|Sonic Impact Model 5062 Super T
|The King of Budget Amps Gets User
The original Sonic Impact T Amp caused
quite a stir in the audiophile world. The
little $39 battery-powered digital integrated
amp, designed for the portable iPod and MP3
computer generation, proved capable of a very
euphonious musical presentation. It sounded so
good in fact that it inspired a near-cult
following of Do-It-Yourself enthusiasts eager
to extract its maximum performance.
Most of the DIY enthusiasm focused on building
a power supply for the T Amp and replacing its
mini-plug stereo input and tiny spring-loaded
speaker connections with more robust and
conventional audio connectors. After my review
of the original T Amp (see The Sonic Impact
5066 Class – T ™ Integrated Amp) I received
many e-mails from enthusiasts elucidating
their designs and their degree of success in
making the T Amp compatible with traditional
My own DIY enthusiasm is damped by limited
tinkering skills and interest, so I did not
pursue any of the design recommendations I
received. My review was based on a Parts
Express outboard power supply, a $5 Radio
Shack mini-stereo plug adaptor, and makeshift
speaker cable adaptors.
Impact has now released a deluxe version of
the T Amp for those not inclined to modify the
original. The Super T Amp features an aluminum
case, one pair of gold-plated RCA input jacks
and 5-way speaker binding posts along with an
outboard power supply. Priced at $139.95, the
Super T Amp is not as insanely cheap as the
essentially free original amp, but is still
dirt cheap by conventional hi-fi standards. It
is a very much-improved product compared to
the results I got with the original amp.
My review of the original could not reach a
final conclusion because I did not have a
high-sensitivity full-range speaker available
for testing. Since then I was able to hear the
93 dB sensitive Athena Technologies Audition
F2 speakers with the T Amp and gained insight
into and additional respect for its abilities.
The basic difficulty with the original T Amp
(as with all low-power amplifiers) is finding
compatible speakers that one would actually
want to listen to for reasons other than their
high sensitivity. The original amp seemed to
come alive with speakers of at least 93 dB
sensitivity, rare birds in the contemporary
Although the Super T Amp does not claim any
additional power output (it uses the same
Tri-Path TA 2024 digital amplifier chip) over
the original, its ability to drive
mid-sensitivity designs is much improved.
Speakers with sensitivities in the 87 to 90 dB
range, which had the bass response of the
original amp sounding down in level and drive,
are now driven with ease. The Super T Amp is
also freed from the original’s long burn-in
time. My sample sounded great right out of the
box and did not change its sound over time.
There is no need to keep the Super T
constantly powered up.
The Super T Amp’s chassis measures 3.25 inches
wide by 7.5 inches deep by 7.25 inches high.
Its unusually tall and narrow chassis allows
it to slip into narrow spaces, i.e., next to a
computer. Using it in a small room application
– office, den, dorm room – will be a snap. A
power button turns the amp on, illuminating a
bright blue light. A large volume control is
much easier to use than the original’s
thumbnail operated one. Visually the Super T
Amp recalls those old Walt Disney cartoons of
doorknob/keyholes animated into a human face,
a very endearing quality. The single input
will require an outboard line-level switchbox
if more than one input is needed.
Although lacking in ultimate and the finest
resolution, the Super T Amp is an
exceptionally euphonious device, completely
lacking in any harshness, edge, or grating
qualities. Coupled with its excellent musical
timing and rhythm, it offers very engaging and
seductive listening. Bass goes deep with good
drive, though lacking iron-fisted control. I
suspect most experienced listeners will equate
its sound with vacuum tube technology. It
certainly lacks the kind of harshness and
nastiness often associated with inexpensive
solid-state gear and with cheap digital
Convening The Society for Putting Things On
Top Of Other Things, I placed the Super T on a
hardwood board and then placed the board on a
set of Stillpoints. As usual, there was an
across the board improvement in detail and
resolution, along with tighter bass control.
Beginnings and ends of notes – the essential
foundations of sound and music – were more
clear, but still short of audiophile and
ultra-performance standards. The sound
remained sweet and tuneful.
Given its higher power output into 4-Ohm
loads, it’s no surprise that it worked well
with 2 older Infinity EMIT tweeter-equipped
models with 87 and 89 dB sensitivities. I also
used the 90 dB Rega R1 and R7 speakers with
excellent results. Although ultimate volume
levels will be limited by the amp’s 6 watts
into 8 ohms and 11 into 4 ohms power output,
the sense of impending catastrophe I felt with
the original amp was gone. The power supply’s
contribution to bass drive helps enormously
here. Still, one should keep an eye on sound
pressure levels and use the amp in smaller
rooms, unless, of course, one is using super
high-sensitivity speakers in the 95 dB or
I used the Super T Amp mostly with CD and
found it very flattering to the format’s
limitations. It could not resolve all the
information a no-compromise CD player like the
Cyrus 8x could produce, but then it is
unlikely that the Super T Amp will be mated to
a $2,000 CD player anyway. Since the amp is
being marketed to users of the even
lower-resolution iPod and MP3 portable
formats, its forgiving nature will be a boon.
The amp’s limits in ultimate resolution were
revealed by playing analogue LP: differences
between quality of turntables and phono stages
were glossed over, and the fine low-level
detail and naturalness that makes LP still the
champion of faithful musical reproduction was
blurred. Though again, it is unlikely that the
Super T Amp will be used with the
$3,000-$6,000 analogue set-ups I used.
The Super T Amp is a very musically engaging
and infectious sounding little amp. The
information it passes is musically involving,
affecting, and above all, very easy on the
ear. I find it a wholesale improvement over
the original. It allows a wider choice of
speakers and easier integration into
conventional audio systems. Coupled with
excellent inexpensive speakers like those from
Celestion, Epos and Rega, the Super T Amp can
provide affecting and sonically pleasing
musical results for secondary systems in
offices, dens, and as computer adjuncts. It
just might even seduce the notoriously
resistant to high fidelity iPod and MP3
computer generation into understanding that
there’s more to music than simple convenience
and the ability to download it off the
Internet. And folks, it costs $139.
Digital integrated amp.
Class-T ™ architecture incorporating Tri-mark
TA 2024 digital amplifier chip and Digital
Power Processing ™ technology.
Outboard power supply.
One stereo RCA line input. Five-way speaker
binding post speaker connection.
Power output: 10 watts/per channel – 8 Ohms,
15 watts per channel – 4 ohms @ 10% THD. 6 and
11 watts/channel (respectively) at 0.1% THD.
Dynamic Range: 98 dB.
88% efficiency @ 8 Ohms, 81% at 4 Ohms.
Size: 3.25” W x 7.5” D x 7.25” H.
Sonic Impact Technologies LLC
San Diego CA 92101