Return Of An Affordable Digital Amplifier
By James Grahame
The $39 Dayton Audio DTA-1 is an updated version of the Sonic Impact T-Amp we first mentioned three years ago. This tiny stereo amplifier is built around the surprisingly impressive Tripath TA2024B digital chip amp. It earned immediate attention from budget audiophiles because of its pristine audio quality and unbelievably low price. Sadly, Tripath went belly-up last year, but there are still quite a few of Tripath chips stockpiled.
The DTA-1 shares the same curved plastic case as its predecessor, with an updated color scheme and blue LED power light. It's rated at 2 x 10 Watts RMS into 4 ohms at 0.1% THD, making it well suited to extremely efficient speakers played at modest volumes. You can push it all the way to 15 Watts per channel, although distortion goes through the roof at high volumes.
A 3.5mm (1/8-inch) audio input allows you to connect your PC, mp3 player or portable CD/DVD with minimal effort, and the back panel includes spring-loaded push terminal speaker connections. While the DTA-1 sounds good right out of the box, you'll have to put in a bit of DIY effort to make the T-Amp really sing. I suggest attaching a good stabilized power supply, perhaps installing an ALPS volume knob, and upgrading the input and speaker posts. Make these changes and you'll be impressed as long as you keep the volume to moderate levels and use high-efficiency speakers.
You could do much worse if you're looking for an affordable amplifier for your home office or basement lair. The DTA-1 is the essence of simplicity, with only a single input and an absence of tone controls and remote, however it redeems itself by offering respectable audio at an unbeatable price.