I now have a Lyngdorf TDAi2170 on demonstration, specified with USB and Analogue to Digital Converter (ADC) modules. I am very happy to demonstrate it to potential customers in East Anglia, in their homes.
Lyngdorf is not new to me, since I previously owned a TDA2200 true digital amplifier, which is one of those components that I rather regret selling. Going back some years, Lyngdorf innovated with digital amplifier designs which were initially sold as TacT products, being among the first to offer user-friendly room correction systems to domestic audio. The TacT (and later Lyngdorf) Millennium amplifiers taught the world that digital switching amplifiers need not sound at all ‘digital’ but could in fact offer breathtaking power and control with all the delicacy of a good valve amp, but without the heat and power consumption. Lyngdorf and TacT parted company at least a decade ago, and Lyngdorf have since been steadily improving on those ground-breaking amplifier designs, and the proprietary Room Perfect room correction system, which come together nicely in this TDAi2170 integrated digital amplifier.
It’s worth clearing up what this amplifier is, and what it’s not. It is a true digital design, from front end to the point where an analogue signal is recreated at the speaker outputs. There is no ‘DAC’ as such – all digital inputs (also from the optional 24 bit 96kHz ADC module) are converted from PCM to PWM (pulse width modulation) at around 400kHz, and remain so right through the switching amplifier output stage, where a final passive filter of inductors and capacitors reconstructs the analogue signal from PWM. This is not the same as, for example, Hypex etc where analogue signals are fed into the switching amp. I am not qualified to go beyond these generalisations, but there is more information to read at [url]http://lyngdorf.com/tdai-2170/[/url] .
The TDAi2170 is beautifully built, in Denmark. No, it’s not Chinese, yet still costs a reasonable £2800 for the base version which includes the Room Perfect room optimisation system. Adding one input option, eg USB or the ADC, brings the price up to £3195, and adding both tots up to £3595. There’s an HDMI option too. Everything that’s needed to operate it comes in the box, including remote, power cable, calibrated microphone for the room measurements, and a very fully featured tripod for holding the microphone.
What’s Room Perfect? Well, best to have a read at [url]http://lyngdorf.com/tdai-2170/[/url] but in short it corrects the amplifier’s output to take into account much of the room’s acoustic characteristics. It does this by first taking automated measurements at the primary listening position (called ‘Focus’) and then it asks for a series of random measurements around the room, at various positions and heights to calculate a more general ‘Global’ correction setting. The TDAi2170 guides the user through this via simple instructions on the front display. As more measurements are completed, the display indicates a ‘Room Knowledge’ in percent terms, so you know when you’d gone far enough. There is a useful video on YouTube showing all of this
Enough of the technical stuff – how does it sound? Running without Room Perfect engaged, and streaming digits from my music PC running JRiver MC17 over USB, it’s quite a shock. Anyone expecting a hard, digital sound is going to be very pleasantly surprised by the lovely organic, sweet way that this thing delivers music. It holds my KEF LS50s in a very firm grip, delivering bass depth that I’d not really thought possible from such small speakers. Cranking up the volume delivers more volume, not stress nor compression. Musically, it’s agile and involving, so any slight concerns that I had harboured about ‘timing’ are unfounded.
Sitting in my usual seat and engaging Room Perfect’s ‘Focus’ setting was a shock. Straight away there is greater bass depth and definition, but the soundstage is also more clearly presented. The sound feels more ‘real’ and that’s rather nice. ‘Focus’ is fantastic for selfish listening in the hot seat, but ‘Global’ really does bring nearly all of the benefits for anyone sitting elsewhere, or where you are moving around the room doing stuff. I have been converted from someone who was somewhat sceptical about DSP in any form, to someone who sees, hears and feels the benefits of Room Perfect for everyday listening in real homes where priorities other than HiFi may have to prevail. That’s not to say that DSP is not awful in some cases, since that’s patently the case elsewhere, but Lyngdorf seem to have done a really good job here in delivering a system that largely takes the room out of the local acoustic, without chucking out what makes music special and enjoyable.
Of course, Room Perfect cannot compensate fully for a truly awful room, so hard tiled rooms that resonate like a Turkish Bath will still sound bad. Basic attention to room acoustics, eg sensible deployment of diffusive surfaces, use of soft furnishings etc, will give Room Perfect a better environment to work with, and better results will result.
I could bleat on for ages, but the Lyngdorf TDAi2170 is a superb amplifier by any standard, at a cost that’s not silly. That it incorporates a very useful tool like Room Perfect is a bonus. For anyone wanting to use subs in the system, the TDAi2170 will also control them. Lyngdorf’s own powered boundary sub-woofers are ideal, being very discreet placed against walls and retailing for a reasonable £1095 each.
The TDAi2170 won Absolute Sound magazine’s Editor’s Choice award in 2017, and I can fully understand why. It’s an astonishing thing.