To call the $3999 Lyngdorf TDAI-1120 Integrated Amplifier with RoomPerfect an “integrated amplifier” really is selling this compact, living-room friendly device rather short. Not only does it boast a host of streaming, digital and analogue capabilities plus a healthy 60 Watts of power into 8 ohm speakers (which doubles to 120 Watts with 4 ohm speakers), it also features one very clever feature that gives it a pretty compelling advantage over other devices: Lyngdorf’s patented RoomPerfect™ technology, which can help transform the performance of your speakers without the need for potentially expensive and intrusive room treatment.
The elephant in the room
We really do need to talk about it. The room, that is. You can go to the trouble of patiently building yourself a kick-arse high-end audio system made up from terrifically-engineered products, only to be undone by what is probably the biggest single variable in the sound of your hifi system: look up, look down. And now look left then right - it’s the room you’re sitting in. You see, while speaker manufacturers usually develop their products to perform at their best when played in optimally-treated, appropriately-sized rooms, most of those fancy new speakers get unboxed and set-up in homes that are, well, just that - homes.
Homes tend to be full of things inside them. You know, things like furniture, shelves, picture frames and ever-larger flat-screen TVs (which are really giant reflectors). Homes tend to have lots of windows, mirrors, and hard floors. Homes also tend to have walls, corners, and any number of features that can make music not only travel directly towards your ears, but also bounce around several times before arriving back at your ears - those delayed refractions can create marked different changes to frequency response compared to an anechoic chamber (trust me, you don’t want to live in one - they sound weird). In short, that comfy room where you’ve proudly set up your stereo can also be your biggest enemy when it comes to enjoying your music.
While I am a just a tad more invested in enjoying music at home compared to your average punter, I don’t exactly have the luxury of shopping around for a house with a dedicated, treated listening room. Nor do I particularly want one - my other half and I chose our place because it’s where we plan on living. To quote my wife: “I don’t want to live in a prison of sound’...” (although it does sound kinda cool, right?). I have two stereo setups at home where I do most of my listening - our main living room where I keep my main speakers and source equipment is asymmetrically shaped with large floor-to-ceiling glass sliding doors on one side, and walls made from thick masonry on the others - the original owners didn’t quite plan on making it ready for critical listening (thankfully, it’s carpeted though). It also happens to be the room that we spend most of our time in, and it’s where we entertain friends and family - it is a living room, after all. I don’t really have the luxury of bringing speakers out into the room on stands (ok, so I do when I have the weekend to myself) - most of the time they’re parked either side of the TV where they spend as much time performing Netflix duties as they do with Qobuz or vinyl.
My home office is also pretty problematic when it comes to dealing with the aforementioned “elephant”. There are curtain-less windows on one side, three large glass sliding doors directly behind where I sit, and a wall full of pictures, diplomas and books on the other wall - a diagram of how sound travels around this room would look more like a Jackson Pollock painting than a neat isosceles triangle. There’s also a big bass “void” smack-bang in the middle of the room - right where my ears are when I’m facing the screen on my desktop. I’ve added a few absorption panels on the rear wall, but without an undergraduate degree in sound engineering and a spouse who’s happy to drop our holiday fund on a sonic make-over, I guess just going to have to “deal with it”.
While rooms can’t be completely “solved”, they can be markedly improved with the proper application of room treatment - that is, materials specially designed to absorb and refract sound waves to help counteract the audio gremlins that live in your room. Adding treatment in troublesome spots in the rooms like corners and walls can make a substantial improvement in your room’s sonic performance, but unless you know what you’re doing you could be adding a whole bunch of material to your room that’s either in the wrong place, or not dealing with the right frequencies - you’re going to need to know what you’re doing, or pay someone who knows what they’re doing. And if you don’t, then you just have a bunch of foam stuck on your walls and less money for Fun Things.
On the other hand, your room’s characteristics can be analysed and optimised with the help of a bit of digital signal processing. I have dabbled in the past with Room EQ Wizard in the past, but without a proper microphone and the time to invest in getting my head around how it works (it does have a pretty tricky learning curve) I’ve had middling results. The other tricky thing about using digital room correction is setting your target frequency - that is, what you’re trying to adjust things to. It’s tempting to simply look at the peaks and troughs that your microphone is telling you exist, and simply want to “correct” them to a flat target line - does a flat response sound “good”? Does that take into consideration the speakers themselves?
