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Tripath amp1 vs 300B vs AlephX,Gainclone.Showdown of the diy favourites.
Tripath amp1 vs 300B vs AlephX,Gainclone.Showdown of the diy favourites.
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Old 27th October 2005, 01:54 PM   #1
protos is offline protos  Greece
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Default Tripath amp1 vs 300B vs AlephX,Gainclone.Showdown of the diy favourites.

Well after many positive reviews everywhere and appreciative comments from some friends I decided to check the famous Tripath chip based amp for myself.
I wanted the most audiophile implementation with enough power since there is a limit to what 6-8 watts can do.Plus I wanted a fair fight!
I chose the 41hz 2022 chip/board which is based on the tripath eval board with some better quality components with an output of 100W.
Power supply is based on a battery power supply +- 24v which I implemented to drive a gainclone very succesfully but has even driven an Alephx on occasion!Some people may differ but to my ears with efficient amps especially battery power is excellent.I much prefer the gainclone with this supply.
My 300B is a classic JELabs implementation with the best quality components,Plitron OTP, nos tubes ,tube rectification, with super 300b= Kr842 tubes at about 15W output.
CD was Teac VRDS25x feeding either modified Perpetual Tech P3A/P1A dac upsampler modified combo or Diy non-os dac.
Speakers Zingali horn hybrid 4 0hm 90db =easy load.Cables MIT 750 Shogun biwire.
Preamp duties were assumed by a passive preamp (Creek OBH-12) which would be typical of the use of a pot before the amp board.
I had a brief listen in the beginning and then let the amp break in for about 20hrs playing music. There was not great deal of change of my impressions between the first few hours and at the end of the break in period- so I do not think more break in would be warranted to get a good handle of what this amp can do or not as the case may be.
Well initial impressions were that it had a very smooth sound and could drive my speakers very well at loud levels without showing strain.Bass was reasonable but not great and high end extension seemed a bit shy.
But- wait- where was that billowing soundstage that everybody was talking about?Where was the depth and the air around the instruments I had heard about?
The more I listened the more I realized that there was something not quite right.OK all the notes were there, the placement laterally was pretty good but it all seemed rather bland and lifeless.
To damn it with faint praise I would say it sounded pretty much like a reasonably good mp3 copy of 192/240 kps of the original music.There was definite subtraction of certain harmonic nuances and a definite feeling that there was much less ``flesh and blood´´ in the performance than there should be.A general lack of air around and between instruments.Moreover when music became very complex these effects were accentuated and there was a feeling of a kind of compression.
Well - there it is- I am sorry to disappoint some fans but I would not put it in the same class as a good SET or class A amp like the AlephX.Even compared to the gainclone which in my book is a bit behind the aforementioned two amps I would certainly choose the gc- much more real and exciting.
All in all it is a bit mid-fi - good for home theater perhaps, non-aggressive and quite powerful but definitely not high end.
I may try it with an active pre to see if there any great differences but I don´t really expect any.
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Old 27th October 2005, 02:51 PM   #2
rudi is offline rudi
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I Completely agree with you the 2022 is good but it does not focus very well it kinda just throws the music into space. i have built two of them for family members. it also needs a big power supply to sound OK. (like most class T amps) without it you do not have any decent bass

the one you still should try is the Ref-C of Mauro Penasa. this i found to be the best so far. better than my Tripath tk2350. better than my JLH , better than any GC

cheers
Rudi
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Old 27th October 2005, 04:54 PM   #3
PierreG is offline PierreG  Canada
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Quote:
Originally posted by rudi
I
the one you still should try is the Ref-C of Mauro Penasa
cheers
Rudi

You have a link for this? I made a search without any succes.
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Old 27th October 2005, 05:06 PM   #4
rudi is offline rudi
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you will find the first post here. the latest version is the Ref-C, and this amp is pure brilliance.

http://www.diyaudio.com/forums/showt...507#post609507

cheers Rudi
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Old 27th October 2005, 05:32 PM   #5
Russ White is offline Russ White  United States
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Quote:
Originally posted by PierreG



You have a link for this? I made a search without any succes.

If you are intested in a PCB or a kit we just ordered a fresh batch of PCBs and kit parts, and you can have one up and running in no time.

Just checkout the link below.

Cheers!
Russ
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Old 28th October 2005, 01:30 PM   #6
protos is offline protos  Greece
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OK, an update review now with an active preamp.
This is a diy pre with ad 8610 with current sources and class a biased with cascode fets and output buffers.

