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Old 9th December 2013, 12:37 AM   #1
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Lightbulb first time chipamp for a discerning listener

Hi There,

I have spent some time pouring over the wonderful resources of this forum, the various referenced websites and the info rich application notes but I still feel a little lost and so I am starting this thread.

Background:
This Christmas I want to build a quality chipamp with my dad. He is an ex hifi sales man but still an audiophile at heart. After dropping out of an engineering degree at U of I he started a HiFi shop with some buddies in Champagne, IL that grew into a chain and eventually he wound up working as a head rep at Pioneer. A lot has changed since then but I owe my appreciation for music, and the quality reproduction thereof, largely to him. Much to my disappointment, over the years he has given away much of the premium set-ups away to friends and family (I'm most disappointed that the pair of Klipschorns and a La Scalla center with some beefy Crown amplification behind them never made it to my ears! )

But he managed to hold on to a pair of HPM-100's (the flashy dealer promo acrylic ones) that are being driven by a crappy off the shelf receiver.

Thus the need for a better amp and a good father son project has fostered this idea in my head!

My Question:

Of the plethora a of design options out there what would be a good pair with the HPM's? I've read everywhere that I should start with a proper LM1875 or LM3886 Gainclone but I want something that can drive those 12" woofers and make them kick from a quality Led Zepplin recording to a wonderful Brahms offering.

My electronics experience is limited (mostly RasPi and Arduino stuff) but I am a quick study and familiar with basic circuit design and my dad is quite competent.

After pouring over the LME series it seems like the 49830 driving some Mosfets may seem like a good option however all the projects surrounding them seem to spare no expense and really go for the gold in terms of circuit complexity (enough snubbing and decoupling caps to make my eyes cross ) and a bill of materials a little outside my price range.

If anyone could point me towards a good middle of the line project that would pair with the HPM's nicely I would be greatly appreciative.

PS I need to order the parts soon to be delivered to GA in time so speedy and pertinent responses would be much appreciated!!

I look forward to this wonderful community's help!
Thanks!
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Old 9th December 2013, 02:11 AM   #2
Bigun is offline Bigun  Canada
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A wonderful idea.

My advice is don't pressure yourself into having to achieve the result of a finished project over the holidays - the pleasure might be more in the journey.

For the best chance of having a finished project I would suggest looking for a pcb or a kit that you can buy. I don't know what you have as a starting point, but there's more than the amp needed - chasis (implies you may have some holes to drill), heatsink, power supply, connectors, earthing, volume control and perhaps if you wanted to use some really expensive speakers down the road a dc-output protection module (which you can buy as a ready built from eBay). There's quite a bit to do so trying to design from scratch is going to be a fair bit of work. I think you were well advised with the idea of straight LM3886 project.

I never built one myself but somebody more knowledgeable can likely recommend a good supplier - e.g. - these guys look good:

http://chipamp.com/lm3886-amplifier-kit/

You should phone them up and find out what else you need to make a complete project - such as a power transformer.
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Last edited by Bigun; 9th December 2013 at 02:23 AM.
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Old 9th December 2013, 02:25 AM   #3
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If you can get a copy of Bob Cordell's book, he has a chipamp design which is well worth investigating -- he uses a TI dual Opamp ahead of the LM3886 as a buffer/inverter. I've heard it and it sounds fantastic.
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Old 9th December 2013, 07:13 AM   #4
sesebe is offline sesebe  Romania
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Hi,

My suggestion is to go a hibrid one with some from LME498xx familly.
With 12" driver you can go deep in bass region and a LM3886 based design can quickly reach the voltage excursion limit.
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Old 9th December 2013, 11:56 AM   #5
AndrewT is offline AndrewT  Scotland
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Have a big read of decibel dungeon's site.
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Old 9th December 2013, 02:26 PM   #6
johnr66 is offline johnr66  United States
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Start small. Build a cheap circuit like the LM386 and get it working right. Diving right in to more complicated stuff may result in lots of wasted money especially if you hook it up wrong and blow up the parts or even your speakers.
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Old 9th December 2013, 02:46 PM   #7
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I agree with AndrewT here, Decible Dungeon The Decibel Dungeon Gainclone index page with links to all chip amp articles. is a great resource for beginners. If you haven't seen it yet, I highly recommend you do, lots of good info and tips, it will help avoid a lot of the typical rookie mistakes we all suffer in the beginning. I also agree with johnr66 that it's probably wise to start off with a simpler, smaller scale kind of project to get your feet wet and gain the necessary experience before moving on to bigger and better things.

Mike
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Old 9th December 2013, 07:47 PM   #8
Bigun is offline Bigun  Canada
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+1 for keep it simple.

Just because it's a straight LM3886 doesn't mean it won't sound good. Sometimes the extra stuff doesn't bring enough benefit and we pursue the more complex ideas just because they are an interesting challenge.

I feel that a proven pcb set is definitely the way to go given your goals.
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Last edited by Bigun; 9th December 2013 at 07:57 PM.
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Old 9th December 2013, 07:59 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigun View Post
Sometimes the extra stuff doesn't bring enough benefit and we pursue the more complex ideas just because they are an interesting challenge.
Inverting the input to the chip with a buffer/inverter really improves the way it sounds, and a servo is simple to implement and reduces the probability of tears.
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Old 9th December 2013, 08:14 PM   #10
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I'm a novice myself, and i would go for a decent pcb kit. I'm not sure how an inverting buffer pre stage helps the sound, in comparison to just inverting the amp. But i am a novice. Inverting amps make sense if you have a turntable i guess...beyond that? I dunno.
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