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TPA 3116 vs the tripaths

Discussion in 'New Gear - Values' started by Poultrygeist, Feb 11, 2014.

  1. HiFiJeff

    HiFiJeff Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    733
    Location:
    Colorado Springs
    And I have an update. I purchased the FXAudio FX502SPro TPA3250. Should be here by Friday! So I will do a side by side comparison between the Volt+ and the FXAUDIO. Stay tuned. Also I am using a Yamaha as a dac/pre-amp, do you think I would benefit by adding a tube buffer/pre to the mix?
     
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  2. hifix

    hifix Active Member

    Messages:
    308
    Location:
    Groovy Tunes HQ
    Logical. But unacceptable. :D

    Says the guy who’s still running an old skool board.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2018
  3. grantly

    grantly AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    141
    Location:
    Nashvegas, TN
    Can anyone point me in the right direction to get advice on building a TPA3255 based amp? I'm thinking about eventually springing for the TPA3255EVM board on TI's website, but I didn't know if there were detailed build threads I could peruse about a good power supply, case, etc. I'm willing to read a lot, so big threads (like this one) don't scare me.

    Or, alternatively, are there any recommended ready-made TPA3255 based amps available?
     
  4. Adam N.

    Adam N. Trying to keep it simple. Subscriber

    Messages:
    253
    Location:
    Northampton, MA
    I sold the Celestions to a guy whose whole family is crazy Celestion nuts. He drove 2 hours each way to get them. They were nice speakers but I picked up some Snells and we liked them better. Now, having gotten the FX502 and having set it up with bookself monitors in our den we've decided to abandon the Snells. We're going with Q Acoustics 3020i speakers mainly for packaging reasons. We live in a late 1800s house located in a little college town. Setting up the TPA with little speakers made me appreciate how good the imaging can be with bookshelf speakers. I am going to add a subwoofer for the living room/main setup. This will get the big boxes out of the dining room and allow for a better listening triangle. We can move the speakers closer and create more ideal room acoustics.

    I've sort of moved away from excellent components and started thinking about how to create the best system with the room acoustics I am stuck with. To be honest the FX502 with Pioneer BS22 speakers just plain work in that room and for pure listening for the music we listen to it's now my favorite system. Part of that its that it's just a nice chill room with comfortable couches where nothing but relaxing and chilling out happens. No screen rule (except to control the chromecast) applies there too. The whole system, wires chromecast and everything hovers around $200 all purchased new. It's made me rethink the hobby from vintage bargain maybe isn't the way to go.

    Really, forums in general have very bad reinforcement characteristics. They gather the most extreme element of a hobby and breed dissatisfaction. If I didn't like the way my tube amps look (Dynaco MKIII and Antique Sound Lab Wave 8s) I'd sell those and buy more F502s. If something can sound better than the 502 It's cannot sound a lot better to my ears. It some point the chase needs to be called off.
     
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  5. Adam N.

    Adam N. Trying to keep it simple. Subscriber

    Messages:
    253
    Location:
    Northampton, MA
    Any thoughts on TPA based sub amps? Don't need massive subs but I thought about using an external xover and a couple of sealed boxes.
     
  6. Pio1980

    Pio1980 AK Member Subscriber

    Messages:
    26,089
    Location:
    Angel Station, Alabama
    I
    Hard to say, you get whatever the filter effect the buffer may add, and perhaps an easier drive for the source, depending.
    I'd do the comparison, direct from the source first.
     

     

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  7. 45rpmspinner

    45rpmspinner AK Subscriber Subscriber

    In terms of boards, TI EVM's are relatively easy to hook up. However, boxing them does take some thought if you haven't done it before.
    I know of no kits, plans etc. And for that matter, I don't know of any plug and play TPA3255 amps.

    A shame, and in some ways, a mystery.
    Given the cost of the chips themselves and the larger power supply needed, I suspect even the Chinese can't make a TPA3255 plug and play unit for less than $200.
    Although there a couple of Chinese boards about in the $75 range, they don't have as many set-up options, nor do they have the same preamp chip.
    I don't own one so can't speak to the quality of build or sound in comparison to the TI EVM.
    I do own all the TI TPA325x modules, and I think they're fantastic. Well deserving of the time and money to get them set up properly.

    There is a large TPA3255 thread on the DIY Audio site, but as I recall, much of it is about altering, and in some cases completely rebuilding, the Chinese boards.
    You might want to check it out nonetheless.

