Want to build my first desktop amp - How to pick?
Nov 16, 2008 at 7:58 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 20

aphexii

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After seeing the amazing rigs at the Tampa meet yesterday, I've decided I want to move out of the portable amp arena (Mini^3, Cmoy) and build a nice desktop amp.

I loved HighLifes' Headroom Millet Hybrid, so maybe a Millet Hybrid Max would be a good build? I'd like to stay ~$150 if possible. Maybe even a Millet Hybrid Mini? M3? (though I'm not sure which is better) What do you think? How to decide?
 
Nov 16, 2008 at 9:13 PM Post #2 of 20

pabbi1

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Decide what you want in sound quality (read: what you are willing to pay for), and how much output you need for the phones you have (or will have), and what casing you can live with (Nabu, Hammond or custom case), then adjust your budget accordingly, and realize your first choice will not likely be your last.

You might also like a SOHAII, coming soon to GlassJarAudio. IFF you go with the Millett, spring for boutique caps in the recommended locations - it will make quite a difference.

If you like the tubes, do not go m³ - if you thought the Millett too warm, m³ is faster, especially with faster opamps.

Then, SE or balanced... er, check that.
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Nov 17, 2008 at 1:17 AM Post #4 of 20

JamesL

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nvm..
cost wise, most builds like the ppa, m3, sohaII, millet Hybrid, etc will cost about $200 to build if you stick strictly with the stock parts.(with the ppav2 and millet hybrid being slightly at the lower end of the spectrum)
This is considering you have all the tools necessary. The CK2III I think is a bit cheaper to build.
 
Nov 17, 2008 at 1:29 AM Post #5 of 20

Nicolas2305

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I'll tag along in this thread. I was about to ask the same question as aphexii. I'm still at the stage of defining my audio tastes and have much to try yet.

I'd also want to hear your toughts about Twisted Pear products.

I think I like it more to build than to listen
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but I do listen to music while building.
 
Nov 17, 2008 at 6:40 AM Post #7 of 20

aphexii

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Quote:

Originally Posted by pabbi1 /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Decide what you want in sound quality (read: what you are willing to pay for), and how much output you need for the phones you have (or will have), and what casing you can live with (Nabu, Hammond or custom case), then adjust your budget accordingly, and realize your first choice will not likely be your last.

You might also like a SOHAII, coming soon to GlassJarAudio. IFF you go with the Millett, spring for boutique caps in the recommended locations - it will make quite a difference.

If you like the tubes, do not go m³ - if you thought the Millett too warm, m³ is faster, especially with faster opamps.

Then, SE or balanced... er, check that.
tongue_smile.gif



The SOHA II looks very intriguing as well. I dunno though, I hate to let this be a factor but Millet's instructions for the Hybrid Max are very in depth and might make it easier on me for my first desktop build.

On a side note, anyone know what case this is and if they make different sizes?

P1010218.jpg
 
Nov 17, 2008 at 8:48 PM Post #10 of 20

nikongod

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1: The advice to pick the amp based on which headphones you anticipate using it with is good. Most DIY designs do at least passably well with most headphones (and you will be so happy building something that works anyways that SQ will take a backseat at least until your ready to build something else…) but there are some outright bad combinations.

2: Carefully consider your abilities. If you don’t think you can build something, don’t worry too much, your probably right
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Take it slow to start. If nothing else a simple amp will give you troubleshooting skills. Troubleshooting some of the more complicated amps borders on impossible, and it gets worse without previous experience. This is also a good time to think about casework and any tools you will need but don’t have. Casework is at least as hard (and often harder IMHO) as building the actual electronic junk. Every time you (or someone else) look at the amp, they WILL see the case and any the surface flaws on it.

3: Consider your budget. Maybe this should be done during step 2, but it’s important enough to say by its self. Depending on how much you plan to do this, consider the cost of tools you don’t already have. If you plan on building a bunch of amps some special tools (greenlee sheet-metal-punches and stepped drill-bits for example) could be worth the expense. I would argue that good tools are worth it for 1 amp, but I hate casework: anything to make life easier here is worth it to me.

Have I made it clear that casework sucks? I think I speak for the majority of builders about this.
 
Nov 17, 2008 at 8:53 PM Post #11 of 20

n_maher

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Quote:

Originally Posted by nikongod /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Have I made it clear that casework sucks? I think I speak for the majority of builders about this.


While I'm not quite of the mind that casework sucks (at least today anyway) it is something that is often overlooked and underestimated. Example: I spent over two hours mounting binding posts in an amp last night, and that was with a panel that was already partially pre-fabricated for them.

A good rule of thumb, with just about every project that I've done, is that the casework will take every bit as long as it does to stuff the pcb and often quite a bit longer. The only exception to this that comes to mind (pending the MH mini max) is the mini³ if you purchased the pre-fabbed panels. God I loved that casework.
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Nov 17, 2008 at 9:22 PM Post #12 of 20

compuryan

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yea even when I built my little cmoy it took me a good hour to figure out how to fit everything in and drill holes and mount the jacks, switch, and led. casework is a bitch.
 
Nov 18, 2008 at 4:35 AM Post #15 of 20

aphexii

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Quote:

Originally Posted by elliot42 /img/forum/go_quote.gif
For a project table, all I use is a sheet of MDF (Medium Density Fibreboard). It's reasonably cheap ($10-15 ? can't remember exactly).


Good call, thanks!

Do I have any need to worry about working with transformers on any low vontage amps? (SOHA II, Millet Hybrid) Is there any benefit to using a wallwart?
 

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