Note: for the full suite of measurements from the SoundStage! Audio-Electronics Lab, click this link.
I’ve long been a proponent of room-correction software—not only for multichannel home-theater systems, where the technology first took hold, but also for high-quality two-channel systems. Some high-end manufacturers now include such software in their two-channel preamplifiers and integrated amplifiers, including relatively affordable models from Anthem, Arcam, and NAD. Lyngdorf Audio and its predecessor, TacT Audio, have been using RoomPerfect room correction and, before that, RCS speaker equalization, for longer than most other companies. However, Lyngdorf’s products have always been at the luxury end of high-end audio—such as their TDAI-3400, which I recently reviewed ($6499 base price, $7199 as reviewed, all prices USD). The subject of this review is Lyngdorf’s new compact streaming integrated amplifier-DAC, the TDAI-1120, which shares most of the TDAI-3400’s features and a few more, but retails for only $2199.
Smaller and cheaper, but all Lyngdorf
Though not quite as luxuriously built as the TDAI-3400, the TDAI-1120 boasts bass management, RoomPerfect room correction, and additional equalization that can be customized and applied after configuring RoomPerfect. It can be controlled through an iOS or Android smartphone app, or via a web-based interface. An optional remote-control handset ($99) is available, but I suspect that, given the growing popularity of streaming and computer-based audio, most users will use one of those apps.
The TDAI-1120 measures 11.8″W x 4″H x 10.3″D and weighs 7.3 pounds. While it looks like a smaller version of the TDAI-3400, its matte-black finish is a little less opulent, and it’s not nearly as solidly built. Still, for only $2199, and considering its many features, its build quality and appearance are very good. The front panel replaces the informative alphanumeric display of other Lyngdorf products with individual status icons for each input. There’s a large volume control knob and smaller input selector that are easy to use, but lack the lushly smooth feel of their counterparts on the TDAI-3400. There’s also a small Standby button to select between standby and power on modes.
On the rear panel are pairs of digital coaxial (RCA) and optical (TosLink) inputs, as well as inputs for a TV (HDMI eARC), a local storage device (USB-A), an analog source (RCA), and a moving-magnet phono cartridge (RCA). There are also an Ethernet jack for a LAN, an XLR jack for the RoomPerfect microphone, a trigger input and output, and a three-pronged IEC power inlet for the provided power cord. The two pairs of speaker binding posts provide adequate clearance from the other connections, to permit the use of thick cables.
In addition to its physical inputs, the TDAI-1120 has Bluetooth and Wi-Fi (802.11n). Roon Ready, it also supports DLNA, vTuner Internet Radio, Chromecast Built-in, Apple AirPlay 2, and Spotify Connect. Like many streaming products, it has no USB port for computer audio playback. Its various digital inputs support datastreams of resolutions up to 24-bit/192kHz (coaxial, HDMI) and 24/96 (TosLink), and the phono input’s impedance is 47k ohms, 100pF.
The TDAI-1120’s specifications include: a power output of 60Wpc into 8 ohms or 120Wpc into 4 ohms; a frequency response of 20Hz-20kHz, ±0.5dB; and total harmonic distortion of <0.05%, 20Hz-20kHz. Although the TDAI-1120 puts out far less power than the TDAI-3400’s claimed 200Wpc into 8 ohms—and costs only a third as much—I was assured by a Lyngdorf representative that its amplification circuitry is essentially a lower-power version of the proprietary Equibit class-D technology found in all Lyngdorf amps, even the most expensive.
One thing the TDAI-1120 does differently from other Lyngdorf amps is its control of volume level. In other Lyngdorfs, volume is controlled by regulating the power supply’s output voltage at the final stage, just before the signal is sent to the speakers. The TDAI-1120 uses a “more traditional, bit-reduction volume control,” which results in a signal of narrower dynamic range. This should produce no audible problems as long as the digital signal processing (DSP) is done with a high starting resolution, as is commonly the case with modern digital volume controls. This has been my experience with other digital volume controls, such as those in ESS Sabre DAC chips used in NAD’s M33 integrated-DAC and my reference budget preamp-DACs, Oppo Digital’s BDP-105 and UDP-205 universal BD players.
