiers usually produce around 20 watts per channel when paired with 8-ohm speakers (the most common impedence for compact speakers). While Ia€™ll be looking at a few dedicated small amplifiers in a future review, I recently had a chance to test a number of models that also include a built-in digital-to-analog converter (DAC). The least-expensive model I tested is Toppinga€™s $180 TP30 Class T Digital Mini Amplifier with USB-DAC (A ), distributed in the United States by Parts Express. The TP30 incorporates a Class T amplification chip designed by Tripath (now part of Cirrus Logic), a high-efficiency amplifier similar in some ways to switching Class D designs.
NuForce is a company that began as a maker of high-end audio equipment, but later branched out into personal-listening gear such as headphones and compact stereo equipment.
The front of the Icon-2 features two knobs: one for turning on the unit and controlling the volume level, and the other for choosing the audio input.
When using the digital input, the Icon-2a€™s DAC can decode high-resolution audio up to 24-bit, 96-kHz, and a company representative told me the Class D amplifier provides up to 18 watts per channel into 8 ohms. Returning to the speaker connectors, most amplifiers use traditional speaker connections such as binding posts or spring clipsa€”connections that work with basic speaker cable.
However, NuForcea€™s banana plugs are not compatible with speakers that use spring-clip connectors, though a NuForce representative said that the company would modify its cables for users that need bare wire. Put simply, if your source equipment has optical- or coaxial-digital output, and you can get along without USB and analog inputs, the Dia offers the same amplifier as the Icon-2 and a better DAC for $50 less.
At $495, Neuhaus Laboratoriesa€™ T-1 Amplifier (A ) is in many ways the opposite of the Topping TP30: The T-1 is significantly larger (although still small compared to full-size stereo components), more expensive, and more feature-packed than the TP30. The unita€™s front panel features two knobs, one for volume control and one for source selection, as well as a 3.5 mm headphone jack powered by the built-in headphone amplifier, a power button, a soft-blue-LED power indicator, and another button Ia€™ll get to shortly.
The T-1 ships with a USB cable, an optical-digital cable with a 3.5-mm plug, a wireless remote control for adjusting volume, an Allen wrench for removing the tube cage, and gloves for handling the tubes. Speaking of those tubes, audiophile factions have long debated the use of tubes versus solid-state components.
To test these amplifiers, I used a few different devices as sources: an Airport Express (using both its analog and optical outputs), a MacBook (using USB, optical, and Bluetooth connections), an iPad (using Bluetooth and USB) and an Apple TV 2 (using its optical connection). When I first fired up the Neuhaus T-1 and played music from its optical input, the T-1a€™s a€?tube sounda€? was subtle but apparent.
When I compared the T-1 to the Dia, I found the two units offered similar levels of performance. I did my initial listening tests using a digital signal to test each amplifiera€™s built-in DAC. Evaluating the T-1a€™s other inputs was more complex, due to both their number and some odd issues I encountered. When I switched to the T-1a€™s USB input, though, I noticed a slight decrease in quality, with sustained musical notes taking on an odd vibrato, and a slight echo to the sound.
I noticed one other problem with the T-1a€™s DAC: On the first two units I tested, the optical and Bluetooth inputs swapped the left and right channels when listening to speakers, though the USB and analog inputs worked as expected.
Each of these units features a discrete headphone amplifier, letting you take advantage of the built-in DAC when listening to quality headphonesa€”a feature that should be particularly handy in a desktop audio system.
The Icon-2 got closer to the Total BitHeada€™s performance, with better control of the K 701a€™s bass and a more-detailed, less-crowded sound than the TP30.
Any one of these products, paired with a set of quality bookshelf speakers, makes a solid computer-based audio system. The NuForce Icon-2 offers solid performance, versatile features, an attractive design, and the perfect size for a computer-based desktop audio system. At $50 less than the Icon-2, and with a better DAC, more-compatible speaker connections, and a remote, the Dia is a real winner, although the lack of USB and analog inputs could kill the deal for some people. At $495, and with a remote control and a full array of audio inputs, the T-1 is less a budget desktop amplifier and more a solution for a moderately priced compact stereo system. This item is imported from USA.Forewarning arrival time different changes of color and design.
