Despite being born in Texas of New Yorker parents, my wife spent many of her formative years in Denmark—and hasn’t stopped talking about it to this day. So there’s always something a bit Pavlovian about the sight of a Danish flag around these parts. When she looked at my stack of incoming packages and saw the box for the Tangent Ampster BT II, her initial reaction was, “Ooh! What’d ya get from Denmark?” When I told her it was an integrated amplifier, I half expected the wind to leave her sails, but she immediately shot back, “They make good gear! Like B&O!”
In many respects, the Tangent Ampster BT II is as un-B&O as a piece of audio gear can get, what with its straightforward design, its borderline-miniature form factor, and its $299.99 price tag (in the US; Europeans get it for an even more astounding €199, or about $215 USD).
Flip the box on its side and you also get a sort of does-what-it-says-on-the-tin listing of specs, as well as quick plugs for the other gear in Tangent’s current lineup: the Tuner II and the CD II.
Pop the lid and the no-nonsense trend continues. The manual and batteries for the remote are tucked in a plastic bag, sitting atop the expanded polystyrene packing material that surrounds the amp.
Lift the larger of those EPS pieces out of the box and you can see the little recess that holds other accessories, including the power cable.
Out of its packaging and padding, the Ampster BT II is an adorable little spit of a thing, measuring just 7.7″W × 2.8″H × 7.6″D, and weighing 3.8 pounds. Of course, sometimes such numbers are hard to put into perspective; for scale, consider the fact that the Tangent Ampster BT II’s remote is about the size of the clicker that comes with a Roku.
You can also see in this image the two-prong power cord in the back (no big, dangly box to worry about, as the power supply is internal), along with . . .
Wait, what the heck is that thing in the middle? It kinda looks like the old ferrite bar antennas that used to hang off the back of stereo gear when I was a sprat. It’s definitely not that, I can say with confidence. The Tangent Ampster BT II doesn’t do any sort of terrestrial reception, and its only antenna is for Bluetooth connectivity.
Maybe there’s a clue in the manual.
Or maybe not. The only listed accessory supposedly included in the box is the remote control.
There is a clue in the diagram, though. Look at item 17 on the innies/outies list and you’ll see there’s an external IR input. Is this thing an IR repeater? If so, I haven’t seen one quite like it. Maybe it’s a Danish thing. I’ll have to explore some.
Spinning the amp around for a look at the back, in addition to the IR input, we can see the aforementioned BT antenna, a line input, a sub output, a 3.5mm aux in, an optical digital in (with support for word lengths and sample rates up to 24-bit/96kHz), a 5V/1A USB charging port, and a pair of surprisingly nice speaker-level binding posts.
The Tangent Ampster BT II is one of the cheapest products I’ve reviewed for SoundStage! Access—in fact, it may be the cheapest—and it’s also unsurprisingly a modest amp in terms of manufacturer’s specs. It’s rated to deliver 50Wpc into 4 ohms or 25Wpc into 8 ohms. It’s also obviously designed to be used with a pair of bookshelf speakers and a sub, so I’m curious as to whether connecting my Paradigm towers will be a fair load.
I’m getting ahead of myself, of course. As soon as I get my iFi Audio DAC connected to the Ampster BT II and get it paired with my phone, I’ll be digging in for some serious listening. I’ll have a full report of my listening impressions soon.
. . . Dennis Burger