Saturday, August 27, 2011
The Sure TA2024 is my current favorite T-amp. It's cheap and commonly available on ebay for around $50. It sounds fantastic. It's well built, attractive and it has a couple improvements over my previous favorite, the Trends TA-10.1. Unlike the Trends, it has a front mounted power switch, a small, but to me important, detail. I hated the Trends' obnoxious blue power led and the Sure has a softer glowing ring around the volume knob. That's not to say everything is as I'd like it. Sure added an odd feature. When the amp is off, the orange ring around the volume knob slowly pulses. The Sure manual calls this "breathing" and comments that it will help you find the amp in the dark. Whatever.
There are several variations of the Sure TA2024. I have the AA-AB32157 model which has the Tripath TA2024C chip and uses a digital volume knob. It is definitely different than the volume controls I'm use to. It takes a little over 3 turns, 1080 degrees, to go from completely off to full on. It is an indexed volume control with roughly 25 detents, or clicks in 360 degrees. Based on this, I'm guessing the volume control is Sure model AA-AB11117 which has 83 total positions. When the amp is off, spinning the volume knob has no effect, the amp always starts with the same volume level it was set at when it was turned off. I would probably prefer a normal analog volume control, but honestly the digital one is fine. It has a good feel and even though it's indexed, there are plenty of settings and I can always find the volume I want.
There are at least 5 different variations on this model. The earlier ones have the normal analog volume knobs, and there is one variant with a headphone jack. Here's my understanding of the different models:
AA-AB32151: Front headphone jack, Digital volume knob with 12v 3a Sure power supply
AA-AB32152: Analog volume knob and 12V 3A Sure power supply, no headphone jack
AA-AB32156: Analog volume knob and no power supply, no headphone jack
AA-AB340: Seems to be identical to AA-AB32156
AA-AB32157: Digital volume knob with 12V 3A Sure power supply, no headphone jack
AA-AB32159: Digital volume knob with no power supply, no headphone jack
I'd sold the Trends TA-10.1 long before I got my Sure, but the Sure sounds like what I remembered of the Trends with an exceptionally musical presentation. I'm not good with audiophile terminology so I don't know quite how to express it. It's obvious that at least some parts like the speaker binding posts are made with cheaper materials than the Trends, but somehow the Sure seems more finished and less of a DIY project than the Trends. Still, if I look closely at the Sure from the right angle, I can see that the case isn't perfectly straight. That's quibbling though. This is a world class amp and an easy thumbs up.