Buy Oak Dining Room Furniture, Oak Bedroom Furniture or Pine Furniture online or in your Local Showroom, at Online Prices. Stock2u (S2U design) is owned and operated by Stock2u Limited, Registered in England and Wales 5276517. Bookshelf speakers are often a great choice for a smaller room or study, as they are compact in dimensions and have a limited bass response, which will minimise the possibility of unpleasant 'bass boom' in the room.
Bookshelf speakers excel in producing a very good stereo image, with articulate midband and clean, clear high frequiencies. Ideally driven from a hi-fi amplifier, stereo receiver, Sonos system, Simple Audio System or AV Receiver, bookshelf speakers are capable of performing well with music and movies alike. Como hacer escaleras - Como hacer energia electrica a traves de la energia eolica ??como se orientan los aviones en el aire? Como cuidar a tu cuyo – animalosis : Lo mas recomendable es una pecera o una jaula grande con aserrin para facilitar la limpieza, comprale un plato para su comida y otro para su agua o un bebedero (comoPrice shoes 2014 catalogo digital zapatos - completo! Product DescriptionMake the absolute most of a low or moderately powered amp -- the M2 bookshelf speakers are made to fill small rooms with high-end sound. I have a power workstation with a great sound card, so I'm not too worried about an external DAC.Thoughts?
Thanks for the link!Now, I just have to pick up that Qinpu, unless anyone advises against it?
A little bigger than your typical desktop near field speakers, but they sound bigger than typical desktop speakers.
But with a small integrated amplifier, which combines a preamplifiera€™s volume-control and source-switching features with a power amplifier for driving speakers, you can take advantage of the vast selection of passive (non-amplified) bookshelf speakers, which range from inexpensive, do-it-yourself speaker kits to slick-but-pricey audiophile models.
While a walk through your favorite big-box store might suggest that amplifier power ratings in the hundreds of watts are necessary, a 10- or 20-watt amplifier is usually more than enough power to fill a normal-sized room with sound.
This feature makes these models particularly useful as part of a computer-based audio system, or when paired other digital components such as Applea€™s AirPort Express, as the DAC extracts the sourcea€™s digital audio signala€”avoiding the sourcea€™s electrically noisy internal componentsa€”and uses higher-quality circuitry to convert this signal to an analog signal that the amplifier can send to the speakers. Each is smaller than a standard stereo component and can provide enough power to drive a pair of bookshelf speakers to reasonable listening volumes (and, depending on the combination of amp and speaker, even to unreasonable ones) in a small- or medium-size room. Parts Express specifies that the amplifier produces 10 watts of power per channel when connected to 8-ohm speakers.

The latter category includes the versatile $349 Icon-2 Integrated Desktop Amplifier (A ), a small, stylish, integrated amplifier available in red, blue, black, or silver aluminuma€”the silver Icon-2 the company sent Macworld has a Braun-esque minimalism and looks great next to an aluminum MacBook. The front panel also hosts a 3.5 mm headphone jack powered by the built-in headphone amplifier, and a soft-white LED that indicates power.
NuForce, however, uses ethernet jacks on the Icon-2, which means you use ethernet cable in place of traditional speaker wire.
Ita€™s also relatively easy to modify the included cables, or any ethernet cable, yourself, but this defeats the purpose of NuForcea€™s easy-to-connect cables. The $299 Dia Digital Input Amplifier (A ) has the same enclosure and amplifier circuitry as the Icon-2, but eliminates the USB and analog inputs, replacing them with two optical-digital inputs and one coaxial-digital input. Pushing the knob once turns on the amplifier, while pushing it again cycles between the Diaa€™s three inputs (the current input is indicated by white LEDs on the front pannel). Except for the MacBook Air, every recent Mac includes an optical-digital-audio output, as do many HDTVs and optical-disc players, the Apple TV (A ), and the Airport Express (A ). And while the TP30 uses a cutting-edge switching amplifier design, the T-1 incorporates old-school vacuum tubes.
