Recently I have contacted David Ho from Trends Audio to get a set of Trends Audio PA-10 tube headphone amplifier, but due to some reasons, he made a decision to send me a TA-10.2 (189USD) for review, which is a speaker amplifier running on T-Amp concept.
Well, I know that this is really strange as doing review for speaker/speaker amp is something that I rarely did in Earmass but as a reviewer, I accepted the deal though mainly for two reasons, I am looking for a stereo amplifier for my old speaker/fulfill the Pc-Fi dream, secondly, the super-heated reviews from many of the well-known and famous reviewers (Experts in speaker Hi-fi), they have said a lot of great things on this Trends Audio TA-10.2. So, why not?
I will not be writing this review as an expert in speaker Hifi or whatsoever but I will try to make my review applicable for the PC-Fi purpose. Undeniable, more and more head-fiers are looking into buying a speaker system as their headphone setup compliment, me as well.
I am not saying that headphone system is inferior to speaker system, for me both of them serve different type of crowd but both of the crowd are extremely picky and determine in audio or hifi stuffs. I love my headphone system but to be frank, sometimes I wish that I can let my head free while still letting my ears listen to good music. It was time when I wished to listen to music while I am doing other thing, times that I don’t want to hang a headphone on my heads, while I still can talk to other people near me, headphone is not the most suitable tool for this situation, this is why I am looking for a PC speaker setup, as far as I concerned, I love watching movie with speakers way more than using headphone.
But I have gave some audition to pc speakers before, such as Harman Kardon Soundstick series and Logitech speakers, also some Sony, all of them are not expensive, less than 300USD, mybe it is because of the acoustic room is not perfect when I audit them, but I am not impressed by the audio quality, I found out that I have no reason to squeeze money out of my wallet to buy the bill, I have not tried speaker from Hivi, Focal, B&W and AudioEngine for PC setup, but for the price and I have already owned few DACs, I think using a ‘simple’ stereo amp to drive my old but trusty bookshelf speaker as a compliment to my PC audio is a wiser choice.
I have an old and cheap bookshelf speaker which I bought few years ago as used unit, a Bose 201 bookshelf speaker. It is not an impressive speaker before when I hooked it up with my Sherwood stereo amplifier, but I have listened to it once (the day that I bought it) which the previous owner is using a mini compo system, I like the sound and sold, but I have never get that sound myself with my Sherwood amp.
How to connect to a PC?
So how should you connect your speaker to your PC? It is quite easy though. First of all, you will need a DAC (Will be less troublesome if your DAC accepted USB input, otherwise you will need an USB to SPDIF converter with a coaxial cable), a stereo amp and speakers (Passive speaker which with no built-in amplifier), then you are good to go, for sure that you will need speaker cable and interconnects.
In my case I have few DACs, however the one that I will use extensively in this review is Firestone Audio CustomCute, M2Tech HiFace DAC, JDS Labs ODAC and iFi Audio iDAC, they are all small and miniature enough to match with Trends Audio TA10.2 (As TA10.2 is also a small unit of stereo amp).
I have paired Trends Audio TA10.2 with Firestone Audio CustomCute, M2Tech Hiface DAC, JDS Labs Objective DAC and iFi Audio iDAC, connecting to QED Silver Anniversary Speaker Cable and Charleston Cable Company UP-OCC interconnects.
I can definitely tell you that TA10.2 performed way above its price point, outperformed my old school stereo amplifer at least hundreds miles away. Please noted that TA10.2 just 30% of the overall size of my old stereo amp, the power and clarity that it is able to deliver is remarkable and excellent even if I am not going to judge by its size.
First of all, this thing is really powerful. I just have to turn the volume to about 20% (From the max volume) to power up my bookshelf speaker to listenable volume. Sound is balance and I can sense that nothing is really lacking, everything is already there and nothing is really lacking. It is true that I have detected some boominess and slow in bass, but I know that it is not problem of TA10.2, it is my bookshelf speaker problem, however I have never short of excitement on how TA10.2 performed, it truly performed beyond its price and size.
I can’t really comment on the sound quality more, there is a lot of experienced audio reviewers have commented on this, most of them have spoken a lot of good stuffs on this T amp.
This must be my shortest review ever, I don’t really have a lot of speaker stuffs to compare, but just for the price and performance ratio along, it is really a MUST buy, I personally searching for a good bookshelf amp to match with this T-amp, so you can get the idea how good it is, until I need a better speaker to pair with it.