Some clichés in the high-end die hard. One of the oldest chestnuts says that size matters. It’s the notion that one’s status as an audiophile is somehow tied to the weight and girth of your components, your sagging equipment racks, and the thick ropes of cabling that feed each product. There was a time when I was guilty of falling for this nonsense, as well. After all, as an audio writer I’ve gotten pretty used to receiving some pretty intimidating components. We all know them, and in some sense are still seduced by their presence—those big amps and preamps, glowering, un-liftable hunks of metal laden with aggressive displays of exposed heat sinks sharp enough to shave truffles.
However, a funny thing has happened. Two funny things actually. First, computer-audio playback has revolutionized high-resolution listening, from the living room to the desktop. This has coincided with a renaissance in “personal” listening—that is, head-phones, in-ear, over-the-ear, closed-back, or open-back, take your pick. The upshot is that the “bigger-is-better” cliché has been unceremoniously turned on its, well...ear. Today it’s hip to be small. It’s relevant and credible and high-res. In fact a tiny footprint has almost become a mantra, particularly among younger audiophiles.
Micromega has been in on this trend for some time now. The French company has been a purveyor of full-scale electronics and streamers as well as the “My Range” of modest mighty-mites like the MyGroov and MyZic and TAS’ 2012 Product Of The Year, the MyDac. Inevitably, an amp would appear to fill the void, so please welcome MyAmp. More than an integrated amplifier, MyAmp is a complete digital hub with wireless streaming, analog and digital source switching, and a headphone amplifier. Impossibly little, it’s the teacup poodle of DAC/integrated amps. At a mere 5.5-inch square it also leaves plenty of room on the desk for a nice pair of speakers. I can literally palm it and fit it in our Volvo’s glovebox. Try that with your Soulution 701. MyAmp is enclosed in an all-business, textured ABS casing—translation, plastic. What? You were expecting the CNC-machined aluminum of a Rowland? Calm down. Micromega chose ABS for its non-conductive properties and lack of eddy currents.
More important are features like the healthy output—30Wpc into 8 ohms, which commendably doubles into 4 ohms. The unit’s small size suggests that the amplifier is based on Class D switching modules, but the amp is actually a Class AB design. The efficiency comes from a newly devised and highly unusual “LLC” power supply that reportedly delivers more power, tighter regulation, and a lower impedance than a conventional supply. Another factor in the unit’s small size is the unusual forced-convection cooling system in which the power supply and amplifier output stage are cooled with a magnetic-levitation fan (no bearings) moving air through a tunnel. A thermal protection system shuts down the unit if it overheats, and also continually adjusts the fan speed.
The back-to-basics front panel houses a bevy of teeny buttons for source selection, plus a headphone mini-plug socket. Volume is indicated by a red-lit ladder display. Micromega states that the control is good to 256 steps in 0.5dB increments, but the indicator is so vague that it’s virtually impossible to make precision, repeatable adjustments. Numerals would have been better. The DAC is the ESS Sabre Hyperstream DAC, the same chip found in many expensive units. Source switching is via FET-buffered relays—impressive in a $649 product. The coaxial digital input is transformer coupled, and the USB input employs an isolation circuit to keep the computer’s noise out of MyAmp.