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Old 24th February 2003, 03:31 AM   #1
diyAudio Member
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Arkansas
Question audio electronics for the beginner

I want to build a DIY amp, but know next to nothing about audio electronics. I have no previous experience in circuit
building. Can someone recommend an outstanding book or online resource that will teach me to crawl?

- Chris
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Old 24th February 2003, 04:58 AM   #2
Jay is offline Jay  Indonesia
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Jakarta
Hi Chris,

When for the first time I built my amp, what I asked before starting to build was how to read the schematic diagram. I didn’t use measurement tools, just “plug and play”. How to read resistance value was something crucial at the moment.

I just came to an electronic shop (with a schema sample) and they gave me the components and the PCB. So what I did was simply soldering the right component into the right location and position. (And I got used to the solder burning my flesh)

Because I built my own box from metal sheet, grounding was a big problem. It took me days to resolve the hum. I went to local library and learnt much how to do a proper grounding. (You won’t likely to have such problem in current DIY situation)

I recommend you to consult with the DIY community while building your amp. For example you can create a thread here, specifying the amplifier you are building, the problem and the progression.
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Old 24th February 2003, 05:32 AM   #3
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Do you want to build from a schematic or do you want to build a kit? Do you want to read first or do you want to build first then read?

Elliot Sound Products sells PCBs for a number of designs and great articles on his site However, as a beginner myself, I didn't find enough information about parts selection. So I'm temporarily moth-balling the PCBs I purchased from him.

For a kit complete with just about every component you need: pcb, resistors, caps, etc then check out I just ordered their 55W model. It just doesn't get any easier.

Both sites are very well regarded. I actually started by ordering PCBs from Elliot but when I realized I was a little bit over my head, I ordered an AKSA amp. I'll use the knowledge from building that amp to help me with parts selection for the Elliot amp.

Finally, there's Kits and books. I ordered Mr. Sloans books and have started reading his high power amp construction manual. I haven't hardly started it so I can't comment on how helpful it will be to me at my current level. He also offers kits but what turns me off about him is that he doesn't accept credit cards and I'm too lazy to send a check/mone order.

Seal's amps tend to be high power designs which differs from Elliot and AKSA in that they believe that quantity is no substitute for quality. I have no first hand experience with Seal's designs but I did a search and found positive comments.

Last but certainly not least is Pass Labs Pass Labs his a huge supporter of DIY but his Zen designs tend to be a little hardcore in the power and heat dissipation requirements. The converse is that his designs seem by far the most popular designs for DIY's. So support is excellent and you can get a lot of ideas from the many talented builders. There is a huge community supporting these designs but my opinion is that the amps are pretty extreme and the final result are exceptionally heavy, hot running amps that can be relatively pricey. Really just a matter of taste. I suspect as I learn more about solid state amplification, my desire to build a Pass amp will increase. However, I spend a lot of time browsing the Pass Labs forum for inspiration.

I would really recommend the AKSA amp but then again I haven't received mine yet, hopefully this week. Everything is included accept for the transformers (he will tell you which ones to buy) and the enclosure that you can build yourself or buy or scavenge from a salvage yard.

However, all the sources above, you can exchange email with the designer of the amp. If you pull a schematic out of a book, I doubt that will be possible in most cases.

I can't yet recommend any reading materials other than the articles on the sites I listed but it's alot easier to read and comprehend when you've built a nice complete kit and had some opportunity to troubleshoot any mistakes you may have made.
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Old 24th February 2003, 12:22 PM   #4
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Default if you know next to nothing

well, it's a good place to start - tabla rasa

the easiest to understand book on amplifier electronics is Randy Slone's "High Power Audio Amplifier Construction Manual" --

while others have recommended individual websites (that is, those published by one person knowledgeable in the field) I think that you are much better off taking a look at the manufacture websites as the articles are reviewed by others prior to publishing. The articles by Walt Jung on the Analog Devices website are excellent, the materials put out on opamplifiers by Texas Instruments, National Semiconductor, Linear Tech are all high quality too. In particular, however, Walt's articles on op-amps are archived at Analog's site and they are well worth reading.

If you are just starting out in electronics, the ARRL has very understandable books on electronics and communications from the most basic topics which discuss the fundamentals of electricity and magnetism, to the most advanced topics in digital signal processing and space communications.
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Old 24th February 2003, 08:35 PM   #5
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Default Re: audio electronics for the beginner

Originally posted by PantSeatFlyer
I want to build a DIY amp, but know next to nothing about audio electronics. I have no previous experience in circuit
building. Can someone recommend an outstanding book or online resource
All those mentioned above are good. Pick something suitably simple and become one of the Fearless Amplifier Builders.

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Old 24th February 2003, 08:48 PM   #6
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Build a Zen V4! It's simple and easy to build even for an idiot like me... you put it together, plug it in and it works (quite well). And if it isn't, you have hundreds of people including Nelson Pass that are happy to help you with it. I can't say the same of the other DIY amplifier I'm trying. See

If you want lots of power, be careful, and choose a design that is simple and well supported. That's the lesson I am learning the hard way now.
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Old 25th February 2003, 02:45 AM   #7
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thanks for all the comments. I think I'll check out Slone's "Guide to Understanding Electricity and Electronics" for starters.

In the meantime, I came across this post for directions on building a high end amp for under $200. Thoughts?
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Old 25th February 2003, 03:26 AM   #8
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Default A outstanding book

Hi pantseaflyer!!

For me one of the best books that i have come across ...and i have read lots of books....i´m not to young!

Is "The art of electronics" of Horowitz and edition is from 1980 is very much used...wallways a good sign!

After some basic reading for you have a idea as circuits work...wellcome a bord to the club of de solder fumes snifers!

Regards and good luck!

Jorge Santos
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Old 25th February 2003, 04:21 AM   #9
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I can vouch for Slone's amp design book. If you find any loose holes in the book (which you will) Douglas Self's amp book may help you better understand. However, I would not reccomend Self's book for a complete novice into the field.
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Old 25th February 2003, 04:28 AM   #10
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Even these are a bit complex for the newbie, although they
make excellent 3rd or 4th projects, IMHO.
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