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Best DIY amp?

post #1 of 51
Thread Starter 
I have been searching around, reading a lot about DIY amps, and have been wondering what the "best" DIY amp is in peoples opinions. I really like the idea of DIY amps (mainly for the cost factor so the money for amps doesn't have to compete with my tuition money... and school costs always win). I am working up to building a PINT, but was thinking of looking into building another amp for home use and using the PINT for portable use only. And one more question: Are there any balanced DIY amps out there? I have been searching for thoes for some time also, but have not been able to come up with pretty much anything reguarding well-known ones, and if attemps at them have been successfull or not (I might just be using the wrong keywords in my searches)
Thanks for your help
post #2 of 51
'Best' is so subjective... What kind of budget are you looking at? Otherwise, I suggest building a Dynahi, or if you want balanced, a DynaMight
post #3 of 51
don your flamesuit matey! you've just started a flamewar!

I'll try to interpret what you mean..

if you mean "best" as in the sound-quality wise, Id be tempted to say the Dynahi, out of sheer audacity of the build, but then again, this is really subjective, the opinion seems to be that the PPAv2, M^3, and some of the other high end designs are really close, and depend on your build configuration more than the topology (read as - pick any, you cant really go wrong)

what matters, is how you approach your build, matching resistors, capacitors, transistors and the like, thats far more important than getting the "best" topology

If you mean cost effective, I was always a sucker for the Millet.. low cost, good performance, a bit mellow but very good nevertheless.

As for the PINT. Good luck, and have fun while doing it. It is DEFINATELY not the most easy first project.. I'd suggest something like CMoy -> MINT(? do they still have boards? im not sure) or some other SMD board -> PINT. if you dont know what you're doing with the PINT, it is VERY likely that you'll screw up, and throw alot of money down the drain.
post #4 of 51
That was easy - the amp you're just about to start building

post #5 of 51
The amp you haven't built yet.
post #6 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by cmirza
'Best' is so subjective... What kind of budget are you looking at? Otherwise, I suggest building a Dynahi, or if you want balanced, a DynaMight
i agree
post #7 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by K2Grey
The amp you haven't built yet.
That would be my answer, sadly.
Never look on the other side of the fence unless you are ready to commit to another project!

The Gilmore designs, balanced, get excellent reviews. But as has been mentioned, what's the budget? It might not matter what the best DIY amp is if you can't afford it, and a source that is up to snuff to go along with it. In keeping the components in the whole setup on par with each other, it gets absurd in a hurry.

You can get amazing sound out of many of the less expensive amps if carefully implemented. Likewise, you can get mediocre performance from any amp if it is poorly implemented (either in build, or in poor pairing with source and cans).
post #8 of 51
Of the affordable DIY amps, the PPA and M3 probably are the best (at least from my research). The EE's I've known were in love with MOSFET's because the heat is inversely proportional to the current. So, that probably gives the M3 the edge.

That may not mean it sounds better, necessarily - raw power capability may not be that important with headphones. It would be interesting to see more opinions of M3 vs. PPA.

Married with kids + Gilmore = Unattainable^2.
post #9 of 51
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replies... budget isn't a problem as of this moment... because all I am focusing on is working my way up to being able to build a PINT at the moment... I started by building a theremin (first electronical musical instrument invented, but i made it from modern day parts) now I'm moving on to a CMoy, then maybe one more project then a PINT. After that who knows, i might be sick of DIY amps, or i might be looking into building more, I was mainly just wondering where the popular DIY amps stacked up against each other, but this thread is giving me ideas
post #10 of 51
You're asking the wrong question (although you're asking the question everyone asks).

What features do you want? Portability? No compromise fidelity? Are you more interested in the intricacies of the build than the final product?

I've built 5 amps now (M3, Millet, PPA, Pimeta and Pint) aside from my Cmoy training amps, and each one has it's place, except I could live with only 4

If you want portability, the argument would probably get down to Pint vs Pimeta and there are valid arguments for either.

If you want the best thing you can power with batteries and pick up with one hand, probably a PPA with battery board.

If you want the best desk top fidelity, the argument would get down to Gilmore Dynahi vs M3, although I cannot imagine that the Gilmore brings anything to the table (soundwize) worth the extra effort and difficulty vs M3. I have not built a Gilmore but I have read the build threads. My view of the Gilmore is that it is a "novelty" in the sense that it is so extreme it is very difficult to build. The build process is probably the attraction there; simply sourcing all the parts and getting it to all work marks you as a "Builder Supremous".

