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WE91 24th February 2009 10:28 PM

Best DIY power-amp/kit to build?
Hello dear fellow audiophile DIY'ers.
Starting out a little humble to you SS guys, as I have long belonged to the SET tube camp. I do realize, though, that many SS designs has a lot to offer. I'm not afraid of the solder-iron, and believe that it is possible to "roll your own" and get a better sounding amp than any you can buy!

Since I am new to DIY SS, I wanted to ask you about which known design to go for when only the best sonics is what I want.
I know there are a lot of different tastes in "coloration from amps". What I am after is something with bass control, sweet highs and liquid midrange with detail, whithout becoming either analytical or syrupy romantic. I do not need a lot of power, but something like 40 to 50W is about minimum. I have owned several SS amps that I have been fond of. My old Marantz M510 had a "prescence of power" that I really enjoyed, coupled with rather good detailing. A Krell KSA 250 had the same "feeling of power and reserves" as the Marantz. A Hiraga 20W Le Classe A had a clarity and "warmth" that I liked a lot. If all this could be found in a known DIY design (preferably a kit), I would be very happy indeed. Strenghts to the design should also be 3D kind of imaging ... Are Pass Labs designs the right way to go or would something like this be medicine:Aksa Avondale?

Looking very much forward to your suggestions and comments.

Best Regards Aril

psychosteve 24th February 2009 10:54 PM

welcome to the mad house!

as you say there are so many different flavors of amps around, it can be dificult to know where to start.

pass diy have a very good reputation and some very nice amps and popular on the forum, the aspen amps are quite good, but ive only seen the aksa 55 and 100, there are quite a few around and people to talk to about upgrading.

esp have some good designs and boards for sale.

project 101 is one to look at, or one of the class A amps.

any of these may be worth a look for a first SS. it depends what experience you have and what you are willing to spend on a first try? nothing worse than blowing up that nice shiny new expensive amp because you made one little mistake! and trust me, even the best of us do it!

hope that helps start you off, im sure someone else will answer soon enough, steve.

WE91 24th February 2009 11:04 PM

Thank you very much Psychosteve!
I will try my very best at research on every suggestion you guys mention.
- I guess I should have suggested Leach (the Professors) amp as medicine also ...

Stuey 25th February 2009 09:31 AM

Hi Aril,

The SKA amp gets very good reports from builders. I'm almost finished mine, so can't yet comment from experience.

There's a forum on the site below, and Greg Ball (the designer and kit vendor) is very helpful.



protos 25th February 2009 09:59 AM

I have built Pass Aleph and Aleph -X, gainclones, audiophile lm3886 (twisted pear), 300b set, 6c33 set.

If you want an ss amp with your power requirements but still warm sounding then my vote goes to Pass and lm3886.The twisted pear kit , if it still exists (I think there was a recent group buy) is great , low cost and simple to build in a normal enclosure.The Pass are great but they are going to be much more costly and the enclosure/heat sinks are very time consuming to build .
So for you I would say start with the audiophile lm3886.You will need very serious reasons to spend more money on expensive Class A designs but if you really want to perhaps the Pass F4 /F5 would be worthwhile.
What speakers will you use?

WE91 25th February 2009 12:31 PM

Thank you, Stuey and Protos!
I am now searching for all info I can get on the ESP 101 mosfet, the SKA GB300D mosfet and the LM3886 chip amps. I guess the Avondale NCC200 is no match to these designs? Is the AKSA still in the game here?
Are the N.Pass F4/F5 "better" than the two mosfet designs mentioned above?
I will eventually, after your advice and my own research, make a choice of two to three designs and get more specific advice from a good friend who is very knowledgeable in electronics and amp design.
The loudspeakers I am using is a DIY design, made by myself and Stig Erik Tangen here in Norway. The Griffin G1 and 2 speakers (see fm-design link below) is designed in Norway by Stig Erik.
My speakers is a full d'Appolito design and use two Seas 8" Excel magnesium for bass/lower mids, crosses over to two B&G Neo 8 with custom waveguides and with a Mundorf AMT tweeter in the top. Sensitivity is 91dB/1W and impedance is quite flat at 4 ohms.
I think most amps will have a ball driving these speakers!

Regards Aril

protos 25th February 2009 04:11 PM

Well the Pass f4/f5 are ,let's say, the culmination of a design philosophy based on simple two stage class a mosfet amps.However the the f4 needs a preamp since it is essentially a power buffer.The f5 is a more conventional power amp.
The other amps that you mention I haven't heard but the avondale is based on the Naim philosophy.Having had Naim amps for many years I would tend to favour the Pass/lm3886 suggestion if you favour liquidity and midrange naturalness.

psychosteve 25th February 2009 05:32 PM

i think i must have been stuck in the moment of updating an old mosfet amp,

but i forgot about chip amps, many ppl have designed and made boards, me included, but brian gt springs to mind on the forums for boards and kits, very good, although only around 50 - 65 watts, depending on what you pick for transformer and other bits, unless you go parallel or bridge, they are very nice sounding.

and then there is alot to play with as to buffers, regulators and so on.


Nelson Pass 25th February 2009 06:27 PM

Once you successfully build an amp, you will build more. With that
in mind, pick the simplest thing you can to start, knowing that
you'll be back with more elaborate and powerful pieces later.


mosfets 25th February 2009 07:58 PM

2 Attachment(s)

Originally posted by Nelson Pass
Once you successfully build an amp, you will build more. With that
in mind, pick the simplest thing you can to start, knowing that
you'll be back with more elaborate and powerful pieces later.


I wish I could have taken-in such advice many years ago. I started and stoped three of four designs before finally finishing off a monster power amp. Yes, it was a good amp but since I have had more joy and reward working on smaller (unique) pieces. I have etched some small JHL boards recently and they are ready for stuffing and last night I started working on THIS old jem that was orriginally created when I was but a young child.

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