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Old 09-16-2007, 08:37 PM
Snade's Avatar
Snade Snade is offline
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Location: Palm Beach County - Florida (former Chicago guy)
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$15 Radio Shack Amp that kicks - the Accurian

Thanks to AK members Analog Addict and Strawman for alerting me to this unit and how to do the modification.

Short story: Radio Shack right now sells a 25 watt per channel digital integrated amp for $15. It works very well. It does require a simple hack to work as an amp.

(correction based on feedback after the original post - this amp is not a true "digital" amp. It is a normal A/B amp, and it is designed for 8 ohm speakers, asking it to drive speakers below 8 ohms can cause it to over-heat.)

This is what it looks like:

Background: Radio Shack released this unit as the Accurian Digital Audio Receiver / Amp intended to be a part of a wireless system to power two speakers in the back of the room of a 4 speaker surround system. There is also a "transmitting" unit (you don't need this) that would broadcast the source to the receiver / amp unit in the back of the room. Some smart people released a simple hack in 2006 to disable the "receiver" board and simply use the unit as a digital amp. If you google "accurian amp mod" you will find these older posts from last year.

This is the amp on the radio shack web site:

Important note on finding one: May 3, 2008 update - the web site shows it in stock (after being out of stock the past several months) so you can try there. Many reports that these are very hard to find in Radio Shack stores and your best bet is ordering via the RS web site.

August 2008 update: Sorry, it is no longer available from the Radio Shack web site.

My Story: I read the posts on AK yesterday, drove over to my local Radio Shack, bought the only one they had in the store ($16.03 with sales tax), did the mod in about 15 minutes (I'm slow) and connected it to my Insignia speakers and a CD player. It sounds very good.

The Mod to make it work as an amp: In short, you open it up, remove the green "receiver" board, close it up, and now it is an amp.

Tips to Open it Up:

Turn is upside down. See the 4 rubber feet, these are lightly glued, so remove them by prying them up with a small screw driver. With the feet removed, you can insert a philips head screwdriver and remove the 4 recessed screws, there is also a fifth screw near the center. Remove the fifth screw and open the unit up - you will see the green receiver board.

Now follow these steps to remove the green "receiver" board:

This is what it looks like with the green board and two black cables removed:

Note, you don't have to remove the green receiver board, you could just disable it by pulling out the two plugs in Step 1 above and the mod will work. By removing the board you may improve air flow just a bit.

Now close it up and give it a try (tip - replace the recessed screws by putting it right-side up and inserting each screw on the tip of the screw driver pointing it up as you insert and screw). The two RCA plugs in back that are labeled "line out" are actually now your single source plugs to connect to your tuner or CD player.

Initial reaction to the sound: Much more powerful than a T-Amp, good dynamics, the high end is a bit harsh but it needs break-in time to smooth out.

Not better than a good integrated amp, but it's 15 fricken bucks. Just have fun.

Cheers, Snade
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Old 09-16-2007, 08:44 PM
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Scuzzer Scuzzer is offline
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Location: Westminster, CO
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Anyone know of an easy way to hack it so I can run it off my cabins 12 volt DC supply? I was going to buy a T-Amp but this seems like a better deal.

Thanks for the tip.
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Old 09-16-2007, 08:45 PM
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af0h af0h is offline
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That's pretty cool, might have to go to Rat Shack tomorrow...

Scuzzer, if the unit runs off of 12-volts (standard transformer) then it would be very easy. If I pick one up tomorrow, i'll study it/take some pics/and let you know....
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Old 09-16-2007, 08:51 PM
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Urizen Urizen is offline
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Thanks for the heads up.

For that kinda change, I have to check it out.

It shows as sold out on the RS site.

I'll check out my local RS and see if one is around.
Life is for the living. Death is for the dead. Let life be like music and death a note unsaid. ~ Langston Hughes
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Old 09-16-2007, 09:12 PM
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Sandy G Sandy G is offline
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Typical RatShak, they get something right, & then quit making/selling it.. They had a SUPER AM antenna a few yrs ago-for 20 bux or so, that was good enuff to run an R-390a off of, of course, they killed it...
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Old 09-16-2007, 09:14 PM
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jhal jhal is offline
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Wow, this might be the ticket to the high-end boombox I want to build using some component car speakers I have (an old Canton Set-400). I wonder if it can handle a 4 ohm load, and if so, what the output would be into said load. There's a lot of guts in there for 15 bucks.
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Old 09-16-2007, 09:27 PM
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analog addict analog addict is online now
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Funny how...

