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So, what are recommendable amps below 200$?

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you're definitely right but since we were talking about hypex modules, by the way they also sell cheaper hypex boards but i have no clue on their qualities.
I guess you mean the UcD3xMP modules. They're by far the worst specified hypex amp, and unusually sparse on the datasheet graphs which aren't directly comparable to the ones here as they're for THD not THD+N. That said, the 30W is at 0.1% THD into 8R. I think the amp part was used in the original NAD D3020 - it was said to use hypex modules, and this is the only one with the right power output. BTW it's significantly cheaper at diyclassd.com than at Audiophonics.

Subjectively, level matched but not blind, and within its power limitations, I think I can tell it from a Quad 520f but I wouldn't swear to it. Maybe I should make an ABX box...
 
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I suspect this might measure well, being ICEpower based. However, it cost a bit more than $200USD, and not being an integrated unit, would require an external DAC for digital sources:



https://www.shenzhenaudio.com/smsl-...high-performance-digital-power-amplifier.html
I just ordered one of these with the hope that it does indeed perform well, as it is part of the same family (stack) as the SU-8, which has been shown through Amirms measurements to be damn good. Thing is, for desktop use, it just doesn't seem like there's a lot of good options when space is a premium. I've got a KEF Q150 and it's currently being powered by the SMSL SA98e, which is one of those amps that has a THD of 10% but only at Max power, which I'm not even like 25% into. But that already is an annoyance because I have so massively little analog volume control on that amp, since there's channel imbalance at first, then by 9-10oclock I'm basically done increasing volume.

Here's hoping for the DA-8.
 

BillG

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I just ordered one of these with the hope that it does indeed perform well, as it is part of the same family (stack) as the SU-8, which has been shown through Amirms measurements to be damn good.
All the best with it. It's the least expensive ICEpower based amp I've encountered so far... :cool:

I've personally been eying the following up for a while now, and may purchase it in the relatively near-future:

https://www.shenzhenaudio.com/smsl-...-amplifier-audio-digital-power-amplifier.html
 
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When you get it let us know what you think.
& @goodkeys Will do. Might take a while though, since I just ordered it on Monday. It would be pretty cool if Amir could measure them as well. From what I've been seeing on the published measurements of the ICEpower module being used, it's quite a competent little amp so I'm very excited to try it out. But we obviously need to take manufacturer information with a bit of a grain of salt until verified. Though from what I understand ICEpower seems to be a well respected manufacturer when it comes to these things. It's also worth mentioning that it seems like SMSL is really just dropping ICEpower modules into their amps. I'm not seeing any modifications from pictures. So it would mostly come down to power supply design and making sure it's grounded to the case properly I think.
 

invaderzim

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I've been eying the icepower modules for some time and the case with remote and volume/tone controls makes that a great buy.
 

GioF71

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I just ordered one of these with the hope that it does indeed perform well, as it is part of the same family (stack) as the SU-8, which has been shown through Amirms measurements to be damn good. Thing is, for desktop use, it just doesn't seem like there's a lot of good options when space is a premium. I've got a KEF Q150 and it's currently being powered by the SMSL SA98e, which is one of those amps that has a THD of 10% but only at Max power, which I'm not even like 25% into. But that already is an annoyance because I have so massively little analog volume control on that amp, since there's channel imbalance at first, then by 9-10oclock I'm basically done increasing volume.

Here's hoping for the DA-8.
That's exactly the problem I was having with my PopPulse T150. I think its gain is too high and the amp is hissy (I let the experts of the forum tell me if those two things I observed are correct and related).

As a result of the excessive (IMO) gain, I was always on the channel imbalance range. The guy from audiophonics helped me (although I did not buy that amp from them) and suggested a 100k pot instead of the standard 10k. This solved the channel imbalance issue, but did not help with the hiss.

The SMSL SA-50 I had before (I still have it at the country house) was exibiting a very similar behaviour.

So I opted for digitally-controlled volume (this solved the channel imbalance issue for me, even at very low volumes) and a power amp, the Nord Acoustics NC502MP.
I think a decent integrated amp with correct gain should not have channel imbalance issues unless you are playing it at 8 o'clock or so. Problem is, channel imbalance appears even when the amp is already quite loud on those SMSL SA-50 and PopPulse T150, at least IMO.

I am curious to hear from you if the new SMSL you bought has similar problems. I hope design is better and gain is correct. This one is more expensive compared to the very cheap SA-50 or the SA-98 so I hope it's not built to impress with the idea of louder is better.
 
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Hi everyone,

unfortunately Amir hasn't found a budget stereo speaker amp yet that really measures that well. Until he does, what are currently recommended options below 200$? Nevermind the features and available power for now. I'd simply like to know what amp(s) in that pricerange give power without distorting or coloring the signal in an audible way.

