Monday, September 21, 2015

"Tengu"- extreme MC phono stage

After building the Boozhound Labs MM and dedicated MC stage featuring the Russian PIO caps, I was inspired to build an extreme version of the MC stage. I was very impressed with the performance of the MC stage built from a kit. Having at hand some ultra expensive Audio Note (AN) caps, I thought what better use.

The AN are silver foil, paper and oil clad in a pure copper outer. The leads are fine silver wire and the caps currently sell for AU$427 each! To further ensure this was going to be a "killer" build I added Vishay resistor, Nichion electrolytic caps, solid copper high-end RCAs and a Hammond enclosure. All hook-up wire is silver plated fine copper and solder is WBT silver solder. The sliding lid is lined with bitumanised heavy Al foil to control resonance and vibration.

Construction is on Veri-board, there is a battery test point at the front and a soft blue "ON" led. On an initial listen the bottom end appears a little richer and the sound stage more defined. But early days. The cost of parts is over AU$1000! "Tengu" are Japanese mystical creatures let's hope this has a mystical sound to compliment the price.

Friday, August 28, 2015

"Mimic - SE" MM phono preamp

See previous posts for the original "Mimic" which is Bruce Heron's (Oddwatt) OPAMP based MM phono preamp. What makes this a Special Edition (SE)? From the images above you will see Solen (French) caps which are on the output replacing cheaper NP electrolytics and from the rear high quality gold plated RCAs now replace the lighter versions. Once more WBT silver based solder has been used and silver plated fine copper wire for hook-up. This is consistent with the "Bourbon" build matching hook-up wire and solder employed. A battery test point is provided at the front.

The enclosure is the same as before and now matches perfectly the Boozhound Labs based MC preamp. As usual the enclosure is bitumanised heavy Al lined. I matched the exterior look of both phono preamps to make them appear as a matched pair. I am now taking orders!!.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

"Bourbon" - Boozhound Labs MC stage kit.

I received a Boozhound Labs MC kit for assembly and review some years back. I promptly assemble the cct. brd. but thats where it stopped. Finally it is complete and I'm extremely impressed with the overall sound. The kit comes with the usual Boozhound Russian PIO caps and some high quality Muse electros. Silver solder was used and fine copper wire with silver plate is used for hookup. A battery test point is provided at the front.

My Ortofon Rondo Blue MC cart is hailed as very dynamic with excellent balance from deep bass to extended treble. Now I know what they mean. It feels like I have a brand new cartridge installed. I thought my other MC stages were good but this one stands on it its own. Extremely impressive performer.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

"La Gitana" - MM valve premium component phono preamp

This MM phono preamp is based around the Radi0Kit - RK318, premium parts, valve phono preamp kit. There are two grades to the kit, this one uses superior parts, WIMA, M-Cap, Dales and ceramic sockets. The PS is my own 240-24-240V design and uses a low profile 160W toroid. Over kill here but to fit this whole build into a 19" 1U rack mount enclosure required a special transformer. The oversize toroid provides excellent mains filtering. The mains is feed via an IEC socket on a short tail.

The PS is a C-L-C-R-C type. The choke is a 5H Hammond and combined with 247uf of filtering produces a dead black 280V HT. The 12V filament current is regulated and heavily filtered. JJ short plate low microphonic tubes come with the kit. WBT silver solder used throughout. With high quality components, a robust and clean PS and all housed in low profile, professional enclosure, "La Gitana" (Gypsy) looks as good as it sounds.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

"Quiet Storm" - 100W Class D in re-cycled enclosure and PS

This amp started as a low power Class A SS amp and therefore the 10mH 5A Hammond choke. I removed the power amp section and choke and replaced it with a 100W Sure Electronics Class D amp module. There are also 2 X 10,000uf caps in the PS.

Not quite the Sexy build of my other "Ds" but practical and a great use of a part of an amp which has not been used for many years. The PS is rated 100W and the amp uses a 100W Class D module which should drive 40W+ into 8ohms. So far the bass is excellent and the stereo imaging is huge which is what you would expect  from Class D.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

180W Tripath Class D power amp - Audiophile strength

Here is my 4th Class D amp in the last few months based on the hifimediy Eastern Audio Technologies T4 amp module. It is claimed to produce 180W pc into 8ohms at extremely low levels of THD. And is very Tripath. Where this module shines above the rest is crow-bar speaker protection built on the PCB, no fan (apart from me) high grade audiophile components (M-Caps, big chokes etc) and the glorious ability to accept DC or AC. Yes a full rectification network on board.

For me the way to squeeze the best out of the "Ds" is to feed them a big robust DC PS. I used an Altronics 500VA 30 + 30 toroid and capable of a 16A delivery. Through a rec bridge into a 15,000uf cap. Yes this time just one. But it is snubbed with a 10uf 100V poly which itself is snubbed by a 0.1uf 630V poly. 

As usual with all my amps and most preamps I install a RFI\EMI power filter and choke the power cord. A Jaycar 2U 19" Black Stipple finish rack mount enclosure and the faint amber LED dress the device. Where I cut lose on this build is the super heavy, insulated speaker binding posts at the back. I wanted this to be an Audiophile strength build so the heavier binding posts. And to cement that desire I called this one "Audiophile" .

Only a few hours on the new baby so a way to go but good stereo imaging, great sound stage and excellent transparency. Good so far hoping to get even better in the next few months.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

250W IR Class D amplifier

After building two other medium and high power Class D amps (see earlier posts) I thought I would like to hear what a IR (International Rectifiers) chip set base amp sounded like. This 250W module comes full assembled but, as with the others, you are required to make the PS etc.

I chose a 3U 19" rack mount enclosure. I required an enclosure this large because I wanted to use some very large and very expensive Mundorf M-Lytic capacitors I had. The PS can produce 420W and the capacitors are 2 X 47,000uf low ESR type. According to specs the caps can release several hundred amps. The usual RFI\EMI power filter fronts the 300VA transformer and gold plated brass speaker binding posts and RCAs grace the rear.

In other builds small fans are used to cool the power FETs but in this case a very thick Al block is used as a heatsink. For this reason this amp makes no noise where the others have a low fan noise. On a brief listen to the amp it sounds fine and more mellow and balanced than the other two. Further images will follow.

Note: I recently did some up grades to PS and amp module not performed originally. The inside image shows the latest changes; I have upgraded the PS adding some 10uf polies across the storage caps. I believe this improves mids and highs. Also the input 22uf electros have been replaced with some high quality Russian audio caps.