35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on December 28, 2013
I have used quite a few audio amplifiers in the past. A friend of mine has recently purchased this improved Lepai amp and I had the chance to play with it. Below is my review.
The amp is based on the Tripath TA2020 chipset. Tripath is not around anymore but this chipset somehow is still found in several amplifier products on the market. The sound quality from the Lepai is quite decent. It is rated at 20 Watts RMS. However, it comes with a 12 V wallwart power supply that is rated at a maximum current of 2 Amps. Given the power efficiency of the TA2020, one can easily figure out that the actual RMS power of this amps is only around 2 x 10 Watts RMS. According to the TA2020 data sheet, the amp will already have 10% distortion when driving an 8 Ohm speaket at 10 Watts due to the low supply voltage of 12 Volts.
However, when you are driving a 4-Ohm speaker up to around 10 Watts or an 8-Ohm speaker up to around 5 Watts, this amp has quite low distortion. While the TA2020 chipset is known for it's low distortion, one drawback of this chipset is that you will hear a constant hissing if you turn the volume up which is because of the limited amp's signal-to-noise ratio. The hissing is mostly quantization noise which is the direct result of how the TA2020 t-amp operates internally. This noise is most pronounced at higher frequencies. If you hook up the amp to an audio analyzer, you'll see a fairly high noise floor that rises with higher frequencies.
While I do like the sound quality, I am less impressed with the build quality of this amp, in particular the fragile speaker terminal. This connector seems quite fragile and may break easily. So be extra careful when making the connections. Also, the control knobs easily get loose and this amp simply doesn't seem like a high-grade type of product to me. But then again, what can you expect for $20? The enclosure itself is fairly bulky, certainly a lot bigger than some of the other mini amplifiers out there but it does have mounting flanges in case you plan to screw the amp to your wall or speaker cabinet. In fact most of the inside of the enclosure is empty.
To summarize, the Lepai 2020 is a decent amplifier, featuring good sound quality at a very low price tag. It does have its drawbacks, in particular its limited output power and the hissing noise. If you can spend a little more than $20 then there are certainly some better-quality amps out there. But if you are limited in your budget then this amp is definitely worth taking a closer look at.
124 of 148 people found the following review helpful
SOUND & LONGEVITY
The sound and longevity of the Lepai is only as good as what you connect to it. The LP-2020A+ is not a $24 miracle worker. It is very cheaply made but still an incredible buy for the price. The Lepai does thin and muddy the sound of whatever you connect to it so it is advantageous to start with quality speakers that have a good frequency response. In the Amazon reviews for the main listing of the Lepai if you type in Bose, B&W, Definitive, Infinity, JBL, Carvin and Boston there are well over 100 reviews that come up. People that connect this amp to good speakers have more positive reviews of the amp. Taking it a step further, people that connect the Lepai to large bookshelf or floor standing speakers, perhaps unsurprisingly, achieve the best sound and have the least complaints. Looking at those reviews the Lepai is a 4 1/2 star product. I know sites like CNET suggest grabbing some old speakers in the garage gathering dust or a cheap pair of surround speakers or a an inexpensive pair of small bookshelf speakers with the Lepai to create a very affordable desktop setup. However, the reality is if you connect inexpensive speakers to this amp you will get mediocre sound
Looking at those reviews, people that connect this amp to quality speakers, large bookshelf or floorstanding speakers, along with having better sound have less failures with the amp. Less efficiency speakers can be more taxing on the amp and when listening to large full sounding speakers compared to small surround speakers you likely will not turn the volume up as high in order to fill the room with sound. If looking to connect the Lepai to a pair of 4 ohm speakers know that a 4 ohm load has less resistance, therefore the amp has to provide more current than with an 8 ohm load. This means that the output transistors have to be more robust with 4 ohm speakers than 8 ohm speakers. It's the cheap parts and circuitry, like the transistors, of the LP-2020A+ that are often failing and not Tripath's TA2020 chip because Topping uses the same chip but with better circuitry and other parts and doesn't have nearly the failures you see happening with the Lepai. Basically, you want the Lepai to do the least amount of work as possible. There are obviously some big quality control issues with the Lepai but it can't be coincidence that people connecting quality speakers to the amp have less failures and complaints.
