Mini-HiFi Bakeoff

Mini-HiFi Bakeoff

There are many little amps that claim to be “Class-T” (a kitschy, propriety name for Tripath’s Class-D amp chips and accompanying feedback control circuitry) or “better”, come in the same extruded aluminum enclosure, have conspicuously similar brand names and model numbers, and seem to be purposely difficult to tell apart. Googling around, you can find years and years of narrow comparisons and speculation. I got tired of reading through conflicting information and run-around, so I bought a bunch of them to tear apart and do a fair comparison.

TL;DR – Just tell me what to buy!

For most folks, the Kinter K2020A+ is the way to go.

Amplifiers Reviewed

  Full Review Quick Summary
View on Amazon Lepai LP-2020A+ The mini-amp that started the craze. Great sound at a great price, but you simply can’t find them anymore. Powered by the legendary Tripath TA2020-020.
View on Amazon Kinter K2020A+ In my opinion, this is the true successor to the Lepai LP-2020A+. It sounds slightly better than even the original and at ~$30, it’s well worth its cost. Powered by the Tripath TA2020-020.
View on Amazon Lvpin LP-2020A+ So far as I can tell, this is an exact copy of the Lepai LP-2020A+. It sounds identical to my ears. Powered by the Tripath TA2020-020. At ~$10, you can’t really go wrong. Buy two and wear them like shoes.
View on Amazon Lepai LP-2020TI This is the one Parts-Express claims is the true successor to the Lepai LP-2020A+. Powered by the TI TPA3118. Personally, I’m not buying it. Output power appears slightly lower and the magical presence the Tripath brings just isn’t there with the TI heart.
View on Amazon Lepy LP-2020A Powered by the Yamaha YDA138, this one falls short on magic. With some component replacement it’s potentially possible for this to be an quality amp, but as-shipped, steer clear.
View on Amazon Pyle PFA200 Sounds similar to the Lepy LP-2020A. Unknown amp chips with obscured labeling. Doesn’t feel like “Class-T” as the marketing claims.
View on Amazon Lepy LP-2024A+ Considering the model number, I expected this one would have a Tripath TA2024, but it turns to have a TAA2008. Full review coming soon.
View on Amazon Lepy LP-V3S Supposedly based around the Toshiba TA8254, but actually built around the STMicroelectronics TDA7377. Nothing special.
View on Amazon Lepy LP-2051 This one has potential to be a beast. It does indeed have a Tripath TK2051 chipset inside and comes with a 19V laptop-style power supply. Full review coming soon.

Comparison Data

I’m performing testing using a Kill A Watt to measure power going into the supplied bricks, a 0-30V, 0-5A Power Supply to see how the amps perform without the limitation of their crappy included supplies, an SMD DD-1 Distortion Detector to find 1% THD, a generic dBA meter to get sound levels, a True RMS DMM to measure output voltage to the speakers, speaker-test to generate the sine waves, a pair of Pioneer HPM-1500s to push the air around, and a pair of Howard Leights to save my ears. Here’s a quick sampling of some data I’ve collected thus far. More to come in March 2019.

cilynx Making and breaking. Documenting and mapping.
comments powered by Disqus