Setting up RoomPerfect
I primarily used the Lyngdorf TDAI-1120 in my second system, which typically comprises a Hegel Music Systems H120 integrated-DAC, an Oppo BDP-105 universal BD player, a Sony UBP-X700 4K Ultra HD BD/SACD player, PSB Alpha T20 speakers, and an LG C9 OLED display. I plugged into the TDAI-1120’s phono stage my Pro-Ject X1 turntable with Pick it S2 moving-magnet cartridge. All was wired together with a mix of generic interconnects and Analysis Plus Blue Oval speaker cable. Power delivery and power conditioning were provided by ESP and Zero Surge products.
I connected to the TDAI-1120’s Chromecast Built-in via my home network with the Google Home app on my smartphone. I installed the TDAI-1120’s own remote-control app on my LG S9 smartphone, but found it easier to use Lyngdorf’s web-based control interface, which also grants easy access to its many setup options. I was able to program into my Logitech Harmony universal remote all required functions. Although the TDAI-1120 has plenty of physical inputs, including HDMI, I found it easier to send audio signals from my video sources via a TosLink optical connection from the output of my OLED display, then use Chromecast to stream music from my Apple MacBook Pro laptop computer, or via BubbleUPnP on my smartphone.
Running RoomPerfect through Lyngdorf’s web-based interface could not have been easier. After the calibration microphone has been plugged into its rear-panel XLR jack with the provided cable, an initial test tone is used to set the playback volume for the most accurate measurements. The interface then prompted me to start taking measurements: first at the main listening position (Lyngdorf calls this the focus position), then moving the mike to random positions around the room.
After I’d taken measurements at five mike positions, the system indicated that it had 96% RoomKnowledge (Lyngdorf recommends a RoomKnowledge level of 95% or higher). Two more measurements at two different positions yielded an increase of only 1%, so I stopped there. In addition to what appears to be a high-quality microphone (though there’s no option to download a unique calibration file, as there is with Anthem or miniDSP mikes), Lyngdorf provides a full-size mike stand so that measurements can be taken more easily, especially at the focus position. That all of this is included in a base price of just $2199 is commendable.
Later, after installing the TDAI-1120 in my reference system, I repeated the RoomPerfect calibration process with my MartinLogan Classic ESL 9 hybrid electrostatic speakers, with and without my two JL Audio E-Sub e112 powered subwoofers in play. When using the subwoofers, I selected a second-order Butterworth filter and a crossover frequency of 70Hz, which had worked well when I reviewed the TDAI-3400. Again, after five measurements I got 96% RoomKnowledge, so there I stopped.
Using the web interface
I mostly used the TDAI-1120’s web-based interface, via Apple Safari on my MacBook Pro or Microsoft Edge on my Intel NUC computer. Not only did the interface provide me with very precise control of volume, it also let me mute, switch among inputs and between RoomPerfect’s Focus and Global settings, and turn RoomPerfect off completely, which was useful in comparisons. The web interface displayed the input audio format, and provided control over bass and treble, channel polarity, balance, and Voicing, the last consisting of preset and customizable EQ curves. I left Voicing set to Neutral—i.e., flat—and didn’t use the other controls.
Considerable control of the setup of each input is also available: entering a name for that input, adjusting the sensitivity from 0 to -24dB, selecting a default Voicing, adding delays from 0 to 500ms, and turning home-theater-bypass on/off. Additional settings include customizable or preset EQ for the speakers and crossover settings for subwoofers, including filter type and frequency. While the setup and control options are many, I never had any trouble navigating the interface to set up and control the TDAI-1120, including using RoomPerfect.
