Gainclone sound quality versus commercial

Hi,

I am thinking of building my first Gainclone but need to know what its peers are in the commercial world before proceeding. For a start, I currently have a Musical Fidelity A3CR power amp. How does the Gainclone from http://www.specializedkits.com/lm3875.shtml compare to that.
Or Cyrus Smartpower etc. or other comparisons people have made.

Also, does anyone use a passive preamp into a Gainclone e.g Creek OBH-12, OBH-22.

Thanks for your views.

Jack
 

owen

Member
2004-03-17 9:43 am
Shilton
Commercially, it'll kick your MF amps pants.

It really is that good. I'd use a good active preamp to drive it, and you'll get dynamics to die for too.

You're in for a pleasant (or not) suprise!

Nuuks schematic on decibel dungeon for amp and pre are very good, and a great starting point - a high cap snubber'd psu, and you'll be laughing :)

Owen
 

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Generic Gainclones are very good amps. Tweaked GCs can be excellent, matching with the best amps out there. But they are system/listener dependant. If they do what you like, then you may never buy another amp again. If not, then there are other good amps out there. ;)

al/ currently running 4 GCs, Arcam Alpha 10 and KrellKlone.
 
Let me explain

Upupa Epops said:
Owen, do you think, that all designers in commercial sphere are idiots ? :D

Owen just gave his oppinion, which I agree.
I worked on a Krell KAV-300iL, had it at home for two weeks.
This amp was around 6,000€ when new, some years ago.
It was a downgrade, when I installed it in my system for a listen.
Of course, it was returned back to his owner much better than it came, but still my amp was better.
The Krell has too many (and some unnecessary, which I removed) parts and too long a signal path to sound TRANSPARENT up to my standards.
I've seen mistakes there, as I see everywhere.
So yes, not 'all designers in commercial sphere are idiots', but most are.:clown:

The electricity bill at the end of the month was higher by around 30€ than average, just for letting the Krell turned on for two days.:bawling:
 
Owen, do you think, that all designers in commercial sphere are idiots ?

I think that the designers of the 3875 would be considered to be in the commercial sphere.

My fantasy:

I like to think that at Nat Semi they had designed amp chips for years, to specificcations of power output, power consumption, cost, etc.
The engineers probably met all the requirements with crummy sounding chips

Then one day someone decided to add "sounds good" to the list of requirements. The clever engineers said "Oh, OK, has to sound good too.... " and the Overture series was born!
 
good question

Upupa Epops said:
Owen, do you think, that all designers in commercial sphere are idiots ? :D


Good question. I think here at diyaudio.com you will find that many people think commercial designs are just there to give ok sound while realizing high profits. Many others here who like to tweek just can't stand anything till they modify it with fancy capacitors.

But, go to a stereo magaizine or AES and you will find just as many people who laugh at the DIYers as uninformed and misled tinkerers who foolishly think that they can make something as good as a commercial design.

The truth is probably somewhere in the middle- some amps here are probably better sounding than some commercial designs. But some are not. It depends.

Me, while I try to include construction techniques that will lead to good sound, I'm just happy when my amplifiers work. Tremendous satisfaction.
 
Re: good question

lgreen said:
The truth is probably somewhere in the middle- some amps here are probably better sounding than some commercial designs. But some are not. It depends.

Yes, I agree.
The same goes for speakers.

Btw there are very good sounding commercial amps out there.
By coincidence (not for me), most are of the minimalist design 'school', and not very powerful.
Listen to the Lavardin IT, an excellent amp.
But as usual with commercial gear... expen$ive.:bawling:

And btw2: A Pioneer A400, with some work on it, makes a quite good amp.
These can be had for cheap now, but it was never an expensive amp, anyway.

lgreen said:
I'm just happy when my amplifiers work. Tremendous satisfaction.

:D
 
Upupa Epops
Owen, do you think, that all designers in commercial sphere are idiots ?

Not in the least, but I am wary of smoke and mirrors.

I have worked with retail compnies and know that 30 - 50% of the MRSP covers the cost of manufacture and distribution, and the remainder (usually) covers maintaining distributor networks, marketing and profit (usually not much of the latter). So a £1000 amp will actually cost around £250 - £300 in parts including the case.

At that price point, the case has to look good (marketing) to sell well (realising volume discounts to break even or turn a profit) and can cost as much as 50% of that sum - that leaves around £150 for parts. Not a great deal - the fact that manufacturers are able to squeeze such performance from those parts is a testament to thier skill.

As DIY'er we have design choices that are not constrained by costs, fashions or marketing departments, and have the opportunity to collaborate ideas here on the web, pooling all our skills and abilities - Take my lowcostcase as an example, and the cheapsink (tm) - great supports for a nice chip amp.