I've seen that the Klipsch Powergate got Amir's recommendation, at least for discounted the price of 150$. Anything else that I have missed? Or is that the only option currently where we can be sure that it performs well? I have read good things about the Allo Volt+:

https://www.allo.com/sparky/volt-plus-stepped-attenuator.html

and the t.amp E400 (a PA amp though, so fan noise could be a problem) :

https://www.thomann.de/de/the_tamp_e400.htm?offid=1&affid=42&subid=-pa-text-240-634-1-0-ev1--

So, which are the amps that get a recommendation sub 200$?
I recently received an Onkyo a9110. I can't speak with any authority about it's quality, but it sounds much better than the Hifiberry Amp2 card it replaced. I have seen refurbished units below $200. Currently, Newegg is throwing in a $150 gift card. So, if you need something else that they carry then you could more or less get one for $200.
https://m.newegg.com/product/N82E16886980027?m_ver=1
 
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I found a review of the Paradigm PW-AMP on a Netherland page. It lists the class D amp as an Anthem chip (they don't say what chip).

Anyway, they published a picture of the amp opened up. It looks like a really good design. Every component looks of decent build quality (except for the transformer that looks really flimsy):

20170524153307_paradigm-pw-amp-recensie-foto-3.jpg

I hope that Amir publish the review soon. It looks like another winner.
 

watchnerd

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I have a feeling that all inexpensive class-D amps will be middle of the road performance at best. If a small form factor isn't a requirement a used 90s vintage hi-fi class A/B unit, say from Yamaha or Denon, is a much better bet to get good performance for your money imo.
Why do you think so?

And what's your definition of 'inexpensive'?
 
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I really feel like this focus on measured specs doesn’t make a lot of sense with, for example, distortion levels. You should be able to hear the difference between .01 and .001 THD.

All things equal I’ll take the lower distortion, but usually all things are not close to equal.

I understand there being an interest from an engineering point of view in getting maximum performance. But if money is an object, which clearly it is here, almost any low end home receiver in working order from the last 40 years should be adequate for most listening purposes.

I’m still amazed at the desire for high power too. If I turn my modest vintage Kenwood amp up to where the VU style is hitting 1 watt it’s far louder than I would listen to for any length of time. Peaks are probably higher, can’t be more than 10watts tops.

I’m usually way under the 1 watt level.

This is Kenwood KA-5500 silver face from the 70s, I think I paid ~200 many years ago from a used audio store. It sounds absolutely fine to my ear.

It looks cool too.
 
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I really feel like this focus on measured specs doesn’t make a lot of sense with, for example, distortion levels. You should be able to hear the difference between .01 and .001 THD.

All things equal I’ll take the lower distortion, but usually all things are not close to equal.

I understand there being an interest from an engineering point of view in getting maximum performance. But if money is an object, which clearly it is here, almost any low end home receiver in working order from the last 40 years should be adequate for most listening purposes.

I’m still amazed at the desire for high power too. If I turn my modest vintage Kenwood amp up to where the VU style is hitting 1 watt it’s far louder than I would listen to for any length of time. Peaks are probably higher, can’t be more than 10watts tops.

I’m usually way under the 1 watt level.

This is Kenwood KA-5500 silver face from the 70s, I think I paid ~200 many years ago from a used audio store. It sounds absolutely fine to my ear.

It looks cool too.
The problem with used equipment is that you never know the use the previous owner (owners) gave to the amp. As Amir has proved on their tests, there are some problems measuring old amps because the connectors have loosen up and the channels give different results. You never know if the previous owner used it to rock the house at parties. The DIY engineers here don't care because they can replace the faulty caps, connector or power supply. But I don't have that knowledge.

I've bought a few pre-owned amps. They all have problems with noise coming from the channels. And there's no easy way to fix or return. That's why I'm just looking for new equipment that have warranty. I don't mind if If it is just a 20 or 30 watt amp, as long as it is a clean 20 or 30 watts, as most of my listening habits are for electronic or rock, and at maximum 80-90 dB in a small room, and I just rarely listen to classical music at all.

The Powergate I just received is just what I wanted. I rarely turn up the volume past 12 o'clock, and has offering me new opportunities to rediscover my favorite tunes.
 
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When you get it let us know what you think.
@goodkeys So I got the DA-8. I'm thoroughly impressed by this thing. The very first thing I noticed was the lack of noise/hiss coming out of my speakers when nothing is playing. There's nothing at all. It's fantastic by comparison. Then, I forgot this thing has EQ built in and it's quite tasteful in my opinion if you feel like using it. The volume control is digital (NJRC NJW1194) and while I ordinarily shy away from digital volume control, this one seems to be very good, subjectively speaking. I hear no distortion whatsoever, and there's definitely an improvement in instrument separation compared to my SA98e. The volume pot is very different than what I'm used to but I like it. It's a very light touch to rotate, but there's some physical feedback (along with the digital volume indicator) to show that you're hitting the next volume step. I like it. I think that at the very high end, this amp may be not enough for my Q150's, but to be honest, that's not what these speakers are for anyway. I use them as desktop speakers so from 0-60 I sit between 30-38 max depending on the content. I would love to know what the real measurements are for this device because I'm thoroughly impressed by it from a subjective perspective. Sorry that I'm not delving much into sound characteristics. I'm not that good at that yet. If anyone has any questions about the DA-8 that I can provide, I'll happily do so.