VOLUME AND NOISE
The LP-2020A+ is rated at 20W per channel into 4 ohm speakers. 20W per channel is unachievable though. Taking into account the THD+N with 8 ohm speakers you can only achieve about 5-6W per channel of clean sound. It may not sound like much but it is enough to fill a room with music. When turning the power on and off my speakers pop. This is not surprising of an amp that is this inexpensive. I'm using the amp with Boston Acoustics HS60 speakers in an open 10' x 10' area. The speakers are on opposite sides of the area. The Boston's are 150 watt speakers, are 8 ohms, have a 6 1/2" woofer and 1" tweeter, and have a sensitivity of 89dB. With the volume turned up to 1 1/2 the amp provides adequate listening. With the volume turned to 3 1/2 the area is full of sound. At 5, the Lepai is surprisingly loud however distortion is clearly creeping in at the midway point. Beyond the midway point, the distortion just gets worse and worse.
With the volume turned to 4 and no sound coming through noise is audible with my ear next to the speaker. At 5, noise is audible a foot away from the speaker. At 6, I can hear noise from a couple feet away. At 7, noise is clear coming through the speaker from several feet away. The LP-2020A+ produces significantly more noise than my Pioneer AV receiver. I feel no problem turning the LP-2020A+ up to 4 (11 o'clock) but don't recommend turning it past that considering the noise and distortion produced past that point.
This amp clearly doesn't sound as good as the Denon it is replacing or the Pioneer AV Receiver running my home theater system. I wasn't expecting it to, I just wanted a much, much smaller footprint! That doesn't mean the Lepai sounds bad. Not at all, it sounds good when using large bookshelf speakers! Doing a comparison with my Pioneer running a pair of Boston speakers which are the floor standing equivalent of the ones in my computer setup and playing the same music at the same time over both amps, the sound from the Lepai does sound thinner, not as crisp, doesn't have the separation, and doesn't have the bass. A small amount of that can be explained by the difference in bookshelf and floor standing speakers even though they have identical tweeters and woofers.
Connecting a pair of Polk OWM3 surround speakers to the Lepai the sound unsurprisingly becomes noticeably thinner and more muted than when listening to the much larger Boston HS60's. As mentioned earlier, the Lepai does thin and muddy whatever you connect to it. Overall, the sound from the Lepai is good. Taking into account the price and size, it's downright impressive! Considering most people will use the Lepai in place of multimedia speakers or a portable speaker setup for a smartphone, the sound from the LP-2020A+ with the Bostons blows away the sound from sub $200 multimedia speakers or portable speaker setups I've heard.
SUMMARY & OTHER OPTIONS
I've read countless reviews from the original posting of the Lepai, was one of the early ones to purchase and post in the 2013 model product listing, and have continued to read reviews for the 2013 model as they've come in. While the LP-2020A+ has been a 5 star product for me there remains to be quality control issues as evident in the negative reviews. For that reason I feel the amp only deserves 4 stars. Even if you stack the deck in your favor by connecting quality 8 ohm speakers to the LP-2020A+ and keep the volume at manageable levels, there is no guarantee that it won't fail. Even with the quality control issues, the LP-2020A+ I feel is a gamble worth taking as it has an unbeatable bang for your buck.
If you don't feel like gambling, the more expensive Topping TP30 and FiiO A1 Mini are worth considering. Perhaps if you have inefficient speakers or 4 ohm speakers the Topping or FiiO are the way to go anyway because each amp, being a much better build, will better be able to handle the demand from those speakers. People that have used both the TP30 and LP-2020A+ say the sound quality is the same unless you use the USB connection on the TP30. In that case the sound is tighter and has better bass. At $90 the TP30 is significantly more. The $80 FiiO with 14W per channel into 4 ohm speakers isn't as powerful as the Topping or Lepai. The FiiO A1 Mini has overwhelmingly positive reviews stating audiophile quality sound. The lower watt output of the A1 Mini isn't a huge deal since you get nowhere near the stated 20W per channel with the Lepai. After running the Lepai I'm glad I purchased it over the others. The Lepai is plenty good for a desktop system and best of all is very affordable.
