Previously, I commented on the Lepai LP-2020A+ midget stereo amplifier which was a utility stereo amplifier that could be connected between a computer or other stereo equipment and a pair of low-powered small bookshelf speakers.
Now Lepai have also released another of these cost-effective midget amps, this time offering a lot more power in its small enclosure as well as being able to work as part of a Bluetooth A2DP audio-playback link. Here, you could have your smartphone, tablet or laptop play through those speakers but move around more freely due to the wireless link. The article mentioned that the Bluetooth implementation wasn’t all that good with the sound but if both the amplifier and the mobile device used the aptX high-quality audio codec, you may have some improvement.
In some ways, the Lepai amplifiers do pick up from where the low-tier cost-effective small amplifiers that Radio Shack (Tandy) sold through the 1980s – the Realistic SA-102, SA-150 or STA-7. This is where these amplifiers filled in the gap as “utility” or “general-purpose” amplifiers that stood between a turntable, tuner or tape deck in their day or, nowadays, a computer with a sound card, and a pair of small low-cost speakers but those of us who used these amplifiers didn’t expect them to yield high-performance sound.
But the Lepai amplifiers would implement techniques like Class-D power amplification or highly-powerful high-quality “power-amplifier-on-a-chip” technology that improves on what was available through the early 80s to drive the Tandy “midgets”. I also suspect that most of this technology is based on the way the amplifiers used in the “four-wheeled ghetto-blasters” that young men see themselves driving and “ruling the streets in” are designed.
Who knows what Lepai may offer us with utility amplifiers that suit the secondary space like a college dorm room, a den or a small office space.