What’s in the box?
The DTA45 comes neatly boxed with 1 power connector, 1 audio-in connector, 1 motherboard audio connector, instructions, and a set of plastic standoffs.
The car PC hobby has always had a defining line between where the computer ends and the car audio equipment begins. When it comes to getting the PC sound out to the car speakers, there were normally two choices; stick with an audio head unit, or go with a larger and more expensive car audio amplifier. Both of these options come with their obvious drawbacks. A head unit takes up precious dash space, and an amplifier’s expense can sometimes exceed the cost of the PC. The DTA45 attempts to blend a car PC and car audio in a manner which won’t break the budget and won’t require a work around for monitor installation.
Measuring in at only 105 x 63mm open frame, the DTA45 is smaller than most any head unit or amp you can buy. One of the benefits of the reduced size is mounting locations. The DTA45 can fit in the smallest of car PC cases. In fact, you can even connect the DTA45 board directly to a motherboard with a compatible 10-pin audio connector. Having an amp this small eliminates the need to run long wires to the rear of the car and completely eliminates the need for large, noisy composite connectors. Even without the compatible onboard audio connector, you can connect the DTA45 to the 3.5mm jack on the back of the motherboard with a quick splice of a 3.5mm stereo cable.
With the size of the unit, you can most certainly expect some omissions when compared to most audio amplifiers. You will not find any crossovers, gain, or any controls at all onboard. This means getting the best sound from the device will in most cases require software-based equalization and crossover settings. That being said, the sound without much adjustment is of high quality. The DTA will provide ample high and mid-range, and even provide a small amount of sub frequencies of it its wee 2x25 watts RMS. Truth is, unless you plan on attempting to wake the neighbors, the DTA45 should be enough for motherboard audio. The rest of its specifications
indicate it’s at minimum on par with current OEM head units today.
Another drawback which may ultimately hinder compact installation is the fact that, like most amplifiers, the DTA45 gets hot. In my testing, there was a time after several hours of use the built-in thermal protection shut down the DTA45. Turning on a case fan solved the issue, so it may not be a good idea to install this device in a fan-less case.
A benefit to most car PC users is the “soft-on” technology which allows the DTA45 to eliminate the dreaded speaker pop when the amp is powered before the PC. In fact, there were no clicks, pops, or any of the other noises that usually plague car PC audio installations.
● Small footprint allows for direct installation to motherboard
● Offers quality audio at a fraction of the expense of car amplifiers
● Built-in speaker “pop” elimination, voltage and temperature cutoffs
● Two-wire power connector eliminates the need for two 12v sources
● No onboard controls for gain, crossover, or high/low pass filter
● Less power than aftermarket car PC amplifiers
● May require a cooling fan depending on installation preference
The DTA45 Internal Amplifier is a good solution for installers that are looking for a simple, compact solution to connect a car PC to car speakers. Its charm comes in the ease of installation. While its power won’t rattle any neighborhood windows, the DTA45's sound quality is on par with most quality head units. Whether or not it lives up to its “audiophile quality” moniker will solely depend on the users available software tuning option and overall impression of what “audiophile” means.
The DTA45 is available at the mp3Car store
*This review was done with the following supporting hardware: Intel DG45FC built-in audio, Infinity Kappa 60.9cs component speaker system.