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Old 13th January 2014, 05:54 AM   #1
TheMG is offline TheMG  Canada
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Default Amplifier kit recommendations.

With so many kits out there, from expensive audiophile kits to cheap chinese eBay kits, I'm seeking suggestions/recommendations on a kit that would meet the following requirements:

-50W (a bit more is ok) into 8 ohms, but also 4 ohm stable
-class AB discrete
-no heat sink included in the kit (not needed, I've got piles of heat sinks already)
-power supply also not necessary, just the amplifier (I can easily put a power supply together)
-must sound respectable at all volume levels (full rated power at <1% THD)
-reasonably robust (should be expected to survive an accidental short/overload)
-relatively inexpensive (<$50 per channel)

Does not have to be pre-assembled, I'm fine and fairly quick with soldering. In fact it doesn't even have to come with the components, just a bare board with parts list and schematics is fine (I have to make a Digikey order soon anyways). I just don't have the time to design an amplifier completely from scratch (many other projects on the go) or the resources necessary to make my own PCBs, and honestly, why re-invent the wheel?

Thanks in advance for your input!
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Old 13th January 2014, 07:53 AM   #2
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My advice is to skip the cheap Chinese Ebay kits and get something from a reputable source. The low price is attractive until you realise you sold a pup with incomplete/nonexistent documentation and counterfeit parts, that is almost guaranteed to be a source of frustration. Of all the mistakes I've made in my life that isn't one of them - so I don't speak from experience and you can take my comments with a grain of salt.

With that budget perhaps look to a chipamp/gainclone?

Sorry I didn't read your message properly. Rod Elliott sells bare boards; I've built several of his projects and have been very satisfied with the results. I recommend his P3A project.

http://sound.westhost.com/

Last edited by Ranchu32; 13th January 2014 at 07:57 AM.
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Old 13th January 2014, 08:53 AM   #3
dangus is offline dangus  Canada
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This cheap Chinese clone is popular:
NAP-140 Clone Amp Kit on Ebay

Douglas Self's Blameless amplifiers:
The Signal Transfer Company

Or, look for used/broken power amp at a pawn shop and repair/upgrade it.
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Old 15th January 2014, 01:23 AM   #4
TheMG is offline TheMG  Canada
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ranchu32 View Post
Sorry I didn't read your message properly. Rod Elliott sells bare boards; I've built several of his projects and have been very satisfied with the results. I recommend his P3A project.

Elliott Sound Products - The Audio Pages (Main Index)
I've been reading stuff off this guy's website for years and never realized he actually sold stuff!

There's a couple interesting amp board there. Prices seem reasonable (not much more than it would cost me to have my own PCBs professionally manufactured). As for the components I already have most of the resistors, capacitors, diodes in stock leaving mostly the transistors which I can get for next to nothing on DigiKey.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dangus View Post
Douglas Self's Blameless amplifiers:
The Signal Transfer Company
Also interesting.

Thanks for the suggestions!
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Old 15th January 2014, 08:12 PM   #5
tvrgeek is offline tvrgeek  United States
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I bought the "MX50" cheap Chinese amp. I paid almost nothing planning on using it just for education. The kit did not match the schematic and parts are, well cheap does not describe it. Putting the as-delivered into Spice, it has serious flaws. It might be useful for testing protection to the failure limit.

So many kits are just the amp. Not an amplifier system. Insufficient input network, output network, protection, mute etc. Rather than mod yet another e-bay used wonder, I decided only designing my own would teach me what I want to learn better than reverse engineering something that turns out, was not well engineered. It has taught me many of the forum posts have wonderful and occasionally clever ideas, but they are not the driving force in the design not fixing the real problem, and a great many production units are very poorly designed. SOP rather than engineer so miss-matches carry on and on. For someone like me who is very new ad the finer details of amp design, consider this a very harsh condemnation.

Just build a GainClone. I am informed they are really quite good if done well mechanically. No kit needed. Flying point to point works fine.
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Old 15th January 2014, 08:14 PM   #6
tvrgeek is offline tvrgeek  United States
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Also a vote for ESP. Note you will need several boards to make up an amplifier "system". Amp, p/s, protection etc. Read all his tech papers first. Actually, read all of them anyway.
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Old 16th January 2014, 03:44 AM   #7
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I've said elsewhere, that a lot of schematics of L series kits have deliberately false or obscured schematics when published at sellers' Ebay sites. This was certainly true of L12 which looked like nonsense but simmed fine when the real schematic was posted.

'dunno how this works, because some kits arrive with the proper schematic, others are emailed with your invoice and more recently, some sellers give no documentation other than sketchy sales info. This may be OK for clever guys with experience in building amps but really spoils it for average DIYs who won't know what they've got or how to adapt it unless someone reverse engineers it; something that could be done by copycats anyway but may be difficult for the guy who is entitled to know, having bought a part-product he may have to assemble and join to other devices some uncertain way, just to see if it works.

That aside, Ebay kits based on cloned designs are still amazing value and do provide low cost products for a wider range of people than those who can afford more finessed, fully supported kits at several times the price.

Fakes and lousy designs are another matter, but I stick with stores who have proven to be reliable, where I haven't yet been stung with bad parts over some years. That's not to say I don't blame them when circuits don't work - that's a human trait
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Old 16th January 2014, 03:50 AM   #8
djoffe is offline djoffe  United States
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Take a look here:

Akitika Store

The GT-101 is a complete kit...but the separate amp, power supply modules, and transformers are available for separate sale. Rock solid implementations and a great assembly manual.
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Old 16th January 2014, 04:00 AM   #9
CBS240 is offline CBS240  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tvrgeek View Post
So many kits are just the amp. Not an amplifier system. Insufficient input network, output network, protection, mute etc.
Hence why those kits cost less than $50.
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All the trouble I've ever been in started out as fun......
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Old 16th January 2014, 06:15 AM   #10
ttan98 is offline ttan98  Australia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ranchu32 View Post
My advice is to skip the cheap Chinese Ebay kits and get something from a reputable source. The low price is attractive until you realise you sold a pup with incomplete/nonexistent documentation and counterfeit parts, that is almost guaranteed to be a source of frustration. Of all the mistakes I've made in my life that isn't one of them - so I don't speak from experience and you can take my comments with a grain of salt.

With that budget perhaps look to a chipamp/gainclone?

Sorry I didn't read your message properly. Rod Elliott sells bare boards; I've built several of his projects and have been very satisfied with the results. I recommend his P3A project.

Elliott Sound Products - The Audio Pages (Main Index)
On the contrary my experience had been very favorably, I bought kits(in excess of 6) from Chinese Ebay sellers from HK or China, all my sets were complete, with schematics if you request one. Having said that you must have some experience with building amps.They are not for novice. They DO NOT provide step by step documentation, I don't need them anyway. Whether the parts are genuine I cannot fully say with full confidence, however they do work. In the end they do sound very good indeed.

I am not sure whether you have bought any kits from Ebay yourself, if not I suggest you refrain from commenting.
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