    One thing to keep in mind, is that the TI modules are larger than many Class D boards.
    It's certainly possible to make two smaller units if you separate power supply from the amp board, but if the power supply and board are to go in the same case, the unit may end up larger than you expected.
    I fit my TPA 3251 amp+power supply+ladder-type stepped attenuator into a wooden Marantz box meant for the 10xx and 20xx series, and in the end was rather glad of the space.
    In other words, it ended up being the size of a medium-small sized 70's solid state amp.

    While there are certainly others who know more than I, I'll be happy to help if I can.
     
  8. grantly

    grantly AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    141
    Location:
    Nashvegas, TN
    Ok - that's good to know. I had checked out the thread you mentioned on DIY Audio, and I also noticed there was a lot of talk of modding and altering the existing boards, which is well beyond what I want to attempt at this point. I'll keep digging, and once I get started, I'll probably chime in if I need help.
     
  9. 45rpmspinner

    45rpmspinner AK Subscriber Subscriber

    As I say, I think a lot of that had to do with the Chinese Boards.
    I recall at least one comment in that thread, where a member said as much he'd like to play with/mod the TI EVM, he thought he was just gonna leave his original.
    I took that as a compliment to the quality of the unit. I believe there are even a couple of warnings later in the thread along the lines of "do not mod the TI EVM".

    And on the whole, my take-away was that mods to the TI module, while capable of changing the sound, always resulted in some degradation of the unit's specs.
    In fact, one knowledgable member who built his own TPA 3255 based board, remarks at some point about how he had a very difficult time even meeting TI's EVM specs.
    After looking at his published graphs, I wasn't sure he actually succeeded.
    He certainly wasn't able to best them.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2018
  10. hifix

    hifix Active Member

    Messages:
    308
    Location:
    Groovy Tunes HQ
    I totally agree. At some point the throttle has to be lifted.

    I've been pursuing this hobby with a reasonably tight budget in mind. Seeing whats a la mode at the pointy end of things and - if its appealing & makes sense to me - i'll then trying to adapt / build my way to it with shoe string budget (this has been part of the fun). Despite being genuinely happy with how my setup sounds i cannot effectively explain the compulsion to try that one more mod to eek out that little bit more.

    Once that gets old, i'll lift and coast.

    I might go and view some self help videos after this. :D

    p/s: have you considered modding the Fx502 ?
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2018
  11. HiFiJeff

    HiFiJeff Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    733
    Location:
    Colorado Springs
    I have a budget but it's not a tight budget. I can spend say $1000 on an amp. But.......if I can spend $69 on an amp and get 95% of the performance of a $1000 amp, what the point of wasting $937 more dollars? I guess I should ask, what is the big difference between these inexpensive chip amps and some of the more expensive chip amps or other amps for that matter? Am I missing anything by going the inexpensive route or just being smart? I have to tell you, that I am VERY satisfied with the Volt+ that I have right now and don't know how much better a $1000 integrated amp would sound compared to that. Anyway, the FX502S Pro has shipped and I should have it by Friday. Curios to compare the Volt and FX.
     

     

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  12. grantly

    grantly AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    141
    Location:
    Nashvegas, TN
    From what I read, the EVM board is the way to go, and your info just confirmed that. Thanks for sharing. And I appreciate your earlier comments on the size of a case with a board, power supply, etc. good to know it will be bigger than I may have thought.
     
  13. EngineerNate

    EngineerNate AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,941
    Got my power brick. Thing is solid. Plug doesn't fit. It'd be nice if they told you the plug dimensions since you have to buy the plug yourself. Anyone know offhand what size barrel plug I need?
     
  14. Ytheleus1212

    Ytheleus1212 New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    UK
    @grantly
    I have just finished a power supply and TPA3255 EVM system, after much 3116 tinkering inspired by this excellent thread, and for what it's worth:

    1) The 3255 EVM board is relatively big as mentioned, and also tall because of the huge caps mounted on the underside which you tend not to see in the pictures.

    2) If you can get an EVM board for half price it's certainly worth the money, partly because the board exposes all the functions of the chip, even the ones you will never use. This also makes it quite complex, covered in jumpers, and you have to navigate the many different schemes for connecting external bits depending on the jumper settings. The board itself is a marvel of engineering, quite lovely, the construction quality and component selection are above reproach as far as I can see, and I presume that whoever designed it was also sitting next to the person who designed the chip.

    3) If it comes to paying full price for an EVM board on a tight budget, I think it's still worth considering the 3e-audio stereo 3255/325X boards. I did investigate them, and when I contacted them via the bay to ask tech questions they even offered to customise the board for me. But that only applies in the normal case where you only want a stereo setup. That makes the board much simpler to hook up and configure, and it's also much more compact than the EVM board. I decided to avoid the very cheapest boards just because ill-considered cost cutting and wonky engineering seemed like a possibility, and they're not that much cheaper.

