Tangent PreAmp II + PowerAmpster II: small but powerful

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Mis à jour le 15 September 2022.

With the Tangent PreAmp II and Tangent PowerAmpster II, Tangent promises to provide a separate-element hi-fi system combining power, musicality and compactness. Available for under €450, this pair offers many possibilities thanks to its analog and digital inputs, as well as its aptX HD Bluetooth receiver and 24-bit.192kHz DAC. Can it compete with larger devices and can it do better than an integrated model?

The Tangent PowerAmpster II and Tangent PreAmp form a compact, musical and powerful separates hi-fi system.

Tangent PreAmp II + PowerAmpster II: packaging & accessories

Because the Tangent PreAmp II and Tangent PowerAmpster II are two separate devices that can be used individually, they each come in their own box. The Tangent PreAmp II preamplifier comes with a power cable, a quick start guide and an infrared remote control. The Tangent PowerAmpster II power amplifier comes with a power cable and a user manual.

The Tangent PreAmp II and Tangent PowerAmpster II come with a power cable and a user guide. Only the preamplifier has an infrared remote control.

Tangent PreAmp II: presentation

Danish manufacturer Tangent is an expert in designing ultra compact electronics. The range was inaugurated with the Tangent Ampster BT amplifier, which now has a second version: the Tangent Ampster BT II. It is accompanied by the Tangent CD II CD player and Tangent Tuner II FM/DAB/DAB+ tuner. These models are only 19cm deep, 19cm wide and under 10cm high. They can be easily hidden away in a piece of furniture, on a shelf or on a desk. The manufacturer has now applied this characteristic to separate-element systems with the new Tangent PreAmp II preamplifier.

Tangent electronics are ideal for those looking to create a comprehensive and compact system on a tight budget.

Just as compact as the company’s other models, the size of the Tangent PreAmp II belies its possibilities. Danish style is embodied in a rectangular and minimalist chassis. It is very understated with its black finish and lack of decoration, which reinforces this small preamplier’s ability to blend into the decor. You quickly forget about it once it is installed. The chassis is made entirely of metal, giving the device a sense of robustness. The finish lacks refinement, as there are visible screws on several sides, but it is difficult to ask for more from a device that costs less than €200.

The Tangent PreAmp II has a minimalist design, with a compact chassis and sparse controls.

The front panel of the Tangent PreAmp II features an aluminum plate and a single knob. The latter lets you adjust the volume, or change the source with a light press. Several LEDs indicate the selected source. For greater control, the preamplifier comes with an infrared remote control. In addition to volume and source control, the remote allows the user to adjust the tone of the highs and lows by +/-8 dB. This feature is very useful for modifying the sound to suit your preferences or your speakers.

Thanks to the Tangent PreAmp II’s remote control, you can adjust the volume, select the source and set the treble and bass levels.

The Tangent PreAmp II’s minimalism is also reflected in the limited range of connectors. The analog stage includes an RCA input and a 3.5mm mini-jack auxiliary input to connect a CD player or DAP, for example. The RCA input can be switched to line level or phono, making it possible to connect a turntable with an MM cartridge. The digital section of the Tangent PreAmp II is reduced to a single optical input to connect a network media player or TV. Consequently, the preamplifier uses a Cirrus Logic DAC to ensure an optimal conversion of music with a resolution of up to 24-bit/192kHz.

The Tangent PreAmp II preamplifier is equipped with an RCA input, a 3.5mm mini-jack input and an optical input to connect a CD player, network media player, turntable or television, for example.

The Tangent PreAmp II can be paired with any power amplifier thanks to its unbalanced RCA and balanced XLR outputs. A subwoofer output is also available. A headphone output on the front panel allows you to enjoy your music without any distractions. It is a shame, however, that there isn’t a trigger output to turn the power amp on and off at the same time as the preamplifier. Thankfully, the Tangent PreAmp II turns on automatically when it detects a signal on one of its outputs; a feature available on only a few competing models.

The 6.35mm mini-jack output on the front panel of the Tangent PreAmp II lets you listen to your music with headphones or IEMs.

In addition to its analog and digital inputs, the Tangent PreAmp II preamplifier features a Qualcomm Bluetooth 5.0 controller. The latter makes it easy to stream music from any smartphone, tablet or computer compatible with AAC and SBC codecs. Better still, the Tangent PreAmp II is also Bluetooth aptX HD compatible to enhance the sound quality.

In order to handle the various sources evenly and accurately, the Tangent PreAmp II uses a low noise power supply and a double J-Fet transistor. The latter increases gain while preserving the integrity of the musical information and the transparency of the soundstage.

Tangent PreAmp II: key specifications

  • 24-bit/162kHz DAC
  • RCA, optical and 3.5mm mini-jack inputs
  • aptX HD Bluetooth receiver
  • Tone settings (+/-8 dB)
  • Dimensions (WxHxD): 195 x 70 x 194mm
  • Weight: 1.3kg

Tangent PowerAmpster II: presentation

The Tangent PowerAmpster II power amplifier has the same compact format as the PreAmp II. Its design is even more minimalist; the front panel only features a single LED that indicates whether the amp is working or in standby mode.

Just as compact and minimalist, the Tangent PowerAmpster II forms a very appealing pair with the Tangent PreAmp II.

Inside the chassis, the Tangent PowerAmster II uses a very generous power supply to handle the dynamic shifts of music and soundtracks efficiently. The power supply works alongside class D Digital Audio Mosfet transistors for the output stage. This configuration allows the Tangent PowerAmpter II to deliver 2 x 100 watts into 4 ohms. This amplifier also has a bridge mono mode in which its output reaches 1 x 200 watts into 8 ohms. Enough to easily power a pair of bookshelf or small floorstanding speakers. The Tangent PowerAmpster II can also be used to power a passive subwoofer or a 4D shaker.

