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Small Amp recommendation

Colin2030

Novice Member
Hi all,
I’m looking for a single input stereo amp for a second zone.

Basically I want to take the zone2 line output from my main AV amp to a pair of speakers in the kitchen. So I need a small, but reasonable quality amp. I’m not keen on the unbranded imports on Amazon/eBay etc.

Any recommendations?

thanks!
 

dogfonos

Well-known Member
I need a small, but reasonable quality amp. I’m not keen on the unbranded imports on Amazon/eBay etc.
Generally, I'd agree with you but there are a few reputable Chinese brands who typically, sell through outlets such as ebay and Amazon. Topping, SMSL and the newer Nobsound spring to mind.

I purchased an SMSL SA 36A Pro for a relative many years ago which is in constant use on TV duties. Not put a foot wrong. Good sound quality too and, despite low power of 8 - 12W, plays quite loud and sounds very controlled (which gives the impression of more power than it really has). Suggest you buy one that comes with a 5 Amp power brick rather than a 3 Amp supply that's often supplied. Around £50.

SMSL offer more powerful versions too.

I wonder if you'd be better off with a pair of powered speakers instead? Great VFM:


Got a great review on avforums when priced at £100.
 
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Numpty112233

Active Member
I do smile at the fear of Chinese manufacture...
I don't know about hifi (except that my Monitor Audio Gold speakers and Cambridge units are both Chinese made) but with bicycle frames pretty much all the Western brands are made in Chinese / Taiwan factories, names of which most have never heard of.
Fact is over 1/4 of EVERYTHING made in the world is now manufactured in China, including life saving machines in our hospitals.
Some of it is cheap and nasty, but mostly these days it's just cheap
 

gibbsy

Moderator
Even amps built in the UK probably have most of innards supplied by Chinese manufacturers. Chinese products are not to be sneezed at. ;)
 

Numpty112233

Active Member
Even amps built in the UK probably have most of innards supplied by Chinese manufacturers. Chinese products are not to be sneezed at. ;)
Very true - just look at how car production has stopped in Japan and S. Korea (renown for reliability) because they can't get the parts from China to stuff in them thank's to Coronavirus (which apparently makes one sneeze ;-) )
 

oscroft

Member
I do smile at the fear of Chinese manufacture...
I don't know about hifi (except that my Monitor Audio Gold speakers and Cambridge units are both Chinese made) but with bicycle frames pretty much all the Western brands are made in Chinese / Taiwan factories, names of which most have never heard of.
Fact is over 1/4 of EVERYTHING made in the world is now manufactured in China, including life saving machines in our hospitals.
Some of it is cheap and nasty, but mostly these days it's just cheap
Indeed.

I'm typing these words on an Apple Mac that's made in China (and it's neither cheap nor nasty :)).

Chinese manufacturing can produce everything from cheap and nasty to top of the line quality, depending on specification and price.
 

Numpty112233

Active Member
Indeed.

I'm typing these words on an Apple Mac that's made in China (and it's neither cheap nor nasty :)).

Chinese manufacturing can produce everything from cheap and nasty to top of the line quality, depending on specification and price.
I too am typing on a Mac - which to me certainly wasn't cheap.... but to Apple I'm sure it was. Chinese made Western brands have big profit margins, the value of brand recognition, the power of advertising. Folk will pay top dollar not to have a Chinese brand they don't recognise and perceive as inferior. Sometimes it is, sometimes quite the opposite.
 

drummerman

Active Member
I've used one of these for some time now, since I sold the Hegel.

Although I plan to replace it imminently (to be relegated to bedroom duties, perfect because of remote and warm amber, dimmable, large display) it has served well and sounds good. No excuses need to be made for size or origin.

Used together with a (chinese) valve buffer stage. Both on often all night/day.

Zero issues and build quality is superb with a lovely machined case/multi function knob with precise raster.
 

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Paul7777x

Member
A pair of budget Gale 2-ways. 3” cone bought from Richer Sounds many years ago.

I’m liking the look of the SMSL and Nobsound Amps. I’ve no aversion to Chinese/eastern tech. It’s just unbranded stuff I’ve had bad experiences with.
If you’re intending on upgrading your speakers at some point, then you should consider this amp,


It has so many positive reviews it would be tedious to list them.

AVFs is here.

 

Timmy C

Distinguished Member
I’m liking the look of the SMSL and Nobsound Amps. I’ve no aversion to Chinese/eastern tech. It’s just unbranded stuff I’ve had bad experiences with.
I must admit I feel exactly the same. With a lot of stuff sold on ebay or by Amazon 3rd party sellers you really have no clue what you are buying, who's importing them or even if it's safe to use. I did a lot of research before buying my SMSL and found mostly positive reports. That said, it did come with a very tiny and very illegal 3 pin mains plug on the kettle lead so I swapped that over straight away.

SMSL now have a website with loads of amps to choose from if you decide to take that route though and certainly don't come under the unbranded/knock off category that would concern us both....

 

nylonsyorks

Standard Member
Certainly food for thought. I remember reading an article on the British motorbike industry. Triumph, Norton, BSA etc, I don't know much about motorbikes at all, it was the article that intrigued me.

The article described how the british motorbike industry had become massive, but the level of design, research, improvement had very much come to a standstill, the company owners happy to rest back on their profits and unwilling to invest in research.

That at some point the chinese companies did a very simple equation. They looked at what existed in the motorbike world, determined the faults and weaknesses and resolved those issues, reduced the prices and basically the rest is history.

Would it be fair to say the audio industry has gone the same way ?

I aren't complaining. I also remember when chinese, korean, japanese made hifi was considered inferior by some margin.

I personally always thought certain British hifi companies were very mediocre, perhaps my earing isn't worthy of such high quality sound.

I've no doubt gone way of the subject matter here, I suppose what I am alluding to is that these unknown little brands of electronics,dacs, amps that we see on amazon are in my experience very
capable, I cant speak for the longevity of these products in general, but I have been using a little
NFJ & FXAUDIO amp for my desktop pc for a few years now, its great, takes a minute to warm up properly but other than that, quite astounding for the money. I think I paid £25
 

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