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W A R N I N G !
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Monday, February 8, 2010
Sneak peek. The product isn't functional yet due to technical issues.
I skipped v1.0, v1.1, and the version a upgrade and went straight for v1.2b instead. Well, it was more convenient to drill more holes and solder more things in one shot, and some parts arrived earlier than expected to make this possible.
Yes, originally there was supposed to be these versions, and I even planned what upgrades these versions were supposed to have, though they never saw the daylight:
Version number -
v1.0 - everything stock with no upgrades
v1.1 - 1 to 2x mid-size power supply reservoir/tank caps - Panasonic FM 2200uF chosen, 2.2uF film caps for input capacitors - WIMA MKS4 chosen (though on hindsight should've gotten EPCOS MKP, but I was overrun by the WIMA brand, but it don't matter now) - I call this the "critical while making financial sense" upgrade. Yea, many people's upgrades don't make sense, considering how much they spend vs what they get out of it.
v1.2 - 10000-20000uF reservoir cap (15000uF ELNA For Audio chosen) + 2x boutique input caps (3.3uF "Solen OEM" chosen) - this is the "upgrade to match if not beat boutique amps" upgrade - yea, Virtue Audio has a 22000uF Panasonic in their Virtue ONE, I'm going to counter with 15000uF ELNA + 6x330uF already on the board itself.
This is also called the "upgrade even if you can't hear improvement" upgrade, because with the ELNA I need longer leads and higher impedance compared to the 2xFMs, and with an SMPS in the same enclosure I would need less capacitance than a linear supply or an external PSU, so the 2xFMs might be more than enough and in that case give better performance. But this upgrade is all about bragging rights since (certain) numbers are all that (some) people care.
v1.3 - the "all out" mod - what's done in v1.2, + the two 2200uF FMs soldered onto the board closest to the amp chips, maybe bypassed with the now useless WIMA MKS4s. But the highlight of this version would be a complete replacement of the output filter, this would cost me $30-50 and more for the better coils. This will be the finale to make this amp better in all aspects than all commercial amps in the same price range. And I've read that the output filter is the most chui part of this amp (I could've guessed by looking), and upgrading it yields the greatest improvement in sound quality.
And the alphabetical suffixes -
a - a for attenuator, a.k.a. volume control. It cost $20 + many wires + messy soldering + a hole and a reduction in sound quality, but it is required for safety if I want to use this amp. I prefer to call it "volume limiter" instead, and it's stupid to control your volume just through the computer - you'll know why if you have a power amp and your Windows settings are reset or something.
b - b for bling - see the white light inside the amp? A 24V LED strip with 12 white LEDs in series, controlled by a switch. I expected it to be brighter though.
c - c for source changer, probably will not see the light of day - the big aluminum knob might have taken up too much space for an additional switch + input jack on the front. An additional input for 3.5mm is proven to be very useful when your computer is unable to produce sound (like down, reinstallation, or doing something else) and/or connecting to another source e.g. PSP for entertainment or AB test purposes. Yes I could have used the switch of the LED for the source switcher instead. But I decided to go for bling. Because bling is good.