Here’s a sweet little $168 audio system

Dayton’s new DTA-2.1BT integrated amplifier is also a honey. Firstly because it sounds nice, secondly because its all-metal chassis is so darned small — just 1.4 by 5.25 by 5.2 inches — and best of all the DTA-2.1BT sells for just $99. Paired with Dayton’s also-new $69 per pair MK402 speakers, the sound is a pure delight.
Read my DTA2.1BT review here, https://www.cnet.com/news/this-pint-size-168-audio-system-packs-a-wallop/ And the MK402 speaker review here, https://www.cnet.com/products/dayton-audio-mk402/review/

Comments

Richard Larson says:

This is the situation I found myself in a couple years ago. I needed a budget system. I opted for used, instead. Stuff from the 70s to the 90s is just sitting in Flea Markets all over America. 100wpc 8ohm class a/b amp – $40, Sony SACD player $40, 3 way speakers $20. It’s everywhere, and it was made to last. Maybe have to replace some capacitors, eventually.

Zach Greenwald says:

Could you add a little more clarity on the sub? I bought this amplifier and two Pioneer SP-BS22-LR speakers. I want to use it for a home theater speaker system and to play music through my phone on Bluetooth. Is there a subwoofer you would recommend? Does this mean I need a subwoofer that does not plug into the wall? Thanks!!

heinrich schulz says:

Hey,

On your side regards $$$ vs quality. But I thought you didn’t like class D amps? My T-amp (a class D variation) 45W PC I prefer to a previous class A Threshold, a Quad 405. It sounds like my old McIntosh 275 tube. And u like NAD amps (class D?)- me too!
I’ve owned and or listened for long periods to everything speaker wise, GA Briggs corners, Quad electrostatics, Tannoy GRF’s, and presently use Maggie’s upstairs and LS35As in the basement. I prefer the point source 3/4 inch dome tweeter of the Rogers LS35a to any 1 inch dome I’ve heard-greater dispersion leading to a holographic sound stage.Do you think you would you like a 12 inch dome tweeter? Do you think the plasma ion speakers don’t produce sound because they are massless?
But totally agree with you that great sound can be had afford ably. As you said, much depends on mating components, experienced ears and your room.

Thomas Zarbo says:

It’s nice to see some reviews of some of Dayton Audio’s amplifier products. I have used quite a few of them, and have recently auditioned this particular 2.1 amp…
One of the things that I LOVE about this amp is the fact that it has a subwoofer (.1) amplifier built-in.

You are correct in stating that there aren’t many passive subwoofers on the retail market currently, and that may make the subwoofer channel seem like almost an oddity….

…But remember, although Dayton Audio, (Parts Express) does currently sell many audio products not really intended for Do-It-Yourselfers, one of the BIG reasons Parts Express is what it is today, is because they decided to cater to the needs of a small (at the time) group of individuals 30-some years ago… namely speaker builders…. carrying the drivers, amps, crossover components, and all accessories to DIY your own speakers and subwoofers… and in my opinion this product is partly geared for those DIY’ers. I’m personally glad to have an amp like this that makes creating a powerful 2.1 system that much easier… I’ve been looking forward to something like this for a while, actually.

I’ve used a friends for a few weeks and have found it to be very powerful and clean sounding for small to even larger speakers. In my testing of several different speakers and subs, the subwoofer output had no trouble driving even a sealed 12″ woofer to loud levels, and I’ve used the bluetooth input as well — it sounded probably as good as I’ve ever heard bluetooth sound. My main (probably typical) setup with it was with a pair of small 2-way speakers with 3″ woofers, small AMT tweeters, along with a 5.25″ high-excursion subwoofer, and it performed admirably as a sound system… and even did a fine job pulling home theater duty for a viewing of Oceans 13 (man, there’s some good tunes in that flick!).

I’m no audio snob, but I’ve heard and even built a few fairly decent speakers and subwoofers over the years, and I can tell you this unit really does sound nice. The ‘tone’ control seemed like an odd addition at first, but as I used it, I grew to like it because often some Bluetooth songs can sound kind of ‘bright’ to me… and turning the tone knob down a smidge cut the edge off of the highs just enough to make it sound balanced again….it does have a good reason to be on that front panel.

Also, it seems to be priced at around $79 currently, not the $99 listed. I have to say too, that this little bugger is just beautifully made… it’s small, but it really has a quality look and feel to it… nice brushed aluminum case and front, and attractive knobs. The fact that it has two separate inputs on the back plus bluetooth is nice too — no need to switch cables… just press the button on the front to switch to the next source. I should add that I was using a slightly modded version which had a lower subwoofer crossover point than it originally ships with, but output/volume/feature wise, it was the same.