The T-1 also supports Bluetooth audio, allowing Macs, iOS devices, and other A2DP (stereo-Bluetooth) gear to stream audio wirelessly to the amplifier. The Topping TP30a€™s amplifier had no problem playing loudly enough with any of the four speakers to fill my small office or bedroom.
The Dayton speakers minimized the differences between the two amplifiers, but when using the Energy and NHT Absolute Zero speakers, the Icon-2 lacked the TP30a€™s harshness, brought out some musical detail, gave a better sense of silence between notes, and tightened up the bass output.
Instruments and voices were smoother and sounded morea€”for lack of better wordsa€”round, rich, and pretty. The Dia was more crisp, clear, and detailed, and thus probably more accurate overall, but I can see some listeners preferring the T-1a€™s presentation, which was at times more engrossing. However, I was curious how much of each amplifiera€™s sound quality was due to its DAC, so I also tested each with an analog source. First, I switched to using the Airport Express as an analog source, and I noticed similar effects to those I observed with the TP30 and Icon-2: a loss of detail, looser bass, and less of a sense of momentum to the music. With my Mac streaming music over bluetooth, I noticed a significant reduction in dynamic range and musical detail compared to the optical input, and even compared to the Airport Expressa€™s analog output. Through headphones, this was reversed: The left and right channels were correct when using the optical and Bluetooth inputs, but backwards through the USB and analog inputs.
I tested this component by comparing it to my Total BitHead, a relatively inexpensive, but solid, standalone headphone amp with a USB DAC. However, the Icon-2a€™s headphone output emphasized high frequencies and gave them a slightly harsh edge, which doesna€™t make for a great pairing with the K 701, a headphone that can sound harsh at times.
With easy-to-drive headphones such as most inexpensive canalphones and canalbuds, any of the models here do a great job as headphone amplifiers. Given the range of prices, features, and sound quality, choosing between these amplifiers comes down to your budget and exactly how youa€™re planning to use them. But at about twice the price of the TP30, youa€™ll want to be sure your speakers are good enough to take advantage of the Icon-2a€™s superior sound quality. Sonically, the Dia was my favorite of the bunch, demonstrating the impact of the design changes introduced since the Icon-2.
A full-size component might give you better amplifier performance, but, again, youa€™ll likely be sacrificing the T-1a€™s built-in DAC, Bluetooth functionality, good looks, (relatively) small footprint, and luscious tube sound. Bookshelf speakers are more often placed on top of speaker stands for best possible sound quality, and can also be used as the rear surround sound channels of a 5.1 home cinema surround sound AV speaker package. Prices start below £100 per pair - as you spend more, the sound quality will gain in refinement, detail, sound staging and clarity. For more information on purchasing and choosing  stereo speakers, see our "How to choose stereo speakers" article on our blog.
They boast a vortex ported enclosure, and are a great choice whether your focus is music or home theater. They sound good with female vocals.Addition of a small sub would help bring out the lows that a speaker of this size obviously cannot reproduce.
Such speakers are often found as part of a small home audio system, but they can also be right at home in your bedroom, kitchen, or officea€”even on your desk.
Each of these models also includes a built-in headphone amplifier separate from the main amplifiera€”this dedicated circuitry should do a better job of driving headphones than the built-in headphone jack on a computer, iPhone, iPod, or other device, and also allows use of the built-in DAC when listening to headphones. The black, extruded-aluminum enclosure sports a silver, brushed-aluminum faceplatea€”a look thata€™s clean but generic. The unit is slightly smaller than the TP30 at 6 inches tall, 4.5 inches deep, and an inch wide (when positioned vertically using the included silicone base). Indeed, NuForce includes with the Icon-2 a pair of the companya€™s unusual speaker cables, which have a standard RJ45 ethernet plug for the amplifier end and a banana plug on the speaker end. These inputs are connected to an improved DAC thata€™s capable of decoding 24-bit, 192-kHz high resolution audio.