Thanks to a switch on the rear panel, the Tangent PowerAmpster II can deliver 2 x 100W into 4 ohms in stereo mode and 1 x 200W into 8 ohms in mono mode.

Regarding the connectors, the Tangent PowerAmpster II power amplifier has a balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA input. As a result, it can be easily connected to any hi-fi or home theater preamplifier. To make up for the missing trigger input, the amplifier can automatically come out of standby mode when it detects a signal on its inputs. It can therefore be used simultaneously with your hi-fi or A/V system without any intervention on your part.

The Tangent PowerAmpster II automatically comes out of standby mode when it detects a signal on its RCA or XLR inputs.

Tangent PowerAmpster II: key specifications

  • 2 x 100 watts or 1 x 200 watts
  • Class D
  • Stereo or mono mode
  • RCA and XLR inputs
  • Automatic exit from standby mode
  • Dimensions (WxHxD): 195 x 70 x 194mm
  • Weight: 2kg

Tangent PreAmp II + PowerAmpster II: listening conditions

For this review, we connected the Tangent PreAmp II to the Tangent PowerAmpster II using a NorStone Arran RCA cable. We connected the preamplifier to the Bluesound Node (2021) network player via RCA, then via optical to test the performances of the integrated DAC. We also connected the Tangent CD II CD player, as well as the Tangent Tuner II FM and DAB/DAB+ tuner. We used the Elipson Prestige Facet 8B, Eltax Monitor V, Elipson Heritage XLS 11 and Dali Oberon 1 speakers.

The Tangent PowerAmpster II power amp and Tangent PreAmp II preamplifier with the Tangent CD II CD player Tangent Tuner II, and Studio Lab SLB 102N speakers.

Tangent PreAmp II + PowerAmpster II: listening conditions

The Tangent PowerAmpster II displayed a very impressive power reserve. It managed to effectively power all of the speakers we tried, even models with large drivers such as the Elipson Heritage XLS 11s and Eltax Monitor Vs. The lows were always dense and well structured with tight bass. This power amplifier brought great energy and texture to the music. The tempo was vigorously sustained. The note attacks were delivered with vitality and the rising decibels were perfectly controlled.

The Tangent PowerAmpster II power amp displayed great dynamic capabilities and very generous bass.

This Tangent duo delivered a beautiful finesse in the highs. With various tracks by Eric Clapton and Rodrigo y Gabriela, the acoustic guitars were reproduced with clarity. They were intelligently highlighted, contributing to perception of each plucked string. This consistently and well controlled frequency range was smooth and agile, except with the most intense notes which were sometimes a little harsh. 

The Tangent PreAmp II and Tangent PowerAmpster II pair effectively reproduced the artists’ voices. With Sade’s album Soldier of Love, the singer’s voice was perfectly embodied in the center of the soundstage. We enjoyed numerous intonations and beautiful articulation. The very sensual inflections of the artist were more discreet than usual, in favor of a more analytical sound and very neutral mids.

The Tangent PreAmp II and Tangent PowerAmpster II duo provided an effective reproduction of different vocal intonations.

Tangent PreAmp II + PowerAmpster II: compared to…

It is difficult to compare the Tangent PreAmp II + PowerAmpster II duo because such compact models are very rare. The Tangent PreAmp II’s competitors are either larger or significantly more expensive. It is genuinely alone in the compact and affordable preamplifier category. Concerning the Tangent PowerAmpster II, the only devices that are as compact are usually mono models, such as the Pro-Ject Amp Box RS Mono. To remain consistent in terms of price, the Tangent pair can only be compared to small integrated units like the Yamaha A-U670 or the Rega IO. However, the latter are less powerful and cannot compete with the energy and dynamics of the Tangent PowerAmpster II.

Tangent PreAmp II + PowerAmpster II: who are they for?

The Tangent PreAmp II + PowerAmpster II duo is designed for any user looking for a separates hi-fi system that combines power, musicality and compactness. With its single RCA input (line or phono) and 3.5mm mini-jack input, as well as a single optical input, the Tangent PreAmp II preamplifier is best suited to hi-fi systems containing a maximum of three sources: a turntable with a CD player and network media player, TV or FM tuner, for example. With its output of 2 x 100 watts, the Tangent PowerAmpster II adds extra punch and energy to a pair of bookshelf or small floorstanding speakers. For more demanding models, it is possible to use two Tangent PowerAmpster IIs in mono mode for 200 watts per channel.

The Tangent PreAmp II and Tangent PowerAmpster II pair is ideal for creating a separates hi-fi system that combines power, musicality and compactness.

Tangent PreAmp II + PowerAmpster II: conclusion 

With the Tangent PowerAmpster II and Tangent PreAmp II, the Danish manufacturer has achieved a real feat with one of the most compact and affordable separate-element hi-fi systems on the market. Working in perfect harmony, this duo benefits from a solid power reserve that vitalizes music. It is very generous, especially in the lows, which are well structured, with punchy and lively bass. The sound is always dynamic and pleasant. One can also associate this set with speakers costing two or three times its price, such as the Elipson Heritage XLS 11 or the Sonus Faber Lumina II, without fear of limiting their performance.

We liked:

  • The minimalist format
  • Their dynamic character
  • The tight, punchy bass

We would have liked:

  • More connectors
  • For the sound to have been less neutral

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