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Lyngdorf TDAI-2170 Stereo Amplifier Review

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Fully digital and full-on.

by Phil Hinton Jun 1, 2017 at 7:21 AM

  • Hi-Fi review

    24

    Highly Recommended
    Lyngdorf TDAI-2170 Stereo Amplifier Review
    SRP: £2,800.00

    What is the Lyngdorf TDAI-2170?

    The TDAI-2170 is a stereo amplifier with digital amplification and offers a modular design so you can add upgrade options as the need arises. It also boasts RoomPerfect room equalisation, which Lyngdorf claim is the first dedicated EQ system designed for music playback. It is also claimed that the TDAI is all-digital which means that no unnecessary conversion is done within the amplifier when it is fed a digital signal. There are two stereo RCA analogue inputs around the back, but this is very much a 21st century toy. As standard there are also four optical and two coaxial digital inputs and one RCA analogue and one coaxial digital output.

    The basic unit costs £2,800 and comes with RoomPerfect, but there are also three possible upgrade modules - a high-end USB music input, a high-end analog input and 4K HDMI module. These add-ons cost £495 each, but you do get a little discount if bought together, so each step is £3,195, £3,595 and £3,995 respectively. We have a fully kitted out review sample at £3,995 with all the modules added.

    Lyngdorf make some pretty big claims within their marketing blurb about RoomPerfect and the TDAI-2170 so is it justified? Let’s put it to a long-term test.

    Design, Connections and Control

    Lyngdorf TDAI-2170 Design, Connections and Control
    There is no doubting that the TDAI-2170 is a lovely piece of industrial design that features a full metal chassis and a high quality build. It feels solid from the moment you lift it from the box with a nice weight to the materials used and a simplistic minimalist design to the front. To the bottom are four sturdy insolation feet and around the back are the connections.

    The front plate features a large volume dial to the right that has a superb feel to its use and you can have real fun trying to spin it as hard as necessary to hit the volume you want. To the left of this dial is the source knob, which again has a well-engineered feel when used to select your desired input, and to the left of this is a black glass block. Here we get a centrally mounted display, which is used for all the operations and menus. There are no on-screen menus everything is done within this display. To the bottom left is an illuminated Lyngdorf logo and to the right of this at the other end of the glass block is a RoomPerfect logo, which lights up when in use.

    There is no doubt that this minimalist design is very appealing and looks slick, but there is one major draw back for me and my OCD. The colour of light used for the Lyngdorf and RP logos is different to that used in the display just above. I found this rather annoying and distracting on what is otherwise a perfectly designed piece of hi-end audio equipment. Like I say, I found that annoying but someone else might never notice it.
    Lyngdorf TDAI-2170 Design, Connections and Control
    Around the back we have the modular designed inputs. If you go with the basic TDAI-2170 you get two analogue RCA inputs and one set of outputs, the XLR mic socket, two digital coaxial and four optical inputs. There is also a software USB port, a RS232 LAN port and in/out triggers. Rounding up the basic connections are the binding posts for speaker cables and the power cord. You get a choice of three additional modules that you can add to the Lyngdorf for £495 each. These are a hi-quality analogue audio board that adds three additional RCA analogue inputs and balanced XLR inputs, a 4K HDR compatible HDMI module with three HDMI 2.0 inputs and one output and a USB port module. If you choose to have more than one of these modules added you will get a slight discount on the separate module pricing. We have the fully kitted out version that retails for £3,995 and has all the modules fitted. This approach does allow for some flexibility in pricing and the available technology at the time you purchase the TDAI. We had to wait for the updated HDMI 2.0 module for this review and if we were choosing this for our own system, we would probably only option the HDMI board and then barter with the dealer over the USB port costs.

    The supplied remote control is a long plastic affair with the buttons grouped in the top ¾ of the length. Here we have power and eject buttons, a selection of number keys and source selections. We then have central menu direction keys and an enter button rounded off with further volume, source selection and player keys. The only disappointment is the choice of plastic for the remote finish when it is being used with such a high-end system. That’s not to say the design is not nice, but the plastic feel is a let down and it would have been far nicer in a metal finish to match the build quality elsewhere.

    Lyngdorf TDAI-2170
    There is no doubting the build quality is superb and the design is sleek

    Features

    Lyngdorf TDAI-2170 Features
    Without a doubt the main feature that Lyngdorf promotes with the TDAI-2170 is its RoomPerfect room equalisation software that comes as standard. Much like the DIRAC and Audyssey systems out there, RoomPerfect is designed to remove the effects of your room from the sound of your system. None of these EQ systems are miracle tools and some work has to be done during set up to make sure you position your speakers properly within your room, or certainly as well as you possibly can. The room you use to listen to music or watch a movie in has the biggest single effect on the performance of your system and is something we have always pointed out and pursued here at AVForums. Obviously we can’t all use professional room treatments in living rooms and even in some dedicated rooms care needs to be taken over the aesthetics of the room versus the performance. What these EQ systems offer is a solution to that problem by trying to remove the negative effects of standing waves, room nodes etc. but aiming to try and get a flattened response removing as many troughs and especially peaks within the listening positions of the room. Each system works slightly differently but with the same end goals.

