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So, being in college, I figured a good set of speakers would be a good investment. Except, again, being a college student, I was going to have to do it without the investment bit. So I dug around in my attic before hitting up the yard sales, and I found an old pair of Pioneer TS-6905 triaxials. Fantastic! Hooked them up to an even older Radio Shack "Realistic" receiver that I had used to play music at parties, and... the noises coming out were terrifying. The high and mid drivers seemed fine, but it was pretty clear that the big 6x9 lows needed some love. The foam was COMPLETELY disintegrated. Not a problem, got a refoam kit from Simply Speakers (HIGHLY recommend, these guys really know how customer service is supposed to work, and they stock tons of kits) and did them myself. Sound is fantastic now... but the old Realistic was just too big for my tiny apartment. So I popped over to eBay and found one of those little Chinese 2-channel amps ... to be shipped to me, FREE, from Hong Kong for $11.99. The manufacturer promised 100W from the thing, so I sprung for it, figuring if it was rubbish, I'd only really spent a couple of Cokes worth of cash.
Well the little amp arrived a couple weeks later, in a box marked as a "gift" for customs purposes... Opened it up, and I was astounded at how small it was. I can literally put it in my pocket. Front and center is the "delightful color change volume adjust", or a little halo LED that changes color in time to the music around the volume knob. There's a knob for bass and treble, and an on-off pushbutton. That's essentially it. A speaker wire spring terminal, an RCA input and a 12v jack round out the package
So how well does it work? Well, for starters, shielding seems to be nonexistent. Touching the knobs, the case, etc, causes a buzzing noise. The potentiometers seem to be of very low quality, too, since moving any of the knobs makes an audible crackling. There is almost no bass response. Enough for my primarily-classic-rock playlists, but just barely so. It can't be pushed to max volume on anything other than minimum bass on the EQ, or the clipping will make your head spin. And that promised 100W? Ha! The fine print reveals a paltry 4W RMS, and, according to an amp enthusiast site, this little guy only pushes out about 75% of that at max power.
I do have to say, however, that this little $12 amp produces incredibly clear sound, especially considering the price point, if you don't push it. And it seems relatively efficient with the TS-6905's. I can turn it up to about 25 and get a comfortable listening level in my closet of a room, and 75% (just about the limit of power before it starts clipping really bad) will fill the whole three-bedroom apartment with a surprisingly powerful, rich sound. The Pioneers are rated for 80W each and are VERY beefy, so I never have to worry about blowing them out with this pocket amp. Sure, it won't even come close to a higher-end computer speaker setup with a separate woofer, but for me, it works. These are old speakers, so you might be able to grab a "broken" pair for $5 or $10 at a garage sale, refoam them for $20, and have a nice little garage setup. The RCA cable and power transformer came from a broken camera and a 10-year-old DSL modem, respectively, all stuff I had just kicking around. So if anyone's looking for a way to play their iPod in the garage but doesn't want to drop $80-90 on one of those iPod-capable stereos, here's a suggestion!
 
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