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Old 27th June 2001, 12:37 AM   #1
lohk is offline lohk  Europe
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Some days ago, "carlmart" <carlmart@centroin.com.br> asked me about my "naim clones".
Maybe this is of general interest:


Naim clones!

Yes, it is possible to "DIY" them, at least with some care.
Several years ago I was working in a shop (in Vienna, Austria) repairing these amps, so I know them quite good - although NAIM never provided any schematics or spares (a very arrogant company - at least in those days). But for me this amps always were the reference, I rarely heard anything better, at least for this price.
(A highnosed company with an even more highnosed PR, but they make wonderful amps. I would rather like them to be as friendly as there are a few others - I do not have to mention them.)

I always wanted to have something alike, maybe not an exact copy, but an amp "from the same spirit".

So - basically what I build is this:

1. A few preamps, similar to NAP42.5.
But I must admit, I had orginal (swapped, for free) NAC42 mainboards and modified them to 42.5 standards (two 24V supplies).
This preamps have a very delicate and complicated grounding system, which is a bit difficult to copy.

2. Some "HICAPs" , with more or less "high caps".
This is fairly easy, if you have access to high quality parts.

3. Two main amps, a bit similar to a NAP180, one stereo and one in unregulated dual-mono mode.
This amp's circuit details are a bit modified, because it is not possible to get the original power transistors.

They all sound pretty wonderful and musically-dynamic. I still have one setup, which is constantly powered on in my library/listening room and I use it almost every day, together with a LINN LP12, with Ittok and a Goldring Elite, an AT-OC9 or a LINN K9, with an Arcam CD player, a Creek Tuner and DIY speakers made with Audax parts. LS cables is orginal NAIM NACA4, interconnect cables are DIY with belden and other parts. All the setup is modified to some extent (mains filters, cable lineup and grounding).

A few caveats: the gain of the preamp is a bit too high for normal CD use (this could be changed however), it does not always sound friendly with bad recordings or bad sources (because it is a good amp), it does not have the (artificially enhanced) holographic sound some expensive american amplifiers seem to provide.
There are quite a few capacitors (mostly tantal beads, correctly biased) in the signal path, which does not suit to everybody (because caps are considered evil...), and other things.
Generally these amps seem have a great potential for audiphile approved modifications, but some of these mods strangely turn out not to better the performance.

Schematics:
I have drawn quite lot schematics for all NAIM amps up to 72 and 250 and my modifications. But as I mentioned before, some of the parts (transistors) are proprietary and not available for DIY. I also do not have the drawings in digitalized form (not yet).
I hope you appologize, but it is therefore not possible and irresponsible to publish them in the net at this state. I must admit, I never had any idea that someone is honestly interested, because internationally NAIM amps have a very bad or questionable reputation amongst DIYers.
And - last not least - I do not know how NAIM AUDIO will react, AFAIK they have been pretty unfriendly to DIYers in the past. But the circuits are quite simple, more or less standard to some extent, the quality seem to be more in the way how all the parts are selected and the whole thing is made in general.

If - however - there is a great interest, I will try to setup a site and will looking forward to discuss the schematics and the construction details with you !
But be patient, at the moment I am very busy with long term projects (I am a music composer) and html is not my strongest side, to put it mildly...

cheers
Klaus
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Old 27th June 2001, 01:14 AM   #2
Asen is offline Asen  Bulgaria
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Klaus

I've heard some Naim stuff. I myself have been using a NACA5 cable in my system for a while which outperformed all the other cables I've been using so far. It's not something exceptional, but it is good for the price.
I like the equipment this firm offers and the CD records they produce. Obviously these guys know about music and its reproduction. Despite of the other amps discussed here, the NAIMs are absolutely cold. The Naim CD players dissipate times more heat then the amps (when idling or at low levels).
I think there will be an interest, so go on...

You mention you've been reparing Naim equipment. In this connection I have a question to ask about the CD mechanism CDM9. If I'm right Naim uses CDM9 in some CD players. Can you tell me is it possible a CDM12 to be replaced by CDM9 direct.

Thanks

Asen
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Old 27th June 2001, 07:20 AM   #3
tvi is offline tvi  Australia
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Have you been to Neil McBride's HiFi Pages http://www.neilmcbride.co.uk/ all about tweaking Naims,
he has amplifier constuction page @: http://www.neilmcbride.co.uk/jknamps.html

The transistors Naim used were made by Semelab UK, don't know if they were custom?