    RoomPerfect is very easy to use and each TDAI-2170 comes with a reference calibrated microphone and metal tripod so the end user can easily take the measurements as required and in the best possible way. By providing professional grade equipment in the box Lyngdorf ensures that the end user has the best possible outcome. It’s like providing the old professional kit microphone and tripod with every Audyssey system and explains some of the cost of the TDAI-2170. In terms of ease of use it really is simple and you will have 98 - 100% of the room mapped within 20 minutes easily.

    Lyngdorf claim that RoomPerfect is the most sophisticated room EQ system in the world within their PR materials. It works much like other auto EQ systems used within AV electronics from Yamaha, Denon, Arcam and more. Lyngdorf actively state that you should place your speakers close to the rear wall to get the best results, but the system will work with them in most positions in a room. The first measurement is at ear height in the listening position. You then take various additional measurements within the room are varying heights and distances from the speakers and listening position. This allows the system to start building a picture of your room and its responses to the audio signals. After each measurement the system gives you a percentage mark of how much it knows your room. You keep taking measurements until you reach around 94% and take two last measurements close to the room boundary walls to give the system its final ‘look’ at the room space. This should take you to 98% of the room knowledge, which is enough to get the final results and apply those filters.

    There are two filters applied called Focus and Global. These are pretty self-explanatory with focus working on the main listening position and Global being more expansive and including more than just the sweet spot. There is also Bypass which allows you to listen to the before and after. We like to think that, after 15 years of use, our room is pretty well set up to give a decent sound experience, but there is a definite tightening of the sound stage and especially the bass response when in Focus and Global. In addition to these filters there are also a number of various house curves (called Voicing) built-in that you can select to suit a personal preference in sound reproduction, such as a bass, midrange or treble lift or variations of the same. After some experimentation we ended up staying in the Neutral voicing selection within the Global filter.

    The end results are extremely impressive and we went out of our way to place speakers in odd and unusual positions within the room to try and throw the results. In most cases the end results was really quite good and when run with properly positioned speakers it was exceptionally good. I’m not that big a fan of all these EQ systems versus a well set up and calibrated room, but in the case of RoomPerfect it provided some of the best results I have experienced when using a sub/sat speaker system, especially the crossover point between the subwoofer and speaker. We will cover these results in more detail in the sound quality section.

    Another boast from Lyngdorf is the all-digital nature of the TDAI-2170 with the use of accurate signal processing and limited digital to analogue conversions to create the cleanest clarity with no colouration to the final sound. Lyngdorf explain that the power supply is used as the volume control to also remove any audible noise from the system, instead there is simply a fully dynamic end result to your audio. You hear the sound in the recording and nothing else. Strong words indeed!

    How was the Lyngdorf TDAI-2170 Tested?

    We tested the Lyngdorf in our dedicated cinema room, which has some acoustical treatment and has been used for over 15 years, meaning we know the response within the room really well. We used a few different speaker set ups with the TDAI-2170, but our main system was the MK MP300 LCR speakers with two X12 Subwoofers in a sub/sat configuration. We used a Macbook Pro via the USB module and Panasonic UB900 UHD Blu-ray player via the HDMI input as sources as well as an iPhone 6 using the headphone jack to RCA input. This gave us the best possible spread of signals to test with the Macbook Pro sending Spotify and Tidal MQA masters to the TDAI-2170, the Panasonic using HDMI for audio and video and the iPhone testing the analogue inputs. Our assessment is obviously more subjective than the objective testing of video in this regard.

    Lyngdorf TDAI-2170
    RoomPerfect brings everything together and delivers superb sound quality

    Sound Quality

    We spent a good deal of time with the TDAI-2170 and used it in a number of ways. The first was an obvious one for us and that is in the role of a downsized system for watching TV, movies and listening to music in a 2.1 system. There are quite a number of AVForums members and readers who for various reasons want to move away from a 5.1 system in their living rooms to a more manageable 2.1 system. Some opt for the soundbar route, but many more look at integrated amplifiers or traditional Hi-Fi amplifiers to fill that role. There are a number of competitors to the Lyngdorf and the main competition is the Arcam SR250, which Ed reviewed a little while back. It offers nearly everything the TDAI does and uses DIRAC room correction software, which is a popular choice, if tricky to set up and calibrate. The Lyngdorf RoomPerfect system is extremely easy to use for the end user and offers a very similar end result. Unfortunately we haven’t been able to do a side-by-side here, but we do have enough experience of both systems in use to make a subjective opinion.

