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Affordable and Good sounding Audio Amplifiers

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Fantastic

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Re: Getting a Berning amp

We have so much of wonderful inexpensive equipment around that people don't bother about them as they often cost too little and look too small and insignificant. For the patient and unbiased guys, they can have a wonderful system for 'almost' a song! :) But don't ask me to list them out as there are many and they are all discussed often on most hi-fi sites. Read through them if you want to have a relatively inexpensive great system and PLENTY of moolahs for your music collection ! :D

It would be fun to have a listening test of say three vastly different systems covered with an opaque cloth and switched arbitrarily. Not so much to say which is best, but to see 'how different' they really are and what one's preferences are. Nobody ( except the organisers) should know what is being used in advance of the test. You'll end up having a great weekend. make sure the spirits accompany you too ..... !:)

Moderator's note
All the links provided by members on this thread would be listed here for the convenience of members:-

DIY
http://sound.westhost.com/project3a.htm

http://www.diyaudio.com/forums/solid-state/164756-p3a-comparison-table-long.html

Power supply: http://www.ebay.com/itm/320670558212

The amps linked below were discussed later in this thread starting from here.
http://www.ebay.in/itm/TDA7294-TDA7293-w-speaker-protection-amplifer-PCB-/220486292885
http://www.yuan-jing.com/tda7293-tda7294-power-amplifer-bare-pcb


Commercial
http://www.stereophile.com/integratedamps/499ar/index.html#UZVfO8Zl6mXH23e3.99
 
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captrajesh

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Though internet has quite an information, firstly, it is hidden in myriad labyrinths of irrelevant blabber; half truths at best more often than not and secondly, is not validated by familiar folks that some members are.

It was nice interacting with you over PMs. As discussed, I had branched out the relevant part of your post over here and made it sticky as well.

I hope this thread would provide a information bonanza for technically challenged members like me seeking good sounding audio amplifiers.

I solicit all knowledgeable members to post information regarding truly VFM deals.
 
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Fantastic

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I'd suggest that no one post any build details and circuits etc. here. Let this just be a collection of pointers to what DIY'ers can do. For specific designs better to start a separate dedicated thread for each design.
Like we already have for phono preamps on this forum. CNC phono etc. and some power amps too. But if it's linked from this thread , better to restrict them to 'low cost' or relatively inexpensive solutions as that's the core idea behind this thread.

So here are some pointers . Discrete circuits or chip based solutions.
Well made chip solutions are very good and fantastic value for money. Power levels may be lower but for the average listener anything between 20 to 50 watts rms is ample power for home listening. Anything bigger starts getting expensive and out of the purview of this thread.

For a discrete circuit the P3A from Rodd Elliots site seems to be a very good project. Many have built it and most claim it sounds very good. An experienced service man Sakis says that it sounds better than many expensive commercial amps. Lots of threads on Diyaudio discussing about it's implementation.

Here are a couple of links to investigate this design.
60-80W Power Amplifier
P3A Comparison table ( long .... ) - diyAudio

If you feel the circuit is an old design , remember there are practically no real new designs. All combinations have been tried over the years. Now people just put them together differently. All are variations on an old theme.

But the design isn't important by itself, how it sounds ( and here, how much it costs) matters. :)
Cheers.
 

prem

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In amps I would look at vintage stuff like Dynaco 70, NAD 3020, Leak 20, Sansui AU 717, Heathkit A6. Among new would look at Ampino
 
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prem

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What upper value are you looking at? Some of those amps could be had for less than 25000
 

Nikhil

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Re: Affordable and Good sounding Amplifiers

Great idea but will need some mighty organization skills.

For me the jaw dropping value in the DIY kits that our forum DIY members have put together has been a revelation.
I had heard the B1 buffer some time back and now I have the K buffer preamp.
Both these would give any preamp a proper run for the money.

On a broader note these group listening "test" sessions need to be organized well.
It's very tempting to have a shootout scenario where product A "kills" B etc.
Care should be taken to appreciate the nuances in the different designs.
 
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afj

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i have dabbled a bit in some lesser known brands / diy kits etc. ive had a chinese amplifier - bada purer, now the acoustic portrait thiyaga and also a weiliang ak4495 dac. the thiyaga is right up there when you compare it to any other brand. its got the whole package. the other two are big on specs and compete purely on muscle and definitely is value for money. but refinement is missing. could do with a little bit more of balance. this is when i compare them to branded products of similar specs. if you compare them to branded products in their price range, they perform way better
 

captrajesh

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Re: Affordable and Good sounding Amplifiers

I'd suggest that no one post any build details and circuits etc. here. Let this just be a collection of pointers to what DIY'ers can do. For specific designs better to start a separate dedicated thread for each design.

restrict them to 'low cost' or relatively inexpensive solutions as that's the core idea behind this thread.
Yes agree. That makes sense.

