I don't deal in or have any financial interest in FleaWatt. I'm doing this to help promote another affordable amp option for financially challenged prospective Omega customers and to help promote small businesses like FleaWatt. And yes, I was curious about all the enthusiasm surrounding the TPA3116 amps.
A couple of weeks ago a sizable parcel showed up at the post office. It felt kind of heavy for a tiny little FleaWatt amplifier and a couple of brick switching power supplies. When I opened the box I saw why. The FleaWatt amp in it's cast aluminum case measures 7-3/8" square by 2-1/2" high not including volume knob, binding posts, etc. It's solid as a rock which I really like and when you connect cabling it won't be tipped up or dragged off the back of your shelf, desk, or stand. This FleaWatt is Derek's basic, no frills model. The volume control is very smooth with a high end feel and connectivity on the back is also very solid and well made.
The FleaWatt was hooked up to Super 3U and Super 3i Monitors, and a Pure i20 digital dock with iPod 6 generation Nano playing 16/44 files. The interconnect was a Decware 1 meter Silver Reference, and the speaker wire was basic Monster 16ga. Sometimes I ran my Klipsch RPW10 sub, and sometimes not.
Both the Super 3U and Super 3i work well with the Fleawatt - with or without sub depending on whether the music or room size/acoustics want a sub or not. YMMV. I tried the Fleawatt with the Super Alnico Monitor but didn't like it. The Alnicos are just too revealing and want commensurate partners upline. In fairness to the FleaWatt, the basic Decware is 6-1/2 times the price and my Decware is almost 11 times the price.
Rather than bore you with a bunch more block paragraphs, I'll list how the FleaWatt/3U/3i system did with each type of music. All files are native 16/44 or downsampled from 24/96 or 24/192.Pop
(run with the sub): Fast, punchy, dynamic, with symbols having a lot of shimmer and air - they really sound like what they are, metal. The kick drum has lots of punch. Soundstage well defined and 3D. Bass and lead guitars sound well balanced. Vocals very real, but sometimes there is some sibilance depending on the recording. Jazz & Blues
(run with sub): Scary spooky 3 dimensionally in the room with you. Every nuance of the singer's voice is very clear. Brass (which I don't care for anyway) can get a little brash on the top end, but not on every recording. Double bass is such that I can hear each string with it's buzz or rattle as it's plucked.Classical
(sometimes with sub, sometimes not): Single driver speakers, we're told, don't do complex music well of which classical is the most complex. With the speed of this amp and the RS5 driver, this system is able to pick up all the subtitles and nuances that classical music is known for and at low to medium volumes does a treat to this genre of music. If one cranks the volume, yes compression will set in, but with a system like this the volume doesn't need to be cranked in order for the dynamics to flow. Class D does really well with low level dynamics as do any truly efficient speakers like the Omegas. Save your ears.Baroque
(sometimes with sub, sometimes not): Similar results to Jazz - utterly spooky. The period instruments are rendered reedy and sonorous with lots of texture.Choral
(sometimes with sub, sometimes not): I only tried a piece from Mozart's Requiem which is a large work with lots of dynamics and high voices, and being this type of music rattles my nerves, I'm prejudiced against it. Smaller choral works that are more gentle on the nerves, I love, and would put them in the class of jazz and blues as far as their presentation and dynamics go.
In conclusion (at $155 USD for basic amp and 15 volt brick switching power supply) I think the FleaWatt is a steal. Just think, for well under a grand USD one could have the FleaWatt amp, a pair of Super 3i, and a Schiit Modi 2 DAC. With a system like this there are almost endless upgrade possibilities without changing out any of the main components. The upgrade possibilities for the amp are almost endless not to mention the power supply options. You can add a sub, better interconnects etc, etc.
The sound signature of the FleaWatt is very detailed and leaning to the analytical, and can get harsh on the top end with some recordings. The system I played with this amp is highly resolved and not always forgiving of bright or hot recordings. The upside of this is incredible detail and dynamics. Imaging is insane and finely focussed with all types of music clearly revealing the space of the recording venue. It was enjoyed by all who heard it and I found myself getting addicted to the sound. The Fleawatt amp is clearly better sounding in every way than my "red board" TPA3116.
At $155 USD I can't think of anything that compares to the FleaWatt and in the aforementioned sub $1000 USD system could deliver some iPhone/iPod/Android/earbud owners from sub musical mediocrity to something that has a taste of the high end.
As they say in the professional reviews: "highly recommended".
Below is my "red board" TPA3116, the FleaWatt, and Firestone Big Joe V1.3 for size comparison.
I love the FleaWatt case, it's solid as a rock and well made, not to mention Derek's workmanship inside is impeccable.