You may have gone to that garage sale, car-boot sale or flea market and picked up a pair of small bookshelf speakers thinking that they may be good for your stereo or PC. Or you have a pair of these speakers lying around in the cupboard or garage either because the music system that they were bought with had died or you had upgraded the speakers on that music system to some larger meatier ones.
But you really want to then use those speakers with your computer, smartphone, tablet or other similar device to punch out some music. These kind of speakers really need to work with an amplifier and when you are dealing with a pair of small bookshelf speakers, they don’t expect much power to drive them.
Lepai have come out with a midget amplifier that can put up to 20 watts per channel for this kind of application. It only takes up a very small amount of desk space and runs from a 12 volt DC power supply, something which I would suspect is cross-bred from car-stereo technology. Here, the workhorse is a Tripath digital “switch-mode” amplifier that has been rated for a smooth high-quality sound equivalent to a valve-based “general-purpose” hi-fi amplifier of the late 60s.
This amplifier has two line-level connections – one with regular RCA sockets and one with a 3.5mm stereo jack. But these inputs are open at the same time and could benefit situations where you may want to play music from a portable player or hi-fi component yet be able to hear audio alerts or game sound effects from your computer.
What had impressed me about the Lepai LP-2020A+ amplifier was the idea of it being a cost-effective midget utility amplifier that can work with most small speakers made through the decades and can amplify the sound from most audio equipment such as the laptop computer. In this case, this amplifier and a pair of good-quality small bookshelf speakers could become a cost-effective alternative to a pair of cheap computer speakers.