Multiple device Bluetooth support wasn't always reliable
A few years ago Griffin launched the original Twenty, a small digital amp that used an AirPort Express to turn any set of passive speakers into a wireless system for streaming music. Unfortunately for Griffin, shortly after the launch of the Twenty, Apple updated the design of the AirPort Express, which instantly antiquated the digital amp. Now, thanks to advancements in Bluetooth technology, Griffin no longer needs to lean on Apple's AirPlay technology for streaming, and is back with a new and improved version of the Twenty Digital Amp.
Like its predecessor, the Twenty provides 20 Watts of power to each speaker and includes an RCA connector for adding a subwoofer to the mix. A large brushed aluminum volume knob still adorns the top of the amp, but this is where the similarities being to stop. The updated Twenty is much more compact, and in our opinion, is a far sharper looking device than the original.
The Twenty sports a modern design that looks right at home wherever it is placed. Whether it be on a desk, in the kitchen, or alongside your home theater system. The sides of the Twenty are marked with a black plastic grill, while the the top is covered in a solid piece of glossy white metal. When we first saw the glossy white top we were confident that after a few days fingerprints and dust would rear their ugly heads. Though as it turns out, we were wrong to judge so quickly. It is nearly impossible to make out any fingerprints on the Twenty, and after a few weeks dust was only barely noticeable.
Setting up the Twenty is a painless process. Simply connect the Twenty to a power source, connect left and right speakers via the speaker posts, pair to a Bluetooth enabled device, and hit play. That's really it. The Twenty does not require a dedicated app for use, and can even be used with a range of other audio sources, such as a video game console, thanks to its optical input.
Griffin's specs promise a wireless range of just over 30 feet, and while we didn't get out the measuring tape to mark the wireless field, we can say there were never any connection issues. We moved the Twenty around to several different rooms and never experienced drop outs of any sort, even while walking into adjacent rooms. Of course every house has its own unique interference issues, but we feel confident in saying you will have no problems using the Twenty with an audio source located in the same room as the amp.
The Twenty also includes support for pairing two devices simultaneously via Bluetooth, giving you the ability to jump back and forth between different audio sources with ease. For the most part the Twenty was very smart about handling audio from multiple sources, however, there were a few times we experienced some strange hiccups.
When the Twenty is receiving audio from a source it will ignore any new incoming audio a second source may try to send. Once the first source is stopped the amp will then switch to the new audio feed, or at least this is how it usually worked. Occasionally when switching from one device to another the audio would simply not come through. Our device would show playback as moving, but no amount of volume tinkering would actually produce sound. The only way to get audio back in these cases was to disconnect the Bluetooth signal and reconnect. Really only a minor inconvenience, but annoying when the feature worked flawlessly 90 percent of the time.
In terms of audio quality we have nothing to complain about here. Of course the amp is only part of the picture, as no amp will make a poor pair of speakers sound great. We tested the amp with a few different sets of passive speakers, and in all cases were happy with the clean signal we received. At 20 watts the amp was also able to provide more than enough volume to fill a room, with lots of headroom to make sure distortion is minimal when pushing the amp to is limits.
If you have a pair of passive speakers sitting around collecting dust, then the Twenty is certainly something you should consider. At $150 the wireless amp is priced very competitively, for the quality of audio is able to produce when paired with the right speakers.
Anyone without a spare set of speakers should also make sure to check out the bundles that Griffin offers through its web store thanks to a partnership with NHT. For $300 you can pickup the Twenty with a pair of NHT Audio SuperZero bookshelf speakers, while $500 nets you the Twenty, two NHT Audio Superzero speakers, and an NHT Audio Super 8 powered subwoofer.