Tangent Ampster TV II review

Do you have a sonically lacking flatscreen and a spare pair of loudspeakers? Ed Selley auditions an affordable HDMI-equipped amplifier that will unite the two

As a 'hi-fi person' I'm no stranger to devices that perform one function. It's a cornerstone of the hi-fi separates approach and it ironically gets more pronounced the more expensive the equipment becomes. Even with this taken into account, Tangent's new Ampster TV II is a fairly unusual thing.

Closely related to the Danish company's long-running Ampster II, this £200 unit again is based around a Class D integrated amplifier rated at 50W per channel, inside a compact all-metal chassis measuring 195(w) x 70(h) x 194(d)mm.

It's more than up to the job of powering similarly priced speakers (bookshelf and standmount designs are obvious partners), and you get a set of sturdy speaker terminals, that put some rather more expensive models to shame, to connect them.

But while the Ampster II has a selection of analogue and digital inputs, the TV II is a lot more focused. It has just one (!) physical input, in the form of an HDMI ARC connection. This lets the amp act as the interface between a TV and a pair of speakers.

Tanget_Ampster_TV II_rear

The thing is, that's almost your lot – if you want to do anything else, the Tangent Ampster TV II is rather limited. The only other source connection is an aptX HD capable Bluetooth input, which is going to place heavy reliance on your smartphone/tablet for content, unless you don't mind running your screen as a media server (and the TV resampling everything to 48kHz).

Ready for Prime time
Connecting Tangent's amp via HDMI to an LG OLED55B8 TV and running it into a pair of Q Acoustics 5020 standmount speakers, the result is a seamless extension of the LG TV's functionality. I was quickly powering through episodes of Reacher (Prime Video) accompanied by stereo sonics that were well and truly up to snuff.

All of the basics were dealt with in a confidence-inspiring way. Dialogue had heft and detail, and the Ampster TV II had sufficient power in reserve to handle dynamic peaks without coming up feeling short of drive. Its presentation was usefully spacious too; even the complex sound design of the first beach sequence in Edge of Tomorrow (4K Blu-ray) didn't leave it out of ideas.

It's also worth noting that one of the very few extra physical connections the amplifier has is a subwoofer pre-out, which will help things further in terms of low-end energy. You will need to set your subwoofer's crossover manually, though, as there's no bass management onboard.

The Bluetooth performance is perfectly fine but not spectacular, and there is simply no other way of sending content to the Ampster TV II. A single optical input would have ensured better compatibility with an affordable music streamer (or indeed an older TV) to bolster functionality. That said, Spotify played via my LG TV and sent over HDMI sounded decent and the app has a pleasant interface; running both movies and music via a telly will therefore suit some.

Fighting fit
Indeed, Tangent's new amplifier is very clearly aimed at TV-centric customers (the clue is in the name), and it certainly fills a niche. The idea behind it is a simple one, but that doesn't mean it's not also a good one. We're seeing more and more 'soundbar killer' products these days, and with speakers in tow the Ampster TV II is ready to start gunning them down.

HCC Verdict: 4/5

Tangent Ampster TV II
Price: £200

We say: It's pretty niche, but Tangent's amp is a brilliantly cost effective way of squeezing better sound from an affordable flatscreen.


POWER OUTPUT (CLAIMED): 2 x 50W (4ohm) CONNECTIONS: 1 x HDMI ARC input; subwoofer pre-out (on RCA); stereo speaker terminals DIMENSIONS: 195(w) x 70(h) x 194(d)mm WEIGHT: 1.8kg

FEATURES: IR remote handset; Bluetooth 5.0 (aptX HD); treble and bass adjustment (+/- 8dB); auto standby mode (after 15 minutes of inactivity); 192kHz/24-bit DAC