The T-1a€™s back panel also has a socket for the included power cord (the internal power supply means therea€™s no power brick), and a post to which you can attach the included antenna. The aforementioned front-panel button lets you disable Bluetooth (to keep your devices from automatically pairing with the T-1), and it also turns off the overly bright Bluetooth-status LED.
Class AB designs are less efficient but potentially better-sounding than Class T and Class D designs.) Solid-state factions argue that transistors have better measured behavior (including lower distortion) and are generally more powerful than tubed gear.
Finally, I used the Etymotic mc3 (A ) and AKG K 701 headphones to evaluate each amplifiera€™s headphone output, comparing performance to a $149 HeadRoom Total BitHead headphone Amplifier.
I do feel the TP30a€™s audio quality is lacking in absolute terms, as it sounds somewhat a€?harda€? and obscures some instrumental detail. Overall, ita€™s a better match for the more-expensive NHT speakers, although whether that improvement is worth almost double the price is debatable.
In fact, the Dia coaxed better bass performance from the Energy speakers than I thought possible.
This portrayal of music seems to smooth over some instrumental detail and thus sacrifices some accuracy, but there was much to like about the T-1a€™s romantic presentation.
The biggest difference was in bass output: the Dia offered tighter, better-controlled bass, while the T-1 had more overall bass volume. When I switched from the TP30a€™s USB input to its analog input, connected to an Airport Express, I noticed decreased bass volume and depth, and a decrease in resolutiona€”unless you have a good source, the Topping definitely sounds better via its USB input. The T-1a€™s DAC paired with the AirPort Expressa€™s optical output offered a definite improvement over analog.
Overall, this issue was subtle through speakers, but much more pronounced with headphones, giving the impression that the left and right channels were slightly out of sync. First I compared the BitHead to the Topping TP30 using AKGa€™s K 701, which I found readily reveals differences between headphone amplifiers.

Given that the Diaa€™s headphone jack features the same circuitry as the Icon-2a€™s headphone amplifier, the Diaa€™s sound through headphones was very similar to the Icon-2, except that the Diaa€™s better DAC offered improvements similar to those I heard through speakers. There is one notable exception to this, which is that sensitive headphones such as the mc3 will make more noticeable any electronic noise. If you want to bring sound to a small room as inexpensively as possible, and you have a set of unused speakers gathering dust (or plan to buy something inexpensive like the Dayton or Energy speakers), the Topping TP30 will allow you to do so for a great price. And if you have the space, $349 can get you a full-size stereo component that might provide better performance, although built-in DACs can be difficult to find in full-size amps at this price. And as with the Icon-2, there are some great full-size integrated amplifiers in this price range, but few (if any) will have a built-in DAC, and none will have such a tiny footprint on your desk. However, I dona€™t recommend the T-1 if you plan to connect to a source via USB (and you should consider Bluetooth connectivity as a convenience rather than a quality audio connection).
Louis and looks forward to reclaiming the closet space occupied by a stack of empty amplifier boxes. A good pair of loudspeaker stands will cost approximately £80, and quality speaker cables will be a worthwhile investment. Two switches on the front control power and input selection (the latter allowing you to choose between the unita€™s analog- and USB-audio inputs). Also on the rear panel are a connector for the devicea€™s power adapter, a 3.5-mm line-out jack (for use with a subwoofera€”the company says the Icon-2 can be damaged if this jack is used without speakers attached), and left and right speaker connectors. I think the use of ethernet cable will be convenient for most people, but somewhat of a pain if youa€™re in the minority that needs a more flexible solution. The company also added a wireless remote control and eliminated the RJ45 speaker terminals in favor of spring-loaded binding posts that accept bare speaker wire (but not banana plugs or spades).
Rotating the knob adjusts the volume, with the volume level indicated by a column of blue LEDs on the front panel.