Oh I also forgot to mention that the A, B, C functions on the remote that comes with the DA-8 are designed for the stack SMSL designed. So A is for the DA-8, C is for the SU-8 (which I'm using), and B would be for the SH-8. So by default all remotes work with all 3 devices out of the box. I realized this when I picked up my SU-8 remote and pointed it at the DA-8 and it worked. Cool stuff.
 
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@goodkeys So I got the DA-8. I'm thoroughly impressed by this thing. The very first thing I noticed was the lack of noise/hiss coming out of my speakers when nothing is playing. There's nothing at all. It's fantastic by comparison. Then, I forgot this thing has EQ built in and it's quite tasteful in my opinion if you feel like using it. The volume control is digital (NJRC NJW1194) and while I ordinarily shy away from digital volume control, this one seems to be very good, subjectively speaking. I hear no distortion whatsoever, and there's definitely an improvement in instrument separation compared to my SA98e. The volume pot is very different than what I'm used to but I like it. It's a very light touch to rotate, but there's some physical feedback (along with the digital volume indicator) to show that you're hitting the next volume step. I like it. I think that at the very high end, this amp may be not enough for my Q150's, but to be honest, that's not what these speakers are for anyway. I use them as desktop speakers so from 0-60 I sit between 30-38 max depending on the content. I would love to know what the real measurements are for this device because I'm thoroughly impressed by it from a subjective perspective. Sorry that I'm not delving much into sound characteristics. I'm not that good at that yet. If anyone has any questions about the DA-8 that I can provide, I'll happily do so.

Oh I also forgot to mention that the A, B, C functions on the remote that comes with the DA-8 are designed for the stack SMSL designed. So A is for the DA-8, C is for the SU-8 (which I'm using), and B would be for the SH-8. So by default all remotes work with all 3 devices out of the box. I realized this when I picked up my SU-8 remote and pointed it at the DA-8 and it worked. Cool stuff.
Stefan, thank you for your input. I have a question thought, why do you think your speakers are not good enough for the amp? The amp have an ICE module that measures well, and the KEF 150 are one of the better little hifi speakers on the market (ask @maty). I had mine connected to a Yamaha 30 watts amp from 2005 and now I have them connected to the Powergate. With both amps, the speakers are easily driven to 90-95 dB without clipping or distortion on my listening room (6 by 3 meters and 2 meters ceiling). I bet that if I use a more efficient speaker, the DA-8 can go to 100-110 dB without clipping or distortion.
 
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Stefan, thank you for your input. I have a question thought, why do you think your speakers are not good enough for the amp? The amp have an ICE module that measures well, and the KEF 150 are one of the better little hifi speakers on the market (ask @maty). I had mine connected to a Yamaha 30 watts amp from 2005 and now I have them connected to the Powergate. With both amps, the speakers are easily driven to 90-95 dB without clipping or distortion on my listening room (6 by 3 meters and 2 meters ceiling). I bet that if I use a more efficient speaker, the DA-8 can go to 100-110 dB without clipping or distortion.
Other way around. That the amp may not be enough for the speakers. And more specifically, at the high end of volume. This may not be the case in actuality, but when I put them up at about 50/60 volume, it just felt like the speakers were starting to feel like they were struggling somehow. Not sure how to describe it. And the only reason I have to support the theory that it's the amp, is that the SA98e didn't have that happen when I cranked it up to about a similar volume level, and that amp has about double the wattage per channel. Not only this, but I contacted KEF directly and they recommended to err on the side of higher wattage (on the supplied range of power requirements of 10-100W). I can only imagine that this is due to risk of clipping. However, as I mentioned for my typical usage, namely, as desktop speakers where I won't be going anywhere near that volume anyway, it should never be a problem, so I'm not worried.
 
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I found a review of the Paradigm PW-AMP on a Netherland page. It lists the class D amp as an Anthem chip (they don't say what chip).

Anyway, they published a picture of the amp opened up. It looks like a really good design. Every component looks of decent build quality (except for the transformer that looks really flimsy):

I hope that Amir publish the review soon. It looks like another winner.
I put in too low of an offer (by $1) and missed one that Paradigm had on Ebay. Hopefully they will put more back on there.

I just ordered one of these with the hope that it does indeed perform well...
I just got one of the same IcePower modules that is in that. It seemed to sound good but my listening was cut short last night by a migraine with side effects I didn't know migraines came with. For a bit I thought I was having a stroke. Hopefully I can try it out more shortly.
 

mi-fu

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I found a review of the Paradigm PW-AMP on a Netherland page. It lists the class D amp as an Anthem chip (they don't say what chip).

Anyway, they published a picture of the amp opened up. It looks like a really good design. Every component looks of decent build quality (except for the transformer that looks really flimsy):

View attachment 26116
I hope that Amir publish the review soon. It looks like another winner.
Yes. I hope Amir will have measurements on PW amp and PW link soon too. If the measurements are decent, at these price points, these two products with room correction would be very attractive!
 

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