This week, Orb Audio has recently announced the availability of its Mini-T amplifier. That’s right, folks. It appears that, for a little while anyway, the T-Amp is back. The price? $88.
If memory serves, it was around 2004 when Sonic Impact released the first T-Amp to significant popularity in the audio community. For a while, the tiny little plastic-housed digital amplifier was one of the best kept secrets amongst budget-minded audiophiles. Though initially poo-poo’d by high-end audio purists, the then $39.00 T-Amp eventually caught on with notable audio authorities and, once that happened, exploded in popularity.
It was Tripath that was responsible for what ended up being called the “Class-T” amplifier. The name is a bit of a misnomer, since Class-T isn’t really a class of digital amplifier at all, simply a trademark acquired by Tripath. Nomenclature aside, the amplifier technology, which allowed for incredibly clean, efficient output at low wattage ratings found its way into car audio amplifiers, Apple computers and bookshelf audio systems.
Once Sonic Impact’s version of the T-Amp proved to be wildly popular, other companies, large and small, jumped on the bandwagon and started offering the basic digital amp in all manner of dressed-up packages with higher quality binding posts, volume controls and power supplies. In addition, an excited fan-base started issuing DIY instructions and modifications for T-Amps that created a sort of T-Amp club, if you will.
Then, in 2007, Tripath filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and the T-Amp’s future appeared doomed. Rumors circulated that Cirrus had acquired rights to the technology, but, to the best of our knowledge, this was never confirmed. Regardless, the T-Amp slowly faded back into the corner with other great technologies that were sadly ended before their time.
Apparently, though, Orb Audio has a line on the famed digital amplifier technology as it recently announced it is offering its Mini-T amplifier on its website for $88. When purchased with a pair of Orb’s Mod 1 speakers, the package can be had for $299, which Orb points out represents a savings of $29.
The Mini-T looks very much like one of the later iterations of Sonic Impact’s T-Amps, right down to the retractable volume button and inexpensive spring clip terminals on the back. We can’t help but wonder where these amps came from, how many are available or for how long but at $88, we’re not sure it matters. The amp represents a pretty good deal and should pair well with Orb’s stylish, spherical speakers for a quality iPod, desktop, computer or small A/V system.