Is there any DIY equipment that sound bad?

Bricolo

Member
2002-11-11 6:52 am
Hi,

I was wondering, on this (and other) forums, when a member writes about a DIY amp, preamp, IV or anything else, he always says that he is very satisfied with it. This is true from the simpliest to the most complex topology.

I don't remember the last time I read something bad about DIY equipment, (except for the gainclone :D)

Why?
-your subconscious is telling you that it sounds good because you did it yourself
-commercial designers don't know theyr job?
-because most of the time DIY stuff don't have unnecessary functions like tone control, balance, equalizing... and this would screw up the sound?

I really don't know
 
All but the most expensive of commercial designs have priorities other than Sound Quality in mind eg Profits, safety, aesthetics, market demand.

DIY designs are usually built with Sound Quality as the main priority with comments such as
"Hmmm - I didn't consider the fact that this pair of speakers thing won't fit through the door to my house"
or
"I'll probably only be able to afford to run this class A 2 Hours a month" or
"Damn - I wish I had put some sort of covering over that amp. My Dog - "Old Sparky" might not have lived up to his namesake"
arriving later

There are, however , some designs out there that will not be suitable for you. Eg Rod Elliot's Project 3a did not sound very good to me at all. It was quite muddy compared to the Leach Low TIM that I built. But that is of course only my opinion and the same may not hold true for you.
 
Ok, my first diy atempt was a lm358 based headphone booster\amp i made at school a practical op-amp asignment.

made it with +-5v rails, to litle capasitans and way much gain.

-well, it sucked. really sucked.

but that really the only diy thing i'm not pleased with.

and the reason for me being pleased with a diy product:
It's simply not finnished until i'm pleased with it. simple as that. my buffed, inverted, snubbed GC is currently undergoing it's 3 or 4'th mod, so still a work in progress, even though i'v had tunes flowing through it for 4months..
 
I guess it's true that most people don't post about their faillures, hence the impression that all DIY projects are turning out well.

I think that anybody whom have been into DIY for a number of years have made something that didn't work, I for one have made a couple of such projects in the past, but all turned out to be of great value in respect of learning.

Magura :)
 
I remember one of the first things I every built, it was quite a complex design considering that I'd had very little experience at the time. Anyway, I built it from a schematic I'd copied from a magazine so I figured that it shouldn't be too hard to do and all should go smoothly. All did indeed go smoothly except I wired a pot incorrectly. Powered on and everything seemed fine, adjusted pot by turning it full travel one way. Smoke and $15 worth of components down the drain. It turned on ok because the pot was centered, but because I had wired the pot incorrectly, when I turned it full travel one way, I had shorted the +ve rail to ground.
 
A great thread. Thanks for starting it Bricolo.

Over the years i must have completed more than a hundred different projects. Some cloned out of commercial equipment i had in my posession or based on manufacturers' service manuals; others built out of Elector, Audio Amateur, ETI, etc articles and more lately - projects off the net.

All the clones worked consistently better than the commercial originals. As there were no tight constraints relating to cost of parts, size or weight my clones could afford to sound better.

The projects that came out of magazines (in the eighties) were consistently disappointing. Although a few notable exceptions sounded very nice, the trend was obvious - those who know manufacture, those who don't write magazine articles.
In more recent times Sound Practices and some other publications offered a variety of great sounding projects.

Compared to commercially published designs the Net seems to offer a lot of good choices. Caution and selectivity are of course essential.

Probably 90% of commercially manufactured audio equipment is quite disappointing. I see no reason DIY made stuff would score better. Still, achieving 10% success rate is quite rewarding although not cheap :)

If you strive for 100% success, the best recipe seems to be cloning of commercial stuff after an extensive audition.
 

argo

Member
2001-02-12 3:35 pm
Estonia
Few of the DIY amps I have built and which sound disappointed me (not in particular order)

Ciuffoli's PowerFollower 99
Mini Aleph
Plantefčve's Amperotron
My DIY version of Hawk Audio’s A-18 - with BUZ900/905 outputs
GainClone - inverted LM3875 with big 10000uF power supply caps (was ok with small 1000uF ones)
A lot of my own efforts (mostly with mosfets)
 
