So, following the death of my ancient FAL Phase 44 amplifier, I found a series of very cheap amplifiers on eBay. They’re all based around something called a “Class-T” amplifier IC which seems to be an all in one IC that just needs hooking up to some inputs, speakers and electricity to work.
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After checking the device worked properly I did what any curious person does… whip out my screwdriver and begin dismantling the thing. It’s housed inside an extruded aluminium box which has razor sharp edges. If you buy one, be careful handling it! I managed to cut myself several times before even noticing. I don’t think it’d pass the CE tests.
Once removed, the PCB contains an acceptable quantity of electronics. It’s neither rammed full of junk, or devoid of anything but a blob of resin like most cheap electronics are. The large heatsink is attached to the TA2020 amplifier IC.
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As an amplifier it’s surprisingly good for its price. There can’t be more than $10 worth of material and electronics in the unit, especially considering the shipping was free. Sound is very clear, the bass doesn’t drown out the rest of the music and the volume control is very smooth. I can adjust the volume precisely and both channels change together without any clicking, fading or weird stereo effects. The only negative point so far is that a loud click comes out the speakers when the power is switched on. It’s probably not loud enough to damage my speakers. I’ve been running it for over an hour so far and it’s not set on fire, isn’t emitting any strange smells and hasn’t caused the PSU to even get warm.
So if you need a cheap amplifier, buying one of these wouldn’t be a bad thing. It’s very small too, I have mine sat under my monitor out the way. With some minor woodworking I could even mount it inside a speaker.