Every bit an Equibit
The Lyngdorf TDAI-1120 fit nicely into my second system, being small enough to sit on a marble tile placed on the carpet between the entertainment stand and one of my PSB Alpha T20 speakers ($649/pair). Though it sat inconspicuously among my other components, the TDAI-1120’s high quality of sound never let me forget that it was a very special little amp. After I’d set up RoomPerfect, the sound had incredible coherence, even with news shows: the anchors’ voices were always placed solidly between the speakers, floating just slightly in front of the screen and sounding very natural. With TV shows, such as Syfy’s new comedy Resident Alien, the actors’ voices tracked their positions onscreen as well as they have with any other amp I’ve had in that system. Despite Alan Tudyk’s odd vocal characterizations and quirky enunciation as an alien in human form, his words were easily intelligible even at moderate volume levels. With RoomPerfect, everything sounded exceedingly clear—I didn’t need to ramp up the volume to understand the dialog or appreciate Tudyk’s delightfully eccentric performance.
I’ve always thought that the setup of this system in the corner of the room, while less than ideal, was adequate for speaker placement. Using RoomPerfect showed me how much better this system could sound. In Trevor Horn and the Sarm Orchestra’s Reimagines the Eighties (16-bit/44.1kHz FLAC, BMG/Qobuz), not only was the bass tighter and better defined, Julian Hinton’s rich orchestral arrangements sounded fuller and more fleshed out; turning off RoomPerfect shrank the soundstage, the instruments collapsing toward the speakers. Gabrielle Aplin’s breathy voice in “Dancing in the Dark” floated convincingly between the speakers, framed by clean, clear strings and a piano whose lower registers were never lost amid the orchestra’s many instruments. This uncluttered sound and precise imaging was the best I’d ever heard from this system.
The TDAI-1120’s phono section was relatively quiet and retrieved quite a bit of detail; it and RoomPerfect allowed me to better enjoy some of my favorite LPs. Lorde’s bass-heavy Pure Heroine (LP, Universal 602537539857) was controlled and went surprisingly deep for vinyl played through a moderately powered amp and a pair of small floorstanders. I could hear every inflection and change of pitch in this album’s ever-present, undulating bass lines. In “400 Lux,” the well-defined drumbeat solidly filled the space behind Lorde’s voice as it floated neatly in front of the speakers. In contrast, “Take the Long Way Home,” from Supertramp’s Breakfast in America (LP, A&M 7502137081), doesn’t have a lot of bass—it sounded a bit light but refreshingly clean, the piano and harmonica coming through naturally. In “The Logical Song,” which has a fuller sound and a lot more going on, the percussion and brass were still very well defined and well delineated from the other instruments.
The Hegel H120 integrated-DAC ($3000) that usually inhabits my second system is specified to output 75Wpc into 8 ohms, and definitely sounded more powerful than the TDAI-1120. Miley Cyrus’s voice and the opening guitar chords in “Edge of Midnight (Midnight Sky Remix),” from her Plastic Hearts (24/44.1 FLAC, RCA/Qobuz), were incisive, with more bite through the Hegel, and Cyrus’s gravelly voice expressed more take-it-or-leave-it indifference. However, when the electric bass and drums enter, the Hegel, although louder and unstrained, produced a more cluttered sound, with less distinction between instruments and notes.
Although it couldn’t play as loudly as the Hegel, the Lyngdorf TDAI-1120 was better at throwing up a convincing soundstage and overcoming some room problems I’d previously never thought significant. I was suddenly aware of how much better my favorite recordings could sound through this system now that the problem of the corner placement of speakers had been overcome in DSP, even with a large flatscreen TV between them. The imaging was much improved and soundstages were bigger, even when I sat slightly off the tweeter axes, as usually happens when more than one person is watching TV or listening to music. In addition to its being a worthy entry-level audiophile component, I found the TDAI-1120 eminently suitable for daily use in real-world living spaces.