By now, you might be painting yourself a mental picture of doom and gloom as you sit there in what, until now, you thought was the “sweet spot” in your listening room. It’s not the end of the world, however. If your speakers sound great and you’re having fun - then power to you. But, once you understand the limitations and the characteristics of the room you find yourself parked in, then dealing with it can be probably the single biggest “upgrade” you can make to your listening enjoyment. And with the simple introduction of a clever little device like the Lyngdorf TDAI-1120, you can put any thoughts of remodelling away thanks to the inclusion of a very clever system called RoomPerfect™, which doesn’t involve any need for the additional purchases of software, measurement devices, nor a crash course in physics. Phew.
About Lyngdorf’s RoomPerfect
Peter Lyngdorf, founder of the Danish manufacturer that bears his name, decided to develop a solution to help the room-dwelling audiophile overcome the limitations of their environment and get the most from their speakers without needing to resort to drastic measures. The result? RoomPerfect™ - a Lyngdorf proprietary product developed over more than two decades integrated into their products that help identify both the sound of an individual pair of speakers, as well as the specific acoustic properties of the room they’re sitting in. RoomPerfect™is able to analyse the specific behaviour of a pair of speakers within a given room and the apply corrections to them taking into consideration the shape, size and way that sound behaves within it.
Lifestyle is at the heart of the way that RoomPerfect has been designed - knowing that music fans need to make compromises when it comes to the way they set up their homes, it takes into consideration the fact that people are humans, and can’t always set up their speakers and components in optimal environments. It also accounts for things like lamps, bookshelves, and all the other assorted flotsam and jetsam that are invariably located in the same room that the listener will find themselves in, as well as the usually less-than-optimal layout of the room itself.
Lyngdorf realised that perhaps the single biggest limitation of traditional room correction software is that it tends to treat all frequencies equally, and leads you down a path of creating a “flat” frequency that doesn’t take the actual sound of your speakers into consideration, and nor does it sound particularly “good”. To quote Peter Lyngdorf:
“It’s a mistake to have a flat frequency response as your target curve - unless you live in an anechoic chamber.”
As well as analysing your room and speakers, RoomPerfect also provides powerful and flexible adjustment options for tailoring sound to your liking with a range of preset “voicing” options, with options like “Action Movie”, “Relaxed”, “Music”, and “Bass” available for selection via the Lyngdorf app. The app also allows you to get a bit more hands-on with options for bass/treble EQ gain, balance control, plus the ability to optimise your speakers depending on where you’re sitting in the room: “Focus” creates a laser-pointed sound that’s optimised for sitting directly in between your speakers (a.k.a the “sweet spot”), while “Global” is ideal for more a more ambient style of listening while you wander around the room, or have your music playing in the background when guests are over. The Lyngdorf app also allows you to completely “Bypass” RoomPerfect so that you can instantly hear the difference between having a completely unprocessed signal, and one optimised for your room - it’s pretty cool, and I’ll go into this a bit later.
Lyngdorf TDAI-1120 overview
The TDAI-1120 may be Lyngdorf’s “entry-level” integrated amplifier, but they’ve managed to pack-in a cornucopia of features that are genuinely surprising for a product with such a diminutive footprint, so the TDAI-1220’s features and multitude of applications warrant an introduction before I delve into how it goes about defying the physical limitations of the room itself. In its simplest form, the TDAI-1120 is an compact integrated amplifier that will appeal to the minimalist who’s looking for a svelte, demure all-in-one device that can handle just about every conceivable music source with the grunt to manage just about any speakers that you decide to throw at it.
Having read up on the TDAI-1120’s laundry-list of talents, the thing that surprised me most about it is its size - it is tiny as far as integrated amplifiers go! Measuring a mere 10.1 x 30 x 26 cm (or, about the size of a box of cornflakes), the TDAI-1120 will happily squeeze into bookshelves and AV cabinets, while its all-black unfussy industrial design will ensure that it does so without drawing so much as a second look. The TDAI-1120 looks entirely unassuming in that it lacks any apparent outward flair or frills, and only the white backlit lights on its glossy display screen and volume control hint at what it’s capable of in terms of the intelligent engineering packed inside. At a trim 3.3 kilograms, the TDAI-1120 very much sits in the featherweight category as far as integrated amps go, and it nearly feels a little too light to be taken seriously - until you fire it up and start running it through its paces, that is.
