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The List: Balanced amps under $1,000 (aka Amps NOT to buy) - Page 3

post #31 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by amcananey View Post

I think we have established the fact that anyone considering buying a sub-$1,000 balanced amp should consider unbalanced options as well. Can we please move on and stick to the actual topic of this thread, please? I didn't ask for buying advice. I made my own decision and, as indicated, chose unbalanced. I don't understand why the premise of this thread (putting together a list of amps that meet certain specifications) is so objectionable to some people...


Some people may need to read this thread:  http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/514954/woo-audio-wa6-vs-little-dot-mk-vi

They would see how absurd a prejudice is.

post #32 of 87
Thread Starter 

1. I AM NOT LOOKING FOR BUYING ADVICE. I RECENTLY PURCHASED A SINGLE-ENDED AMP FOR OVER $1,000.

 

2.  I AM NOT LOOKING FOR BUYING ADVICE. I RECENTLY PURCHASED A SINGLE-ENDED AMP FOR OVER $1,000.

 

3. I AM NOT LOOKING FOR BUYING ADVICE. I RECENTLY PURCHASED A SINGLE-ENDED AMP FOR OVER $1,000.

 

4. I AM NOT LOOKING FOR BUYING ADVICE. I RECENTLY PURCHASED A SINGLE-ENDED AMP FOR OVER $1,000.

 

5. Please see #1 though 4, above.

 

I have changed the title for this thread. I hope it will be more acceptable to this crowd. Feel free to pile on with a list of all the sub-$1,000 balanced (or pseudo-balanced, or falsely-claiming-to-be-balanced) desktop amps that you would like to advise everyone against buying.

 

I would however, be grateful if everyone could stop suggesting that I buy a single-ended amp. I think I have made it abundantly clear that (a) I am not looking for buying advice, and (b) I already chose to buy a single-ended amp. I also think the posts to this thread thus far should make it sufficiently clear that buying a sub-$1,000 "balanced" desktop amp is not something that this crowd recommends.

 

One last question: has anyone in this thread (other than the guys with the Little Dot amps) actually heard any sub-$1,000 desktop amps that claim to be balanced, or is this all just a lot of pontificating and standing on principle and "common sense" that is being regurgitated here?

post #33 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by icefsh View Post




Some people may need to read this thread:  http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/514954/woo-audio-wa6-vs-little-dot-mk-vi

They would see how absurd a prejudice is.



 

It's not necessarily prejudice.

I do not like tubes on PCBs. You can make a working amp, but tube heat isn't great for PCBs. Also, the boards flex when you insert/remove tubes, which has a way of cracking solder joints, especially ones that have been exposed to a lot of heat. If you have to remove components off a PCB, you run a good risk of lifting a pad. If a failed part burns or scorches the PCB, it can be difficult or impossible to repair. If the PCB gets really screwed up, you might have to replace it. The labor involved would be equal to building a new amp.

PCBs aside, I'm damned particular about transformers. I don't screw around with power transformers, especially. They have to be brand name transformers made in good factories.

The iron is a lot like the tires on your car. Would you rather ride on something you trust, or do you want to drive on tires that come from whothehellknowswhere, and possibly made by a 9 year-old earning 15¢ a day, but are only $39.99 for a set of four? When it comes to something that could start a fire, you don't buy cheap. You buy known goods when it could possibly harm you.

The cheap amps have really, really cheap power supplies. That's the least sexy part of the amp, but the most important. Part quality aside, the cheap amps use the least amount of parts to get it to barely work. This means AC ripple in the supply and cut corners everywhere. The cheap amps really are cheap. If you want clean, smooth DC, it costs. Period. There are no two ways about this.

If you want tube amps that are safe to operate, repairable and aren't just the bare minimum, you either pay or build it yourself. Most of the cheap stuff is marketed like crazy, but will become worthless junk down the line. They barely have enough quality to work.

Solid state is different. It works well on PCBs and you can heatsink chips so they don't overheat the boards. Further, it runs on 12V-24V or so, which is fine. Also, it's much less costly to do a good job of rectification and regulation of small voltages. I have a problem with putting 300V or more on a PCB, and I don't give a rip if it's "milspec" or anything. Tubes should be point-to-point. I'm not buying, building or recommending any tube device that isn't point-to-point.

What irritates me is the attitude that if you find some cheap box with shiny bling, the opportunity to tuberoll and heavy marketing, that it somehow makes everything more expensive a "ripoff."

No, this isn't price snobbery. It's about quality. I'd much rather have one of those $299 Dynalos than a $1,000 "balanced" amp that actually isn't balanced, but has XLR jacks. The Dynalo is an excellent circuit and it appears to be well-made. Actually, I'd rather use an old receiver left out for trash collection than a shoddy amp. There's a reason why I often tell people to find an old receiver. Many of them are well made.

Quality is everything. You can find it at low prices, but you have to know what you're looking for. If you don't know what makes a good amp, you're going to fall victim to hype, shills and marketing.
post #34 of 87
Thread Starter 

"Nothing to see here. Move along."

 

Indeed.

post #35 of 87

Returning to topic: The Violectric HPA V181 is a four-amplifier balanced design for EU 714.29 (US $971.96).

post #36 of 87
Thread Starter 

Holy cow! An actual on-topic post! atsmile.gif

 

Thanks, Ardgedee. Much appreciated.

 

Best regards,

Adam

post #37 of 87

dynalo is a pimping amp. You could do much worse for much more money.

