In many environments where one might install a TV but wish for a better audio quality, it may not be possible to find room for tower speakers or even an AVR anywhere nearby. That’s where the Episode Digital Mini-Amplifier by SnapAV comes into play. It holds a few significant advantages over other small form factor amplifiers, which I’ll highlight here. And it comes in two- and three-channel variants, priced at just $249.99 and $299.99 respectively.
Size really matters when it comes to hiding something behind a TV. It measures just 5.4" x 2" x 6.8" and that makes it easy to hide out of sight. Both amps put out around 35 watts-per-channel, not bad for their small size and 12-volt power spec. Also, don’t forget to run the IR emitter for control before fully installing it.
The best place to mount them is right behind your TV. Zip ties can be used to secure it to the panel or a recessed box in the wall. It doesn’t run very hot so don’t worry too much about ventilation. Just set and forget it!
Control is a major factor when considering products for home automation. SnapAV wisely chose to include IR inputs and outputs which opens up many options, including the ability to use an existing IR-based remote. Just be aware that the receiver will cost extra, but programming is a snap with this unit. My only complaint here is the lack of IP control. Maybe we will see that in a later model; hopefully soon as so much tech is starting to take advantage of the faster networks available to homeowners.
EQ Settings are something I often see omitted from many small amps today. It’s sad to see but that’s not the case with the Episode. I can tweak each channel to get the best sound possible from the system, no matter how small the difference may be. I realize we’re not designing a $15,000 audio setup here, but some flexibility is better than none. It’s nice to see SnapAV consider users who still enjoy tweaking their own audio systems, even if we can’t have separates and tower speakers in every room.
Connections on this amp are actually quite surprising. The ability to use analog RCA and digital optical inputs on the same unit with auto-switching is quite awesome. Everything is clearly labeled and easy to find. I am not a fan of the phoenix-style speaker connectors, but the boxes’ small size explains why SnapAV choose to use them. The units also feature easy-to-use switches for configuring the various options and settings without resorting to a software GUI or jumpers, another solid advantage in my book for this little amp. Did I mention the subwoofer line level out? Yup, it’s got that too!
All in all, the Episode Digital Mini-Amplifier is a great problem-solver when you need to install an amp in a small space where you want as much audio, control and power as possible for less than $300. The sheer number of inputs, control, and EQ packed into these small units is incredible. Audio-wise, you can expect good quality but don’t expect it to sound like a McIntosh tube amp. This is a must-buy for any small system that needs an out-of-sight solution on a budget!