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Mooly 18th March 2010 07:52 AM

So just how "good" can a chip amp be ?
Let me say first off that I haven't used a monolithic power chip for any serious audio work ever... it's always always been discrete.

So an easy question... could you realistically compare (sonically I mean... not on paper specs) a chip amp with any discrete amp that is considered a top performer in it's class.

If you could do a double blind/triple blind/whatever listening test and you didn't know what you were listening to... could the chip amp come out on top ? ... if the design was right.


sangram 18th March 2010 12:08 PM


1. Self-built Chipamp with maxed out components - Black Gates, Holcos, huge transformer vs.

2. Jaton Operetta, a PA-100 design base with a stonking 2KVA transformer vs.

3 Self-built F5 clone with the standard Tech-DIY kit, open chassis, 150 VA transformers - not a single exotic part anywhere.

Speakers: Usher Mini-Dancer Beryllium, source: Buffalo DAC and PC transport.

The F5 simply stomped the other two into the dust. Make no mistake, the chipamps are very good, much better than commercial amps and receivers under $1000 (The operetta is a very good amp in its right). But they were simply no match for the F5 across the board - even though on paper they probably had better specs. The only thing the F5 didn't do was gain, so on some really high-quality recordings you could not really hear anything at all. Probably more sensitive speakers are called for.

Anyway the F5 had a sweeter, more dynamic sound, and developed a very solid bottom end. We also had a chance to test out the $3000 Leben CS300 tube amp, and it had better midrange than the F5, but got beaten everywhere else.

wakibaki 18th March 2010 12:18 PM

This is a pretty crazy question Mooly, 'can a chip amp objectively have a subjectively better sound?'. That is what you're asking isn't it?

Chip amps can have measurably better performance than discrete amps and for the large part they do, the best ones anyway.

That's all she wrote...


Samuel Jayaraj 18th March 2010 12:22 PM

Sangram, thanks for that very comprehensive sonic report. Perhaps, you should also tell us something about the power chords, interconnects and speaker cables.

Mooly 18th March 2010 12:23 PM

Thanks for your comparisons... that's just the kind of info I'm after. I don't think Nelson will getting worried then :)

I quite fancy seeing just what can be done with TDA7293, possibly in two's or three's for driving lowish impedance loads.

As I say, I've never built or listened to a chip amp.

Mooly 18th March 2010 12:27 PM


Originally Posted by wakibaki (
This is a pretty crazy question Mooly, 'can a chip amp objectively have a subjectively better sound?'. That is what you're asking isn't it?

That is the question yes ;)

So can it... if it's applied with a view to "out and out" sonics rather than best on paper spec ?
Be interesting to find out perhaps.

sumaudioguy 18th March 2010 02:38 PM

Competes well
My proprietary high gain 3886 chip amp competes (according to many others who have listened) well at the $3000 level for a stereo amp. Has 225dB gain at DC and 125dB gain at 10kHz. Vanishingly small distortion. Also features a second order DC servo loop and absolute stability with no output coil or RC network to make it safe or stable. Will drive any load with the correct power supply. Have used them below one ohm on low voltage power supply and worked flawlessly.:D

ratza 18th March 2010 03:19 PM

I really REALLY doubt that you have that gain. Perhaps it was 22.5 and 12.5?

AndrewT 18th March 2010 03:24 PM

I think he meant open loop gain.
But at 10kHz that would imply about 100dB of feedback.
How does he make it stable with that much feedback?

analog_sa 18th March 2010 03:24 PM


Originally Posted by Mooly (
As I say, I've never built or listened to a chip amp.

Stunning claim. Never even listened to a boombox?

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