Newb wonders: Class T or Gainclone better for monitoring? - diyAudio
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Old 21st September 2007, 11:01 PM   #1
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Default Newb wonders: Class T or Gainclone better for monitoring?

Hey all. I've been lurking for a few days. Caught wind of the excitement of Class T several years late, as it just reached me a few days ago. Been learning about the Gainclone phenomenon as well.

Mostly I've lived my life in what many of you might call mid-fi. I believe in decent fidelity, but there comes a point where I just won't drink the $400-interconnect Kool-Aid. I had a wonderful B&K preamp and Rotel power amp combo that was absolutely great (to my ears, anyway) with my old Paradigm Phantoms until the Rotel lost a channel one morning. Couldn't find anyone to fix the Rotel, so I've been begrudgingly running off a terrible Onkyo receiver ever since. Hoping to change this soon, finally. There have been other priorities.

I also make music and monitor it on a pair of trusty old Mirage m290i bookshelves. These are 6 ohm speaks with approximately 87dB efficiency. I know these speakers so well that it is almost effortless to do a decent mix on them. I have no interest in dropping $1000+ on a pair of trendy active monitors that I'll have to learn all over again, especially after my recent history with power amps going bad. First, in February, my old, grungy '70s Sansui integrated bit the dust after years of faithful-if-not-exactly-clear service. Then I acquired a studio monitoring amp from Samson - so unbelievably awful, bright and unlistenable that I sent it right back within five hours... one of the largest and most expensive icepicks you can buy for sure. Picked up a low-end Hafler Transnova off eBay (Hafler no longer makes these, alas). That has been pretty decent, but lately it has ALSO developed a weird right channel. It's not obvious, nor can I really put my finger on it after running test tones through both channels, but something is very definitely off in one side of the Hafler the last two or three weeks.

I've been interested in going DIY for my next project-studio reference amp. I do not need gobs of power - 50wpc has been more than enough for me for years. I am not interested in any of the existing "dedicated studio reference amps." They are either cheap and bad (see also: Samson), or expensive and bad (see also: Crown). Active monitors have killed the market for standalone, fanless, clean studio reference amps.

I am wondering if a beefier Class T design (one of the larger 41hz kits) or a Gainclone would be the better way to go for my application. I have not heard either variety of amplifer at this point. I do want punch, control and clarity, but not a lot of coloration (obviously). The perennial comparison of Class Ts to SETs bothers me a little. I love tubes for MI applications, but I don't believe they have a place in a monitoring chain. Still, I don't really have a handle on the Gainclone thing to know if they would be more or less honest with the source signal.

Which direction would be better?
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Old 27th September 2007, 04:13 PM   #2
gni is offline gni  United States
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There are some good gainclone kits out there.. . start there. . .
a chip amp can be good. Most boomboxes are chip amps. . . that is
what most other people will listen to.

Check out the chipamp area. . . they will give you some direction.
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Old 27th September 2007, 05:15 PM   #3
ilimzn is offline ilimzn  Croatia
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Since you have also mentioned a number of vintage components that you liked, it may be worth your while to check the audiokarma.org forum and inquire there what it would take to have these restored/fixed for many more years of enjoyment. There are a number of people there who can help.
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Old 27th September 2007, 05:35 PM   #4
BWRX is offline BWRX  United States
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Default Re: Newb wonders: Class T or Gainclone better for monitoring?

Quote:
Originally posted by lossfound
I am wondering if a beefier Class T design (one of the larger 41hz kits) or a Gainclone would be the better way to go for my application.
Both will give you what you're looking for. You can build a gainclone style amp point to point or on breadboard in very little time but you need a PCB for the Tripath chips.
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Old 27th September 2007, 06:12 PM   #5
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Default Re: Re: Newb wonders: Class T or Gainclone better for monitoring?

Quote:
Originally posted by BWRX


Both will give you what you're looking for. You can build a gainclone style amp point to point or on breadboard in very little time but you need a PCB for the Tripath chips.
I ordered one of the Sonic Impact 5066s to get some idea of the characteristics of Class T... should be here today. I guess my impression was that Class T was a bit more sweet and colored in timbre, which is actually not what I want for the studio... in waiting for this to get posted (and/or replied to), my reading has indicated that the Gainclone might be better for "listenable honesty." But I'm going to give the Sonic Impact a go anyway and see what comes out of it. $30 for a cute little utility amp is kind of a no-lose proposition either way

The Gainclones definitely do look easy to build (I have built small guitar effects and mini-chip practice amps before on breadboards from schematics-- the generic GC amp circuit looks about on par with that stuff)... but what worries me just a bit (with the GCs more than Class Ts) is having to choose parts for and make the power supply. I haven't found any truly newb-friendly recipes so far in my searches.
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