Audio

Here are some pages about building Hifi, mostly intended as a record for myself of what I did, how well it worked, etc. with links to where I found information etc. I hope they inspire!

It’s possible to build a hi-fi on a low budget:

For US$500:

  1. Get a Full Digital Amplifier (FDA, based on  TAS5548/5614 or STA326, also called a pure digital amplifier) to play digital music from a PC etc – don’t get DACs and separate amps. I have spent a fortune on DACs and amps and the FDAs are the best value by far because the sound quality is true HiFi. Although it is not quite at the level of the very best DAC + amp combo, this would cost at least 5x as much to get only slightly better sound. FX Audio do some good FDAs such as the D802 and D2160, available on Ebay, Alibaba, etc.
  2. Buy a bookshelf speaker with a first order crossover and a co-axial driver: KEF Q150 is fantastic. I built an Aperion Kevlar mid-woofer with Klipsch titanium horn tweeter but I also use Q100 driver – it’s great. It’s really is much better than the price suggests and only lacks the ability to reproduce the deepest bass.

For an extra US$700:

  1. Build two low distortion bass woofers to sit under the bookshelf speakers – either use 4 drivers and build two isobaric pairs, or use two Tang Band RBM drivers. <US$300. I built isobaric woofers and an RBM – with the right woofers and a port not a passive radiator, the isobaric is superior.
  2. Buy a miniDSP 2×8 nanoDIGI digital crossover and USB microphone <US$250 (I use an analogue electronic crossover but I’m going to get the miniDSP)
  3. Use an FDA to power the subwoofers, and use the MiniDSP as a crossover for a digital signal into the FDAs. The crossover should be set around ~300Hz for all the benefits of bi-amping. This will further elevate the sound quality enough to embarrass far more expensive gear.
  4. Choice: Either remove the crossover in the bookshelf speakers and use a third FDA with 2 more channels (total 6) in the miniDSP, so one FDA powers the two drivers in one Q150 and a second FDA drives the other Q150 and the third FDA drives the two subwoofers. Alternatively, upgrade the crossover components in the Q150s to Jantzen – Cross Coil inductors and Superior Z capacitors.

Total cost is ~US$1,200. I’ve spent over 10x this amount and many years building and testing so you don’t have to. It will take time to set up the MiniDSP but apart from that and building high quality boxes for the subwoofers, this is relatively easy to do.

Then just enjoy the music 🙂


The most recent project was experimenting with the Tang Band W5-1138SMF driver that I have in a 11 litre subwoofer enclosure and putting it into a bandpass. However, I haven’t created a page for this because it didn’t sound good, and I wouldn’t suggest making a bandpass with this driver, or perhaps any driver for that matter.


Mostly complete projects
dbx 234xl

Upgrading a dbx 234xl crossover

Tang band RBM cutaway

Low distortion compact Tang Band RBM subwoofer.

P1000251

Full Digital Amplifier – STA326 – the DAC killer.

P1000297

AMT (air motion transfer) tweeters: satellites & sub

p1080121

TPA3251 70W stereo high-performance amplifier module.

hts-2001-front-rear

Kef HTS2001 Bi-amped with subwoofer

kef-q200c

Kef Q200C – heavily modified (not recommended)

sanwu-tpa3116-amp-no-heatsink

AV/TV/APTX 2.1 Bedroom audio. I prefer TA2020.

htpc coolermaster elite 110

4K Ultra HD HTPC in a CoolerMaster Elite 110

p1080138

Bluetooth APT-X : CSR8645 with ES9023 & WM8805

DIGITAL TO ANALOGUE CONVERTER or DAC.

384Khz Audio DAC

384Khz AD1955 DAC

ES9018 DAC

DAC IC

AK4399 USB DAC

WM8741

WM8741 USB DAC

DIGITAL SOURCE.

pioneer_dv_696av

Pioneer DV-696A SACD/DVD-A/CD Player + Tent XO + AD1896 upsampling

diyinhk xmos

XMOS 384Khz USB to I2S

cm6631a

CM6631a USB to I2S/SPDIF

QLS qa550

QLS QA-550 +DAC/AMP

x2 small

Teradak Teralink X2 (Te7022L)

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