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Old 11th October 2007, 12:00 AM   #1
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Default What other components to complement a gainclone/chipamp?

Hey folks, I just recently learned about chipamps and it sounds like a fun project that I'd like to try. I'd like to build one for use in an entertainment center for CD, MP3, TV and movie audio. I plan to make a stereo chipamp now, and maybe expand to 5.1 later.

The only problem is I don't really have any other audio components to complement the amp. And I don't have a whole lot of knowledge about hi-fi equipment in general either.

So I'm wondering what types components do I need, and which ones would be worthy of using in a hi-fi setup?
  • Speakers: Well, I know I will need these. I'd like to get something decent, but not willing to drop a couple grand or anything. What's a good bang for the buck(in sound quality, not necessarily loudness)?
  • Receiver: I don't really care about listening to the radio on this setup, but I think this is usually the term for the component that you use for selecting your input signal. As mentioned earlier, I'd like to be able to use a variety of different audio sources.
  • Pre-amp: I don't understand if a pre-amp is required to use in conjunction with a basic gainclone. Also, isn't this usually built-in to a receiver?
  • Cabling: I'm skeptical that the type of speaker wire, etc. is going to make a noticeable difference in sound quality, but willing to hear other's opinions on the matter.
  • Others? I probably left out some other essential component from this list, I don't know.

For the pre-amp and/or receiver, is it feasible to build something of quality myself, with comparable difficulty to building a gainclone chipamp?

I think I'd like to keep the cost of the total system under $500 or so, does that sound reasonable?
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Old 11th October 2007, 04:47 AM   #2
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Default Re: What other components to complement a gainclone/chipamp?

Quote:
Originally posted by peepsalot
[B
So I'm wondering what types components do I need, and which ones would be worthy of using in a hi-fi setup?
  • Speakers: Well, I know I will need these. I'd like to get something decent, but not willing to drop a couple grand or anything. What's a good bang for the buck(in sound quality, not necessarily loudness)?
  • Receiver: I don't really care about listening to the radio on this setup, but I think this is usually the term for the component that you use for selecting your input signal. As mentioned earlier, I'd like to be able to use a variety of different audio sources.
  • Pre-amp: I don't understand if a pre-amp is required to use in conjunction with a basic gainclone. Also, isn't this usually built-in to a receiver?
  • Cabling: I'm skeptical that the type of speaker wire, etc. is going to make a noticeable difference in sound quality, but willing to hear other's opinions on the matter.
  • Others? I probably left out some other essential component from this list, I don't know.

For the pre-amp and/or receiver, is it feasible to build something of quality myself, with comparable difficulty to building a gainclone chipamp?

I think I'd like to keep the cost of the total system under $500 or so, does that sound reasonable? [/B]

Speakers I would suggest though that you look at the second hand market if you are on a tight one. Have a look at whats available then research them on internet. You can always build/buy something more substantial later on.

Recievers by the way are just a term for an integrated amp with a radio, pre amp and power amp built in to one box. If you dont listen to radio, then you done need a reciever. An inttegrated amp describes pre and power amps in one box. A pre/power amp combination is what you require be it in one box or more.

For what you are doing, your going to need a preamp of some description. The preamp gives you volume control, and an input selector. Many people discard building the input selector as they use only one source. Sounds like you will need it though unless you are plugging in each source as and when you want to listen to it.

Cabling wise I certainly do hear a difference, but that does not mean you have to spend fortunes on snake oil remedies. I use thick "Mag wire" as cable to very good effect. This is the stuff used for winding inductors or power transformers, its a copper wire with an enamelled surface which insulates it. For little money you can buy enough for a stereo run of cable. It beats the socks off any mid range speaker cable that I have tried for a fraction of the cost.

For the preamp I use a kookaburra pre from twisted pear audio. For a beginner, I can highly recommend this volume control. Superb sound, very easy build. It does not do the input selection, but twisted pear offer kits that do this as well. Simply buy which ones you need.

As for using a kit for a power amp stage. It certainly will keep things neat. There are some very good kits out there, and you will save time on sourcing components. But look at Decibel Dungeondecibel dungeon site for instructions on building a point to point clone ie no circuit board. Its pretty easy to do and I certainly got great results for less money than a kit would have cost.