I went for the M3 for my no-compromise desktop amp. It has an insane amount of power for headphone use and drives small (edit:speakers). It is flat from DC to the speed of light, distortion of 0.001%, and it sounds like it specs. You can get all the parts from the usual suppliers at a very reasonable cost.

If you have any interest in tubes at all, you almost have to build a Millet.

Edit: Tomb, you are right about the Mosfets. The M3 is a joy to bias out to the extreme. I did a lot of testing of Millet discrete buffers and the combination of the postive coefficient BJTs and the extreme compact design (with two pairs of output trannies) makes an inherently unstable circuit. Anyone that disagrees with me has probably not bothered to monitor their bias while it is cased up and unventilated.
post #11 of 51
For me its the PIMETA... I built a PPAv2 that was so technical that I don't understand much about it, I spent 3 weeks just researching the parts order, and spent over 500 bucks on it. It sits on a pedestal as a crown jewel... The PIMETA is just technical enough to give a good sense of acomplishment, sounds super and isn't too expensive to build... It blings up nicely too. my usual approach is what I plan to do with the amp when its finished... Desktop? Backpack? Pocket? You also need a fairly decent bit of equipment to build the high end types right... Just my 2 cents
post #12 of 51
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by NeilR
You're asking the wrong question (although you're asking the the question everyone asks).

What features do you want? Portability? No compromise fidelity? Are you more interested in the intricacies of the build than the final product?

I've built 5 amps now (M3, Millet, PPA, Pimeta and Pint) aside from my Cmoy training amps, and each one has it's place, except I could live with only 4

If you want portability, the argument would probably get down to Pint vs Pimeta and there are valid arguments for either.

If you want the best thing you can power with batteries and pick up with one hand, probably a PPA with battery board.

If you want the best desk top fidelity, the argument would get down to Gilmore Dynahi vs M3, although I cannot imagine that the Gilmore brings anything to the table (soundwize) worth the extra effort and difficulty vs M3. I have not built a Gilmore but I have read the build threads. My view of the Gilmore is that it is a "novelty" in the sense that it is so extreme it is very difficult to build. The build process is probably the attraction there; simply sourcing all the parts and getting it to all work marks you as a "Builder Supremous".

I went for the M3 for my no-compromise desktop amp. It has an insane amount of power for headphone use and drives small amps. It is flat from DC to the speed of light, distortion of 0.001%, and it sounds like it specs. You can get all the parts from the usual suppliers at a very reasonable cost.

If you have any interest in tubes at all, you almost have to build a Millet.

Edit: Tomb, you are right about the Mosfets. The M3 is a joy to bias out to the extreme. I did a lot of testing of Millet discrete buffers and the combination of the postive coefficient BJTs and the extreme compact design (with two pairs of output trannies) makes an inherently unstable circuit. Anyone that disagrees with me has probably not bothered to monitor their bias while it is cased up and unventilated.
Thank you much, this is exactly the type of answer i was looking for (i know i asked the wrong question... my problem is trying to find the right one), i think my only option now is to make one of each (good thing im not taking summer quarter classes) next time I'll try to ask better questions
post #13 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by gigit
Thank you much, this is exactly the type of answer i was looking for (i know i asked the wrong question... my problem is trying to find the right one), i think my only option now is to make one of each (good thing im not taking summer quarter classes) next time I'll try to ask better questions
Don't feel bad- everybody goes through the same thing.

The really fun part of this DIY (for me) is that I can make exactly what I want. It takes a while to figure out all the various strengths and weaknessed and design trade-offs that are involved. I now have a relatively tiny amp (Pint), a Pimeta which fits somewhere in the small category, a transportable battery powered unit (PPA) for patio and travel, a no compromise desktop (M3) and a fun-to-tinker-with Millet.

SOMEONE PLEASE.... STOP ME BEFORE I BUILD AGAIN!!!!!!

Oh yea, I gotta finish up those Meir Cross-feeds.

post #14 of 51
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by NeilR
(...)
SOMEONE PLEASE.... STOP ME BEFORE I BUILD AGAIN!!!!!!

Oh yea, I gotta finish up those Meir Cross-feeds.

I have an weird feeling I will be saying something like this within the next couple months... Oh well, why try to escape the unescapable
post #15 of 51
You've been warned!

And then around the 3rd amp or so, you will start accumulating things like oscilloscopes and singal generators. This is a sickness and it's highly communicable, spreading digitally via the internet. I'm surprised we don't all have to register with the CDC.
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