According to CNET, the Audioengine N22 and Nuforce Dia, which both retail for $200, sound the best of the bunch when looking at affordable desktop amps. I recently purchased a used Nuforce Dia. The Dia is vastly superior to the LP-2020A+ in every regard. Whether it is worth 8x the price is debatable and depends on the individual. If you are looking to use an amp regularly, have a sub to plug in to a desktop amp, are seeking something with multiple inputs, and consider sound quality and build quality to be a major consideration, than yes, it is worth it. The Dia does offer audiophile sound quality, the Lepai does not. Just be aware that the Dia only accepts digital audio inputs.
I thought that the sound quality and power output from the LP-2020A+ paired with the Bukang power supply that shipped with it was good but thought if I could improve sound, power output, and reduce noise by getting a higher amp power supply, why not! I therefore purchased a 6a 12v power supply through Amazon. Having both power supplies plugged and then switching then back and forth on the amp a few dozen times I can confidently say that there is zero difference in sound quality between the 6a supply and the Bukang supply that shipped with the Lepai. I played music from a few different genres while switching the power supplies and not once was there an increase in sound quality or power output from the 6a supply. Pausing the music and then turning the volume up all the way the 6a power supply had no less noise than the Bukang supply.
I don't doubt that the LP-2020A+ has shipped with some bad power supplies. At one time the Lepai shipped with what sounded like a very suspect power supply from Vonage. A part of me wonders if there is now a placebo effect going on. I wanted to believe that buying a higher amp power supply would boost sound quality, power output, and reduce noise. Who wouldn't want those things! When I first played music with this 6a supply I thought, "Wow that sounds good!" Then when I switched to the Bukang supply I thought, "Mmm, that actually sounds the same!" Going back and forth a few dozen times confirmed it. Another option is that with the 2013 model the LP-2020A+ is finally shipping with an adequate power supply. Either way I bet many people have unnecessarily purchased a new power supply for their LP-2020A+.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on January 20, 2014
I actually expected it to be a cheap-o, with static and obvious flaws. I have this running two 8 ohm floor speakers, have had sound in from an iPod and a laptop, let it run for 24 hrs straight, pushed the volume up to max, no distortion, no hissing, no popping, just clean sound.
Very small and light, even after 24 hrs it was not hot, or even warm.
There is a switch to allow bass/treble control or to allow sound as is, no extra stuff to increase the odds of a problem.
Simple, small, powerful, it just amps up the sound.
I did get the 12v 6amp power supply extra, put the one that comes with it in a box of "extra" stuff. = recommended by others, and a very good idea.
UPDATE 6-1-2014 the unit still works, still no problems with it. It is exactly as the pictures and description say: just a simple amp; perfect for my application, most of the tone and adjustments are done on the computer that has the audio library
In use nearly every day, 6 to 8 hours.
47 of 61 people found the following review helpful
on July 9, 2013
I was looking for a decent, inexpensive amp to power some small speakers for music. I figured the Lepai would be a gamble; such a cheap amp can't possibly be a consistent 4 star product, right? Well, for me it wasn't. I ordered the amp and an upgraded power supply as many have suggested. The amp arrived, and I unpacked it and hooked it up. The sound quality was good, but certainly not memorable. Then I engaged the tone controls, and it all went downhill. There was a loud hum, with and without a source playing. I tried both power supplies, just to be sure. No improvement. Then I started really looking at the amp. The volume knob was shaky. The RCA plugs were not aligned correctly. The case was also misaligned. It makes me wonder how poorly the inside is assembled.
I am sure that if you get a good sample, this amp is just fine. For me, I am willing to spend more for something with better quality out of the box.
