Past projects: Tripath TA3020 amplifier

What do you do with a leftover transformer? Well, you buy a matching amplifier board for it, don’t you? Yes, even when I built this a couple of years ago I needed an extra amplifier about as much as a goldfish needs a new bicycle, but still – it’s fun!

The base of this is a custom-wound toroidal transformer from that was left over from another project and a cheap and cheerful amplifier board from ebay. The amplifier board is based on the Tripath TA3020 controller chip and some “high-tech” IRF MOS-FETs. The board has everything onboard and all that was needed was a bit of wiring and some token heatsinks 😀 The casework should be instantly recognisable to readers of this blog as well, nothing fancy about that at all – Modushop and Schaeffer all the way. The only “blemish” is the RCA sockets which are silver plated – in theory a brilliant thing for both sound and looks, in practice quite stupid because they tarnish badly the moment you turn your back!

This amplifier sounds surprisingly good. It deiivers a much bigger soundstage and much better detail than I was honestly expecting (although I had heard good things about the TA3020 beforehand). The original plan for the amp was to build it, test it and then sell it on if it didn’t work out, but it actually (to my surprise) turned into a definite “keeper”. It has also “survived” the subsequent arrival of both the ICEpower125ASX and the Pass F5 projects, although these both have qualities that the Tripath-based amp can’t match. However, for “good sound on a budget” this is doing a very good job indeed.

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