Amplifier Design 101
Gathering more information on what makes a great sounding and playable amp. Analyzing the classic and newer designs and reverse-engineer them are good ways, so that will be a on-going project for awhile since I got way too many schematics to go through as is!
Reading the discussions at various amp forums is also very helpful, since many have already done the hardwork and are sharing their experiences. While There is never going to “A Way”, since everyone has different requirements and ones’ own preferences in what to look for in an amp. It is nevertheless important to get some of the basics nail down, so I don’t just design and build amps without specific targets in mind, as I have been doing for the past few years.
So no more! “hey this looks interesting (reading not even hearing it), let’s build it” for me… I think I got enough build experience, and it is time to take it to the next level!
So far, the research primarily focuses on the gain distribution or “architecture” of the amp design, how should the gain stages be layout, and how to design them to get the desire characteristics. On paper, this is pretty straight forward process, since we know what the input and output levels are already, so in less than a minute we could easily figure out how much gain is needed, if we divide the gain evenly among the gain stages, say 100x100x20, the basic design is already done – it really is that simple, well or not…
Since gain in itself does not tell us how the amp will sound, it simply says put in x volts and y volts comes out the speaker. So we have to delve deeper, how much distortion do we want or can tolerate? Where should the distortion come from? The preamp, the phase inverter, the PA, all of the above? If, all three, in what proportion? After that, which tubes and circuit configurations should be used to achieve those goals? How would the component tolerances, transfer characteristics of the tubes, transformers, etc. affect the sound? And so on…
So it is both easy and hard, and that’s the reason why this is so fascinating for me.