Review: Dayton Audio DTA-100a Amplifier

Category: Amplifiers

This little integrated amp, for its purpose, is a hell of a buy.

It's not a great all around amp - just good when trying to play rock at volume - gets muddy in the middle.

BUT - with jazz, acoustic, easy listening, classical? This thing is a gem. Can't believe the clean, crisp, yet warm sound coming out of these speakers, powered with my music library from my blackberry.

Jamming some Pat Metheny or Wes Montgomery or some Vivaldi, sounds AMAZING. Sting, sounds great. Imaging is great, no noticeable distortion at all. Get into some Rush, Zeppelin, some poorly recorded reggae - still sounds good, but loses its musicality. Nwo you're just listening to music on a decent stereo.

For $100, hooked up to some efficient monitors, just plug in your ipod, blackberry or what not and leave the volume knob at half mast (using source for volume) and you will be shocked at the quality. Sounds as good as same speakers powered by my hopped up Odyssey Amp (with an outlaw pre-pro). I actually pulled the Acoustic Energy monitors from the system because the extra M&K bookshelves I had available were 4 ohm.

What else. NO SUB OUT, so you need speaks that will give you some bass.

It also has a built in (non-tripath) headphone amp with 1/4" jack.

Has rca inputs in the back, with a small headphone jack size input in the FRONT which automatically takes precedence over the RCA's in the event two sources are hooked up.

CAn't say enough about how I am enjoying this little amp. Just the amp and two speakers now makes up my entire dedicated system. For $100, everyone should have one.

Comes with banana plugs (doesn't take bare wire) plus RCA adapters and a small, coiled headphone cord to attach your ipod/mp3 player.

I've had this for a few weeks and it sounds better than it did on day one.

I don't like any distortion and I appreciate nice imaging. Can't stand it when you can tell where the speakers are.

Money no object, would I own this? Probably not, but maybe, just because it's so damn small (maybe 3" wide, 6" deep and 2" tall?) and cool, I'd still own one for my office system.

What a nice surprise. Really sounds amazing. I don't like crappy sounding music at all. This little amp blew my socks off - I had read the BS about tripath amps sounding as good as this or that...when I saw one with some actual power, I went for it.

Try one - you'll like it.

- Dan

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The refurbished ones are on sale for $50 now. I bought one for a project with my grandson and plugged in into my main system for kicks. I would feel better if it weighed fifty pounds and had some glass on top, but it is a very capable amplifier. It is not your typical T-amp though. THe rating is 8-ohms, and you void the warranty by trying to drive 4-ohm speakers. So I suspect it is very load sensitive. But for a tiny amp for your tiny speakers, it does an amazing job.
If you use a line level splitter adapter at the source (or splitter cable) you can add a sub without fear of damaging the DTA-100A. I occasionally stick them right to the line out rcas on the back of my CDP to add a (powered) sub. DO NOT use speaker level hook up, t-amps don't use common ground, kind of like each channel is bridged.
Also be careful if you choose to use two amps to biamp a speaker, be sure the speaker is set up for biamp, not just biwire and the crossover keeps the ground separate.
I wanted to subtitle this: Mystery Revealed, but there wasn't room in the title box. Have had the little thing for two years now and have quite a bit of experience with it. I believe it is not a t-amp at all but a 3875 gainclone stuffed in that box, which explains a) the sound, b) the alleged 50 wpc, and c) the sensitivity to speakers. It won't do 50wpc because the supplied power supply is not sufficient, but it is probably a good 25-30 watts. That's right, that's the chip I believe in the Lab 47 gaincard and also in the Patek SE amp. I could be wrong, but I believe this is the same chip in all three cases, so it should be no surprise that these cobbled together DTA's should occasionally sound pretty good. Kept within its limits it is a remarkable performer sonically. The music is extraordinarily clean and free of its own signature. I have used the DTA on Single-driver speakers, PSB's, and even Maggies. Currently I use it in my bedroom on a pair of DCM Time Window III's. (I bought them new years ago, but my daughter "borrowed" them for a few years.) Bass is amazing. Imaging is as good as anything I have heard. My single-ended tube amps are disconnected and sit gathering dust on the shelf. I am now exploring options for a 3875-based amp for my main system. My Sim Moon is not happy to hear this.