Killer DIY Hypex Digital Amp

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by Josh Ray on March 20 '06

 Jpeg Dual1803 2
We don't normally cover a lot of DIY gear but, hey, when you're pinching pennies, why not consider a little quality time with the soldering iron? Here's underground site TNT-Audio with a review of the Hypex class D amplifier. Class D belongs in the new school of amp technologies, along with ICEpower, Tripath, NuForce and any of the other cool-running amps in tiny boxes with tubish sounds and growing respectability. CIAudio got some mad love by Positive Feedback and Stereophile last year and, guess what? The $1599 CIAudio D-100 uses the Hypex amp kit. Here's what TNT says of the UdD180-based amp:

If you still needed a further proof that amps based on new technologies (Class-D, or Class-T, or also Class-N, everyone seems to have his own private solution, or perhaps just name...) can sound better than traditional ones, here it is...

...we have a 180W amp, with that delicate touch of a triode butterfly and the power of a solid state bull, easy to build, very stable, accepting with equal ease both balanced and unbalanced inputs, at a cost that is far away from anything comparable...

...In any case, the bottom line is clear: it is really time to get acquainted with Class D.

180 watts with a touch of a triode butterfly? You don't say. Hypex amps go up to 700 watts. 700 watts of triode butterfly? Don't know but check out this monstrous, ongoing DIYaudio thread for more on Hypex (Jan-Peter of Hypex is a regular contributor, answering any and all questions). DIYCable also sells the Hypex UsD180 module for $85 a pop but make sure to read the TNT article for the other components you need if you're going to blaze this path yourself. Of course, if you're not down with DIY, check out the CIAudio goods. Everyone seems to agree that they're absolute killers for the price.

(CIAudio D-100 with the Hypex UcD180 below)


 Pics Products Ucd180


Don't forget gain card amps in this discussion...similar ease of use, similarly cheap, great sound, available in kits (i.e. from Audiosector). I'm a convert from tubes myself – I replaced my tube set-up in December with a gaincard integrated and haven't looked back...
A few months ago I bought a Bel Canto eVo2i, which is a Tripath variant of Class D (though they prefer to call it "Class T"). Now, I have never owned a tube amp so cannot comment on the "tubeness" of it, but I can definitely say without a doubt this is the finest amp I have ever owned. I am thrilled with the sound every time I listen...clean, glare-free, effortless sound with amazing imaging. Those who dimiss Class D because it references the word "digital" are missing out, and are probably letting their head overrule their ears.
I had a CIA D-100 in my system for a weekend. It was one of the tonally nicest digital amps I have heard of the bunch. This and the Karma (but it may have been the cabling on the Karma that made it stand out) soudned the most natural to me. The CIA D-100 does have a kind of tubey golden color to it.
I've browsed through all the links. Lots of info to digest. I have the original Sonic Impact T-Amp and the new upgrade version. Both have been great. I built a Hafler amp kit years ago and also a PS Audio passive preamp. I think I'm up to building one of these amps but there doesn't seem to be any place where someone walks you through building one from start to finish. I know it's diy, but I would pay extra for a kit with instructions.
Yeah, instructions are always helpful. They're out there but you have to dig. If someone is interested, there's always room at SonicFlare for a DIY section to bring together as much DIY instructional info as possible. Also, with all this quasi-digital technology, don't you think we need to sit down and settle on a single name? NuForce, ICEpower and others are not class D, but switching. Tripath is different, so is Hypex and chip-based amps, though they all do the same thing: big watts with hyper-efficiency. I'm down with calling the whole group "class D" just for clarity but I know there are those out there who get mighty upset.
I've managed to save up roughly $70517 in my bank account, but I'm not sure if I should buy a house or not. Do you think the market is stable or do you think that home prices will decrease by a lot?