This extraordinary amp from Eclipse represents one extreme of the options available at this price point. Flexibility and connectivity are not central to the TD-A502’s modus operandi: it features just one pair of line-level inputs, a 30w per channel output and one set of speaker connections. That’s your lot – no remote, no tone controls, nothing.
Mind you, the bald facts on paper don’t begin to describe the A502 experience. Its three-piece design (beautifully die-cast power supply beneath, amplification in the middle and gloriously tactile, under-lit volume control on top) is elegantly simple, and the single switch (the power button) works with well-damped precision. Standing just 30cm tall, it’s the perfect size to be used on a desk or shelf, on display as a conversation piece: this certainly isn’t an amplifier you’d ever want to hide away.
While the Eclipse undeniably has the makings of a style icon, there’s substance behind the style; go behind the show. It’s been designed as the perfect partner for the company’s unusual egg-shaped loudspeakers, with their single driver and innovative engineering, and the company claims the same principles inform the design of the amp itself. The conical shape, for example, renders it less susceptible to resonance or internal standing waves that might be excited when it’s used in close proximity to speakers, as it might well be in a desktop set-up.
And, while 30 watts per channel hardly screams ‘powerhouse’, every sensible person knows that it’s not the watts you’ve got that matters, it’s what you do with them. And this is a stunning amplifier: TD stands for ‘time domain’, and it’s the extraordinary timing that impresses. Beverly Knight’s Come As You Are snaps by without a hint of lag or overhang, each strand separated yet thoroughly integrated.
Changing to k. d. lang’s version of Joni Mitchell’s A Case of Youreveals more of the TD-A502’s qualities. The unfussy detail retrieval, the neutral presentation of voices and the broad soundstage create the kind of presentation to have you reaching for track after track in order to hear each one afresh.
The Eclipse TD-A502 gives you complete access to recorded music in a splendidly even-handed manner, and it looks like nothing else. That and the relatively low output may rule it out for some people, but this is an amp you overlook at your peril: designed for a specific task, it deserves much wider appeal.