The Smallest Amplifier in the World
What is this crap ? one might ask, and rightly so. What you see is a
piece of poo made in China. It is a size of two packets of cigarettes
or say a quarter of a brick, but lighter than a quarter of a brick.
It is a fully functional stereo amp, with one stereo input and banana
When someone like my friend Tom visits doctor Lampizator with a biig
devilish smile and pulls something like THAT from his pocket - I
immediately know something is cookin. He wouldn't dare waste my
precious time , or ..... ??//
Anyway, cutting to the verdict - this is the single biggest sensation
in the hifi world in recent years. This can not exist, it has no right
to be what it is - a truly phenomenal miniature amp.
quick search on ebay reveals a real TRIPATH amp in a small box.
PCB alone (fully working but sans power ) costs 29 USD, and the ready
product - 79 USD.
(I am not sure if this photo
matches the finished product but anyway - they are all basically the
Now, - what kind of bullshit that is - you might ask me, - haven't you
20 years investigating real tubed high end just to end up pushing the
toys to audiophiles? Where is consistency? Where is shame ? What's got
into ya ? What are you smoking Mr. Fikus?
Well, again I will calmly reply that this is a hell of an amp. Tripath
technology is the only amplification thing outside of vacuum tube world
that excited me.
I heard the first tripath some 4 years ago when it first came out and
thanks to Ryszard - I had it at home for a week. His very big and heavy
stereo amp set was mind-blowing.
But I never got to the point of buying a board and assembling my own.
Then I was equally impressed by the EVO machines and so on. The US
based TRIPATH company which invented this integrated amplifier circuit
is the only counter balance for tube amps in my book.
This little sucker is a real tripath, but NOT a Tact Millennium. Do
understand the context please, however it is like 90 % the sound of
TACT (which means bloody good) at 1 % of the price.
Is it a Krell Killer ? Well, business wise -yes. Sound-wise - again -
it achieves 95% of the sound save for the sheer muscle. But the Tripath
will be more pleasant sounding, more tube like.
Now please see the size comparison to my Liung -Liang amps:
Now we are audiophiles and we would never ever want something like that
to take the center stage in our room. We have a strong sense of pride.
But say - if you wanna a bedroom system, office system, workshop system
- give it a chance.
I bet you the price of this amp - it is gonna end up in the main room
very soon. It is simply gonna equalize your main amp or even beat it. I
listened only to 5 cd's but in my case - the miniature bonsai
amp played marginally better than my Liang. What more can I say.
I am buying one immediately. I will carry it in my back pocket just in
case, like a spare wheel.
Tom did not reveal what we are listening to, nor did he allow me to
open the mini box. But here above on the photo that's what Google
spitted out when asked for the mini amp tripath.
Later on I found the real origin of the amp which I heard at home:
I guess TNT with all their good reputation - confirm what I heard was
not a hallucination.
As I said - a naked PCB is also available from (of course) hong
The biggest problem for me is how to connect the speakers - the
terminals are so damn close to each other, plus the cable tension
(strain) lifts the amp in the air. Even interconnects lift it.
For best results we used the car battery to power it (it uses one rail
of +12 VDC.
Where does this lead us to ? Definitely - Tripath chip is a
breakthrough in technology. Amplifiers based on it are energy
efficient, cold, small and above all - sound as good as the best
transistor amps. As good as medium tube amps. I would say that this amp
equalled my fully tweaked Music Angel KT88 push pull.
For people who appreciate good sound, Tripath is a good news. It has
open sound, with lots of information, nuances, great space, pace,
rhythm, and power authority. It is easy on the ear the way tubes are -
we want to listen and listen without fatigue. Very analog like and
natural musical product.
Concerning this little guy here - the size is shocking, but it is not
the size that sets new standard - it is THE PRICE.
(by the way - just imagine adding the lampucera as a source - where is
it taking us price wise ;-) We would have a great CD source and a
great amp for the price still below a trip to the restaurant for two.
When searching the internet - ask for TRIPATH in USA ebay.
Having said that - I am going to the restaurant right now.
Now seriously speaking, this amp is only as good as the power supply.
The switched unit supplied with the ready product should be
We need a good supply.
Option A is to use a big battery - preferrably gel type, 12 V by 18 Ah
We also need the charger to recharge the battery - I suggest a 3 A/13,7
The battery will last approximately as many hours as the Ah suggests
with demand circa 1 A.
This solution gives very good sound without the worry about noise,
regulation, stabilization, filtering etc. The DC is as good as it gets.
Option B is to build an AC /DC supply: we take a toroid transformer for
halogen lights 12 V AC secondaries, - 200 VA is a good value. It
should cost circa 20-30
Euro in any lamp store.
We wire the secondaries to the Graetz bridge - 4 diodes.
After rectification I suggest a 10 000 uF cap by 16 V, then a resistor
- 1 Ohm by 2 W.
After resistor we can put maybe 10 caps of 10 000 uF by 16V and one
foil cap of any size and any rating we have. Like MKP 1 uF by 400 V or
any other really.
This is a CRC supply, unregulated but very stable.
If you buy the PCB, I suggest to use a 100 K logarythmic stereo
better - a stepped switch with 24 steps.
So all in all - after adding decent power supply the size and
price become more REALISTIC than the photo suggests ;-)
The power supply will cost circa 100-200 dollars depending where you
get the transformer. The box for it will be as large as a standard
Consequently, I suggest that the amp module is moved to the new housing
together with the power supply - with full 43 cm width and maybe 2U
This will allow for comfortable connection to binding posts, perhaps
2-3 inputs with a selector, power fuse, large cap bank, etc etc.
For those who want to buy a noin-Chinese product, more highendish and
with premium components - here is the link:
and some more links courtesy of Marco Ghilardi:
there is also the Fenice 20 based on TA2024
Instead this site sell many lits based on Tripath IC:
A disclaimer: everything I wrote here is based on a test drive with my
99 dB/W super sensitive speakers. This amp is WEAK - only 15 WPC. It
sounded like a thunder in my room but your mileage may vary.