Originally Posted by Zoide
How does the CKKIII compare to the beta22? I know the beta22 is much more expensive to build, but parts cost doesn't tell the whole story.
BTW, there has hardly been any coverage of the beta22. I agree that the DIY amps haven't been given the attention they deserve as of late.
they sound COMPLETELY different. the Beta22 uses output MOSFETs while the CK²III uses output BJTs. Beta22 uses a mild amount of negative feedback while the CK²III uses none at all. They are both very good amps with wide bandwidth and low output impedance (0.01ohm for the Beta22 and 0.4ohm for the CK²III for audio frequencies). Despite being a "little" amp, the CK²III actually has quite a lot of voltage swing and output power, and can easily be configured to drive the K1000 in Class A. The Beta22 measures better than the CK²III in every category so it is technically better, but in listening tests it will depend on the listener whether the Beta22 or the CK²III is preferred.
Here are my impressions using the Denon D2000 as headphones. First of all, on my setup with my discrete output Zhaolu and everything wired in silver, the CK²III is not laid back at all, but a little on the forward-sounding side. I think most would describe the amp as neutral in regards to forward/laid-back. The amp's gain is set to 4.1x (lower than default) and the quiesent current set higher than the default at 45mA. The Beta22 is much fuller and warmer, with a larger soundstage and is a little more laid back. The CK²III is more detail-emphasized since it has more treble, and is much more forward sounding. Some may think the CK²III is more involving because it has an intense forward midrange, but the Beta22 is less fatiguing for long listening periods and more "euphonic" because of the warmth and fullness. The sound of the Beta22 is quite unique really, of the amps I've heard only the Dynahi has a similar sound signature. Both amps have very fast attack and tight bass, but the Beta22 emphasizes the low-end more. the Beta22 is not the kind of sound one typically associates with solid state amps, while the CK²III is brighter so I guess you can associate it with solid state. to me, the CK²III is a significant improvement over the Dynalo. It is more transparent. CK²III actually sounds very similar to my tube amp, and listening casually I would not be able to tell the difference.
The Beta22 is far bigger physically than the CK²III, and much more expensive. I mainly use my CK²III because it is only 1/3 the size of my Zhaolu DAC while the balanced Beta22 is too big to fit anywhere near me.
I think the CK²III's true competitor is the M^3 since they are around the same price range, but I think the CK²III is slightly cheaper and quicker to build (not sure since I've never built the M^3 myself, but I've heard it several times). The CK²III only takes about two casual afternoons to build the entire amp. M^3 is more laid back but the CK²III is more lively, and I prefer the CK²III. CK²III is purely discrete and has higher bandwidth, while the M^3 measures lower distortion. M^3 uses a lot of negative feedback, which a lot of people say is bad.