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300-W at $5.25

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by FiedelP, Oct 29, 2006.

  1. FiedelP


    May 24, 2002
    Hamburg, Germany
    Hello from Germany,
    I did just read an article about this newly developped single-chip amplifier in a german computer magazine and I thought this might be of interest for some of the readers here.


    Single-Chip Devices Provide All-Digital Clarity and Efficiency, While Reducing Component Count, System Cost and Board Size"

    There's no picture in the press release, but the one I saw in the German magazine means this single-chip amplifier weighs a few gramms and is as small as a CPU.

    Apart from all the discussions about tubes vs. transistores vs. digital. Doesn't this mean that about 90% of the bass-amplifiers sold and marketed today will be blown away 5 or 10 years from now?

    Sh*t; I just bought this gigantic and heavy Markbass dinosaur LM-II !!! ( I love it...)

    Following a lot of the threads on this forum about Markbass and other manufactures of small, lightweight and powerfull amps, neodym-speakers etc., I thought this might be as interesting for many here as it is for me.

  2. ras1983


    Dec 28, 2004
    Sydney, Australia
    Well, this might mean that the markbass LM - X (or whatever number it will be) might weigh a pound! LOL!
  3. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    It's referring to the output stage, not the entire amplifier. The bulk of the circuitry remains the power supply. This isn't significantly different than a number of Class D devices that have been on the market for years. But it is true that the days are numbered for large low-efficiency power amps.
  4. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    TI is jumping into a crowded field. There are already Class-D devices from a number of makers, including TI, Tripath, Philips, Zetex, and so forth. TI is spinning it a bit by claiming that they have the first all-digital solution.
  5. Masher88

    Masher88 Believe in absurdities and you commit atrocities

    May 7, 2005
    Cleveland, OH
    But does it SOUND good?
  6. bigfatbass

    bigfatbass Inactive

    Jun 30, 2003
    Upstate NY
    Endorsing Artist: Karl Hoyt Basses
    We'll know soon enough, Bowlus will buy one and tell us all about it!

  7. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    It's basically a glorified digital-to-analog converter, so it won't have any sound of its own. Given an uncolored input signal, it will sound just like any mainstream solid state power amp. The sound will be determined by whatever signal processing you put in front of it.
  8. A9X


    Dec 27, 2003
    Pretty much so, especially in a high SPL MI application. I've used Tripath, Hypex UcD and LC Audio modules so far and in this application, you'd be pressed to hear a difference.
  9. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    What do you use for power supplies? Toroid, or switcher?
  10. A9X


    Dec 27, 2003
    For portable, toroids. For static installation, large EI cores because of the reduced bandwidth.
    Some of the buy-in switcher supplies haven't been the best.
    As with all designs, the details are the important thing.
  11. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Always a strong chance of that. :D
  12. FiedelP


    May 24, 2002
    Hamburg, Germany
    thank you for correcting me.
    I don't have the knowledge of engineers in the audio-field in any way. I did somehow assume that power supplies for digital amplifiers do have to deliver much less energy than power supplies for traditional transistor or tube amplifiers and that they could be produced much cheaper and that their efficiency is far superior.

    The ideas or fears or perspectives that entered my mind were:

    1. Will companies like Line6 and Behringer offer versions of their pods with an additional 300-watt amplifier for 20 bucks more in the near future? Or will companies like Boss or Ibanez offer amplifiers as floor units for a few bucks? Or will speaker-manufacturers just add power-amplifiers to their cabinets for a few bucks more that even don't add any kind of significant weight to their products?

    2. Will amplifier-design become somehow a thing of the past just as the design of motherboards or even more extreme graphic-cards for computers? You just have 2 or 3 - if at all - corporations, designing the chips that include most of the functions and more functions with every new generation released - like ATI and NVIDIA - and then a few other corporations, who are just building their products around their designs without adding anything of significance?

    Just to ask those, who are more into audio-engineering than I am: Using the most advanced technology today: what would be the cost of a power-amp, using the TI-chips with a decent power-supply massproduced in China per unit? What size and weight would it be?

