Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Qinpu A-3 hybrid tube transitor amp & Pure i-20 iPod dock & dac
After about 3 years with my Trends TA-10.1, I got itchy to buy a new piece of hifi gear. The Trend's replacement was the Qinpu A-3, a hybrid transistor tube amp. The tubes in the Qinpu A-3 color the sound in the preamplifier stage. You can tell that the tubes are running at a low wattage, they glow only faintly. To brighten up the tubes visually, the Qinpu has a couple blue leds that initially blink as the amp is warming up. After about a minute they come on solid, and the amp kicks in. My guess is that the preamplifier is using a "starved plate" design. I've always loved the sound of my ART tube mic preamplifier which also uses the "starved plate" design, so I've got no issues with the design of the Qinpu.
The Qinpu has great visual appeal, and I loved showing it off to guests. The Qinpu is also very affordable, I notice that Audio Advisor sells the Qinpu for $199.
While the Qinpu's visual appeal may have been head and shoulders above the Trends homely "project box" look, I came to miss the musicality of the Trends. That's not to say the Qinpu wasn't a good amp, it just didn't sing to my ears like the Trends. Also my wife got impatient with the minute or so that it took to warm up, so I sold it off and got another T-amp.
Shortly after the Qinpu arrived, I got the Pure i-20 iPod dock with integrated dac. I had been using a Wadia 170i itransport to get a pure digital signal out of my iPod. The Wadia cost me nearly $400, so it was the single most expensive piece of hifi equipment I owned. It also needed an external digital to analog converter ("dac"). The Pure i-20 sounds just as great, only costs $100 and has a great sounding internal dac. It also has both coaxial and toslink outputs if you want to pair it with an external dac (the Wadia only has a coaxial output). The Pure i-20 also has a much smaller footprint than the Wadia, so it pairs up really nicely with a small T-amp. The Pure i-20 is an easy thumbs up.