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Just heard my first chip amp - a well implemented TPA3116 based amp. Blown away. Surprisingly close to my $4500 am than a $150 amp has any right to be.
Anyone know how this compares to a well implemented TPA3116 amp, assuming you've compared the two types of chips?
I don't need a lot of power as I have 97db efficient speakers in a small room.
The TPA3116 chip was used in the SMSL SA-60 2x60W amp. The TD7498e chip in this SA-160 is capable of significantly higher output ('course!), but in both cases the stated max RMS power is at 10% THD using the highest recommended power supply voltage. The SA-160 comes with a 36V PS - its max. The SA-60, on the other hand, like the majority of the rest of the SMSL line, stated its RMS value at 24V but was supplied with a 19V PS. Honestly, just don't think one can go wrong on this deal!
Regarding TPA3116 amp. Its only around a 60 watt max amp but has over .1% to .3% thd in the 2khz to 10khz band at all power levels. Although only .02% THD at 1khz and 20hz per spec sheet. Best performance between .1 watt and 30 watts.
The 7498e seems more linear in frequency THD distortion. NOTE: Its THD doesn't go below .1% til it reaches 200mw(-6db power efficiency at 1M/watt) and gets below .05% THD at 1watt. It then stays extremely clean at all frequencies till 50 to 60 watts around .05% THD. Most ideal from .5 watt to 30-40 watts RMS with more headroom than the TPA3116.
All of this based on Chip Spec Sheet comparison data at 4 ohms not factoring in actual end product design.
My previous experience with this chip(lepai 7498e) seemed more transparent than my other 2020 based designs especially in the mids from 2k to 10k.
Overall the TDA7498e has a cleaner Full spectrum THD than the TPA3116 ( tpa3116 is above .1% THD to .3% THD at all levels between 2khz and 10khz) in comparative levels above 200mw.
Here is the problem, Sometimes we find THD to be musical to our ears. Harmonic Even vs Odd Thd is a factor. Delay is reverb and causes sound stage differences. Frequency Phase Linearity is another issue. DACs chips are now addressing this (FPL) with Integrated Output filtering. Class-D designs are getting attention so they may be doing a few things right besides THD distortion and Damping control.
With so many variables, so much gear and so few bench testers to isolate all factors we stick to the status quo of engineering specs.
We all have personal taste in EQ,reverb, phase linearity,ear geometry, room treatment issues etc.
A great article is https://www.soundonsound.com/sos/feb10/articles/analoguewarmth.htm
So to say the 7498e will be better than a TPA3116. Given the Frequency THD figures and headroom quite likely unless you listen below 200mw all the time. As long as SMSL did a good job with the SA-160.
Every THD specification you gave in your post is below the level of human perception. THD only becomes obviously noticeable when it's approaching 1%.
Generally speaking the 1% THD not being perceivable has been overly stated and is not really usable anymore. Almost every Audio product made these days has 1% THD output or better. (except for speakers and headphones)
Below .1% seems to be the "transparent" trend these days or the SNR of -100db threshold hearing point.
See http://www.axiomaudio.com/distortion and http://www.silcom.com/~aludwig/EARS.htm which makes it more confusing but explains it more technically.
We need to look at 3 general types of amps now. Solid state, Tube and Class-D (class-t amp). Apples oranges and plumbs.
They all have sonic characteristics which we prefer individually. Tubes tend to have the most musical THD and get away with a lot more "enhancements" aka THD according to a few studies.
I stated the SA-160 vs another Class-D THD% and found by design the TDA7498e to be lower THD across the entire listening spectrum compared to the TPA 3116. Same applies to other 2020 , TA2022 TDA 7492 chip implementations. So the TDA7498e appears to have the potential to be the highest fidelity Class-D above 200mwatts while also having a very usable power output (50w RMS) while retaining Class-D sound signature. Final design implementation being equally important.
All this being said, there isn't really a "True Spec" to quantify what makes an amp best quality. Frequency response and THD , Damping factor is easy to measure and is at least a starting point. IMD is very important(some specs have it) , Linear Phase Frequency response, (LPF chief advantage of bi-amp active designs eliminating crossover phase distortions) and Transient ability are just as important. Almost no one gives these except in a few High end Amp spec sheet.
Shared knowledge is pushing the envelope and maybe sometime soon we will have a new standard for sound quality measurements.
Electrical is measurable. Our Ears are great but what's between them is the problem.