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Questions about balanced headphone amp
Questions about balanced headphone amp
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Old 18th April 2019, 08:51 AM   #1
edwtsui is offline edwtsui  Hong Kong
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Default Questions about balanced headphone amp

Hi,

I am considering to buy a DAC either balanced or unbalanced. I have some unbalanced DIY headphone AMPs but now considering to have a balanced one. My questions are:

1. Is balanced AMP really hard to build? How much harder compared to unbalanced one? What are the difficulties/challenges when building a balanced AMP?

2. Is there any good balanced headphone AMP for DIY? Beta22? SS dynalo? I will prefer the design using discrete components over OPAMP. Any other suggestions?
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Old 19th April 2019, 02:03 PM   #2
EUVL is offline EUVL  Europe
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I presume you mean truly balanced (both inputs and both outputs are fully differential).
And not differential input but Gnd referenced output.

> 1. Is balanced AMP really hard to build? How much harder compared to unbalanced one? What are the difficulties/challenges when building a balanced AMP?

Not harder to build than SE amp, when truly balanced.
At least double the cost.
Needs much better matching (quads rather than pairs) when discrete.

2. Is there any good balanced headphone AMP for DIY?

cwtim01 from HK has built the only F5X-HA ever.
I believe it is still his reference.

F5 Headamp ?
Post #562.

See also posts #743~746 describing the difference between SE and balanced.
Posts # 1044~1050 for measurements.


Patrick
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Old 19th April 2019, 03:36 PM   #3
edwtsui is offline edwtsui  Hong Kong
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Thanks Patrick
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Old 19th April 2019, 08:19 PM   #4
rich1051414 is offline rich1051414
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edwtsui View Post
Hi,

I am considering to buy a DAC either balanced or unbalanced. I have some unbalanced DIY headphone AMPs but now considering to have a balanced one. My questions are:

1. Is balanced AMP really hard to build? How much harder compared to unbalanced one? What are the difficulties/challenges when building a balanced AMP?

2. Is there any good balanced headphone AMP for DIY? Beta22? SS dynalo? I will prefer the design using discrete components over OPAMP. Any other suggestions?
I will tell you this, you can convert balanced output to single ended using a ground loop isolator then combining the grounds. There is actually something to gain from this, even if it is defeating the balanced part.

I can give you links to some isolators that work if you need it.
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Old 19th April 2019, 08:46 PM   #5
Pars is offline Pars  United States
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As for headphone amp, SS Dynalo / Dynahi.
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Old 20th April 2019, 12:01 PM   #6
edwtsui is offline edwtsui  Hong Kong
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pars View Post
As for headphone amp, SS Dynalo / Dynahi.
How about balanced beta22?
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Old 22nd April 2019, 10:45 PM   #7
MrSlim is offline MrSlim  Canada
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A balanced Beta22 is going to be much harder to build that a SS Dynalo. The Beta 22 is a single channel designed board that would need 4 boards populated, plus a power supply, at over $100 per item (~500US ish) plus whatever casing you want to put it in (and pot, cables, conectors etc). A Balanced B22 is almost always built as a dual chassis design, (PS + Amp), which increases the casing costs. This would easly hit $1K US.

The SS Dynalo is a much more elegant design, because it was designed to be balanced in/out from the beginning. It only needs 2 boards (plus a Power supply), with the up front cost of ~120 for a pair of amp boards, plus $120 for a GRLV Power supply and transformer. Add another $200 for pot, Case, cables, etc, and you are looking at $440, vs $800-$1000 for a Beta22.

Have a look at Bob Katz's impressions of the Pure Bipolar, which is based on the SS Dynalo: Katz's Corner Episode 18: Icelandic Wonder | InnerFidelity

Here's a Thread on Head FI too: Mjolnir Audio Pure BiPolar Amplifier | Headphone Reviews and Discussion - Head-Fi.org

Last edited by MrSlim; 22nd April 2019 at 11:01 PM.
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Old 23rd April 2019, 07:50 AM   #8
blackdod is offline blackdod  Europe
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pars View Post
As for headphone amp, SS Dynalo / Dynahi.

+1
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Old 23rd April 2019, 09:21 AM   #9
chris719 is offline chris719  United States
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Questions about balanced headphone amp
Quote:
Originally Posted by edwtsui View Post
Hi,

I am considering to buy a DAC either balanced or unbalanced. I have some unbalanced DIY headphone AMPs but now considering to have a balanced one. My questions are:

1. Is balanced AMP really hard to build? How much harder compared to unbalanced one? What are the difficulties/challenges when building a balanced AMP?

2. Is there any good balanced headphone AMP for DIY? Beta22? SS dynalo? I will prefer the design using discrete components over OPAMP. Any other suggestions?
If you are new to building and troubleshooting, you might have trouble with the higher parts count of the Beta22 and Gilmore amps.

Why not look at the BAL-BAL design from opc here:

The Wire - All Boards and Kits Explained Here!

Yes, it uses op-amps.
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Old 23rd April 2019, 09:38 AM   #10
EUVL is offline EUVL  Europe
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A truely balanced circuit should have balanced In and Out in one circuit.
Not two SE amps each driving one phase.
An example in IC is OPA1632.

Beta 22, Dyna_xx also do not belong to that category.
They are opamp-like circuits (with negative feedback) configured to accept differential inputs.
https://sub.allaboutcircuits.com/images/03044.png
The Borberly EB602-200 Revisited (post #11)

They do not have in-circuit cancellation of even harmonics, like e.g. a Blowtorch has.


Cheers,
Patrick
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