I think it is feasable to get a good setup for $500, but be warned DIYing a hi fi is an addictive pursuit...
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Old 11th October 2007, 11:26 AM   #3
AndrewT is offline AndrewT  Scotland
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Hi,
I agree with all that Just has said.

A one box pre-amp/selector/volume control/ power amp will be cheaper than putting them into two boxes with separate PSUs (power supply).

I have gone for separates and the nightmare of cables would put off any potential wife.

Don't set your sights too high for this first project, it can always do duty in the den/garage/kitchen/etc when you decide to go for real High Fidelity, rather than just a music playing system. Use this as a learning exercise, that will stay with your forever.
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Old 11th October 2007, 03:37 PM   #4
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Thanks for the great info guys. I think I might go with that kookaburra, and I saw another thread on here about an open source input selector project that looks interesting.

I noticed there are some "Avel" toroidal transformers on Amazon.
Do you think this would work well for a 2 channel 3886, or 3875(haven't decided yet) amp?
http://www.amazon.com/Y236652-250VA-...2086005&sr=1-1

Also what would you recommend for an enclosure? I was thinking something all metal(most likely aluminum) would reduce outside EM interference/noise? Although I've seen some people making enclosures from mostly wood also. does it not make much difference?
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Old 11th October 2007, 04:52 PM   #5
AndrewT is offline AndrewT  Scotland
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Hi,
Line level integrated/power amps do not seem to be susceptable to interference in a normal domestic environment.

Take the lid off an amplifier and it usually remains just as quiet.
I regularly test and run power amps without any chassis and I am not aware of any interference issues. What I have found is that I am incapable of retaining that good noise performance when I encase the amp inside a metal chassis. Those wood chassis guys know a thing or two!

Low level stages do benefit from a screening case. This applies to radio tuners and Phono (RIAA) preamps.

If you have faulty suppression on some of your mains equipment, then get it sorted. Mobile phones and WiFi may be a source that needs screening. I deliberately avoid ALL radio transmissions at home. The only exception are my CRT monitors/TVs.
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Old 11th October 2007, 08:04 PM   #6
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I use the Avel tranny. It works out pretty good. The only difference is that I use the 330va 25/25
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Old 11th October 2007, 11:25 PM   #7
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Hehe, and I already thought the 250VA would be overkill. I guess some people don't think so.
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Old 12th October 2007, 08:17 AM   #8
Nordic is offline Nordic  South Africa
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OK cost appart, I would still go for a 2 box solution if you intend to be DIYing... it allows you to keep the music playing while makeing changes to the preamp... also it allows you to swap another amp in quickly during maintenance or upgrades to the old amps...

there is only ONE circuit I recommend as a buffer/preamp for gianclones and that is the Pedja Rogic buffer... you can do a serach for Pedja Rojic with my nic in the user field, it should come up quickly, with everything you need to build one...

It is the closest thing I got to passive volume control... I love passive (just a selector switch and a potentiometer) with my SS amp, but the gainclones need a nice buffer to shine.

My chipamp runs of 250VA and the transformer still needs good ventilation as it can get quite hot.

You will be very happy with the Twisted Pair selector... I was very impressed with their product (my_refC) (It is still my favourite GC.. after a few small parts substitutions)
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Old 15th October 2007, 05:27 AM   #9
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Ok I've been doing a lot of reading on these forums the past few days.

For the speakers I think I am going to try to build a pair of FE127E BIBs. Do you think these would work well with a gainclone?

I have an idea for an amp enclosure to use a 6" PVC pipe. Would have heatsinks on the inside, with vent holes drilled into the top and bottom caps, sitting on some sort of pedestal to allow flow to bottom vents. Still trying to work out the design details on that. What do you guys think of that?

Seems like things are going to be coming together fairly soon. I've ordered a kit from chipamp.com for the amp, and went ahead and got the 330VA Avel toroid from amazon.

Still considering my options for the pre-amp at the moment.

Thanks for the input so far.
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Old 15th October 2007, 08:14 AM   #10
Nuuk is offline Nuuk  United Kingdom
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Quote:
I have an idea for an amp enclosure to use a 6" PVC pipe. Would have heatsinks on the inside, with vent holes drilled into the top and bottom caps, sitting on some sort of pedestal to allow flow to bottom vents. Still trying to work out the design details on that. What do you guys think of that?
It should be OK. I built my first Gc's into 4 inch pipe and had no heating issues with them.

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