Lyngdorf TDAI-1120 Streaming Integrated Amplifier Review
Mike Perez samples this compact streaming system with an impressive pedigree…
TDAI-1120 Streaming Integrated Amplifier
The brainchild of Peter Lyngdorf, this interesting integrated has family ties to all manner of companies that the great Dane has been involved with at one time or another – be it DALI, Snell, TacT or NAD. His latest venture – Lyngdorf Audio – is behind this distinctive and innovative design, which is built for value-conscious audiophiles and costs a modest US$2,299.
With a good variety of features, including ‘RoomPerfect’ room calibration functionality and a versatile media player, the TDAI-1120 has come to school well prepared for its examinations. The question is, does all this smart design count where it really matters – is it all show and no go?
The company lists the power output of the TDAI-1120 as 2x60W RMS into 8 ohms and 2x120W into 4, showing that it has a stiff, well-designed power supply. As you’d expect from a Lyngdorf design, it runs in Class D and uses technology distantly descended from his iconic TacT Millennium high end integrated “digital amplifier” launched twenty two or so years ago.
Like Henry Ford’s famous cars, this compact unit comes in any color you like as long as it’s black – in this case, a cool matte finish. Its small form factor makes it very easy to place in any listening room. Vital statistics are 3.98x11.8x10.3 inches (HxWxD) or 101x300x260mm, and 7.3 pounds or 3.3kg. Its fascia is clean and minimalist, with half featuring a glass plate where different symbols illuminate behind it depending on the different inputs and sources selected.
To the right of the fascia are a source/mute button, large volume control (in which the volume level is indicated by a luminous ring around the knob) and a small standby button that puts the unit to sleep after a certain period of inactivity. The small Lyngdorf logo that illuminates upon powering up the unit, is fittingly classy.
The TDAI 1120’s remote control is sold separately (US$87), which is unexpected and rare for a device with so many options. Normally you’re expected to use the app to command it. Inside the packaging, along with the unit, is a calibration microphone for the RoomPerfect calibration, along with an 8m connection cable with XLR connectors, and a telescopic stand.
This network-equipped amplifier is Roon Ready, which in my opinion is the best way to do streaming because the user interface on the app isn’t as elegant or user friendly as other offerings. You also have the choice of Chromecast (which is built-in), Spotify Connect (which can continue playing even if your mobile is turned off), AirPlay 2 (for Apple fans), Internet Radio via vTuner, Bluetooth and local file playback via USB.
One of the most intriguing features is on the rear of the unit. Lyngdorf outfits the TDAI-1120 with an HDMI ARC connector which you can use to hook up your favorite 4K flat screen. However, it does not decode cinema formats so it’s of paramount importance that you set your TV’s audio to PCM to avoid any issues. It also allows you to control the volume of the unit with your flat screen remote control, a cool feature if you are replacing a soundbar or the dreadful audio that most new flatscreens provide out of the box.
For the vinyl community, this product has a phono input with a built-in moving magnet phono preamplifier to connect a turntable. As the sub-culture of vinyl enthusiasts continues to thrive, this is a feature that couldn’t be ignored and is now readily available on most affordable systems such as this.
The Lyngdorf TDAI-1120 is not as flashy as the Naim Uniti Atom, which is the device I would most closely compare this unit to. They share many features and connectivity options, however where Lyngdorf has the advantage would be with its RoomPerfect software, a feature, not many manufacturers have given much thought to, let alone, mastered.
With over twenty years of development by Peter Lyngdorf and his team of engineers, the goal was to create a calibration system that identifies the sound signature of the speakers at the same time measuring the acoustics of the room and applying the corrections to fit the room they are in. The user positions the microphone provided and then takes measurements of the speakers in the room they are in. The system then creates an equalization curve that the RoomPerfect technology identifies and corrects. RoomPerfect technology works to calibrate your speakers to deliver optimal frequency response, level alignment, and bass management to better integrate your speakers with your subwoofer in even the most difficult rooms.
Since TIDAL via Roon is one of my favourite means to listen to music, I decided to use it to test the capabilities of the TDAI-1120. I felt streaming would suit this device properly since its infrastructure feels like it was tailor-made for the modern-day streamer. For this review, I hooked up KLH Model Five speakers to the unit, with Audience AV AU24SX speaker cables with banana plugs and the bundled power cable. I auditioned the unit before and after room correction, to see if the audible difference was discernible or if it was just marketing fluff. RoomPerfect set-up was quite simple really, just follow the prompts in the app and away you go.
Cilver’s song I’m America is not only catchy but has heavy guitars. potent riffs, strong drums and high-pitched vocals which I feel could really take the Model Fives for a workout if powered properly. Modern rock isn’t to every audiophile’s taste but I enjoy it because the aggressive delivery is what I look for when I want to discover an amplifier’s capabilities and limitations. The Lyngdorf delivered this song with authority, creating a wide soundstage. I felt immersed in the music. I was worried that the amount of power was going to be an issue to drive a song like this, but even at higher volumes, it did not disappoint.
Indeed, its soundstaging was very decent. I decided to see how Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture (Royal Philharmonic Orchestra) would be carried by this unit. Cliché I suppose, however in this evaluation, I wanted to discover whether the separation of instruments in the recorded acoustic was being correctly recreated. I was very impressed, and also reassured by the TDAI-1120’s power delivery, at least through my relatively sensitive speakers. In my system, it provided plenty of juice to hear the orchestra perform just the way they had intended. Bass was reassuringly strong, too.
Indeed, Whatever it Takes by Imagine Dragons allowed me to explore the amplifier’s low-end performance. The song has many low drum beats which were delivered in a punchy way and were accompanied by beautiful vocals. The clarity was the biggest takeaway from this song. It proved clean and smooth and had a bit of warmth to it. Indeed the tonal balance was nice and seamless, and more cohesive than I expected from this sort of product with such a small form factor.
I then set up the RoomPerfect software and calibrated the speakers to my room, and was very impressed. I already thought that this unit had over-delivered for its price, but this took it a step further. The sound of my KLH Model Five speakers was enhanced considerably, with extra vibrancy and vigour. I'm a sceptic of room correction because of past experiences, but the years of development from Peter Lyngdorf’s team were clear to hear. Obviously, results will vary from room to room, but it certainly helped my system sound better.
It’s easy to be cynical about small boxes promising great things, but the Lyngdorf TDAI-1120 proved to be a very capable design. Even with state-of-the-art room correction, I wasn’t expecting this small form factor device to perform like grown-up hi-fi separates, but it did. Indeed it exceeded my original expectations.
It is sufficiently powerful for average speakers in compact spaces, thanks to its fine load driving ability. And it drove my relatively efficient KLH Model Fives loud without breaking into a sweat. It had impressive midband clarity, decent detail retrieval and a good deal of precision in the bass too. Good things, it seems, can still come in small packages.
Based in Denver, Colorado, Mike is a writer, photographer and audio enthusiast. Music was a creative conduit for Michael growing up an combining his interests even led to being tour photographer for Bone Thugs n Harmony. Later years saw him merge his passions together to create Audio Arkitekts, a resource for all who wander in the world of audio. Michael now joins StereoNET kicking off the North America team.
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