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Voluntary amp builders?

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Apologies if this thread already exists. I wonder if there are any experienced builders here, who would like to build an amp for me - for a good fee of course? I live in Finland, so EU location would be prefered.

I am thinking about the current feedback amp, because I need to keep the physical size of the amp smallish.

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Why don't you get in touch with Birgir?

Mjolnir Audio. Not cheap but built for a lifetime, not mentioning the small footprints he delivers...

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I have. His KSGG Klassik is an option I am considering. As you said, it’s not cheap and if I have understood correctly, it’s quite an old design. 

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Don't get fooled by the latest fashion.

Buy one, enjoy it, and if it's not enough you can change afterwards.

I bet it'll be keeping some money value in the future.

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From that point of view, the BH is also an "old" design ... and I don't think anyone cares.

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Yes, but 20 years... makes at least me wonder a bit. Then again maybe the world of electrostat amps is different and timeless? I don’t know, I am too new to this 🙂

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Has something changed about how high voltage electricity works that would make a new design better than an old one?


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So, about sizes. It will be hard to get any of the KG designs that live here really small.

I happen to have a ADI2 home at the moment, so took a couple of shots.

 

This is the ADI2 on top of a eCFA (in a repurposed case that actually used to hold a KGSS clone). Note that this eCFA runs a lot lower than max current, otherwise the case gets way too hot. All boards inside are on good heatsinks but there's simply not enough circulation to run full power. External heatsinks is I think a must if you want to run this one full out.

 

IMG_0714.jpg.f69c61c340b62e82f3532f0b0d5a17d9.jpg

IMG_0715.jpg.9ea30ad6183c7efa1bea317a0bf5a08f.jpg

 

 

Same thing with a KGDT (solid state input, tube output, lives in a thread somewhere here), in a highly utalitarian Modushop case:

 

IMG_0713.jpg.02ec79cc8dddefebba2fadc66afff126.jpg

IMG_0712.jpg.cc59c8022acdde63b62d87f3269cd79f.jpg

 

Both of these are shoehorn builds as far as my skills go; Birgir could probably fit it all a little tighter, but not me :).
 

 

 

 

 

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Regarding the "old design" thoughts, at least on the front end side, you cannot get the great parts today that the old designs are built upon. Other that some of the modern SIC output devices available now, I don't think you should be concerning yourself with that, as any of these amps will be light years beyond what you have experienced.

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13 hours ago, grawk said:

Has something changed about how high voltage electricity works that would make a new design better than an old one?
 

As I said, I don't know. I am under the impression that there has been significant performance leaps in the world of normal headphone amps in the past years, like for example the new THX models, JDS Labs Atom etc. If the same hasn't happened in the world of electrostats and the older designs are still excellent, that's great!

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6 hours ago, soundwave said:

I am under the impression that there has been significant performance leaps in the world of normal headphone amps in the past years, like for example the new THX models, JDS Labs Atom etc. 

That's something called "hype".  If you want to fall for the hype, we won't stop you, but please don't perpetuate it here.  

You have to understand something about Head-Fi.  Their enthusiasm for the next new thing comes in waves; we refer to it as the "flavour of the month" syndrome.  Occasionally, one of those products may actually be better than the standard bearers, but we wouldn't know, because most of them are not.  

My advice to you is, settle on what you want, be it a KSGG Klassik or a JDS Labs Atom or a Headamp Pico Power (that's smallish) or a Massdrop Objective 2 or whatever, and get it and live with it for a while.  And watch the waves. 

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^ No no, I am not refering to Head-FI but AudioScienceReview's measurements, for example the JDS Atom: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/review-and-measurements-of-new-jds-labs-atom-headphone-amp.5262/

Personally I belong to the ASR 'objectivist camp' and don't buy into the subjective audiophile crap, that granted, does exist in Head-FI 🙂

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I’m sorry, I don’t want to start a flame war and I am not against measurements, they can tell you if something is broken or almost breaking. For example, if it has 50% distortion or 0 signal to noise ratio and it’s not a guitar amp then its probably broken... But I don’t think I am as sensitive as a measurement meter I know I can’t hear a 0.5db difference or the difference between 0.0001% distortion and 0.000001% and yet personally, I have never purchased a piece of hifi *only* based upon the measurements and would never want to. I buy hifi to get *pleasure* out of listening to music and until someone can *model and measure" how my pleasure system from my ear to my brain works I will stick to trying to please my ears, emotions and mind by listening subjectively. The bottom line is most measurements use inputs that as so simple they simply don’t exist in nature e.g. single frequency repetitive sine waves... why - because it makes the analysis simple. Analysis of actual music being played... no way impossibly complex...