I think it would be hard to beat as a desktop 2.1 system for the money… even for a small/medium sized room I was happy with the volume and quality of the output. I could really actually live with this as my main system in all honesty since I don’t play music or movies killer loud anymore.

Just wanted to offer my take on this product after using it for several weeks on several different systems.

justsomeguytoyou says:

It’s a piece of crap. For the same amount of money on ebay, you can buy a used amplifier that will run rings around that. Just the power transformer alone on one of those amps would weigh more than that doorstop.

Melvin Saballa says:

Hmmm im curious to ask, will it improve the sound quality if we use a dac?… Anyone please

Justin S. says:

I’m going to get one of those and try it along with the Mk402 speakers. I can probably build my own compact passive subwoofer with an 8″ driver for less than $100. I think it will make an adequate sound system for a PC desk setup.

Greg Ruddell says:

Ironically, I have re capped three Hafler DH series power amplifiers with some Dayton capacitors (Electrolytics were Elna and some other film caps were Vishay, but the Daytons were recommended for specific locations in the circuit , and I have to say that the results exceeded my expectations.

59seank says:

Steve, I love that you talk about affordable audio. Please find more great audio bargains.

david pacci says:

Does it work for turntable?

Nachatar Dhaliwal says:

Regarding the comment by Steve about rhe crossover in an active sub could confuse matters….just set crossover frequency on sub to max and let the amp send it what it wants and in effect the amp will be doing the filtering.

dina barcial says:

Bleh! >> POOR PRODUCT! << Worked for 2 days, then became VERY BUZZY on the bluetooth and the the sound level when using bluetooth is noticeably much lower. - I go for the Nuforce DDA120 - Love your reviews Steve.

Ken Forte says:

I have this amp at my work computer desk. It powers a custom set of 4 inch speakers I built and a 10 inch passive subwoofer. It sounds great! I use the RCA inputs. I did try the bluetooth the other day and it seemed to be buggy. I don’t really care since I do not use the bluetooth feature.

Strychnine Animasola says:

Hello, thank you for your reviews with this and elac’s debut b6.2, I just want to ask question maybe a recommendation… Is there a better amp that you can recommend me together with the elac I mentioned now? I’ve decided to get it, but i’m kinda having a hard time getting a very good amp for it because I am also going to use it for my computer.
I would really appreciate your help! Your dear subscriber -Nin MAHALO!

TheZephyr6 says:

Hi, can any on recommend a small sweet CD player to plug into this?

Wookie Groomer says:

Most low cost devices with dials/knobs tend to start crackling over time and not staying smooth with their response. Remotes eliminate that problem. I’m not opposed to getting up and turning a dial but when it starts losing its sensitivity and screws with the audio quality, a remote becomes a necessity.

Jeff Parry says:

Has anyone tried this Sony STRDH550 5.2 Channel 4K AV Receiver $148(aud)?

Ivan e1 says:

Usually, such tiny quazi-amps has no power supply at all, and inside of the gift-box, you’ll see dirt-cheap power brick for LED applications instead of audio grade power supply with a large tank of aluminum caps. Typically, such junk bigger twice vs amp case and has impudently overrated specs, and if you remember >1% of school physics, you’ll feel it fishy when RMS output power at THD=1% claims 2x60W = 120W powered by 24V 5A (24*5 = 120) power brick )) So for $100 you’ve to get two boxes – amp and SMPS power brick tied by cheap cable. Try to check how deeply rails voltage drops at THD = 1%@20Hz@4ohm//4ohm and you’ll see 10-15W per channel.. Is this HiFi yet? ))

Carlito Melon says:

Update:
On your recommendation, Steve I bought TWO for only $78 each!
I had a broken REL T3 subwoofer with perfect drivers, so I bypassed the plate amp to make it passive. I also had two sets of Realistic Mininus 7 mini speakers gathering decades of dust and an old passive sub….SO I now have music in a spare bedroom and the bike shop in my garage is next!
Your CNET review stated that the subwoofer channel of this amp was not very useful but I beg to differ.
Also Parts Express have subwoofer kits that can be built up as passives so this is a perfect addition to their line of product.
The amp sounds fine via Bluetooth. I plan to hook up a TV for the guests.
Thanks for the recommendation;-)

Raymond Leggs says:

if you need more inputs, there’s also the Technical pro RX113, RX504/503, RX41UR ,RX38UR and RX55URIBT Pyle PDA6BU, PT24BT, PDA7BU stereo receivers. Which also have a bigger power supply than the “wall wart” that will come with the amp.

