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Class D Switching Power Amplifiers and Power D/A conversion

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Old 16th February 2015, 11:07 AM   #1
Mojito is offline Mojito  France
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Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Toulouse
Question Noob building an amp. Where to start?

Hey all,

I stumbled on this forum a few weeks ago since I was bored and wanted a project to keep me busy. My current amp/preamp “Technics su-z2” is getting old and I wanted to update it. And when I mean update it, I mean build from scratch a new amp+preamp. Unfortunately, the amount of vocabulary and technical jargon on these threads is quite confusing for me, even though I’m a technically inclined guy.

I have no idea where to start. The amount of amp boards left me scratching my head since I couldn’t decide which would be best for my “cahier des charges”/requirements. So I would like to post a list of things I’m looking to get out of the amp and hope you guys could point me in the right direction. Or, even better give me a strait up solution.

So, here it goes:
-At least 6 channels (so I can setup a 5.1 system). The speakers I’ll be using will also be part of a DIY project. Haven’t thought further on the subject.

-I’m guessing max power at around 500-700W? It’s going to be in a living room. It doesn’t have to be mega loud, but it’s nice to be able to turn up “dat bass” for parties. Our neighbor is a deaf old lady, so she doesn’t mind!

-Class D amp? From what I gather, class Ds are more efficient with less heat waste and have a smaller footprint, which is a good thing in my eyes. Other than that I know nothing on the differences in sound quality.

-For user controls, I want to keep it simple. Volume, bass, treble nob. Input selector. And maybe balance control.

-Chassis, roughly same size as the Technics. I really want vue-meters, I love that vintage look.

I think that does it.
Concerning the actual building process. I have seen ready-made amp boards, is it better to buy those or make one yourself by designing the PCB and buying the components yourself? Or is the hassle not worth it? Does anyone know an A-Z guide on building an amp with specs like mine with approximated cost?

I'm not a complete noob. I know how to solder, read schemtics, identify components. Just don't know how to pick them

Merci et bonne journée!

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Old 16th February 2015, 12:14 PM   #2
ssmith is offline ssmith  Kenya
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Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Nairobi
Maybe look at getting some ready-made Class D amplifier boards locally in France -- this seller has a good selection: module amplificateur - Audiophonics

Many of the Class D boards are very simple to wire up. You'll probably find the biggest challenge is the chassis.

500w-700w is a lot. Are you sure you need that much power? This is a useful calculator to give an idea of how much you may need: Peak SPL Calculator
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Old 20th February 2015, 02:00 AM   #3
dangus is offline dangus  Canada
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Join Date: May 2004
Location: Vancouver Island
If you want 5.1, just get an AVR. Old ones (before HDMI) are obsolete and should be dirt cheap; mine cost $20. If you need HDMI audio support, buy a newer AVR on sale. Finding a way to use high-res HDMI audio without an AVR will cost more; about the cheapest option would be a budget pre/processor like the Emotiva UMC-200 ($700).

You can still build a power amp for a subwoofer, although it may be more cost-effective to pick up a used (semi)pro power amp.
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Old 20th February 2015, 02:07 AM   #4
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Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Carlisle, England
If you start getting into your own design pcb's with class d you will open up a huge can of worms. Class d is hypercritical about lengths of tracks, pcb layout and decoupling.
Get any of it wrong and the amp will perform poorly, if at all.

For a beginner I would recommend buying in a class d amplifier module.

If you really must do your own pcb I would recommend a class AB to start with as they are a bit more forgiving.
Murton-Pike Systems PCBCAD51 pcb design software.
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Old 20th February 2015, 08:29 AM   #5
Mojito is offline Mojito  France
diyAudio Member
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Toulouse
Hi all, thanks a bunch for the replies. Lots of info for me.

@ssmith: Indeed, 500w is a lot! Don't know where I got that number from. 200W seems more fitting to my needs. Audiophonics looks cool; I looked at their stuff but can't make heads or tails about the difference of amp modules. Also what is the difference between amp and preamp modules?

@dangus: Holy cow for the price of the Emotive UMC-200! The audio source is going to be an HTPC and sometimes a phone/tablet. So my HTPC would serve as the receiver since in can encode/decode all sorts of audio formats and then send them via SPDIF, HDMI (or jack?). Unless I'm missing something.

@Nnigelwright7557: That's what I thought. Clearly the effort does not justify the results. But I still want to do a Buy/Build It Yourself, so it looks like I'm going to be getting premade modules.

To summarise in a few questions what I need to know now:
Knowing that I would like a bass and treble nob, Input selector and maybe balance control. And with jack, HDMI/SPDIF inputs. And 5 speaker and 1 subwoofer channel.

Would it look something like this (see attachment), or do I have no idea?

Attached Images
File Type: png The Box.png (25.3 KB, 91 views)
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