    In terms of using the optional 4K HDMI module the results were as expected with a video pass-thru that was clean of unwanted processing and the video switching worked extremely well. We had no issues passing through UHD Blu-ray signals from the Panasonic UB900 to our JVC DLA-X7000 projector.

    After many hours jumping between the Bypassed audio signal and the RoomPerfect results we found the EQ’d sound offered a tighter and more focussed soundstage that had a cleaner bass response and the crossover between the subwoofers and satellite speakers was superb. After hearing these results the annoying thing for us was to realise just what a full 9.2.4 Atmos system would sound like if RoomPerfect were used. Sadly the TDAI-2170 is two channel only and even adding this to an existing system to take over the main left and right channels, RoomPerfect can only be used on the two amplified channels (and the subwoofers), meaning you would need to use a receiver with Audyssey or similar to fill in the gaps, and we would imagine the results wouldn’t be great. Lyngdorf do have an AV Processor with RP, but we are getting side tracked here.

    Where we have had issues with auto EQ systems in the past and to some extent still do now, is with how they handle the crossover frequencies between the subs and sats and how they handle sub bass results. Only recently has Audyssey added sub bass filtering and an app that you can use to fine-tune the results. Other systems, like Yamaha’s YPAO still struggle under 40Hz to get any meaningful results, which can put some people off using these systems within their rooms. What was immediately apparent with the RoomPerfect results was just how well it managed the crossover and sub bass results. The test tone used during calibration has two different frequency sweeps with sub bass frequencies being used to help with the filters. The result is seamless integration between the subwoofers and satellite speakers and a cohesiveness to the sound that is very apparent when switching to Bypass and back again. The handling of the room effects on the bass from the subwoofers is also very well done. I do like the in-room response of the X12’s positioned in a room I know very well without any EQ. When reviewing products with Audyssey XT on board I find that the bass response can be hollow after auto EQ and requires some manual manipulation to fill in the gap again. However with RoomPerfect it did a superb job of not only keeping the frequency response consistent at the low end, but it added a tightness and focus to the bass that felt more natural than my preferred set up without EQ. The handover between the speakers and the soundstage the Lyngdorf was able to produce was extremely impressive indeed. I found myself hunting out demo tracks from my many years of testing to listen over and over.

    I also used the optional USB port by connecting my Macbook Pro and the Lyngdorf appeared straight away in the sound preferences as a device to use. It didn’t however pick up my iPhone 6 and after some digging around in manuals I was none the wiser to why it wouldn’t work, so stuck with the Macbook. I did however use the headphone out on the iPhone 6 to the Analogue RCA in to test that way.

    Using Tidal via the Macbook Pro offered superb performance from the Masters (MQA) selection of playlists and albums, moving to Hi Fi settings for more niche playlists and then to Spotify for the Daily Mix selections. I have ended up using the TDAI-2170 a lot more than I thought I would for music listening and have ended up sitting down in front of two speakers for the odd couple of hours to explore music I haven’t heard for a long time. I can’t remember the last time I did that, for fun.

    We started out listening to some well-known albums in the Masters format (MQA) via Tidal. Hunting High and Low from A-ha has always been around in my life in some format or another and via Tidal it probably sounds as good as I can remember it. Take On Me epitomises the 1980s synth sound and here the Lyngdorf sounds open and extremely detailed. The MK MP300s and the subwoofers blend seamlessly together to create a full range sound that is never boomy or bland. There is a clinical feel to the sound which also has a deftness of touch to the higher end - the high notes never sounding shrill or sibilant, but also free from any artificial warmth or roll off. We then move to CD via the Panasonic UB900 and yet again the Lyngdorf produces a refined and balanced presentation of Money Can’t Buy It by Annie Lennox. I have tested with Diva for many years now due to the excellent production and dynamic range of the recordings. Plus the bassline can also sound very flabby unless it is well controlled and played on a quality system. The sound stage is always wide and spacious with excellent placement of Lennox’s vocals, which again get very high but never sibilant.