As sure as heck I can listen to a lot of hifi that measures well and my brain says very quickly that it is NOT musical or lacking in bass or has glassy hard nasty treble. The device is a non-starter for me after that unless there is no alternative and even then, I will never be happy with it.

What are the *actual **measurement* *differences* between say a blue hawaii and a stax srm-006 that *show* how much better the blue hawaii is? If you want an amp to measure well do what the Japanese did in the 70 and 80s that decimated the UK hifi industry... use as much feedback as possible to iron out all the nonlinearities, convince people to stop listening and only look at the measurements and complete just on measurements and watch you hifi industry die... The hifi industry responded by claiming reviewers with golden ears could hear these measured differences...  the fact was ordinary people could not and they bought the garbage sounding stack systems and the uk hifi industry and ultimately hifi press and hifi shops died. Im not saying the reason the hifi industry died was solely due to measure and don't listen culture but it was a major contributing factor.

I am not against measurements *in* *theory*. I would *love* someone to come up with objective measurements that will tell me that *I* *will* *enjoy* item X Y percent more than item Z. Then I can make value for money judgements and not waste any more money on kit that initially seduces me because it has more detail or more dynamics or more whatever, but ultimately I find myself listening to less music and enjoying what little I do listen to less... that’s not what I want  from my hifi and yes I have made some horrendous hifi buying mistakes over the years. Its taken me a long time to understand that more enjoyment is more important than more X or Z.

(regards james already starting to dig a bunker and put on a tin hat). My apologies if I offend anyone and you are welcome to think I’m a complete nutcase. 

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I think that correct interpretation of measurements requires a huge lot of knowledge and experience.

Read Nelson Pass description of curves for example...

The easy way is probably to over-interprete things.

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The whole issue with measurement is indeed, how do you interpret the data.  If THD+N is the holy grail...why do all the amps that suppress it completely sound like crap?  Why do opamps with all the open loop gain in the world sound like turds?  You can squash them down yet they still sound terrible.  Why do certain circuits sound the way they do, what is going on really and why are some things which should be better...actually worse? 

As for the BH vs. 006t, well that is easy.  If Stax were to test the amps at anything more than 100Vrms/1kHz then the difference would be starling.  One amp can swing a lot of voltage without limitation while the other just can't. 

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2 hours ago, spritzer said:

If THD+N is the holy grail why do all the amps that suppress it completely sound like crap

Here’s the problem, when you measure the wrong thing the wrong way because its relatively easy to measure and analyse you end up optimising the wrong thing the wrong way... and end up with worse ENJOYMENT of the sound. But objectivist don’t care about the actual sound they care about the measurements of simple, fake not existing in nature sounds like 1Khz pure sine. If they don’t know how to measure it e.g. real complex music, it does not exist... what you actually end up with is products where the enjoyment does not exist because the music is not priority. 

THD + noise has lead to DACs that disconnect/mute their outputs when then recieve an input which is a stream of 0s i.e. silence. As a result the noise looks realy low with silence as an input so the signal to noise ratio will look good. But you are not measuing the noise generated by the device! the output of the device is not connected to the rest of the device. All because the designer of the chip wants to have better *measured* signal to noise but not actually better real world noise when there is a musical signal present... again measuring the wrong thing the wrong way AND cheating to make it look even better.[https://www.evaluationengineering.com/instrumentation/article/13011757/testing-audio-adcs-and-dacs] Now its recognised the designers cheat by recognising test signals and so the measurement devices dont use silence rhey use an idle tone.... (which are still simple tones that dont exist in nature but exists just to stop the dac muting and are simple enough to be easily filtered out... eventually the dac designers will put logic in the chips to sense these idle tones and still switch on the mute circuit)... then the measurement comunity will need to devleop new idle tones....  I see no point comparing devices with 140db signal to noise vs 135db signal to noise at these kind of levels it tells you nothing at all useful about the sound  enjoyment.