There are only three physical controls on the front panel of the Lyngdorf TDAI-1220 - a rotating “Source” knob that selects between the thirteen possible source options; a digital volume knob with tactile, clicky gradations with an LED backlight to give the user an idea of high far it’s turned up; plus a simple on/off “Standby” switch. The rest of the TDAI-1120’s substantial features and functions are controllable via a companion iOS/Android app - there is no remote provided. Presumably, Lyngdorf sees the TDAI-1120 as a future-facing device who’s owners will be savvy and device-agnostic enough to be happy to use their smart device of choice to handle day-to-day user interactions.
In terms of the “amplifier” stuff that sits under the hood, the TDAI-1120 features Lyngdorf’s signature “all-digital amplification” technology, which they describe as being more like a DAC with adequate current and voltage to directly drive speakers where the volume is merely reduced (rather than amplified), minus the requisite bunch of components sandwiched in-between on other devices. The crossover, preamplifier, power amplifier, DAC and RoomPerfect components are completely managed in the digital realm by the TDAI-1120’s “digital control centre” with the net result being a lightweight device that generates barely any heat, yet is capable of generating a powerful, dynamic sound with a completely “black” background according to Lyngdorf. The TDAI-1120 is rated at a respectable 60 Watts per channel with 8-ohm speakers, which doubles to 120 Watts per channel with 4-ohm speakers - more than enough for most speakers in 99% of living rooms around the world.
Leaving aside the its room-defying smarts for a moment, the TDAI-1120’s digital and analogue capabilities alone make it a formidable product as integrated amplifiers go, placing it squarely at the pointy-end of talented products as far as amplifiers go in 2022:
Digital inputs (Asynchronous): 2 x Coaxial (≤192kHz/24bit) 2 x Optical (≤96 kHz/24bit) 1 x HDMI eARC (≤24 bit/192 kHz)
Analog inputs: 1 x Phono Single Ended RCA (RIAA / 47kOhm 100pF), 1 x Analog Single Ended RCA (Max level: 4.0V = 0dBFS) 1 x Microphone input (XLR) for RoomPerfect™ calibration
Analog output: 1 x Stereo Analog RCA (75ohm-Max output level 4 Vrms)
Media player: Internet Radio (vTuner), Spotify Connect, Roon Ready, Chromecast built-in, DLNA Support , AirPlay2, Bluetooth, Local file playback (USB)
Wireless connections: Bluetooth connectivity, Wi-Fi (802.11 n)
The five digital inputs, including HDMI eARC, make the TDAI-1120 ready to sit at the heart of the multimedia hub in your living room, handling your TV as well as your other digital music sources with equal aplomb - simply plug in your TV via the HDMI input, and you’ll be able to control it with the one remote. Nice.
And being 2022 and all, it’s entirely possible that you can enjoy the TDAI-1120 without having to plug anything into it at all. With Bluetooth connectivity, internet radio, Airplay 2, DLNA support, Spotify and Chromecast built-in, all it takes is a simple command from your connected device over-the-air to send hi-res tunes into your speakers. Roon is very much the audiophile’s playback program of choice these days, and I, for one, could not live without it. The TDAI-1120 is a fully “Roon Ready” device, and with it selected as an “endpoint” you simply need to play tunes over your Roon “core” to take advantage of all the program’s digital tweaking power along with access to your local and streaming libraries to make near-endless high-res musical options available at your fingertips.
The Lyngdorf app is easy-to-navigate and makes controlling day-to-day functions like volume control and source selection a breeze, as well as giving more in-depth control over RoomPerfect and other digital EQ adjustments. Access to Spotify and “vTuner” internet radio is built into the app, giving you access to near infinite streaming libraries or the option of some more unplanned programming from dozens of global music, talkback or podcast stations. As a Qobuz user, playing lossless and higher-res music with the TDAI-1120 is a simple case of finding your album or playlist of choice, and selecting the Lyngdorf as your Chromecast endpoint - it couldn’t be any simpler.
As well as being a digital virtuoso when it comes to both wired and streaming sources, the TDAI-1120’s analogue capabilities give it an even greater appeal for in terms of pairing with more “old-school” sources. The TDAI-1120 includes a standard line-level RCA analogue input plus a phono input ready to accept moving magnet cartridges. Even better, the TDAI-1120’s RoomPerfect processing will optimise analogue signals as readily as it will 1’s and 0’s - full digital room-correction on my favourite LP’s? Now that’s cool. Rounding things out, the TDAI-1120 also includes an RCA preamplifier output for pairing it with either a power amplifier or subwoofer, and yep - RoomPerfect will also happily take an integrated subwoofer into consideration when creating an optimum room-ready correction, and apply a seamless crossover point between your sub and speakers.