 

Why the thread topic change?

post #38 of 87

Hmmm, you've stumped me...I can't in good conscience, advise you NOT to buy a Violectric V181, since it's an excellent balaced amp for just under $1K (so x2 since someone's already posted the same as I wrote this).  If my cousin, Dupree, depicted in another thread, tries to sell you a balanced amp that he built himself, I would strongly suggest you NOT purchase it from him - does that help?

 

So let me get this straight; you've already purchased an amp, but you want others to chime in here to advise you as to which balanced amp NOT to buy....is that right?  Is that so you feel better about your purchase?  Or is it supposed to be a public service to the community?  I guess I lost the point somewhere in here?

post #39 of 87
Thread Starter 

I got tired of people telling me not to buy a balanced amp (even though I'm not looking to buy one) and that balanced amps in this price range are inferior to single-ended alternatives. The new topic would seem to match the tenor of the "contributions" to this thread better, hopefully short-circuits some of the redundant discussion and should yield the same information.

 

Oh, and one more thing: it was tongue-in-cheek.

post #40 of 87
Thread Starter 

@jax: No, sorry for any confusion. Here is the background: I recently bought an amp and while I was researching what to buy, I also considered balanced amps. I was surprised, however, at how few there are. I have to believe it should be possible to build a balanced amp for 3x the cost of an equivalent single-ended amp (assuming 2x the cost for parts, plus some extra for the additional design work). There are some decent single-ended amps out there for $250 (decent by my standards, I don't want to get sidetracked by this - if you disagree that there is anything decent available for less than $500, or $1,000 or $2,500, feel free to express that opinion in some other thread), so I'm surprised that there aren't more balanced amps available for under $1,000. Given the limited number of options, this would seem to be a market opportunity, something I have indicated to an independent, small-volume amp manufacturer.

 

Anyway, although I ultrimately decided on a single-ended amp, I thought it would be a useful resource for others if we put together a list of balanced desktop amps for under $1,000, so that all of the information would be available in one place. I wasn't looking for buying advice, I was just curious as to whether there were additional options out there that I was not aware of. There are plenty of threads here where people try to consolidate information on a subject. This was my attempt to do the same for a certain sub-category of amps.

 

If you read through the responses on the first two pages, you will see that most of the responses I received were off-topic - people advising me to consider single-ended amps instead and explaining (actually, most didn't explain, they just asserted) why single-ended amps in this price class are better.

 

Out of frustration with the lack of substantive, on-topic posts, I decided to change the thread title. See my previous post for more information.

 

Best regards,

Adam

post #41 of 87

I have built two DIY balanced amps, one based on the Millett Hybrid, with an Opus DAC for good measure, and the other a balanced Bijou. When not altered (fauxed with), they each will command about $700. That said, the balanced Bijou was simply outstanding for anything, including a LCD-2 or 1K. They will occasionally pop up in the FS forum.

 

Mostly, if you really want balanced, consider building (or commissioning) it yourself.

 

Simply flag the balanced-bashers posts for deletion - mods will moderate their impulsiveness when they, themselves, cannot. It's your thread - and the agenda to stifle, er, guide you, is off topic in the worst taste.

 

If you want a different balanced approach, come to stats. No anti-balanced idiocy there.

post #42 of 87

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by pabbi1 View Post

I have built two DIY balanced amps, one based on the Millett Hybrid, with an Opus DAC for good measure, and the other a balanced Bijou. When not altered (fauxed with), they each will command about $700. That said, the balanced Bijou was simply outstanding for anything, including a LCD-2 or 1K. They will occasionally pop up in the FS forum.

 


Could you build and sell them all day at $700? No way. You know that if you had to account for the time you spent on those amps you would have to charge at least $2000 to keep a buisness running on them. I dont doubt that they sound great, but they are not $700 amps.

 

Specific recommendations are awesome, but whats the fun in waiting around for one of perhaps 6 DIY balanced amps to come up for sale under $1000?

 

adsc0005.jpg

 

The balanced amp I designed. The silver one, not the Melos. Someone else designed the balanced circuitry in the Melos.

post #43 of 87
Thread Starter 

Given the limited number of commercial options available new for less than $1,000, I appreciate DIY and used suggestions to look out for. Again, this thread is just intended as a resource to gather information, so the more options we gather, the better. Subsequent readers can always decide later whether it is worth their while to DIY and whether they want to wait on the chance that a used unit pops up.

 

Also, FWIW, valuing your time on a DIY build is a tricky thing. Sure, if you value your time at the same rate as your primary occupation, almost any DIY project is going to be uneconomical. But a lot of people undertake DIY projects as a hobby and find it relaxing/interesting/an appropriate diversion. As such, they derive a net benefit, not a loss, out of every hour spent on the project (assuming it doesn't all blow up in the end, that is). biggrin.gif

 

How long did it take you to build your silver amp? How long to design it?

 

Best regards,

Adam

 

post #44 of 87

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by amcananey View Post

How long did it take you to build your silver amp? How long to design it?

 


The design phase is hard to say. I spent a bit of time on version 1 and 2 which never made it past paper once the next idea came around. I agree it was a lot of fun, and seeing the design evolve on paper was very rewarding.

 

In the end I estimate that I spent about 40 hours designing, and 40 building, although they were spread out over several months. 

 

Im working on a new amp (very slowly) and I expect about the same time investment. 

post #45 of 87
Thread Starter 

Sounds good. Let me know when you want to sell your old one... atsmile.gif

 

Best regards,

Adam

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