Regards
James
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Old 27th June 2001, 12:54 PM   #4
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Default Naim Hi-Cap

I have a NAC72 which i currently run off batteries.

I would be very interested in a Naim Hi-cap schematic for use with the above. I understood that the voltage regulators used by Naim were graded in-house as to whether they were suitable or not and this was an attributing facor to their exceptional performance.
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Old 27th June 2001, 11:16 PM   #5
lohk is offline lohk  Europe
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Naims are interesting - good to know.

Sorry, folks, I am on holiday for two weeks now.
Please keep this thread open to discuss more details later on.

To Tvi:
Thanks for the urls! This will be of great interest for all naimamp-friends.
I did not know, that this guy had a construction page too. He seems not to link his pages.
But I do definitly not agree with all his mods, specially with the preamps. As I mentioned before, some of this modifications are not in the direction naim amps are strong, and ruin more that they can help.
More about that later.
Yes I know about the Semelab transistors, but can you get hold of them? I couldn't, at least until now.
But Neil McBride's suggestions for transistors are pretty much close to what I did.
But all naim-friends beware! His schematic of the NAP135 is his derivate and definitely not the orginal schematic!

To Asen:
I do not think you can swap the drives in Naim CD Players,
but I will enquire further details with my Naim-importing/selling friends.

To Jason:
Good solution! Why don't you stick with it?
I personally think that Naim preamps sound by far the best
with battery power. I tried that several times with different dry-batteries and lead and NC accus, but
I am just a bit lazy too construct a good charger, because, as you know,
these preamps have to be powered on all the time to sound their best.
I will put a schematic in the net, if time permits.
Basically it is two cheap LM317K (TO3 casing) with textbook components around them.
I do not believe the hype Naim does wonder things to burn them in or what, I think they are carefully selected for noise and other parameters.
If you take for example 100pcs only say 10-20% are up to the (higher) level.
This was out of reach for me, I use components from Linear Technology, they are more expensive, but IMHO better without matching and selecting.

greetings
Klaus
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Old 28th June 2001, 08:48 PM   #6
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Smile Battery powered NAC72

My battery power supply is currently basically 4 Yuasa 12 volt batteries connected to provide 2 * 24volt rails.

I have a case and all the components ready to assemble into the "finished" product, but my hi-fi is currently decommissioned awaiting construction of an extension to the house - until then there is nowhere to put it where the kids (2 & 4 years old) won't tinker with it, so there is no urgency to complete the project.

I am going to use an LM317 regulator to provide standby power to the NAC72 so it will be powered at all times, when i switch to standby power the charger circuit will connect to the batteries. I will have a small bank of Elna capacitors connected to the output of the batteries/standby circuit so switching between the two shouldn't leave me with clicks and thumps in the loudspeakers and the capacitors will overcome the shortcomings of the batteries.

A pair of digital voltmeters in the front panel will tell me when the battery charge has fallen to a level where a recharge is required.

I was interested in the Hi-Cap schematic to see how the standby power could possibly be improved for circumstances where i am forced to use it.
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Old 29th June 2001, 12:04 PM   #7
ALW is offline ALW  United Kingdom
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Default Power supplies

The regulators Naim utilise in all of their power supplies are LM317's.

They 'select' them for best performance, but do not specifically give information on the selection criteria.

Noise has been mentioned previously, and it's safe to assume that this is at least one of the criteria. I've done extensive tests on my own home-brew PSU's for Naim kit, and have discovered some interesting information, after a similarly minded individual sent me some application notes from one of the engineers at National Semi (I think!).

The output impedance of all three terminal regulators appears inductive, the value of inductance varies with voltage and load current. It is possible to form a series resonant circuit with the output capacitors and it is possible for a noise peak to be created within the audio band. I've done some FFT analyses of my own PSU and was able to create just such a noise peak.

If you do the maths (f=1/2*pi*root(L*C)) one can mathematically derive the frequency of the noise peak, from the capacitor value, for any given set of regualtor operating characteristics.

This also means that the common mod of using low-ESR capacitors can worsen the situation, as the Q of the resonant circuit becomes much greater, increasing the amplitude of the peak, whilst lowering occupied bandwidth.

I also believe that a well designed regulated PSU will outperform a battery PSU any day. My ears tell me this, and I believe it is directly related to poor regultion, and low bandwidth of battery supplies. Noise of a battery supply, when under load, is not lower than a well-designed regulator.