I remember the very early days of CD.... A rich friend read a hifi review of the first Philips player and purchased it motivated by specifications and measurements alone. He demoed it to me and the first peice he played was classical with violin(s) (I am afraid I dont remember the peice of music only the effect it had). The hasrshness, shrillness and sterility of the sound almost took the enamel off my teeth. I said to him that’s unlistenable. He said the specifications of the CD player and CD system are far superior to LP and the CD is more ACCURATE. He even contended that violins sound like that in real life. I said to him I don’t care if everyone else thinks that’s how violins should or does sound; I literally could not stay in the room with the music playing. I stuck with my LPs and ignored CD for about another 20 years. It was so painful for me there was almost zero musicality. Next time I visited he had sold the CD player and was back on LP. he admitted he could not live with the CD sound. 

I’m not saying ALL digital replay is terrible but my experiences of the *first* CD systems were uniformly frightening. Now we both have digital systems.  But I have only been a serious digital listener over the last 15+ years or so. For me iits taken digital a long time to the musicality levels of LP *regardless* of the measurements showing it being "better" from day one...The bottom line is we need measurements that actually correlate to precieved sound enjoyment and we simply do not have that.  

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Ivor Tieffenbrun's (Linn) maxim was always "If it sounds better, that is because it is better". On the one hand it could be taken as just a company slogan, like Quad's "The closest approach to the original sound". But on the other, it is quite a deep statement to the effect that measurement is not enough in determining subjective quality.

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I'm sure early Head-Caser's remember how I was Mr. Double-blind.  At this point, I don't give a shit about what is "better."  If I think it sounds good, I like it.  I have components that measure very well, like my HD-800S.  I have components that measure like shit, like the Singlepower.  I think my chair has more actual effect on "the sound" than any of the components; I really enjoy my AirPods when I'm sitting in my Eames lounger/ottomon clone with a cat on my lap. Which is clearly something I should be doing right now, if the attached photo is anything to go by. 

IMG_0636.jpeg

Edited by EdipisReks1
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37 minutes ago, G600 said:

Do you have a timer setup for that chair-heating "device"? 😁

Yes: my schedule.  They find whatever is the softest surface where they can watch me, and I happened to be in that room.

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Thanks for the couple of PMs from kind members offering help in amp building. Very much appreciated! I have also found one potential friend of a friend, who has good experience in electronics building, so I might also go with the DIY path together with his help. 

- - -

I also don't want to turn this into an objectivist vs subjectivist debate. One thought that came to my mind was the case with NwAvGuy around early 2010, which many of you probably know... this guy who just started to measure DACs and headphone amps and exposed many of them to be crap. Then he designed his own O2 amp and later also DAC, which were cheap and measured, and sounded, great. Then he disappeared. 

I really enjoyed reading his looong blog posts and the way he challenged the hifi/audiophile industry and communities with hard data compared to subjective and biased (unintentionally) opinions of random people. I was sad to see him disappear and later very happy to see AudioScienceReview continue where he left off. 

Now that I have just entered the wonderful world of electrostats... and started to sell my traditional headphones 🙂... the case of NwAvGuy came back to me and a comparison to this forum -> you guys have designed and build amps, that clearly challenge the incumbent market and my tip of the hat to you sirs!  I do still wish, that somebody would also measure electrostatic amps. I have searched and asked for these, but I haven't found any. I asked Amirm/ASR about this and he said that there are risks of damage to the measurement gear with electrostatic amps and probably that explains their scarcity. 

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The O2 did not sound "great." I would argue that it sounded like "crap," but I didn't have a cat in my lap the times I heard one. But what do I know about how instruments are supposed to sound; I only made it through three years of conservatory.  And, after all, a violin has a lot of distortion when played in the air. A violin has no distortion when played in a vacuum, so that is clearly the best way to listen to violins.

Edited by EdipisReks1
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