One of the amplifiers I own is a Kenwood KA-7100 stereo amplifier. It is a fairly old amplifier (late 70’s), with a modest 60WPC into 8ohm specification. I was a fan of the KA-XXXX amplifier series and its siblings from the moment I first heard its smaller brother (KA-601). While that KA-601 was in fairly bad shape, I was amazed at the time by how much better it sounded than my (back then) modern Denon AVR HT receiver. I’ve since had an opportunity to listen to quite a few amplifiers from this series including the KA-7300, KA-8100, KA-9100, and others. Therefore, when I’ve had the chance (more than a decade ago) to get my hands on a KA-7100 I grabbed it right away. It wasn’t in bad shape, but it has seen better days, no doubt. As I learned a bit more about electronics, that amplifier became one of my first projects.
I have recently had the opportunity to revisit this amplifier by doing another small modification, which gave me an opportunity to write something about it, and add some measurement results while at it.
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The β22 from AMB is one of the most highly regarded DIY headphone amplifiers you can meet around the web.It gets plenty of excellent reviews from plenty of people who have built it. Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to listen to quite a few headphone amplifiers, including DIY builds, and I ran across a β22 more than once. I’ve even had an opportunity to repair one for a friend after it got damaged due to an accidental short on the output. The β22 always sounded good to me, although I must admit that its one of these amplifier that didn’t give me that “wow” factor on our first encounter. In my book that can actually be a very good thing, as many of the amplifiers (and any other stereo component) that give a “wow” feeling at first, prove to be too fatiguing and unrealistic sounding in the long run. The β22 is one of these amplifiers that you appreciate more as you spend more time with it.
I’ve been thinking of building a β22 for a fairly long time, with the cost being one of the factors against it. Just like with any other DIY project, and I’ve seen quite a few, the builder has significant wiggle-room regarding quality and cost, as well as functionality. However, I wanted to build one that could serve multiple functions, perform well, and look good. I wanted something I could be proud of building and owning, and to be happy with it for years to come. Eventually, I’ve decided to pull the trigger on this build. In this post I’ll share the steps and some of the technical considerations that came into play during this build.
Continue reading “β22 Balanced Stereo Amplifier Build”
This post will briefly describe the M³ amplifier I’ve built to drive my headphones. Over the years I’ve had an opportunity to listen to quite a few headphone amplifiers, some of which I really liked, and even built a few of. These included the Pimeta from Tangent, and a few of AMB’s designs, including the M³ I will describe in this post. The M³ is meant to be a DIY amplifier, with boards being sold by Ti on his website. The M³ is based on a 3-channel topology, in which the output ground is also created by an amplifier channel. There has been significant discussion about this topology over the web, with opinions going both ways. However, like with all other audio related things, I prefer to let my ears be the final judge, and in the case of the M³ I always liked what I’ve heard.
Some years ago a friend of mine asked me to build one of these for him, with the power-supply sitting in its own case(Fig. 1). When it was complete, I’ve had some time to use it before he picked it up, and I really liked what I’ve heard. It was driving my AKG K1000 headphones to sufficient volume without much distortion, and the overall sound signature was much better than I have heard with many other amplifiers. The conclusion from this experience was simple, I should build one of these for myself 🙂
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This one is going to be the first, and one of the only posts I share, that isn’t electronics related. However, it is definitely audio related, as it is about a pair of stands I’ve built for bookshelf speakers. While I have been using mostly floor-standing speakers for some years now, every now and then I did use bookshelf speakers. This is especially true when talking about placing speakers next to my work bench, where space is at a premium, and large floor-standers aren’t really needed.
Therefore, in the spirit of DIY, I’ve decided its time to build a nice looking pair of stands that will be used for this purpose. I’ve looked at quite a few stands, but decided to take the shape from a pair of Sonus-Faber stands that I really liked. This was only fitting, as at the time I’ve had a pair of Concerto Home bookshelf speakers to match them. Since I have neither the tools, nor the experience, of working with steel, I’ve opted for a build made entirely out of MDF. In this post I’ll try to share some of the methods I’ve used in building these stands. I think they are quite straight forward and easy to follow, so that even a novice (like me) could use them quite easily.
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Like any vintage audio equipment user knows, one of the main issues of having such gear is the occasional problem that will need fixing. This project started because of one of these problem. As part of a discussion on another internet forum, one forum member (lets call him Tom :)) approached me and asked if I would be interested in helping him sort out a problem with a Sansui 9090DB receiver. This is a fairly old, but highly regarded piece of audio gear. The problem he described was the main amplifier board, named F2624, which is also shared with a few other Sansui models. These boards became unreliable over the years, with problematic traces, difficult to obtain parts, and so on. At the time I was just a M.Sc. student and had the free time to do things just for fun, so I jumped aboard. Following a short discussion we’ve agreed we will aim at creating a whole new board, that will be a plug-in replacement for the original F2624, but with modern parts.
The first step, was obviously getting a hold of the schematic. However, as it turns out, it doesn’t really exist anywhere that I know of. This is because the schematic that was published in the Sansui service manual was of an early version of the board, and had a couple of mistakes in it. So what do you do when you can’t get the original schematic? You draw one yourself. So that is exactly what I did, by getting an original Sansui board, and going over it. Again, as far as I know, this is the only complete schematic of this board version that is available online. Therefore, I would like to share it with others who might need it one day to repair such a board. We (myself, and Tom) have already published this on 2 internet forums to make it available to anyone who needs it. I will also include it as an attachment at the end of this post.
Continue reading “Sansui Vintage Amplifier Resurrection, Creating a Modern F2624 Replacement”
A DC protection circuit is typically included at the output of most audio amplifiers, and is meant to disconnect the loudspeakers if a significant DC component is present at the amplifiers output. This is important as excess DC current through the loudspeaker (or headphones) will generate significant heat and can damage it. Unlike commercial products, most DIY builds I’ve seen over the years, don’t include a DC protection at the output. This of course leaves the loudspeaker/headphones connected to it vulnerable in case of a problem in the amplifier. Therefore, when I was planning one of my previous amplifier builds, I’ve decided I should first design a DC protection circuit to add the output of the amplifier. I’ve decided to slightly enhance the circuit to include a few extra features other than just DC protection, and make it as versatile as possible:
- Supply voltage of +/-12V to +/-75V (or single 24V-150V supply)
- Wide input swing of +/-55V
- Support single-ended/balanced/active-ground amplifiers
- 2 channels input per board
- Adjustable sensitivity
- Independent detection per channel for a robust design
- Support 2 outputs (A/B/A+B) with relay switching
- Visual notification(LED) of active output, and fault
- Delayed start-up
- Accelerated shut-down for reduced “popping” noise
- 40mA supply current with single relay energized
- Up to 8A load current with default relay
The circuit can obviously be modified if needed for a simpler build (no output selection for instance), and can be extended as far as voltage range is concerned. For instance, I have since used the same board with a few less parts with a single 12V supply for the output of a small headphone amplifier.
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