It was worth a try.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on August 17, 2013
Admittedly, I was skeptical of the glowing reviews of the previous version of this product. I ordered the old version on here, but received the 2013 model. It's awesome. I hope Lepai does not raise the price on these because now I need one for a workout room, garage, and one for my office. Presently, this is powering two of the Andrew Jones Pioneer Bookshelf speakers as monitors for a computer and I am blown away. This hits 85-90 decibels cleanly in a 12x12 room without distortion.
Drawbacks - bright blue light on volume, no remote, slight hum when the amp gets going for the first 30 sec or so. --- really, these are non-issues for me but some people may be annoyed.
For $20-25, you are foolish if you are buying a low-end AVR for music or computer audio instead of this amp. Spend your money on better speakers instead. (The AVR only makes sense if you need the inputs)
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 28, 2013
I love this little Amp. It sounds great and puts out plenty of sound and power on a good set of speakers. The power supply it comes with (12V/2A/24 Watts) is adequate for a small room. But feeble in an outdoor application.
This Amplifier is perfectly good for a Patio or Pool deck with a good set of Yamaha, Definitive or Kicker outdoor speakers. And of course it works well in an indoor computer/tablet/Smart Phone/MP3 player configuration. It does have a mini-stereo plug for the right connection.
If you want to blast sound into an open area (pool deck or patio) you will need an upgraded power supply. I used this 12V/6A/72 watts power supply. Remember, not every electrical device is 100% efficient. So a 24 watt power supply does not give you a full 20 watts per channel. It will provide less than 12 watts per channel. The upgraded power supply will get you to 20 Watts per channel.
Of course my favorite speakers the Definitive outdoor speakers (AW 6500 series). But you get what you pay for! And Definitive speakers are quite pricey, but well worth the money. They put out serious base with their large radiators. They are very impressive outdoor speakers. And they get plenty of compliments from my guest.
Definitive Technology Outdoor Speaker Single
Also please note that I returned the first Lepai 2020+ Amp I bought because the right channel kept cutting out. The earlier versions had some production problems. The 2013 version is much more stable and reliable and just sounds better.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on August 13, 2013
Wow! What an amazing little device. I needed to replace a car CD player in my boat I was using solely as an amplifier (via aux input). I was concerned 20w X 2 might not fill the bill but for $25 bucks I decided to give it a try. I am not disappointed as it puts out plenty of volume. I will say I took the advice of others and upgraded the power supply with a 6A version 12v 6a Adapter Power Supply for LCD Monitor with Power Cord. Bottom line... even with the extra $9 to upgrade the P.S. for $35 this baby rocks.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 30, 2013
This little amp is definitely worth the money you pay for it. Easy to hook up. I had it pushing speakers with 17" woofers testing it out. It did the job wonderfully, filled the room with a lot of sound. It should perform well with the smaller speakers ordered to use it with outside. Very small and light weight. Great mounting brackets built right onto the case. Mounted it to a rig to be portable to use inside and outside for different functions, mainly streaming music from my tablet or smartphone; but added cables to the input connections to use with the tv in the spare bedroom. The RCA and 1/8" (3.5mm) input connections are a plus. It does have speaker pop when turned on or off, but I can live with that quirk. The controls actuate well and fine tune the tone and volume. The blue light definitely lets you know it is turned on.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 6, 2013
Initially I was quite pleased. Amplifier shipped with a 3 ampere switching power supply and sounded quite nice for 30 bucks. It was powering some Minimus 25 8 ohm speakers: really a modest load. It unexpectedly died and I returned to Amazon. This was the first time I have had to return anything to Amazon. I guess I just got a bad one, but, I think I will spend a bit more and get a higher end unit.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 3, 2013
I got this mainly just to play with it and didn't expect much. I was surprised with what I got. Its small, but its more than powerful enough to power most home speakers. If you want an amp for a garage or some other place that you want music from an ipod or other music player, this would work great. Not top-level, audiophile stuff by any means, but great for what it is.