    The bassline is tight and focussed and switching between RoomPerfect Global and Bypass is a great demonstration of how well controlled and tight the EQ’d sound can be with no EQ sounding that little bit more flabby. It’s not a night and day difference as the room response is generally good in our dedicated space, but there is an improvement to be heard. Unfinished Sympathy by Massive Attack (Via Tidal Hi-Fi) is another track that seems to have followed me my entire life since the early 90’s and I have heard it on many systems over the years. The TDAI-2170 manages to create a well-balanced and open soundstage and present the track in a forward and neutral way. There is no added sheen or warmth and you don’t get any sound enhancement to give it that Lyngdorf signature, you just get what's recorded and within the track played back at you, with the added benefit of an excellent EQ system removing the room from the equation. You can make out the layered mix to the track with backing vocals subtly placed around the sound stage and the bass drum never feeling bloated, but it’s presence is still there and clear. The vocal is also well placed within the track covering the front centre where Shara Nelson’s voice sounds fulsome and lush and the piano keys are clear and not muffled amongst everything else going on here. I could go on with examples of tracks I listened to from Metallica to John Williams and Stereo MC’s to Underworld and Kraftwerk. The results were the same every time and I actually enjoyed sitting down and listening to music again. Remember that the main speakers being used here are not a dedicated hi-fi design or from a well-known two channel manufacturer, we are using MK satellites and subwoofers, yet the musical performance is excellent! The cohesion between the speakers is simply the best I have heard from an EQ system, in this exact environment, and it reinforces the superb musicality of the Lyngdorf TDAI-2170. We did try out other speakers we have here including some Teufel monitors and KEF Cresta bookshelf speakers. Results were very impressive yet again after running RoomPerfect with these, with and without the subs. As a two-channel music system the Lyngdorf is superb.

    Moving to movie and TV viewing with the TDAI-2170 is again a very good experience with a nice wide soundstage with clear and concise dialogue centrally placed. There is obviously no surround aspect to the results, but effects and score are well layered within the stereo image with no distortion present. The end results are a clean and well-balanced sound that never feels overly busy or muffled when the going gets tough. Like with the music reproduction the Lyngdorf doesn’t add any engineered warmth or ‘sound’ but reproduces exactly what is within the recording, warts and all. I could go on for a few more paragraphs covering Blu-rays and TV but if you have read this far you will know exactly what the results are. It is very impressive.

    Conclusion

    8
    AVForumsSCORE
    OUT OF
    10

    The Good

    • Excellent sound quality
    • Superb RoomPerfect EQ system
    • Very good build quality
    • Contemporary design
    • Nice remote control
    • Flexible set up and use

    The Bad

    • Expensive
    • Options are also expensive
    • Would feel out of place added to a full AV system where RoomPerfect cannot EQ the rest of the channels used
    You own this Total 4
    You want this Total 0
    You had this Total 0

    Lyngdorf TDAI-2170 Stereo Amplifier Review

    There is no doubting the fact that the TDAI-2170 from Lyngdorf is a seriously impressive piece of kit. The results of RoomPerfect are exactly that, perfect. It is a seriously musical amplifier that doesn’t mess with the recorded track in any way and there is no added warmth or engineered end sound. What you hear is what is recorded within the song or film soundtrack presented distortion free and in incredible detail. The RoomPerfect EQ system is mightily powerful and impressive, yet it is pure simplicity to use with a professional calibrated mic and tripod included in the box. It takes around 20 mins to run and the final results, even in a half decent acoustical space, are very impressive. The main highlight for me was the integration of the MK MP300 speakers and the X12 subwoofers, which became even more cohesive in their presentation thanks to the EQ selecting crossover filters that superbly matched them. The result is one wide and full range stereo soundstage that offered a superbly musical performance. There are not many products that have me hunting out old favourites to sit and listen to, but the Lyngdorf did. If you are thinking about downsizing to a two-channel system or just want a dedicated stereo amplifier for hi-fi use, then this should certainly be a consideration, if you have deep pockets.

    And that is the main problem with the TDAI-2170. There is no doubt the build quality, technology and performance are excellent but we found the pricing, when compared to a similar product like the Arcam SR250, to be a little excessive. The fact you have to pay nearly £500 for each separate HDMI, USB and Balanced input module seems expensive when you consider that all that, and more, comes free of charge with the Arcam for its £2,499 price tag. Of course the counter argument will be that you only pay for what you need. The Arcam also comes with the excellent DIRAC EQ system, which is yet another extremely impressive piece of software, if a little complicated to set up with the SR250. So it is cheaper than the Lyngdorf, but RoomPerfect is simple to run, you get the kit in the box and you can experiment and run as many calibrations as you like. So actually when you start to look at the finer details of comparison the Lyngdorf is more expensive but offers some flexibility and definitely ease of use with RoomPerfect.

    If you can afford it there is no doubt that the TDAI-2170 is a very impressive piece of kit that is extremely well built, comes with everything you need to calibrate the EQ and offers a performance that goes some way to justifying the outlay. If you are thinking about downsizing or are just interested in a well-balanced hi-fi system with superb room EQ and excellent sound, then we can highly recommend you audition the Lyngdorf TDAI-2170.


    The Rundown

    Build Quality

    9

    Connectivity

    7

    Ease of use

    8

    Features

    9

    Audio quality

    9

    Value for money

    7

    Overall

    8

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