Head-head sonic battle among the top sounding DIY SS amplifiers :)

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hi all,

Please cast your votes and put your bets below for Battle 1-5. Please write a line or two to justify WHY or HOW ?

There is an ocean of ingenious minds out there who continuously and unconditionally striving to come close to the "ultimate nirvana". Who doesn't ? If you happen to read this post, you know you are too :) Don't deny it!

I figure it would be fun to do something extraordinary to stir up the crowd once in a while. I don’t think this kind of head-head sonic battle has been done before at least not that I am aware of. Of all the Top sounding SS amps, I pick out a few for this battle (Some that I built, some that I have heard for a while). The idea is to gather inputs of those who have built, experienced and A/B their amps. This post will server as good common ground for real life review/discussion and a good baseline for those who are planning to build one amp versus another.

These battles could be controversial since and no ideas are alike. I know , I know. All inputs are welcome. However, please refrain all the insults, condescending, harassment, or bullies to yourself please. I will delete all the posts that are negative to others and go against my original topic. Opinions are only opinions. They will be subjective and bias to the listeners which are totally okay. The beauty is always at the eyes of the beholders. So please be respectful to other opinions about their proudest DIY accomplishment.

Battle 1 : USSA-5 vs First Watt F5

Battle 2: Aksa Lender P-mos Hybrid Aleph (ALPHA) vs First Watt Aleph J

Battle 3: Babelfish J vs Aleph J

Battle 4: Babelfish M25 vs First Watt M2

Battle 5: SissySIT vs Sony VFET v2.0


Let’s the battle begin…..

1……2………….3………………………..

48994325922_0f46103902_o.jpg
 
Interesting thread - but I am afraid that without very clear ground rules , it could just turn into a mess of a shouting or pi$$ing match.

I have built 5 of the above amps you list: F5, Babelfish J, Aleph J, M2, Alpha, and USSA5 is about to get built. I would add MoFo and a class AB to the mix just to give a reference. VHEX+ would be my choice. Maybe add a SOA Class D as well? Like a TPA3255.

If you have all the amps under consideration, you might be able to set up a level playing field and record the sound from the amps driving a 25w metal thin film resistive load - record the signal from that dummy load and post it. That will eliminate effect of speakers and the room. Of course, the dummy resistive load won't behave like a speaker as that has reactive crossover and voice coils. But we have to standardize somewhere.

I did “virtual blind” listener audition threads by recording the sound of several headphone amps under the same conditions and let people vote. This was done by recording signal on a dummy loads.

Blind Virtual Audition of Several Headamps

I also did a similar thing with my collection of a few of my speaker amps played through my reference speakers and recorded with a Zoom H4 and let listen and decide for themselves. If I were to redo this, I would record the signal on a dummy load at say 8w and 20w and let people vote.

Virtual Audition of Very Simple Quasi MOSFET Amp

I also did a whole series of blind auditions of full range drivers recorded under identical conditions and let people vote:

A Subjective Blind Comparison of 3in to 5in Full Range Drivers

A Subjective Blind Comparison of 3in to 5in drivers - Round 2

A Subjective Blind Comparison of 2in to 4in drivers - Round 3

A Subjective Blind Comparison of 2in to 4in drivers - Round 4

A Subjective Blind Comparison of 2in to 3.5in drivers - Round 5
 
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Should be a cinema screen hiding those monster horns at the back!

:clown:

I have on the boil a Fab USSA5 and Bonsai's Kx. But first will be a M25 (ZM's version of the M2.

I already have an early simple version of an ASTX and of Bonsai's current version of his NX. Both of these are built
with Alfet outputs rather than the alternatives and came from the estate of the late AndrewT (R.I.P.).

Drawing comparisons when all are built will be a very interesting pastime!
 
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If amplifiers were really just like wires with gain and nothing else it might be true. I have over 3 dozen amps (Class AB, A, D, commercial and DIY, etc) and can tell you that they sound different.

Even frypans have personality and differences: cast iron, Teflon, ceramic, anodized aluminum, stainless steel, Green Pan ceramic, etc. my favorite is well seasoned cast iron.
 
It will be very difficult to do this unless you were there in person, and it will only apply to the specific set of speakers used. Microphones, microphone preamps, and interfaces all color the sound...You could argue whether you’re recording so faithfully represented what was being presented. Having said that, it is a worthy goal to try to get a direct comparison of such things. I could see something like this happening in person at Saia Bernie You could argue whether your recordings faithfully represented what was being presented. Having said that, it is a worthy goal to try to get a direct comparison of such things. I could see something like this happening in person at Burning Amp.
 
My golly TommyD,

I thought the US was in an opioid crisis, but your Aladdin's Cave indicates a full blown audio addiction. WOW!!

What a wonderful room, I could wander around it looking at things for hours.........

Hugh

that’s not Tommy’s room, but it does look like an interesting place to explore!
 
We need data on the test setup before you begin!

Including but not limited to:
  • Source gear, source amplification -- everything before the power amp!
  • Speakers used and as much information as possible about them
  • Room dimensions and treatment
  • --> Room response plots would be ideal, even if not from one of these amplifiers.
  • For all of the amplifiers (purchased or otherwise) - build/internal pictures to analyze for weaknesses.