Setting up the Lyngdorf TDAI-1120 & RoomPerfect
If you plan on using the TDAI-1120 with a digital streaming source, setting it up is simple case of taking it out of the box, attaching your speakers via the sturdy five-way binding posts on the back, and plugging in a standard IEC power cable (the TDAI-1120 has an internal power supply, so there’s no power “brick” to contend with), and that’s it as far as cables are concerned. After I’d connected my speakers and plugged the TDAI-1120 into the wall, I opened up the Google Home app on my Pixel 6 and was quickly prompted to set up the TDAI-1120 as a connected device. As soon as I’d shared my wifi credentials, the TDAI-1120 was ready to boogie as a Chromecast/Roon Ready device - it’s really that simple.
Playing vinyl with the TDAI-1120 was as simple as plugging the Thorens TD 102 A that I have in for review into the phono RCA inputs, selecting “A1”, and dropping the needle. But that is just skimming the surface when it comes to using the bare-bones functionality of the TDAI-1120 as “just” an integrated amplifier - to reap the benefits of everything it has to offer, you need to download the Lyngdorf app and set up the included calibration microphone and stand that comes included inside the box with the TDAI-1120.
Many DSP-based (digital signal processing) room correction systems require you getting your hands on a dedicated room-analysing microphone (plus additional boxes and software), but being a complete end-to-end system, the TDAI-1120 comes with one in the box along with a properly large and study microphone stand, plus a suitably long XLR cable that is plugged into the rear of the system.
And now comes the “fun” part - it’s time to start analysing the room. The measurement process is handled through the Lyngdorf app, which first prompts you to place the mic in the “Focus” position - i.e. where you normally sit to enjoy music. For me, this meant placing the mic on my couch with the mic positioned where my head would be. With the mic appropriately placed, the TDAI-1120 then plays a sequence of low and higher-pitched sounds from each speaker that are reminiscent of an organ soundtrack from a horror movie and are guaranteed to terrify your pets (my cats still have PTSD).
After measuring the “Focus” position, RoomPerfect then goes about collecting more data from your speakers and your room by asking you to move the mic around the room into random positions, and repeating the process. After doing this five times, the app informed me that RoomPerfect had mapped a 94% complete idea of how my room and speakers were behaving (Lyngdorf suggest that >90% is adequate in most circumstances).
In about half and hour after first opening the box, I’d managed to set up the TDAI-1120; connect it to my streaming services and turntable; and had a room-ready compensation fully implemented - that’s pretty gob-smacking considering how expensive and time-consuming treating your room can be, and that 30 minutes could potentially be the best investment you make when it comes to enjoying year’s worth of better sound. I’m perhaps a B- when it comes to technology and I found the end-to-end process to be pretty easy to step-through. Lyngdorf thankfully provides an extremely comprehensive user manual along with the TDAI-1120, which provides a clear step-by-step process for walking you through the process - I’m confident that even ardent Luddites ought to be able to get it up and running without needing to call their nerdy mate over to lend a hand.
Listening to the Lyngdorf TDAI-1120 and RoomPerfect
I felt it was appropriate to give the TDAI-1120 a quick whirl in “vanilla”-mode first - that is, without RoomPerfect engaged - to get a sense of how it performs as a regular integrated amplifier. Somewhat appropriately, I have a set of excellent speakers in the house in the form of the Dynaudio Evoke 20 Bookshelf Speakers which also hail from Denmark. Being a rear-ported design, the Evoke 20 does prefer to be situated a little further out into the room on stands, and when they’re in my living room or situated on my desk in a nearfield setup they can get a little “boomy” when placed a within a foot of the rear wall. Being 86 dB sensitivity, the Dynaudios do require more than a little power to sing at their best, but the immediate impression that I got from the TDAI-1120 was one of grip, clarity and strong dynamics. It’s not a particularly warm nor coloured-sounding amplifier - rather, it presents a vivid, clear picture that has a very cogent feel to it.
