Every now and then, a new audio product is introduced to the marketplace that is both very reasonable in cost as well as performing well above its price point.
Such is the case with the newly introduced Project Sunrise, a small hybrid amp that appears to be similar to the inexpensive Indeed/Brave/Muse tube/hybrids that are available from several Ebay vendors.
While appearing, at first glance, to be similar, the Project Sunrise is an amplifier designed and marketed by two well-qualified and highly-regarded electrical engineers. While this initial impression of the Sunrise should, perhaps, be posted in the DIY forum, I have posted it here as the amplifier is available as a complete, ready to play amplifier as well as a DIY project. One can purchase the Project Sunrise in any DIY stage of completion, from bare circuit board thru complete kit, including tube, chassis and power supply as well as the factory-build amplifier.
I chose the kit, less tube, for the simple reason that I have not built a DIY project for quite some time, and the obvious quality of the kit components gave me the impression that the completed amplifier would make the effort a worthwhile endeavor.
I received my kit in short order, and set about assembling the amplifier, working slowly and carefully. All components were packaged to match the markings on the circuit board, so it would be nearly impossible to make a component mounting error. Instructions were excellent and the entire project, from start to finish, took only about 3 hours.
The Project Sunrise, in addition to the high-quality components, offers a number of switchable options, including options for choice of output resistors, bypassing input capacitors and selection of tube heater voltage. Bias is set by 2 readily accessible trimmers and test points. Although not related to the audio performance, one can even vary the colors of the tube, as there is a small 3-color LED, the colors of which can be adjusted by 3 trimmers!
As this is primarily my impression of the audio performance of the Project Sunrise rather than my impression of a DIY project, I am pleased to report that the sound of this small amplifier belies its size and price by its superb audio quality! The tonal accuracy is superb with deep and well-controlled bass. There is no sibilance and in all respects, the amplifier performs far better than one would imagine, as one's first thought would be that it is just another Ebay clone. Nothing could be further from the truth.
I have evaluated the completed amplifier with all of my headphones and in each case, the performance has been excellent. There is no hiss or hum, and even low-level nuances of my test recordings are faithfully reproduced. As this is not meant to be an in-depth review, I have not made any test-equipment measurements, rather relying on listening tests utilizing my current headphone inventory, my Virtue CD player, Squeezebox audio streamer, and high-bitrate audio files.
Amazingly, the Sunrise can drive my K1000's, HE-6 and K340's to a very satisfying listening level with no strain or clipping. The volume setting when driving my HE6 is around the 12:30-1:00 position.
While I have tried several different tubes, my favorite so far is a Matsu****a/Mullard 6922. I do find that tube-rolling does affect the SQ more than I had anticipated, allowing one to configure the amplifier to one's personal preference and headphone characteristics.
While I have no affiliation with the builders of the Project Sunrise, I do enjoy finding and reporting a product that delivers excellent performance at a reasonable price while providing a level of customer support that is rare in todays marketplace.
My completed amplifier is shown below:
Edited by HiFlight - 7/19/11 at 10:47am