    4) Maybe also have a look at 3250 and 3251 boards, just because they are easier and cheaper to power and won't require any thought about heat generation. The 3255 chip is powerful at up to about 600W, and I tell myself that it's always possible to turn the volume down, but 95% of the time I would have been fine with a 3251 and only in party mode is the big power needed. In any case you probably wont need more than about a 400W 48V switched mode supply. You can get boards or finished units.

    5) If you case it yourself, you'll also need many tools and appropriate cabling and case mountings so on, an AVO meter, and this can add a lot of cost if you don't already own them. I didn't really think about this properly which is why I mention something so obvious.

    Good luck.
     
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  15. 45rpmspinner

    45rpmspinner AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Very well put Ytheleus1212....and welcome to AK.
    I would point out however, that the TI EVMs are basically plug and play boards as shipped.
    If you want to use different board connectors, operate the unit in anything other than unbalanced stereo mode....then yes, it can get complicated.
    I still haven't figured out how to run two units in master-slave mode.......

    And to be sure, my main amp is a TPA 3251 based build.
    To my ears, it sounds exactly like TPA 3255....just a bit less power.
    Still not shabby at 65-70wpc into 8ohms, 130-140wpc into 4ohms, 165-175wpc into 3ohms, and can undoubtedly peak a good bit higher.

    These are high current amps, which is why I don't believe in starving them for power.
    Imo, those peak output numbers do matter with more difficult speaker loads.
    I use a 600W supply with my 3255....a 450W supply on my 3251....and a 320W supply with my 3250.
    Currently all are SMPS units, but a linear supply is in the works for the 3255.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2018
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  16. drew_t

    drew_t Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    682
    There is a specific thread there about the TI 3255 evaluation board. Although probably 80% of it relates to the discount code and shipping issues, there is still ample discussion of how to use the board, power supplies, enclosures, etc.
     
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  17. grantly

    grantly AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    141
    Location:
    Nashvegas, TN
    Thanks again @45rpmspinner and thanks @Ytheleus1212 for the additional info. I do already have a digital multimeter, and I think I can get by with my current tools for the case. Also, I can cannabalize a non-working amp I have for the connections and some of the cabling, so that will help with cost.

    I’ll look into the 3250/3251 boards as well.
     
  18. Mike Stehr

    Mike Stehr Poverty Audio

    Messages:
    1,598
    Location:
    East Wa.
    The TI 32XX series EVM boards are a bit strange and bulky in design, but they are a plug and play board meant for evaluation...with no intention for commercial use.
    The shape and size of the EVM boards doesn't really lend itself to small enclosures for housing.
    I took a couple of old Knight tube cases, and mounted the PS in one case, and the amp in the other. The case with the amplifier weighs about nothing...the case with the linear supply weighs about 20 pounds. (48volts) I think the 3255 with the supply sounds rather good.

    DSCN2672.JPG
     
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  19. Ytheleus1212

    Ytheleus1212 New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    UK
    Thanks for the welcome, though I have lurked a long time. I agree with pretty much all you say.

    Perhaps 'starving' is slightly too strong a word, though I would like to try a linear supply to see if I can hear any difference.

    My scratch figure of 400W 48V is based on a couple of things. Cost of course comes into it. I own two pairs of main speakers, one is rated 75Wpc and the other 150Wpc, both nominally 6 ohm and about 87dB, fairly typical I think, which loosely speaking still allows a big power overhead at 400W even if it is not the theoretical ideal. Certainly most home speakers won't like 500W put through them and I think as a general rule of thumb 400W is sensible enough to start with. I have heard good reports of 3255 systems that have 350W 48V switched mode.

    I take your point about instantaneous current, but the 'audio' PSU unit I have claims it can push 8A and has the ability to handle larger excess currents for short periods, and in any case when power becomes a problem I will probably be more concerned with preventing blood loss from my ears, or catching burning speaker components, than adding more power. :)
     
  20. airbus

    airbus Member

    Messages:
    88
    there is a more or less plug and play tpa 3255
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/TPA3255-60...92602598934?hash=item2cd8026e16:rk:5:pf:0&var

    you have to come up with a power supply, but other than that, it's assembled and boxed. The board's probably from Yuan-Jing and it does have a turn on thump. It sounds quite good though. I went back and forth between this and my Volt+D for a while, leading me to the conclusion that the TPA 325x series may have more sonic potential than the TPA 311x, since the tpa3255 was far from optimally executed. I know this sounds crazy, but I also have the FX 502. I prefer the 3255 based amp.
     

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