    Before buying my Markbass, a german engineer, who knows much more about amp-technology than I do, told me that the Markbass-stuff would be superior to most stuff available today. Even the most advanced producers of amplifiers in Germany - yes we still have some - couldn't compete with what is going in Italy.
    But I should still forget pure digital solutions. The technology simply still doesn't work...

    This was a few month ago, but what I did read about the TI chips seemed to indicate to me that this would be the first serious attempt to produce the first high-end pure-digital solution? Or did I just get into the trap of a marketing campaign and all the problems associated with pure digital solutions are still there?

  13. A9X


    Dec 27, 2003
    I mentioned three designs above. The first of whch I used about 3 years ago, and there are others as well. They are very good, some at least, based upon my experience at building and measuring lower power monitor amplifiers over many years.

    Much of the TI hype is just that.

    Too tired atm to answer the rest,
  14. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    In general, I think the rules will change drastically when players like Peavey and Crate decide to get into the game. And it is only a matter of time, like the steady march of neo drivers. I'd bet that every mainstream amp maker has a Class-D power amp running in the lab, working the bugs out, as we speak.
    I think amp brands will continue to make their own power amps, but it will become a mundane design exercise to the point where the underlying technology doesn't matter too much.
    The EA iAmp Micro-300 is an example of the size and weight that is achievable. It is 300 W, 3 pounds, and gig bag pocket sized.
    At one time, Italy was the center of the European electronics industry. Plus they have the coolest looking sports cars for their engineers to drive.
    I think the Yamaha head is pure digital. There is nothing standing in the way of making it work right now. Here is the setup: Analog to digital converter --> DSP --> digital power amp chip. Front panel knobs are read by the DSP and converted into filter control parameters. But there is also nothing magic about pure digital. A simple analog preamp is probably cheaper.
  15. ras1983


    Dec 28, 2004
    Sydney, Australia
    italy has most of the coolest everythings. they even hve some smoking hot musicians. one that comes to mind is a guy by the name of festo pippeti or something like that. i have only seen his name a couple of times, but his music is pretty good.
  16. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    Power Amp, Power Supply - soon to be just commodities. They're all so close now it's a stretch to claim to hear differences.

    Signal processing is where the uniqueness will play out.
  17. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC

    Uniqueness will play out in other places too: Ergonomics, features, portability, price... all areas for continued innovation.

    I looked inside a Crate Power Block head. It is incredibly simple.
  18. I think that's very debatable. Maybe when Marconi started out ...

    What about Philips in Holland? Telefunken, Siemens and AEG in Germany? Thomson in France?
  19. Pneuma


    Feb 14, 2004
    To echo some of the others, yes, many of these digital amps can sound very good, even to the audiophile "golden ear" crowd.

    You can look up reviews on the Hypex modules, or the Sonic Impact T-amp. The SI T-amp is cheap-O, but you can mod it to sound pretty darn spankin (from what I read). There are also high-class models from private designers such as the Charlize and 41hz stuff if you want to pay for a little better componentry, more power, and classier design.

    I think 41hz already has some designs for 1200w mono amps based on the Tripath chips. I'm not sure how well they would translate over for electric bass reproduction, but I'm sure it's quite possible.

    I'd say fdeck is probably right on the money in thinking that there are a lot of companies working on designs like this right now in their labs. I think they'd just be blind not to be.

  20. Yes, even the small Powerblock has a lot of empty space inside. I bet a significant part of the cost went into the looks of the package and into the very nice gig bag too. It is not a bad lower power amp at all for the money if you can find a way to get around the guitar inspired front end. At this point, I would guess that amps of douple to triple the power cost the manufacturer only a handful of dollars more given a similar design and quality level.

    That said, there will always be a boutique/niche market. When transistors were new, people were saying that vacuum tubes would go away except for things like Klystron and Magnetron tubes for specialized applications. Most people assumed that transistors would become universal in more mundane applications like audio amps. Look around here and on many guitar boards, seems like a lot of folks still make a living off of tubes.

    The difference between amps and computers is that a tube amp is a perfectly competent amp, just bigger, heavier and less energy efficient while an older generation computer cannot even run today's applications without falling on its' face. The old tech amp is useful while the old tech computer is useless.

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