There are a number of ways to approach this:
--I have frequently quoted "Grey's Corollary to Beranek's Law," to wit: If you chose the design, selected the components, wrote the check, and assembled the parts, then to you it's the best sounding amplifier in the world.
--An interest in stereo does not, in and of itself, endow the builder with a good sense of hearing. Or, to put it another way, so-called golden ears don't grow on trees. Some people are born with them. Some have to develop them. Some should simply give up and be happy with mid-fi. Someone with lead ears is happy with truly horrible stuff.
--Many people enter the hobby simply to save money. If they turn it on and music comes out, they're ecstatic.
--In many peoples' minds enough feedback will make anything sound good. Even Radio Shack stuff.
--Some people just want it really, really loud. If it's louder than what they had before, they'll have an orgasm on the spot. Guaranteed.
--Some people want deep bass, even though they wouldn't know a 20Hz tone if it walked up and shook their hand. Give 'em 60-80Hz loud enough and they'll tell you it's the deepest bass on the planet.
--Too many people think that lowest common denominator equipment is the benchmark. Their reaction to anything better is likely to be out of proportion.
--Too many people never hear real music played without amplification. If your standard is a 50,000W PA system, then even the most primitive circuit is likely to sound better, just not as loud.
--Having a really extreme system is an ego thing to some people, just like owning a BMW, Rolex, or a fancy house. If they don't have the means to buy what they want, they may decide to build it.
--It works, but they're afraid to admit that it sounds like excrement. They laud it to the skies so as not to have to admit that they screwed up. (And for god's sake, don't ever...ever admit to dissatisfaction in front of the wife. She's already peeved enough about the money spent, the mess made, the ugly result...)
Okay, so far, so good. Where's that leave everybody else?
Valid reasons for doing DIY:
--If you think it's fun.
--If you want to learn.
--If you want a decent system and can't afford the really good stuff.
--If you simply like to be around people who are doing cool technical things that involve knobs and dials and buttons and lotsa lights; just try to be honest about being a groupie. It's okay...really. Honest.
--You're a venture capitalist looking for the next big thing and are tired of losing your *** on sundry health care start-ups. You can start your own stereo company for a mere pittance compared to what it takes to bankroll the next Amgen. Again, be honest. We're suckers for flattery and would love nothing better than to quit our day jobs and play with little brightly colored pieces of plastic and metal all day.

Grey
 
So far the only things that disappointed me were my own brew phono-pre..ick! and the GC...it just didn't sound involving to me. Other than that I've loved everything else I've built, even the stuff that sounded terrible was a ton of fun to create... my first guitar amp sounded sooo damn bad, but it was loud and brash and my friends punk band still uses it for vocals.
 
DIY equipment

GRollins, I loved your considerations, very true and pertinent. IT
summs up everything I think about diy equipment.
Be honest, is the key word, just because was built by yourself it
doesn´t classify it as excelent, it means only your were successfuly
in having it working. Quality is another story...
This reminds me an amplifier that I built not too long ago by a design
from Silicon Chip (australian magazine) and turned out to be a very
mediocre amplifier that I put aside as being one of my rejects. In
the meantime I embarqued in another project...
However, after a couple of months I wasn´t content neither with
this last amplfier (being to harsh to my taste) and came back to the previsous one that gave me a bitter taste by being so...so so.
And miracle of the miracles, after a couple of modifications including
the replacement of the output transistors and other passive compo-
nents, this amplifier came alive with a lot of carisma and sweetness,
a real winner, so much so that I still play it in my system...
Well, I have too many amplifiers, that´s my problem.
But to end my rumblings, sometimes is like you say, think about it,
document yourself the best you can and then, don´t write a check,
just use what you have in your junk box and judge it, if it promises
just a little bit, then and only then write a check...a small one until
you´re convinced.....
Bad projects are everywhere...
 
In the overall scheme of things, none of this matters a whit. If DIY stereo components ceased to exist, the world would still turn on its axis, babies would be born, fish would swim, and wine would taste (nearly) as good.
There are folks (I could name a few) who are so filled with self-importance that they are unable to remember that this is just a hobby...nothing more.
Passion is good, but it easily becomes arrogance in some people. If it quits being fun, take a break. If, after a month off, you still can't separate what matters from what doesn't, get out entirely. This is supposed to be fun. If it isn't, you're in the wrong hobby. Search for a new one.

Grey
 
An interesting question to ask. How do you seperate what you made that works vs. what you made that sounds good?

I have had some projects that were 'maybe succesfull' but sounded like s.... I tried and tried to make good sounding electrostatic speakers. They worked and made sound but the sensitivity and peak spl weren't great. I still have all the electronics and such but the idea of even fighting against all the associated problems sends shivers down my spine.

Some of my open baffle speaker designs sounded poor, tinny and without bass.

On the amplifier end of things I have come to prefer the passlab designed amps more than the yamaha and nad amps that have lived with me since pre diy time and thats what counts. They may or may/not comare with 'high end' gear but it sounds better than what I had.

On a similar note once when I built a new DIY speaker pair I was testing them out and loving the sound. The sound was pure bliss knowing that I designed and made something that sounded so good. So I had some friends come listen to my speaker creation and someone had the nerve to point out that I had only hooked up one speaker. Who would have guessed that I could have saved myself alot of money and effort and just made one. :smash: kidding..

so it goes..