Saturday, August 27, 2011

Sure TA2024


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.

3 comments:

  1. I purchased this from China at £18 inc postage, but no psu, mine is the model AA-AB32159, and it is a first rate performer.Highly recommended. And thank you for your very perceptive and informative review, and the others on this blog

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have a few t-amps.
    Muse M21 EX2021 ta2021 chip
    Topping T21 ta2021 chip
    Indeed class t mini ta2021 chip
    Indeed class t mini ta2020 chip
    Sure TA2024 ta2024 chip

    The ta2021 chips are allegedly 25 watts x 2
    The ta2020 chips are allegedly 20 watts x 2
    The ta2024 chips are allegedly 15 watts x 2
    In practice they are very similar and I only turn them to absolute maximum 12 o'clock on the volume control.The 15 watt Sure ta2024 can play at a high volume. My room is 15 foot by 12 foot. I run the amps through either Quad 11L speakers or Wharfedale 9.1 speakers with Supra Fly and Van Damme speaker cables. The speakers are only moderately efficient yet are driven well by the amps. The Muse T21 probably needs a little more volume than the others. My other amplifier is a Musical Fidelity X-80. I have at other times had both Arcam and other Musical Fidelity amps. I have a NAD 542 CD player. I stream from my Samsung Galaxy (using Aptx Bluetooth) phone into a Crystal Acoustics Bluedac Aptx Bluetooth receiver into all the t-amps at various times. Aptx is amazing and opens up Bluetooth streaming to audiophile sound.
    All of the amps sound so good that I do not use my Musical Fidelity amp any more. Subjectively I agree with many other reviewers who think the ta2024's and ta2020's are musically the most subjectively involving. The Sure ta2024 is still being sold in Feb 2014. It is a bitter pill for some to swallow when a £20 t-amp sounds as good if not better than a £500 amp . For sheer musical pleasure I prefer the Sure ta2024. I has meltingly liquid vocals and solo instruments, and is emotionally communicative. The ta2021's have a more solid bass and a really wide sound stage. They are slightly less emotional but are amazing for instrument placement. The Indeed ta2020 is half the size of the others with awkward speaker connectors. Nevertheless it also has beautifully fluid vocals but less bass than the ta2021s. Build quality of all of them is surprisingly good for the money. I am still running the Topping T21 in, but as of yet it is slightly less transparent than the others. The Muse M21 may be very slightly less detailed than the others. To get the best from t-amps treat them as you would an audiophile amplifier. Use good cables, interconnects and speakers. They rise to the occasion and can produce high end sound. I have used them with a cheap pair of Eltax Concept speakers as well and they still sound nice. T-amps are truly a phenomenon.

    ReplyDelete
  3. For those wishing to purchase a ta2021 t-amp. I have 3 different ones. Subjectively, to my ears, the Indeed HiFi ta2021S is way ahead of the Muse M21 EX TA2021 and the Topping TP21 Class T. Although I like the more restrained Sure ta2024 for some music, the stronger bass and separation of the Indeed ta2021 makes it better for most music, except where the midrange is really accentuated, as in the many vocals of folk music and softer jazz. That is where the Sure ta2024 shines. The Indeed ta2021S is a great little amp and very transparent yet involving and has a really great sound-stage through my Quad 11l speakers. It drives them easily. I bought it with the 12 watt, 5amp power supply, direct from Indeed HiFi and that really gives it enough juice to bounce along.

    ReplyDelete