On forums, some cheap products are completely idolized. It would play away high-end audio equipment for a fraction of the money. We saw the Fosi TB10A pass by in a video and were triggered. An Alpha-reader sent us the Merchanise DAC. How low can you go? Because this combination costs just over 100 Euro!
The Fosi amp TB10A – for sale on Amazon – is a very small class D amplifier based on a Texas chip (TPA3116). The whole thing is powered by a switchmode “brick” power supply that can deliver 4.5 amps at 24 volts. So that should be able to deliver around 100 watts total.
On the back we see one input and a pair of speaker outputs. On the front a volume knob and controls for treble and bass. Those knobs are without any tactile feedback, so they have no click on the neutral position. Which is a problem; we’ll show that later.
The Merchanise is an equal story. This little dac is incredibly small and available everywhere and nowhere. The reader reports seeing them sometimes on bol.com, but also on amazon. There is a coaxial and optical input and an analog, single ended output. There is also control for volume and bass. Again, it is somewhat unclear what the neutral mode is.
But let’s look at what you get for just over 100 Euros: an integrated amplifier AND a separate dac. Combine it with a couple of 2nd hand speakers and connect an optical cable between the PC and the Merchanise and you are ready to play. What would it cost? You can really be ready for 250 euros total.
Our setup doesn’t make any sense. Let’s start with that. We connected this duo on the cinema side of our listening room to the Dali Phantom 280S. These now cost 10,000 per pair (in our time 6000 Euro, so the inflation there is completely bizarre). Also, everything is connected with cables that are totally out of proportion and we included a Metrum Baby Ambre as a source to the dac. Like we said: completely out of proportion. Anyway: we had to connect it to something. And the fact is: the amplifier and dac are now definitely the weak link.
The reason we did not choose the TADs and did choose the Phantom 280S is that the Dali’s have an even flatter impedance behavior: they are very easy speakers. Also because of the closed bass with passive radiators, this little amplifier is not drained. Also, we are usually busy with larger projects on the main system.