Tuesday, March 27, 2012
I was curious to try a TA2021 based amp, so when Indeed Hifi introduced one I quickly bought it. Indeed is run by a guy named Peter, and is well respected in the audio forums, especially for it's tube based buffers, preamplifiers and headphone amps. I've bought a couple things from Indeed before and been impressed. The first is Indeed's shielded 12V 5A power supply which I highly recommend. While most of these tripath based amps will run off 3 or 4 amps, the 5 amp power supply really seems to flatter them. The extra juice seems to give the amps just a little more oomph. Since Indeed's power supply is shielded, it should also reduce noise and distortion. I'm very pleased with mine and use it with all my T amps. I also bought the cigarette lighter power cord from Indeed which lets me run my T amps off a portable 12V battery jump starter. Many audiophiles rave that running t amps off 12V batteries greatly improves the performance of the amp, but I'll admit that I can't tell the difference, maybe due to shielding on the Indeed power supply. The cool thing about battery power in my opinion is I can quickly and easily setup a stereo outdoors "off the grid." I ran my Hlly TA2020 amp of the 12V battery jump starter at a recent block party, and it happily put out party volume music for over 4 hours.
Back to the TA2021 amp, it sounds great. It's got that smooth, focused tripath sound. The extra wattage is very noticeable. While the TA2024 amps are adequate for my 92 db Axiom M3 speakers, the TA2021 has much more headroom, and turning the analog volume knob just a quarter turn gets it's louder than I'd ever want. If your speakers are rated 90 db or less, I'd recommend this amp. You can get even more powerful T amps, but then you'll need a more specialized and possibly bulkier power supply, and you'll lose the easy 12V battery power option.
How does this TA2021 amp sound compared to the TA2020 and TA2024? That's tough for me to put into words. I'd say it's very similar, maybe even indistinguishable from the Topping TA2020, with solid punchy bass and a wonderfully focused, coherent sound. To my ear, I think there is something special about the TA2024 that gives it the most musical quality, but it is very, very subtle. Ask me on a different day, or with some different music and I might give the nod to the TA2021 or TA2020 amps. Peter recommends a 100 - 200 hour break in period for the amp because of the large BC capacitors, so it might well improve.
Indeed's TA2021 exudes quality. Externally it's very similar to the Topping TP20. It has exactly the same footprint, but it's a little shorter. In terms of volume, it's probably the smallest T amp I own. Mine has the brushed silver faceplate which is a little shinier than the Topping. Like the Topping and Sure amps, the volume knob is back lit, in the Indeed's case by a soft blue light that is just the right intensity. There is an additional red led under the front power switch which shows the status of the speaker protection circuit. The amp has a soft start to guard against against pops. After a 2 or 3 second delay the red led is lit and your ready to go. The red led is a little bright for my taste, but no where near as obnoxious as the bright leds on the Trends and Hlly amps. As for the build and appearance of the TA2021, I can say it's my favorite of all the T amps I've used.
I think Peter at Indeed Hifi has designed a real winner here. If you are interested in trying a TA2021, using a T amp with less efficient speakers, or looking to put out party volume music off a 12V battery, this amp is a no brainer at roughly $55 shipped without power supply. An easy and enthusiastic thumbs up.