Please take some measurements!

Ultimately this is going to be one pair of (or a few pairs of) ears but I'd be interested in the data, objective and subjective... especially if anyone can notice any significant difference between the amplifiers.
 
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This shoot-out looks to be mainly about class A amplifiers and for Passlabs Forum followers.

In any case, I'm with Xrk and suspect that a credible shoot-out of popular DIY amps would spoil the game of personal discovery and just fire up discord. I don't think asking people to remain polite and courteous in comparing designs is a realistic expectation either. There are big egos in any area where aesthetics and technology come together and courtesy is the last thing on their mind when beliefs, as much as facts, are challenged. There have indeed been nasty exchanges here that not only killed threads off but some valued members left the forum or ceased contributing, in disgust.

There is also the matter of a level playing field. It isn't wise to stack anyone's reputation or skills up against different or undefined listening conditions, source material, playback system or untrained "ears" when we're posting comparisons. This makes it confusing, doubtful and we may also come to realise that some guys are really just tinkering with topologies and $5 worth of parts on a breadboard :eek:
 
Thank you all for the responses to my post. It was a delight beginning :)

We need data on the test setup before you begin!

Including but not limited to:
  • Source gear, source amplification -- everything before the power amp!
  • Speakers used and as much information as possible about them
  • Room dimensions and treatment
  • --> Room response plots would be ideal, even if not from one of these amplifiers.
  • For all of the amplifiers (purchased or otherwise) - build/internal pictures to analyze for weaknesses.

If you have all the amps under consideration, you might be able to set up a level playing field and record the sound from the amps driving a 25w metal thin film resistive load - record the signal from that dummy load and post it. That will eliminate effect of speakers and the room. Of course, the dummy resistive load won't behave like a speaker as that has reactive crossover and voice coils. But we have to standardize somewhere.

This is a good idea. The amplifiers A/B compare must be done on the same sources of music/song choice/room/ same set of speakers, same level of volume or amplification and other minor settings :) I hope people will participate and take the time to do this little fun experiment and battle

My golly TommyD,

I thought the US was in an opioid crisis, but your Aladdin's Cave indicates a full blown audio addiction. WOW!!

What a wonderful room, I could wander around it looking at things for hours.........

Thanks Hugh for the kind words :) This is not my room. I wish it was since I was a big audio additc but I hope it gives some motivation to those that join the game

If amplifiers were really just like wires with gain and nothing else it might be true. I have over 3 dozen amps (Class AB, A, D, commercial and DIY, etc) and can tell you that they sound different.

Even frypans have personality and differences: cast iron, Teflon, ceramic, anodized aluminum, stainless steel, Green Pan ceramic, etc. my favorite is well seasoned cast iron.

I agree with X here. Since you have done extensive comparison list and built 5 amps in my list, would you give us some of your own opinions :) Please just honest opinions there's no RIGHT or WRONG here!

-TD
 
This shoot-out looks to be mainly about class A amplifiers and for Passlabs Forum followers.

In any case, I'm with Xrk and suspect that a credible shoot-out of popular DIY amps would spoil the game of personal discovery and just fire up discord. I don't think asking people to remain polite and courteous in comparing designs is a realistic expectation either. There are big egos in any area where aesthetics and technology come together and courtesy is the last thing on their mind when beliefs, as much as facts, are challenged. There have indeed been nasty exchanges here that not only killed threads off but some valued members left the forum or ceased contributing, in disgust.

There is also the matter of a level playing field. It isn't wise to stack anyone's reputation or skills up against different or undefined listening conditions, source material, playback system or untrained "ears" when we're posting comparisons. This makes it confusing, doubtful and we may also come to realise that some guys are really just tinkering with topologies and $5 worth of parts on a breadboard :eek:

I can forsee how this go before i did my post. People do have egos and some are just full of it. I am a purist music Aficionado like everyone else. Before DIY, i just to own alot of nice audio gears both vintage and new but the bug for better sound never satisfied me so I chose DIY path for better satisfaction. PASS amp is where I started my path and set me on this path so far. It's still growing. However, I'm not just one basket shopper here. I have great appreciation for all of design and achievement out there, thus come my post.

I guess people can just happily participate or just leave it as is.
Let's be honest here. Every amp has its own unique sound signature and it will even sound vastly different with whichever source of music, speakers and rooms that you pair with. The last but not least, your EARS and how you listen to music will determine the outcome. So ideally, this is really pointless game unless you or me have to be there to really audition to all the amps all at once with your own EARS and senses. However, not all will have this luxury so hopefully, it will just be a fun game for everyone and help those that have not had a chance to built/own these wonderful amps to have some baseline. I limit my 1st post to only class A amps since the ones I chose in battle 1-5 are closely assembled in design so hopefully the sound character somewhat resemble. I will extend my list to Class AB, D and tube amps down the road. Obviously, the scope of this game only limited to DIY design not commercial products 'cause that's where the real guts and core of sonic bliss with no barriers of money/religion/language or political matters :)

That's my end goal.

Cheers
-TD
 
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