“Lateralus” by Tool is an album that I’m intimately familiar with (I think I might accidentally have 3 x copies of it on CD!), and so I felt that streaming the 24-bit/96kHz Qobuz version of it was an appropriate way to get a feel for how RoomPerfect affected the sound of the Evoke 20’s in my room. I know phrases like “night and day!” get bandied around a lot in this hobby, but switching over RoomPerfect from “Bypass” to “Focus” had the most profound impact on the sound I was experiencing - and in a Good Way. The pummelling kick drums and bass in “The Grudge” (which I thought sounded “great”) suddenly seemed boomy and resonant - flicking on RoomPerfect immediately injected a triple espresso’s worth of caffeine into the Dynaudio’s performance. The “boom” caused by the rear wall’s reflection simply vanished - in its place was an utterly taut low-end with snappy, perfectly textured notes.
With the mid-bass bloom now gone, RoomPerfect allowed the detail in the electric guitar crunch and Maynard’s vocals to shine with far more space and clarity. And with this new-found space and clarity came a far more focused and symmetrical stereo image, with an absolutely laser-pointed centre image. My room obviously had a less-than ideal balance in this regard and cared nought for the fact that I was sitting smack-back in-between the speakers, but RoomPerfect worked just as intended in terms of correcting this problem.
While I’ve always been utterly impressed with the performance of the Evoke 20, RoomPerfect has forced me to do a double-take in terms of what they’re capable of. The Strokes “Under Cover of Darkness” no longer had a smoothed-over quality to it with a seemingly relaxed highest octave - the space around notes increased markedly with RoomPerfect engaged, guitar solos bit through with a ton more alacrity, and percussion sounded far more like what a real drum kit actually sounds like. Asking my wife what she thought of the difference between the two modes, she noted that RoomPerfect (unprompted) sounded more “sparkly”, which is an entirely apt description - there’s simply more air and space afforded for the detail in music to shine through.
Next, it was time to spin a bit of wax with the TDAI-1120. I gave “In Rainbows” - my favourite Radiohead record - a quick clean, and then dropped the needle with the Thorens turntable connected to the phono RCA inputs on the Lyngdorf. The TDAI-1120’s phono stage proved to be articulate and incisive, with great dynamics and detail shining through - and then I switched RoomPerfect on. I can’t tell you enough how awesome it is to have room correction and DSP control over vinyl playback available at the mere tap of a screen in the Lyngdorf app - its nothing short of revelatory. The bass guitar transformed from “one note” bass that boomed over the mid-range to actually sounding like a properly accurate representation of a bass guitar. The guitar arpeggios and tapping of the hi-hat became crisp, and more immediately identifiable with a clearly defined and separated image - in short, it sounded far less like the muted dynamics of vinyl, and much more like a crisp, high-res digital version of the album albeit with simply great analogue tone and texture.
Final thoughts on the Lyngdorf TDAI-1120 and RoomPerfect
I went into this review with an open mind, and yet was prepared to look at RoomPerfect with a healthy dose of skepticism and see it as a nice “add-on” to an already well-specced and featured integrated amplifier. I already knew that my listening rooms at home were “less than ideal”, but after experiencing a couple of week’s worth of RoomPerfect, I don’t think I’ll ever look at them the same way again (or hear them, more accurately).
The TDAI-1120 is certainly a premium product with a premium price-tag to match, but putting aside RoomPerfect for a moment it’s a stunningly capable device for its price simply in terms of its power, connectivity and the ability to be simply a joy to live with. Not only is it a streamer’s delight with its Airplay 2, Chromecast and Roon Ready capability, but it has a bevy of lifestyle-ready options up its sleeve as well thanks to Spotify, vTuner, and Bluetooth capabilities as well. Add to this an excellent phono stage, and it’s one of the most well-rounded digital/analogue-ready devices going around - and the HDMI arc input is the icing on the cake when it comes to being the hardest-working item in your living room.
RoomPerfect is unquestionably everything it’s cracked up to be, from what I experienced in both my home setups (which, incidentally can be stored on the TDAI-1120 via a USB drive in the rear of the device) - I’ll stick my hand up to call myself a bona fide convert. It makes the value-equation of the TDAI-1120 even more compelling, and means that even if you move house or decide to upgrade your speakers down the track, you’ll be extracting the best performance out of them - no matter where you find yourself sitting down to enjoy music.
Music, at the end of the day is a lifestyle hobby - it makes you feel good, and it should make your worries disappear when you sit down to enjoy it. The TDAI-1120 with its integrated RoomPerfect technology simply removes problems that get in the way of enjoying music in your home, and lets you carry on living without the need to make drastic changes. The TDAI-1120 is simply a superb marriage of convenience, performance, and technology brought together in one lifestyle-friendly little black box. Hats off.