Product name: Eryk S Concept DIGI Amp
Manufacturer: Eryk S Concept
Cost: €800-900. (Currency conversion) - (YMMV)
UK Distributor: GPoint-Audio
Reviewer: Mike Cox - TNT UK
Reviewed: July, 2016
Regular readers may remember my review of the Superioro speakers from the same manufacturer some time back. This is a lovely little speaker using a single 4 inch driver that I loved so much bought them. Now we have a class D amplifier from the same manufacturer, though some what different to the usual mass market offerings. Eryk has chosen to go his own way and designed his own class D amplifier from the ground up with the design optimised to give improved resolution.
In common with many class D amplifiers the resulting package is small, with a single input via 3.5mm jack socket. To make the package more useable with modern cables the amplifier is supplied fitted in a lovely looking merbau wood case, held in place by magnetic feet. This wooden case really helps when using with heavier cables though it can still be unbalanced if you chose cables of significant girth! The DIGI Amp is supplied in a lovely looking wooden presentation case along with a "good enough" phono to 3.5mm jack input cable. Also supplied is a switched mode power supply similar to those you get with most laptops computers these days. The difference with this supply is the output voltage is selectable though I left it set to the maximum of 21v as recommended.
With a 24V supply the amplifier is capable of a maximum of 40W per channel into 8 Ohms, with the recommended 21v it will deliver 60W into 4 Ohms and it runs very cool. Along with the switched mode power supply there is very little heated generated and so ideally suited to these environmentally conscious times. To start with, I setup the DIGI Amp with my regular front end and the Demand Better Audio Envy 3 Custom speakers, a 3 way design using Carbon Fibre spheres. The speaker cables were a pair solid silver types from Albedo, their Blue range and entry level pricing. As there was only one input I used my MFA Classic pre-amp with the volume turned up fully to provide the input selection and the supplied 3.5mm Jack to phono cable for connection from the MFA. Once setup I left the amplifier running for several days before serious listening began.
As you can see from the picture above, the amplifier accepts 4mm speaker connections only. I prefer the 4mm connections but understand others like spade connections, this is a common limitation with many of the tiny class D amplifiers. It would be nice to see a class D amplifier in a standard sized package, with multiple inputs and a proper set of speaker connectors.
Once warmed up the first impression is the amazing resolution and expansive sound stage. With the Envy 3 speakers the DIGI Amp delivered a really entertaining musical experience and levels of detail I have not experienced with any other amplifier. As well as the detail the rhythm and timing were very engaging with Gregory Porter on his Liquid Spirit album really getting the feet tapping. A really good test of a systems sound stage is the Allegri Miserere performed by the Tallis Scholars and the DIGI Amp with Envy 3 speakers delivered the goods. The Tallis Scholars seem to be recorded with the singers layered back from the microphones and with some system the vocals can sound soft and vague. With the DIGI Amp and Envy 3 the singers are much more precisely located in the vast sound stage, very impressive.
From the first days of the class D amplifiers they have received positive reviews and a great following with many modifications documented out on the internet. These early amplifiers like the Trend TA10.1 lacked power so need careful matching with efficient speakers. The DIGI Amp is much more powerful and never showed signs of strain driving the Envy3 with the complex 3 way cross-over. With such a tiny amplifier and separate power supply, you might think that the bass end of the audio spectrum would be lacking? The bass is deep enough for the Envy 3 speakers, I never felt the speakers lacked in the bass when changing from a much more powerful amplifier. There is some superb acoustic bass on the Gregory Porter album and the combination delivers clean and dynamic sound.
In my experience some systems sound better than the individual components do in other systems, there is something magical going on that is hard to explain. With the DIGI Amp I wanted to see if this system magic happened when used with the Superioro speakers from the same source. From the first sounds it was clear that the Superioro liked being driven by the DIGI Amp, the sound bounced along with a real foot tapping beat. The lack of a crossover really lets the DIG Amp sing and all the detail shine. I have never found the restricted bandwidth of the single, 4 inch driver, in the Superioro an issue, you know there is bass, the tune is clean and easy to follow. Obviously you are not going to get gut thumping bass from the likes of Bob Marley but the experience is still very enjoyable.
Where the combination of DIGI Amp and Superioro really shine is with my favourite female vocals from the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and Diana Krall. The high level of detail delivered by the DIGI Amp presents itself as wonderful vocal articulation, you can almost sense the presence of the singer in your room. The performance was so real, if the note was not pitch perfect it was obvious. This did not make it a lesser performance just more life like. Some systems present vocals so they always sound like a recording, masking the vocal inflections and breathing.
I will admit, I really like this amplifier, especially with the Superioro speakers. It sits quietly on the rack, taking up little space, doing its job without fuss and producing negligible heat, what an amplifier should do. The performance is always entertaining with great rhythm and fabulous sound stage. If you are from the digital only generation the single input will not bother you, any input selection is done in the digital domain so this tiny amplifier will be a perfect match.
Tonally the result is dry compared with other amplifiers such as my single ended triodes or the Leak Stereo 50. Some would argue the DIGI amp is more accurate with the valve amps adding their own rosie glow. This amplifier demonstrates what is so interesting about our audio passion, a smaller manufacturer in Poland develops something different and the result is really good.
© Copyright 2016 Mike Cox - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.tnt-audio.com