A T-Amp Will Make Your Music Sound As Good As It Used To

A T-amp, like the Dayton Audio DTA-100a, could be just the thing to give you big sound, if you have a pair of great speakers (or can get them from eBay or Craigslist). Consumer audio products may have reached their peak in the late 1970s, before the Sony Walkman started the movement toward small, portable music products like the 21st century iPod. A good turntable or an FM tube tuner plugged into a preamp and amplifier hooked up in turn to a big pair of AR or JBL speakers took up a lot of living space in 20th century dorm rooms (along with boxes of vinyl and later, CDs). The sound, though, was glorious: the strings, the cymbal strikes and the vocals on the high end and the bass line and drums on the low end. I suppose those speakers now are mostly gathering dust, taking up space in attics and storage lockers.

Now we listen to TV speakers, iPod docks and wireless streaming speakers from Logitech and Sonos, with Dolby Digital 7.1 and a subwoofer in the living room, if we’re lucky. However, I still missed listening to the speakers in the attic. What we need is power, and a way to connect them to the iPod or mp3 player. First, you might need something like this:

headphone plug to RCA adapter

Then, you need power, 30 watts or so per channel. The old receivers had the power and quality, but they were heavy and the size of suitcases. Today, you can pick up a T-amp for about $100 and fit it pretty much anywhere.


All you need to do is connect the speaker wires to the T-amp and turn it on, then you can adjust the volume anywhere from quiet to loud to very loud to too loud, all the way to painfully loud, depending on the efficiency of your speakers. There is a very bright blue LED that I put a piece of black duct tape over; you can still see it. We have it hooked up to the audio out on the TV in the bedroom, which gets its music mostly from the little Apple TV. The Apple TV needs a screen (the TV) and only has HDMI-out, so the TV makes the conversion. The speakers also add the home theater effect to whatever we watch on TV: more bass and better stereo separation.

Plug your iPod dock of choice into the T-amp and you’ll get a roomful of sounds, some of which you may never have heard before.

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