Well, if ever an amp needed a pre to sound good the tripath is surely the one.
There was a huge difference in all categories.It was a bit like the spider man movie where you have a nerdy guy that transforms into a superhero.
Soundstage became wider and deeper, dynamics were very good,bass from reasonable became good, and most of all instruments sounded more natural and full.
This brought our contender to the playing field of the first division category.
If I did not have the other first rate amps to compare I would have said that this amp should rate with the best.
However.... since this was not the case I have to say that this first division player is good but he may have to sit on the bench for most games of the season since there are better players available.
As I said before in all categories this amp passed the test ..but.. still it did not better the others in any particular category.
The greatest weakness is a kind of soft treble graininess and lack of air.This is not the hard graininess of some solid state amps but a smooth and slightly mellowish type of grain that may be forgiving with aggressive and hot recordings.In fact some people might like it in certain systems.
There is also a sense of a slight treble roll-off and accompanying lack of air which affects the soundstage depth as well.
Generally again I found that some harmonic nuances,the presence of the musicians, the flesh and blood of it all was not up to the par of the other amps.
Pace ,rhythm and timing were good but even my SET amp is a bit better in this.
Perhaps now the tripath amp may give the gainclone a run for its money.The gainclone is a little bit more realistic but in some set ups may sound unforgiving.
I have some suspicions that the RCL filter network on the output that is a second order low pass filter for the audio frequencies may be causing some of this strange behaviour.I was thinking why not let it run without filtering like a non-os dac and let the speaker naturally roll-off the rf frequencies.Actually this should be in theory easier than the non-os since there is only the speaker having to deal with these high frequencies which it may not see at all..
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Old 29th October 2005, 05:13 PM   #7
protos is offline protos  Greece
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Ok time for another serious update.

After the last round of auditioning I was left puzzled by the fact I could not reconcile the excellent reviews with what I heard.

So I said let's have a look more closely at the schematic and see if some mods might not help.
Well my eyes first fell on the input coupling caps.
3,3 uf Electrolytics.
Hmmmm not so good.Let's put some 2,2 uf film caps there.Tight fit.

Fire it up again and... after about 10 seconds into the track I hear a little voice in my head saying -- this is going to be extremely close!
All those problems with the high frequencies disappeared , the soundstage doubled in depth and there was plenty of detail and air.
This was a night and day difference and I was left thinking why I had left those caps in the first place.But had wanted to hear the stock amp as it came so there was an excuse.
Well ladies and gents, I take almost all my comments back.The poor little amp had not stood a chance since the signal was mugged and trampled at the input by those mean electrolytics before the amp could do anything about it.
A couple more tracks and a little sluggishness in the bass attracts my attention.OK lets replace those generic PS pcb caps with some Black Gates.
Ooph!Very tight fit.
Fire it up again.Bass and timing really good now with some extra extension on top as well.This was serious music making.Catching myself nodding my head and tapping my feet at last.
Dynamics , micro detail , soundstaging, timing and rhythm now excellent.Reminds me a bit of the Naim type of drive and Prat.Is it too much of a good thing?Hard to tell really.Are my other amps correct and this amp a bit faster and more upfront than it should or are my other amps a tiny bit more slower??Probably depends on preference.I had great fun listening to some tracks that seemed to bounce and groove better on the tripath.On the other hand my other amps are a little bit warmer and the soundstage seems a little further away as if you are seated a few rows further away from the event so it depends a lot on the recording and system synergy .There are really very few nits to pick with this amp and perhaps none that may not be solved with nothing more than suitable cabling or the correct sounding input coupling cap.
It's strengths are pace and timing, detail retrieval, soundstaging and dynamics.All this without sounding hard , etched or brittle or fatigueing like some solid state amps.It's portrayal of the event tends to be a little forward but this is not too excessive and very likely to depend on speaker synergy.
I think it is very likely that this amp beats the gainclone comfortably and in some areas it is better than the 300b and the Alephx .I can't say if it is an overall winner because some more extended auditioning is needed.
However if you factor cost in as well and realize that it costs between a fourth or a sixth of the price of the other two amps you realize what great value it is.

(Actually I am a little disappointed in the results because it brings into question whether my next big tube project which I have already bought parts for is really worth the time and effort and expense especially after seeing what these little chips can do.Imagine what they will bring out next year!
Perhaps we should hang up our soldering irons?)

I am not so sure how it would fare in the showdown with a normal ac power supply since I believe the battery ps has great advantages in almost all areas and particularly naturalness, musicality and soundstaging- perhaps the balance might shift a little then.However a good battery ps for this amp is very easy to make and only slightly more expensive than an ac ps.

So all in all a very big thumbs up!!
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Old 30th October 2005, 04:05 PM   #8
PloPla is offline PloPla  Italy
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Quote:
You have a link for this? I made a search without any succes
There is an italian forum at http://www.audiofaidate.itwww.audiofaidate.it where Mauro Penasa play the role of moderator.

You can find there also original comments about My_Ref project and some installing instructions: both under the section "I nostri progetti".

The site is only written in italian, but you could ask for somtehing, i suppose, starting a topic in english or just sending an e-mail.

Another member of the forum sells PCB for the My_Ref.

I also built both Tripath 2022 (41 hertz) and My_Ref rev C:
The tipath doesn't soun bad, ... but nothing exiting. My_Ref instead is one of the best sounding solid state amplifiers I ever heard.
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