Those who have never used tubed gear will probably love the faint glow emitted by the tubes when the device is powered on. Tube lovers claim that transistors sound sterile while tubes have a smooth, natural, musical sound. I initially attributed this solely to the Diaa€™s better DAC, but a NuForce representative suggested that the removal of analog circuitry (including the analog pre-amplifier stage) was the primary source of improvement. Indeed, it does improve the sound of low-bit-rate MP3 files (although it wona€™t work miracles). Using the Icon-2a€™s RCA inputs, again connected to the Airport Express, I noticed a similar decrease in performance between the digital and analog inputs, with the Icon-2a€™s performance dropping closer to that of the Topping (although the Icon-2a€™s analog inputs still sound better than USB audio through the TP30). A Neuhaus representative claimed that this was not normal behavior, and sent me a second review unit, which displayed the same behavior. I could also clearly hear some intermittent buzzing (similar to interference caused by older GSM cellular phones) when no music was playing. In discussions with Neuhaus, a representative told me that they had investigated the issue, identified the problem, and would fix it future production runs. The BitHead provided stronger low-bass performance, better detail, and a better sense of momentuma€”usually an indicator of better resolution of transient response.
With the TP30 and Icon-2, these noises were low enough in level to be easily covered by music, but when using the T-1a€™s Bluetooth input, the interference I noted earlier made the mc3 unlistenable, and it was loud enough to be annoying even with the K 701. In fact, the Toppinga€™s street price is considerably lower than its suggested retail pricea€”at the time of publication, it was only $109.
Also, while Ia€™m glad that the swapped-channel is being addressed, ita€™s disconcerting that the flaw wasna€™t caught until I tested the T-1.
Quality speaker cables can be made to your required length, expect to pay £3 per metre, and also invest in some gold plated banana plugs to make connection to your amplifier and loudspeakers reliable and safe.
If your speakers can accommodate banana plugs, and if the included cables are sufficiently long, this unorthodox solution is very convenient, letting you avoid the traditional process of cutting and stripping speaker wire. Because these binding posts take up more room on the Diaa€™s rear panel, the subwoofer output now shares a jack and circuitry with the headphone amplifier. The Dia includes the same silicone base and power adapter as the Icon-2, but does not include speaker cable. I corresponded with a Neuhaus representative about this design choice, and Neuhaus is clearly in the latter campa€”the companya€™s representative extolled the usual virtues of tubes, but also pointed out that tubes help cover artifacts found in poorly compressed music files.
In direct comparisons to the Icon-2, I preferred the T-1a€™s performance, although Ia€™m not sure whether thata€™s because of the tubes or in spite of them. The representative also provided a third unit from the latest production run, which again had the same odd, slightly distorted sound through the USB input. This was annoying when the system was otherwise silent, but as long as music was playing at moderate volume, the music obscured this sound. However, the TP30a€™s headphone output was entirely listenable, and it sounded less harsh and offered better resolution than my MacBooka€™s built-in headphone port.
Finally, turning to the T-1, I noticed only marginal differences compared to the BitHead: The T-1 had weaker low bass and a comparative lack of detail and space between notes. The rear of the device hosts an input for the included power supply brick, small binding posts for connecting speaker wire (which can be bare or terminated with banana plugs), and the aforementioned audio inputs: left and right RCA for analog and USB type B for digital.
If you need longer wire, you can construct it yourself from ethernet cable using a wiring diagram on NuForcea€™s website, or you can use an RJ45 coupler to attach additional, standard ethernet cable and extend the included speaker cables. And while tubes do have a limited lifespan, the Neuhaus representative told me that they should last at least ten thousand hours.
Sound through the USB input wasna€™t awful in most cases, but I preferred even the T-1a€™s analog inputs to its USB input. Overall, the Bluetooth input may be fine for background music, and its wireless nature makes it a nice convenience, but for serious listening, the optical or even analog inputs yield far better results. But these were marginal differences, and the T-1a€™s tubes gave the sound a beautiful sweetness. When they do kick the bucket, the tubes cost $10 each to replace, and the representative compared the process to changing a light bulb. Strictly speaking, the T-1a€™s sound probably isna€™t neutral, but it sounds great with small bookshelf speakers, such as the Energy model, that generally lack bass impact. The BitHeada€™s presentation was better overall, but as with speakers, the T-1a€™s reproduction of music via headphones was charming and lovely, and some people might prefer it.

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