The circuit in the LM series is so sophisticated, and provoides a degree of consistancy that many solid state designers would kill for, and make a profit - and likewise provides the able DIY'er with a little skill opportunity to build true giant killers.

I built a chipamp (lm3875) using Nuuks inverted schematic, and designed an opamp pre to go with - using the unfashionable LF353.
Why that opamp - well, the circuit is a scaled down lm3875 right down to the number of current sinks/sources and outputstage. So similar infact they exhibit the same slew rate amongst other things, and in my ears they could be considered twins...

I also have a predisposition to higher capacitance supplies, with capacitance between the rails, as it delivers significantly more punch than a 'normal' PSU (although I like the sound of Carlos's snubberised PSU). I've heard PeteM's incarnation of Pedja's preamp, and was suitably impressed.

Suffice to say, my little SLA battery powered preamp and mains powered chip amps fared extremely well at a tolerant Hifi shop (Frank Harvey... thanks guys) against very expensive amplification by Linn, Meridian, Cyrus, Musical fidelity, Bow, Exposure and the like - they were on a par - different high end flavours if you like.

The Pre was developed because the chip amps exposed the fact that my Meridian pre was noisy, and masking small detail.

Careful design and implementation can yeild a giant killing chip amp.

Hey even Peter Daniel thinks so, and he now sells them to Joe public at a not insignificant price! :)

Just my view, my fence. Flame away



Owen
 
Upupa Epops said:
But isn't honest, to argue only with first ones, when is talking about quality of GC. ;)

There are some very good commercial amps, but they are usually very expensive.
In my experience (and I listen to lots of amps), it's not easy to improve on a well made preamp + chipamp (I refuse to call it GC).
I gave an example, the Lavardin IT is a very good amp, and much better than any Musical Fidelity I have heard.
You can give your examples if you want. Let's not generalize, of course there are good commercial amp$.
 

owen

Member
2004-03-17 9:43 am
Shilton
In the case of the MF - basically they all use a variation on a Tim Paravincini output stage - and, I personally do not rate it much at all...

I used to own a MF B200 amp - the preamp was a stunner, infact I still listen to tapes made through that amp, and wonder what little was being done to the signal, and how. I also used to wonder (often) how the amp sounded sooo good through headphones or the tape loop, but comparatively poor through the power amp... Until I saw Mark Hennesey's MF site, and realised that the compromise was the output stage.

To build a good commercial amp you either need a stupidly good simple schematic, that works well, or a complex schematic from parts that cost peanuts, and still sounds good.

The gainclones Vs my current Rotel RB971 Mk2 power amps.

Stereo image improved dramatically in width, depth and height. Dynamics were better displayed. GC exposed how noisy the Meridian preamp (white noise) is, and just how much of the output from my TEAC DAC was being wasted.

Next personal step is Behringer Ultracurve followed by Ultradrive, feeding 4 amps driving my P4's actively (probably a brace of studioclones, or a SUSY gainclones), driven by a nice LF353 opamp.

For the price of a gainclone, including casework (simple) and powersupply (simple), with Brians kit as a baseline, you would be having a hard time to better it for 10* the cost, probably nearer 20*



Owen
 
Re: Let me explain

carlosfm said:


I worked on a Krell KAV-300iL, had it at home for two weeks.
This amp was around 6,000€ when new, some years ago.
It was a downgrade, when I installed it in my system for a listen.
Of course, it was returned back to his owner much better than it came, but still my amp was better.

so what? the krell sucks, it really means nothing if your gc sounds better :clown:.

imho a boz+zen sounds much better than a gc, if you have the right speakers ;). and a zen is not that expensive, and not really hard to build.

have an nice day :wave2:
lilmik
 
I am so confused... I made a post as to whether I could use parts of my Rotel RB 850 to make a GC, and was told that the Rotel was better than a GC. Then I read this post, plus a couple others and they say a good GC will blow away even high priced equipment. Even if I could not use anything from the Rotel, I could either sell it or use the case for one of the dual mono premium kits. I currently use a line stage preamp, is there any issue with the GC and a box with switches and volume control, nothing else.
 
LilMik said:
so what? the krell sucks, it really means nothing if your gc sounds better :clown:.

I agree with you.
But I don't have a 'GC'.:clown:

LilMik said:
imho a boz+zen sounds much better than a gc, if you have the right speakers ;). and a zen is not that expensive, and not really hard to build.

You haven't heard my amp, I don't have a 'GC'.
I don't comment on things I didn't listen, but I don't tend to pay much attention to amps that are very picky with speakers, and still eat a lot of current for nothing.
Have a nice day.