Playing the big room
After so tremendously enjoying the sound of the TDAI-1120 in my second system—more than I have that of any other amp—I was eager to hear what it could do for my reference system. It replaced an Anthem STR preamplifier ($4000) and Anthem M1 1000W monoblock amplifiers ($7500/pair), and drove MartinLogan Masterpiece Classic ESL 9 hybrid electrostatic speakers ($6495/pair). But while some music did sound quite good, the TDAI-1120 wasn’t powerful enough to drive to consistently satisfying levels the ESL 9s’ electrostatic panels and total of four 8ʺ woofers. It sounded excellent with some of the simpler arrangements on Sting’s My Songs: Special Edition (24/44.1 FLAC, A&M/Interscope/Qobuz), such as that of “Shape of My Heart,” but struggled with the more densely layered and textured bass of “Desert Rose,” which sounded a tad light and indistinct, the vocals being set farther back than usual and getting a bit lost in the mix.
The sound got a lot better when I switched on my two JL Audio E-Sub e112 subwoofers and used the Lyngdorf’s bass management and RoomPerfect to relieve the TDAI-1120 of the task of reproducing the bottom end. Voices came alive—in “Desert Rose,” Sting and Cheb Mami moved farther out on the soundstage, to float between and in front of the speakers rather than, as before, being stuck in the plane of the MartinLogans’ electrostatic panels. With the subs, the TDAI-1120 could now also re-create the grand expanse of the Minnesota Orchestra, as led by Eiji Oue, in Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man (16/44.1 FLAC, Reference/Qobuz). Not only were the timpani and bass drum now extremely deep, loud, and controlled, but the brass and the rest of the percussion were cleanly and clearly projected into the room, thanks to the TDAI-1120’s bass management and RoomPerfect.
Although, on its own, the TDAI-1120 couldn’t drive the ML ESL 9s to very high volume levels—forgivable, considering its low price—when pushed to its limits it gracefully tapped out with a soft but not entirely objectionable sound that was neither harsh nor grating. However, it was able to integrate the outputs of my subs and electrostats into astonishingly coherent, full-range, high-quality sound. And while in this configuration it wasn’t quite as effortless and powerful as the TDAI-3400 (starting at $6499), it still had a rich, musically satisfying sound that reminded me very much of its larger, more expensive sibling.
Lyngdorf Audio’s TDAI-1120 may not be the most powerful integrated amplifier-DAC in its price range, but it’s arguably the best sounding and the richest in features. With its flexible bass management, Lyngdorf’s RoomPerfect room-correction DSP and smooth-sounding Equibit amplifier technology, and a dizzying array of other features, it’s my new favorite. For those who covet but can’t afford one of Lyngdorf’s costlier integrated-DACs, the TDAI-1120 makes available much of the goodness of those luxury products at a much lower price. If you don’t need to drive inefficient speakers in a big room, and/or you’ll be using it with a subwoofer or two, this is the integrated-DAC for you.
. . . Roger Kanno
Note: for the full suite of measurements from the SoundStage! Audio-Electronics Lab, click this link.
- Speakers: MartinLogan Masterpiece Classic ESL 9, PSB Alpha T20
- Subwoofers: JL Audio E-Sub e112 (2)
- Integrated amplifier: Hegel Music Systems H120
- Preamplifier-DAC: Anthem STR
- Amplifier: Anthem M1 (monoblocks)
- Sources: Apple MacBook Pro or Intel NUC computer running Windows 10, foobar2000, Roon, Qobuz; Oppo Digital BDP-105 and UDP-205, Sony UBP-X700 4K Ultra HD universal BD players
- Interconnects: Clarus Aqua Mark II
- Speaker cables: Clarus Aqua Mark II, Analysis Plus Blue Oval
- Power cords: Clarus Aqua, Essential Sound Products MusicCord-Pro ES
- Power conditioners: Blue Circle Audio PLC Thingee FX-2 with X0e low-frequency filter module, Zero Surge 1MOD15WI
Lyngdorf Audio TDAI-1120 Integrated Amplifier-DAC
Warranty: Two years parts and labor.
Phone: +45 9614-5600