A few years ago this forum was ablaze with Mini-T amp hyperbole. Probably just another passing fad I assumed yet it is clear that there are many who love these diminutive boxes. So as a brief background I recently had a pair of Combak Bravo standmount speakers and was searching for an amplifier to pair with them. A £6k speaker surely deserves an amplifier with a similar price tag? Well in my initial search I decided, just for fun to try a £60 Muse Mini-T with the Combak’s. The results were surprisingly impressive yet my head kept saying ‘This makes no sense’. I’m not saying that this was the ultimate combo but the Muse was doing an amazing job considering especially with its reproduction of vocals. It was around that time that I started reading about the new Amptastic Mini-1 so I contacted the company to see if I could have one for review. Chris at Amptastic was happy to oblige but due to the initial demand by the time my review sample arrived I had moved the Bravos on. Anyway other speakers are available as they say.
So the Mini-1 is rated up to 20W per channel and based on the familiar TA2020 chipset. On the front we have a push button on/off switch which has a tiny blue LED alongside to indicate power plus a volume knob. I particularly like how clean and attractive the front panel with no unsightly logo on display. The rear consists of a single pair if RCA analogue inputs and some nice quality speaker connectors along with a power input for use with the supplied 12V power supply.
For most of my listening I used the variable outputs of a QUAD 99CDP. This gave me full control of the volume via its remote and also access to streaming via the Quad’s digital inputs.
To give me some sort of reference I initially listened to the Muse amp with the Quad through my 87db Gershman Avant Gardes. To be honest I didn’t think either amp would be able to drive the Gershmans to any sort of decent level. I was wrong.
The Muse did a fair job but KD Lang’s ‘If I Were You’ from the ‘All You Can Eat’ album sounded a bit messy. The bass was ill defined and lightweight. A few tracks more showed more of the same. So switching to the Mini-1 and straight away the bass was far better defined and more in balance with the rest of the track. The music had an altogether more cohesive feel. In fact what struck me throughout all my listening is just how balanced it was. The highs and mids are refined enough to give the impression that you are listening to something with a higher price ticket and the bass was surprisingly good for an amplifier of this type. I also tried the Mini-1 with my 90db sensitivity Heco Celan 300 stand mount speakers. Again the results were impressive with the Mini-1 providing more than enough power to run at decent volume levels.
As well as running the Mini-1 as a simple integrated it can be configured for use as a power amplifier. This is done by removing the front volume knob and rear bolts in order to slide the main board out of its case and change a couple of jumper settings. While you have the board out you can also disable the front panel blue LED if you wish. Clear instructions are included in the user ‘manual’ or should I say ‘sheet’ and although I did not attempt this it looks a simple enough operation.
The Mini-1 (or any amplifier of this type) will not be for everyone, the single input alone will count many out also possibly the lack of remote control but looking at the Mini-1 purely on its sonic virtues and price tag this might be one of the best ways to invest your £99 out there.
Manufacturers website – www.amptastic.com
Discuss the review here