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Fyhr 17th July 2001 05:24 PM

Hi all, i've just recently discoverd an intrest in hifi and im almost done buying my first system. Since my friends father has a nice home made preamp and tube power amp i figured that i should give this DIY thing a try and build my own power amplifier, just for fun and learning more about how it all works. Therefor i got myself a pre and power combination for my system, so that i could test the amp im going to build and hopefully the many many more amps im going to build (the amplifier i bought is a Sugden AU41 pre and a Sugden A21-a power amp).

Well to cut to the chase, what amplifier is best to start out with? it shouldn't be all to complicated since it will be my first. i've been looking alot at passlabs ZEN and SOZ, mostly the ZEN since it isn't balanced (my preamp doesnt have a balanced output). if someone knows a better amp to start out with please do tell me, either on this forum or by mailing me at:

Thanks, Pontus Fyhr

Thoth 18th July 2001 08:44 PM

I can't recomend any single power amplifier project to start with. I can, however, provide some general guidelines for selection.

1. Choose a project where the PCB can be purchased. PCB layout is more of an art, then a science. Most of the available boards have been around for a few years, and work fairly well.

2. Pick a low to medium power amplifier. The voltages and currents involved in a high-power amplifier aren't something you want to have to deal with in your first project.

3. Don't pick an esoteric design. There are many amplifier designs out there that are VERY complex (Borbely comes to mind here), or use hard-to-find parts. These should probably be avoided as a first project.

4. Select one that's within your budget. There are few things that are more discouraging than having an almost complete project that only needs a few parts, and having it sitting around for a few months while you save up for those parts. In some cases, it's enough to cause the project to be dumped.

Good luck.

Jason Hubbard 18th July 2001 10:53 PM

Good starter project
My first amplifier was the JLH design - i wired everything off a tag strip and it worked first time!

The design has been updated and a PCB is now available. It is simple, uses low voltages (i.e it's safe), can be built cheaply and sounds like you've spent 10 times as much - the downside is the output power of about 15 watts.

A website dedicated to the amplifier is;

It's aguably the best start you could make!

Simon 18th July 2001 11:00 PM

Agree with Jason.

The JLH amp is a simple, sensible & fully matured design.
Whats more its cheap(ish) and sounds great. Can't go wrong with this one as a first project.

(Plus makes an interesting change from all the Z*N clones)


Fyhr 19th July 2001 08:09 PM

Great feedback thanks!
Thanks for all the replies, im taking a look at the JLH right now. I really must say that the ZEN seems very suitable, it doesn't contain all that many parts and the passlabs site provides both a good circut layout, a board design (though it looks a bit odd), and parts layout.
I think ill go for thisone, not that its the cheapest one to build atleast not for me. Beeing a seventeenyearold student my budget is limited, but it goes far enough to spend 100$ on a diy project (heatsinking not included, yikes). I'll post my final desicion and result when im done :P


dutch diy 19th July 2001 10:24 PM

i did jlh also

I'm currently working on the JLH design. It is fairly simple and the amp-components don't cost a fortune and are readily available.

You'll find details (including diagrams and pcb layouts) on my site


paulb 21st July 2001 05:53 PM

If you're on a limited budget, watch out for the costs of the power supply. Class A amps like the Zen, SOZ, or DLH are less efficient and require more power than the equivalent class AB (There's a Forum on Class A vs. AB here somewhere). I am also told that Class A are more prone to noise from the power supply, so you need bigger capacitors (more money). Transformer, caps, and heatsinks (and maybe the case) are most of the cost in a Class A amp.
Power supplies are also more complicated than they appear.

Fyhr 21st July 2001 06:53 PM

Uhm... well
My friend tells me it might be difficult to find parts for ZEN, since it's rather old. as to building a class AB amp is not in my interest since the amp i use now is class A.

Thanks again

GRollins 22nd July 2001 11:18 PM

The only thing that might be hard to find for a Zen would be the MOSFETs, but those are very easily substituted. IRF has a number of devices in different case styles that have the same specs--just choose a different case, i.e. TO-247, TO-220, etc.


Fyhr 24th July 2001 04:09 PM

Uhm, right
Those TO-220 or TO-247s work just as IRFP9240? you don't have to change any resistors? if thats the case then tanks ALOT! I almost gave up the ZEN amp..


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