A promising amplifier with music streaming, HFC looks at what this compact integrated has to offer
Tibo has been making something of a name for itself in the world of smart speakers of late, but the SIA75 streaming amplifier is one of its first forays into the rather more demanding arena of integrated hi-fi solutions. It certainly looks the part, with a full-width chassis and a decent level of build quality. Its simple layout reflects the Scandinavian aesthetics of its Danish founder, with a front panel dominated by a series of presets, a dedicated button for grouping with other Tibo smart products and a multi-functional central dial that adjusts the volume, selects the inputs and turns the amp on and off.
The only connection on the front is a 3.5mm headphone jack; everything else is around the back. Here you’ll find two RCA line inputs and a moving-magnet phono stage input, along with an optical digital in. There are also aerials for Bluetooth and wi-fi, as well as an Ethernet port for a wired connection. The loudspeaker binding posts have a solid feel to them, and there’s a subwoofer output.
The remote is simple but effective and includes buttons for power, volume, playback, grouping and selecting the presets. You can also choose from the different inputs – which Tibo refers to as modes – and adjust the bass, treble and balance. This latter process involves using a button that’s rather confusingly called Shift, and a series of colour-coded LEDs on the front panel to select and adjust each option.
The excellent iOS/Android app is where Tibo’s experience in smart products really pays dividends. Set up is easy and the app is highly intuitive, allowing you to access connected sources, your home network and wireless devices. It also supports Spotify, Tidal, Napster, TuneIn and iHeart Radio, with 18 radio presets.
Tibo claims the amplifier can deliver 2x 75W at 4ohm and it supports music files up to 24-bit/192kHz. I kick off with Bowers & Wilkins 684 S2 Series £800 floorstander (HFC 391), but I also try it out with Roth OLi RA1 standmounts that are closer to the SIA75 in terms of price.
I start with streamed content, primarily from Tidal’s Hi-Fi tier subscription service, and gradually work my way through some of my favourite songs. A brace of Nick Cave tracks reveals its ability to deliver the lower frequencies with poise and precision. Cave’s voice is suitably gravelly on O Children, even as it’s counterpointed by a female chorus, while the bass in Red Right Hand sounds like a hammer hitting an anvil.
The electronica of M83 shows an ability to handle the epic soundscapes of Intro and Outro on Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, while also retaining a sense of fun on the more poppy Midnight City. A trip through Kate Bush’s back catalogue reveals that the amp is perfectly able to handle the sparse piano and vocals on This Woman’s Work, a song that leaves a system nowhere to hide. Conversely it perfectly renders the epic The Ninth Wave suite of songs, with its complex mix of music and sound effects. The same is true listening to a layered track like Hoppípolla by Sigur Rós or the orchestral coda on Suede’s Still Life.
The SIA75 is clearly aimed at those who like to stream their music, but the analogue and digital inputs sound equally impressive, retaining the same audio qualities as the wi-fi connection. Bluetooth is generally good, but lacks some of the definition of other source inputs.
At the price, my only real complaint is it can sound a little restrained and flat at lower volumes, but on the plus side it is capable of going quite loud without distorting or sounding brittle. Though it can drive the larger B&W, the Roth loudspeaker is a better match.
Tibo’s aim with the SIA75 is to deliver a fully featured streaming amplifier combining smart capabilities with hi-fi levels of performance at a price that won’t break the bank. I’d say it has succeeded in its ambition, and when partnered with a good set of standmount loudspeakers, should prove to be a flexible and rewarding hub for an entry-level hi-fi system. SW
Product: Tibo SIA75
Type: One-box system
Dimensions: (WxHxD) 430 x 60 x 230mm
● Quoted power output: 2x 75W RMS (4ohm)
● Streaming service support
● Bluetooth and wi-fi connectivity
● Inputs: 2x RCAs; 1x phono; 1x optical digital
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