In amps I would look at vintage stuff like Dynaco 70, NAD 3020, Leak 20, Sansui AU 717, Heathkit A6. Among new would look at Ampino
I did dabble with vintage stuff but for me the biggest problem was reliability. IN my experience of owning/experiencing a vintage Marantz and Luxman amps is, it needed visit to the technician so many times that I had given them up.

Great idea but will need some mighty organization skills.
Didn't get you. Could you elaborate?

On a broader note these group listening "test" sessions need to be organized well.
This thread is not about listening tests at all. It's a collation of information about affordable amplifiers.

It's very tempting to have a shootout scenario where product A "kills" B etc.

Care should be taken to appreciate the nuances in the different designs.
Yeah that's a good point to ponder for all the members indulging in group evaluation of A/V gear.
 

Fantastic

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A little interesting feedback. We just listened to three amps. One was a TDA7294 chip power amp. The second was a LM3875 and the third was a commercial tube power amp ( EL34 push pull design). No levels were matched though they were pretty much similar and no preamp was used. Was done only to see if there were any significant differences.

The tube amp was better by a small margin . The TDA7294 was very close to the tube amp. The LM3875 was not as good as the 7294.
On some difficult tracks the 3875 seemed to 'shout' . You felt like lowering the volume . This wasn't the case with the tube amp and the TDA7294 . Playback levels were quite low. Below 10 watts on transients ! Average level must have been a watt or so. So all of them working well within their ratings.

On some tracks they sounded quite similar ! While the tube amp did sound slightly better in some areas , I've heard similar sound from other SS amps. I might add the tube sound was not 'warm' and rounded off as 'some' people expect of tubes. It was clean and clear and extended at HF and LF. Bass was slightly tighter on the chip amps ! This was expected !

If I were to pick only one, I'd pick the TDA 7294 as it was cheap and easy to assemble and close enough sound to the tube amp . Both (chip amp ) boards were bought off Ebay. Might just remind guys that the power supply is crucial . You can't afford to skimp on that and it IS the most expensive part of the amp !

It's like the LM1875/TDA2050 chip amp ( 20+ 20 watts). VERY good sounding chip amps but the parts are just 5% or so of the cost of the amp. Most of the cost is in the power supply and heat sink !
For people who do not listen to very loud music , the LM1875/TDA2050 is a tremendous bargain ! They are very good . You need to spend a LOT more to get better sound. When budgets are limited ( or enforced!) these are great chips amps. Surprising LF and HF performance. As always, it isn't the best sound you can get but they ARE good and look at the PRICE ! 20 watts a channel is a LOT in most flats nowadays ! :)
Of course not suitable for power hungry speakers ! Something having a sensitivity of 89dB/watt or more is best. But even 86dB will work too ....if you don't need it very loud !

As always , the final say is to listen to it yourself ! ;)
 

saikatbiswas82

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Re: Getting a Berning amp

I think we should not forget LM3886 in the chipamp category. It's been famous among many DIYers. :)
 

captrajesh

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A little interesting feedback. We just listened to three amps. One was a TDA7294 chip power amp. The second was a LM3875 and the third was a commercial tube power amp ( EL34 push pull design). No levels were matched though they were pretty much similar and no preamp was used. Was done only to see if there were any significant differences.

Interesting! Reminds me of the listening sessions at my residence while I was at Chennai with the likes of Rajiv, Srinisundar, Thad, Sashi & Mohamednaseer in attendance. Miss those days.:sad:

Btw, where was this held and who all attended?

the third was a commercial tube power amp ( EL34 push pull design).
Which one is that?

No levels were matched though they were pretty much similar and no preamp was used.

Playback levels were quite low. Below 10 watts on transients ! Average level must have been a watt or so.

No flames here but I wish you had done level matching after routing the sound through a microphone for the sake of "objectivists" on the forum. BTW, how was the output maintained below 10 watts if no preamp was used?

If I were to pick only one, I'd pick the TDA 7294 as it was cheap and easy to assemble and close enough sound to the tube amp . Both (chip amp ) boards were bought off Ebay. Might just remind guys that the power supply is crucial . You can't afford to skimp on that and it IS the most expensive part of the amp!

Great find there. Add a Kuartlotron Error Correcting Super Buffer and you have a rocking amp at a rock bottom price.

Could you post the links to the amp and power supply boards for active consideration of active DIY gurus of the forum?
 

saikatbiswas82

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I bought this for my f6 psu:
http://m.ebay.com/itm/Heavy-duty-po...-amplifiers-/320670558212?txnId=1520966395011

It's built like a tank. It feels like I am holding a metal sheet instead of a pcb. :)

Planning to get this for my gainclone psu:
http://diyaudiocart.com/printed-circuit-boards/power-supply-units-pcb

This is also famous among many DIYers:
http://www.diyaudio.com/store/amplifier-circuit-boards/universal-amplifier-power-supply-v3.html

FM sachin has some psu for active preamps (like k-buffer). I received mine from him only. [emoji3]
 
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captrajesh

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If I were to pick only one, I'd pick the TDA 7294 as it was cheap and easy to assemble and close enough sound to the tube amp . Both (chip amp ) boards were bought off Ebay. Might just remind guys that the power supply is crucial . You can't afford to skimp on that and it IS the most expensive part of the amp!