I have the RX55URIBT and it’s pretty nice for the price, as an AVR it lacks but as a 50 watt there about per side stereo receiver it’s pretty good sounding. At least with the Dayton AIR towers I power it with. I used to be a brand snob. I almost got the other technical pro receivers I listed but the RX55URIBT had the best track record. it also has 2 subwoofer outs. which can double as preamp outs for one or two of their variety of 2 channel power amps.

jingjing zhang says:

Hello,steve,we are the S.M.S.L group.We have so many product of amp/dac.Do u have interested in having some review on smsl A2?We can sent you free,more detail can contact me:smsl_mandy@126.com

Timothy Kelley says:

Yamaha RS202

Robert Thomas says:

Will this amp run small, powered studio monitors?

Michael S says:

Steve, I have known your name for so many years, but I never imagined you would pronounce it this way.

Jeff Schmidt says:

Hi Steve, If you like this Dayton amp, you should love the S.M.S.L. AD-18. It has way more in the way of inputs, both digital and analog, has more power (80 watts/chan @ 4ohm), built-in Bluetooth, headphone amp, USB in, 2 optical ins, coax in, aux in, line level sub out (for the more common powered subs). Unit also has a nifty display, a remote control, and some useful built-in EQ’s. Great package for only 45 more $ than the DTA-2.1BT.

geno pal says:

Steven Dayton has been selling little amps like this for years .But now its 3 channel and blue thooth.I have two of the older ones .

stephen ash says:

Great video again Steve and Kudos for again championing budget equipment. A lot of people are put off by the high cost of audio, but your posts are a great gateway for people to get into our hobby.I have a great set up now LFD Musical Fidelity etc which has probably cost me about £15k but I started off with a modest system and got hooked…lets hope your generous good humoured and honest videos do the same…all the best from Northern Ireland…keep the faith brother

Jeremy Smith says:

I enjoyed the fact that you look at far less expensive solutions …

Rockinghorse Winner says:

Little gun shy right now about ‘cheap’ hifi. I went and pulled the trigger one of the current crop of praised to the sky bookshelf pairs for around $100 – and had to sell them because they were so horrible sounding in my room. Not to mention the fact that they looked cheap, felt cheap, and _sounded_ cheap.

On the other hand, bought a Chinese tube line level buffer pre-amp to solve a specific problem (getting my smart phone to sound good on my bedroom system) – and the results are better than I had a right to expect. So, bargain basement audio is not completely bad (I’m not a snob), but beware the hype, even when it comes from someone you trust, like Guttenberg. My .02….

David Greenwood says:

Steve, nice job! An affordable compact no frills amp. Think this helps get those on a tight budget into audio, pair it w some economical decent speakers and a source…and voila….they are in the audio game, and most of all, enjoying good music!

Bruce Borowski says:

yes sir and it’s still garbage after all that talk……………………

Brian David says:

I like watching you videos, but I won’t subscribe because you say that rock music doesnt fit the criteria of audiophile. Right?

CM Kilcullen says:

Wow… but whaaa- cant find them anymore..

Roderick de Leeuw says:

Dear Steve. Great review. One question which I see hardly answered around the internet and couldn’t be better suited for you in my opinion: how does it compare to more expensive audio? Everone, including yourself, is amazed by the sound, but how do you think it compares to a (i.e.) 500 or 1000 dollar amplifier?

Jud Stansell says:

COME ON.. Dayton dosent do quality……..

Jamie McNeil says:

It costs me $168.00 when I take the wife out for dinner, and she doesn’t even sing for me…

John Umek says:

Very cool video

Brian Steele says:

I have the DTA-2.1BT. It’s a nice small amp. The two main channels are full-range and the subwoofer channel is LP’d around 160 Hz I believe. That can seem a bit too high to drive a passive subwoofer, but if you use sealed main speakers that naturally roll off around 100 Hz and a bandpass subwoofer that covers everything below that, the results can be pretty good. That basically describes the system that I set up for my youngest daughter in her bedroom.

Geerladenlad says:

For speakers that are Bi-ampable you could use the Left and right channels on one speaker and the subwoofer out put on the other and then you would have to 100 watt channels.

Rich Foster says:

I looked at DTA2.1bt in detail. 1st, you can’t get 200w of output using the supplied 24v4A power supply. 2nd, this DTA is dual chip, one running L/R and the other BTL mode, and the BTL side is fed from a 180Hz 12db low pass filter (not sure if it gets that from L or R input, or if there’s a active mixer to combine L & R). I will attempt to drive Micca in-wall @4ohm, and attach a PylePro 12″ DVC (2x8ohm in parallel) in-wall woofer to the DTA sub output. I will also upgrade power supply to a 8.4A version.

ericlogos says:

Dude, you look like you just molested an old Wurlitzer jukebox and got your rocks off.

Ryan Schipp says:

Steve….for $150 more($249 total) someone can get a Nuforce DDA120 integrated. Many more connections and more power. Reputable brand. Better value.

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