If anyone is interested I have the FFT plots, that I can make available - does this forum allow image posts?

Andy.
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Old 29th June 2001, 12:38 PM   #8
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Default Power supplies

Can you post some details of the power supplies you use for your own Naim equipment?
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Old 29th June 2001, 05:02 PM   #9
ALW is offline ALW  United Kingdom
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Default Naim PSU's

Jason,

Most of my Naim power supplies are either standard stock items, modified stock items, or the one home-brew I built whilst educating myself on the intricacies of audio power supplies, whilst trying to save money into the bargain.

When I had a Nait3, I split the pre / power sections (which are, in effect, a NAC92 / NAP90.3) and built a PSU to work with it.

The PSU is a fairly conventional arrangement, consisting of the classic massive toroidal transformer / bridge rec / smoothing.

Running from this raw supply is a dual regulated, dual 24V supply board, consisting of 4 LM317T's, one pair as pre-regulators for the final 24V pair. It is completely star-earthed / star supply with every component having a seperate 0v return.

It has very low measured noise, and sounds great, it's currently powering a NAC42XO (NAC42 with inbuilt active crossover), which then feeds 2xNAP110's. Rather than perform '.5' mods on the pre-amp, I've used one 24V rail for the pre-amp, the other for the crossover as this was simpler to wire and took less work to try.

I've also recently bought a s/h SNAPS and have recapped and modified it slightly to power a Prefix phono stage, fitted to my LP12.

The SNAPS was very cheap (and is a great way to experiment - cheaper than home-brew!), but it looks as is a previous owner had modified / repaired it since one of the regulators had been changed for a cheap JRC part. I've replaced both regulators with LM317AT's (a higher spec part than the standard LM317T) and have modified it for dual-rail operation, changing the rear panel connectors for twistlock DIN's, and adding the 5 pin one required for dual-channel operation. Tantalum caps have been replaced on the regulators with newer AVX tant's.

I've increased the main reservoir capacitance from the standard 10,000uF to 22,000uF, the new device (BHC Aerovox T22) is still 30mm shorter than the part it replaces. I've not gone higher than this as increasing capacitance increases transformer heating (probably not an issue for the oversize toroid used) but will also increase stress on the rectifiers at switch on, and owing to I squared R losses through the reduced conduction angle of the rectifiers.

I select regulators using a PC-based FFT spectrum analyser, running into a very low noise, but inexpensive, Sound Blaster Live soundcard.

Although the current drain of the pre's should be fairly constant (class A with lots of constant current sources) I also have a suspicion that dynamic performance of the regulator, along with it's bandwidth, is an important factor.

I've also tried an active noise shunt circuit, that provided massive noise attenuation, in particular at the low frequqncy end, where capacitors are ineffective. Despite excellent results in SPICE and good measured results it sounded s**t.

There's a lot more to this than measured performance, but I guess it's a start.

My next avenue is to look at capacitance multipliers, as often used on valve designs. Preliminary results indicate superb noise reduction abilities - where have I heard that before

The ultimate piece of test equipment is always your ears, trying to correlate what one hears with measured performance is the hardest part.

Andy.

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Old 5th October 2001, 12:38 AM   #10
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Cool Re: Power supplies

Hello Andy.

In your post Power Supplies, you mentioned you believe the output impedance of the LM317 to be inductive.

Could you please elaborate on how you deudced this conclusion?

Lastly, I'm really interested on you FFT analysis. We tried using a Soundblaster card before, but could never quite get the noise floor of the card to be compensated in the mesurements, we always ended up measuring the noise of the circuit and the noise of the card and PC. I would like to know more about measurment system.
We have gone back to using an HP Spectrum Analyser.

On another note, I was talking to a guy from NAIM last year at the CES in Las Vegas, we talked about noise and the power supplies amongst other things, I remember the comment they were testing the LM317 for about 100uV noise level with a few hundred milliamps of load current. But most of the time inductive picked up noise, RF stray fields and the like seemed to swamp the measurements.

In general the noise output of the regulators is highly variable depending on temperature, load current, cosmic rays, you name it. (The cosmic rays isn't a joke, we use a DSP fro TI that has a cosmic ray shield built over the silicon chip!)

Look forward to hear from you.

Thanks,

Andreas.
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