Could you kindly provide some links?
 

Fantastic

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I bought the (red!) pcb from a seller called 'szgracelee1005' . I looked for it just now and couldn't find that listed anymore. However I found a 'blue' board which appears to be identical. It has a relay protection circuit on board.
The name on my board was Yuanjing but it's Jims Audio here . But that could be the same person ! Many Chinese take on additional Western names to deal with the West! However the board seems to be exactly the same .

TDA7294 TDA7293 W Speaker Protection Amplifer PCB | eBay

All the parts were sourced from here including the protection chip and relay. The price listed for each board is $10 . Mine was just under $7 I think. But shipping here is much cheaper.

The comparison test was done with a couple of friends at home. Do remember that all the chip amps were used for a few months before comparisons were made. Not for any specific reason but it just happened so.

But it is a good idea to use them at least continuously for a some time before doing any comparisons. Like I said earlier, it was never about which amp beat which other one. It was only about 'how different they sounded' !

I'm not a great believer in electrical burn in but I have seen that in some cases it does appears to sound 'better' after many hours of use. Is this due to the ear getting used to the sound I can't say for sure but it sometimes does appear to get better as compared to another amp that is used fairly regularly. That old amp is a reference , not because it is better but because it is good and we are used to it's sound by now.

Most amps have something likable and something you wish it didn't have ! So calling it good or bad depends on your preferences. Don't compare these amps with amps who have over a hundred watts of power capability.

About burn in. The TDA 7294 was used without an input capacitor . A large polyester cap at the input did degrade the performance slightly. The polypropylene ones were too big to fit on the board. I recently used a Keltron electrolytic at the input. It did degrade the sound. BUT after several weeks now, it seems to have improved a lot. I will have to take it off to check if what I was hearing was just because I got used to the 'different' sound or it really did 'burn in' ! :)

Unfortunately I have too many other important things to attend to at the moment and audio isn't a priority right now.

I also have a classD board ( by LimJim ) . Can't try that out now as it needs a higher supply voltage and that means an additional protection board. Never experiment without some protection for the speakers ! A blown speaker can kill your DIY enthusiasm for quite a while ! ;)

About signal levels . We monitored the signal at the speaker terminals with a scope. So we could see if the peaks were about similar.
 
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Fantastic

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Spot on !
Price seems to have gone up. This isn't an eBay site ! szGraceLee1005 must be just an additional outlet on eBay......maybe I should say 'was an outlet' ?
Note that the JimsAudio site on eBay with the blue board says that they have an error on the board and you have to solder two points near the IC where a track is missing.
The Red board shown here is fine and does not have that problem.
 
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Fantastic

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I just remembered that I bought two LM3886 boards also ! It must be around somewhere. I did make my own boards many years ago but they must be lost by now ! I couldn't find them. So I decided to save time and bought some ready made boards. Have to assemble them . Will check them when I find them ! :)
I like boards with on board power supplies . These don't have any supplies on them.
 

venkatcr

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Guys I have suggestion.

Most of what we are discussing here are meant for people who are familiar with soldering iron, comfortable with circuits, and ready to experiment. More than 90% of the members here are those who want to buy a good amplifier and speaker set and start listening to music.

I remember a long time ago (>35 years ago), I requested my brother to get me an amplifier kit from the UK. It was a beautifully made product, fully populated with push button switches for input selection and pots for volume control. Even the outer cover for these were supplied. All I had to do was to get a cabinet made, and I listened to The Wall from the first time in my life. The amp sang for me for over 10 years.

I also remember a friend of mine in Delhi who used to hand assemble amplifiers and he used to sell 10-15 of them every month!

Let a few of us get together and offer something similar to all members of HFV. We should design 2 or 3 amps that fit into budgetary price brackets - say <15K, <25K, <50K, etc.

Once the circuit design is complete and the prototype is ready, a few of us could stress test the amps with specific speakers such as the Andrew Jones BS. Once the sound is approved, we can get the board designed professionally. After that, there are a number of small electronic units that can assemble the units for us in small numbers. If we can get a ready made board from outside, that makes our job easier. We can prototype a few, test them, audition them and decide which one to go with.

From my side, here is what I am ready to do.

1. Invest a reasonable sum of money into this 'venture', if it can be called that.
2. Design and supply a RC using Android. My company has expertise in that area. The RC will be limited to on/off, input selection, and volume control.

This will be am act of love, and we should look at bringing more people into listening to music. We can also specify what speakers should be used with which amp.

I strongly feel we can deliver a fantastic system for under 25K with a pair of speakers.

Cheers.
 
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