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Old 3rd February 2013, 07:08 PM   #91
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Originally Posted by xrk971 View Post
These look like nice tk2050 modules with quality components. Hifimediy T1 ALPS vol pot TK2050 STA510 MUNDORF CAP

And the tpa3122 is available here DIY Electronics KAA03021 Kit
The TK2050 is a Tripath chip but the TPA3122 is an older vintage Texas Instruments chip. Reports indicate that it also sounds better and more tube like than the Tripath chips. The 3 newer TI chips above are newer designs with improved sound quality.
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Old 3rd February 2013, 07:16 PM   #92
xrk971 is offline xrk971  United States
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Cervelorider was the one who recommended the 3122. He said he has had 6 other tube amps and this chip sounds as good as any of them. I think he upgrades the input caps from the stock ones offered in the kit though. One thing that tube amps do differently is that they react differently to the dynamic changes in impedance of the driver. If someone makes a chip that can mimic this behavior, I don't see why class D can't sound the same as tubes.
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Old 3rd February 2013, 08:20 PM   #93
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Originally Posted by xrk971 View Post
Cervelorider was the one who recommended the 3122. He said he has had 6 other tube amps and this chip sounds as good as any of them. I think he upgrades the input caps from the stock ones offered in the kit though. One thing that tube amps do differently is that they react differently to the dynamic changes in impedance of the driver. If someone makes a chip that can mimic this behavior, I don't see why class D can't sound the same as tubes.
I have not heard any of the Texas Instruments digital amplifiers but they are described as sounding like a very good vacuum tube amplifier without the dirty window and grain.
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Old 4th February 2013, 05:20 PM   #94
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I don't know about 'dirty window' and 'grain', but you should hear some of the valve amps the guys around here crank out. Two in particular, a 300b PP & 211 SET, will always stand out in my mind. Neither of those terms would get a look in, particularly with the former, which was cleaner than a nunnery with a sideline in carbolic soap. Actually, it was a little too much so for some of the guys at the meet where I heard it; bordering on too sharp for their tastes. I liked it. Which I grind my teeth saying because a/ I don't like the 300b and b/ I don't much care for valve amps, as a rule.
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Old 4th February 2013, 06:18 PM   #95
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I built my brother Ian Thompson-Bell's Improved Headphone amplifier (a SRPP tube amplifier) and it definitely improved the audio quality of his headphones when compared with his X-FI sound card. I would go as far as to say that it made his $150 headphones sound like a $600 model. For the most part, improvement has been most apparent in the bass region. Ian's headphone amplifier is a marvelous example of quality design. My theory is that the computer sound card was incapable of driving his HT-50's sufficiently.

Clearly, sufficient power is required to adequately drive speakers. It would take take much more to convince me that a tube amplifier is superior to a class A SS though. My recommendation is to first get an amplifier with enough power, then find the class of amplifier, then if you choose to go class A, pick between tube amplification and solid state amplification. You can hardly tell that my brother is using a tube amplifier because his uses a negative feedback loop to reduce distortion.
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Old 4th February 2013, 08:52 PM   #96
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This "tube vs SS" debate has been going on for longer than some forum members have been around, and I'd be surprised if there's ever consensus on the if / how / why of which is (perceived as ) "better"

To my thinking, a "perfectly acceptable" amp (no such thing as "perfect" or "best"), is one that mostly gets out of its own way - in other words the fewest sins of omission in its efforts to present a facsimile of a musical event - particularly when considering it'll be used in conjunction with transducers likely several orders of magnitude more "flawed" . I've heard systems with combinations of tube, all solid state, and hybrids that do an admirable job of that. Some were quite affordable, others - if you need to ask ...

One thing about which there's probably no argument is that an efficient digital amp can be very compact and run lean, green and cool - for some applications these can be significant factors.
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Last edited by chrisb; 4th February 2013 at 08:55 PM.
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Old 4th February 2013, 09:04 PM   #97
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Originally Posted by Scottmoose View Post
I don't know about 'dirty window' and 'grain', but you should hear some of the valve amps the guys around here crank out. Two in particular, a 300b PP & 211 SET, will always stand out in my mind. Neither of those terms would get a look in, particularly with the former, which was cleaner than a nunnery with a sideline in carbolic soap. Actually, it was a little too much so for some of the guys at the meet where I heard it; bordering on too sharp for their tastes. I liked it. Which I grind my teeth saying because a/ I don't like the 300b and b/ I don't much care for valve amps, as a rule.
Dirty window and grain is just a slight relative term when comparing 2 very good amplifiers. The people who are getting the most out of the TBI Millenia MGB on the other forum are connecting two 12 volt batteries in series in order to optimize the power supply. Converting AC to DC regardless of method used is apparently inferior in terms of sound quality with this digital amplifier. Tube amps are always run off of AC to the best of my knowledge. This disadvantage alone could account for the grain, but who knows. It is interesting that digital amplifiers are improving beyond the obsolete Tripath chips. It has been a very slow process.
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Old 13th February 2013, 09:42 AM   #98
xrk971 is offline xrk971  United States
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Where can I buy these TPA3116D2, TPA3118D2, and TPA3130D2 modules to try?
I just ordered the bare TPA3118D2 chip and am now putting together the ancillary parts list (external caps, inductors, resistors). The specs on this family of amps is really amazing, you look at it and it is crazy how a chip the size of half a postage stamp will put out 25 watts with less than 0.1% THD and barely require a heatsink for a total parts cost of $18 (with high quality Panasonic caps). The eval board which is ready to go costs $150 if anyone is interested. The eval board has some high quality binding posts for output and power supply connection at least.

Click the image to open in full size.

Here is spec sheet for chip: http://www.ti.com/lit/ds/slos708b/slos708b.pdf

Eval board: TPA3118D2 Evaluation Module - TPA3118D2EVM - TI Tool Folder

Last edited by xrk971; 13th February 2013 at 09:45 AM.
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Old 13th February 2013, 03:37 PM   #99
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I recently discovered how tweakable the Lepai 2020 amps are. Bypassed the tone controls and opamp, upgraded the input coupling caps. Huge improvement in sound. My PCB is the 2020B (almost all through-hole) which makes things easy(ier).

Have not tried it on my dual EL70 microTowers yet, but the difference is quite noticeable on my nanoTowers.

Will probably upgrade the output inductors and main power cap at some point.

In tube land, I am planning a few tweaks to the Shuguang I-25. Will be installing a supplementary power transformer to dedicate to the pre-amp tubes, which will give me enough juice to run some 12BH7s and give my main transformer some relief (runs pretty hot). Have ordered some Russian POI caps to replace the generic coupling caps. Considering putting a choke in it, as well.

So much fun!

Last edited by cogitech; 13th February 2013 at 03:42 PM.
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Old 11th March 2013, 11:26 PM   #100
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Default Coupling Caps Upgraded

I ordered some Russian POI caps, but I've not received them after almost 7 weeks, so I got fed up and ordered some Sprague 716P Orange drops.

They arrived today and I just finished installing them. Holy makerel they are huge!

I have heard I need to give them about 40 hours to burn in, however the amp sounds fantastic to me already. I do think the change is subtle, but in a very important way. I can't put my finger on it, but it does sound like it is more cohesive or something; more "solid" or "grounded" if that makes any sense.
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