To hook up some old KLH speakers to my computer, I needed a small amp. First up was the ultra-cheap Pyle PFA100, an allegedly 30-watt amp that's just $25. Though it had controls for treble, bass and tone, and jacks for headphones and a mic, it was so bad that none of it mattered. The Pyle was was noisy, distorted at louder volumes, and picked up radio interference. Even accepting the possibility that I got a lemon, it's clearly junk when you see it in the flesh. Replacing the power brick (as some suggest) did not make a difference.
I next considered trying the Lepai 2020, a similarly-tiny product at an even-tinier price. Though it's got a reputation as surprisingly good for the $20 you'll pay for it, I was dissuaded by the fact that it really does seem identical to the Pyle: the same controls and jacks, all in the same places, as if the only difference was the casing. While it only claims 20W output, suggesting at least some different innards, I decided not to be a sucker twice and opted for the Topping TP10.
Though three times the price, at $65, it's a simpler gadget with no mic or headphone jacks, and no bass or treble to fiddle with: signal in, signal out. It also claims only 15W of output, half that of the Pyle. It's nicer on the eyes, though, with a brushed-metal faceplate and superior knobfeel. Most importantly, it sounded much better than the Pyle, with no audible interference and clean audio at higher volumes. 15W seemed enough to drive the KLH Model 19s on my desk.
I don't doubt the happiness of those who report success with modern "fleamarket" amps, but with good alternatives only a little more expensive, why bother risking it? Both models were tested using the same cables and equipment.
SOG’s $60 Sync II “wearable belt buckle” multitool isn’t the only multitool/buckle on the market, but it does add a couple very sensible innovations, like a clip-on/clip-off base that lets you use your tool without taking off your belt, and a squared-off form factor (like a pair of folding travel sewing scissors) that adapts the […]
This week on Cool Tools’ Maker Update: Kitty Grabs Gold, a beer cooler that follows you, the Circuit Playground Express, Adafruit and Microsoft, Other Machine Co. and Bre Pettis, Tinkercad Lego export, a great kit for gadget and toy hacking, and Maker Faires. Our featured Cool Tool is the iFixit Electronics Tool Kit. Check out […]
The mechanical Royal Kludge keyboard (Update: in stock here) seems to do well with Amazon reviewers, but there are no guarantees you’ll receive one with the coveted OFF/NO switch.
While some people still maintain that everything in Apple’s walled garden “just works” and is immune to the rampant malware of the Windows world, the reality is different. The Mac’s growing market share has made it a much more viable target for malicious actors, and its built-in tools aren’t always enough to fix things. Drive […]
Boasting an IPX6 waterproof rating, the Trakk Bullet Ultra Compact Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker resists dust and heavy rainfall. It’s currently available in the Boing Boing Store.The Trakk Bullet offers the same wireless convenience as other portable speakers, but few are built as tough as this one. Its utilitarian construction is designed to be a totally low-maintenance […]
The Ticwatch 2 Active Smartwatch is a simpler take on an active wearable that raised over $2m dollars on Kickstarter and is currently offered in the Boing Boing Store.Somewhere in between the single-day battery life and platform-specificity of the Apple Watch and Android Wear devices, there exists the Ticwatch. Instead of trying to shoehorn another […]