...sometimes you post a thread, and then it takes months before it gets any attention... Great job Snade on the Pix! By the way, you don't even need to take the board out if you don't want. Just disconnect the two traces going to the board, and leave them hanging if you want. If you happen to find the transmitter, you might want the receiver hardware....

Couple other things...Originally that unit went for $150. Check out the size of the toroidal, yes I said toroidal transformer in that box. I've been told that someone who really knows his SS circuitry could change out the power transistors, and really increase the power output. Also, if a couple of caps are changed, it may also help performance.

As an aside, I happened to find a transmitter unit for this setup. $20. Also $150 originally. Apparently, you can connect up to 3 of the amplifier units up to ANY circuit in your house, and receive the input signal. I believe it uses some gigahertz technology found in phones to broadcast throughout your house using 120VAC/60Hz as a carrier. I have 2 of the amps hooked up. One to the Insignias in the garage along with the transmitter across the room, and another out on my screen porch running some Minimus 77's. Both sets sound great! I did see one of the transmitters sell on E-prey not too long a go for almost $110, so if you find one for cheap, grab it!!!

If your local Rat Shack doesn't have it, have them run a search. they'll ship it to your local RS from any store that has one, free!

Analog Addict

Jack of all Trades, Master of None
Searching for Sonic Nirvana...

My alter ego...
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Old 09-16-2007, 09:27 PM
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kcollins4 kcollins4 is offline
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Read the reviews on Radioshacks's site. The most recent "review" tells how to hack it. Also, though, it appears to have an overheating problem on the power supply board. I'm sure it won't take some of you smart folks long to tell us how to fix that issue. Maybe just some heat-sinking.
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Old 09-16-2007, 09:40 PM
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Web Police Web Police is offline
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I found a store near me that shows them in stock. I'll have to stop by at lunch time tomorrow and check it out.
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Old 09-16-2007, 10:36 PM
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Snade Snade is offline
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Yes, I see the RS web site now says "out of stock".

I've heard some RS stores (here in the Chicago area) have 1 or 2 and a friend said he found a RS store with 7 units it stock, so if your local Radio Shack store does not have one, check some of the other stores in the area.

I'm listening to an Andrea Bocelli CD right now with the Accurian amp and my Insignia speakers - this amp kicks some serious butt. To crank this puppy, you need to put the volume knob past 1 o'clock.

Cheers. Snade
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Old 09-17-2007, 01:34 AM
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MunkeyQ MunkeyQ is offline
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I wonder if this could be as big as the T-amp phenomenen. It looks pretty well built for something so cheap, I'd never have expected them to put a good-sized toroidal transformer in there.

Are the Insignias sensitive speakers? (sorry, I'm not terribly clued-up on brands)
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Old 09-17-2007, 05:22 AM
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Strawman Strawman is offline
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I have 2 more on the way to the local store. I believe the original credit should go to member SKI for alerting us to this diamond in the rough.
If all 40,000+ of us gave $3 a year, we could completely cover the server hosting and bandwidth bill for AK.
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Old 09-17-2007, 06:10 AM
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Robie Robie is offline
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After Snade tipped me off about this, I bought one yesterday and did the mod in about 10 minutes. The hardest part is getting the feet off to expose the screws underneath. You can actually leave the disconnected board in place but unplugged. Snade's pics show the disconnected board completely removed.

I have played mine only about 2-3 hours and it sounds pretty good. Powerful/gutsy, more substantial/fuller sounding and it has quite a bit more bass than a T Amp. It images pretty well and cable differences are evident.

That said, IMO all you T and Super T owners don't kick yourselves. The Ts are still better it conveying the emotion of the music. They (Ts) are more delicate sounding, detailed and image even better even if they are a bit thinner sounding.

The high end on the Accurian is a bit brittle/hard/digital sounding but Snade thinks it smooths out a bit as it breaks in more. It also has no built in 12V capability if that is important to you. Lastly, like one of the posters above said in another thread, the Accurian congests when played loud (but so do the Ts).

Lest I be labeled as a "naysayer", I emailed all my friends about it. 20 minutes later a friend called me while actually doing the mod at the store with the store employees (the employees each bought one too). I had him pick up another one for me and I plan to keep them. They are getting harder to find. At $16/each for a solid 25 watts, it is a great deal.

BTW if you go to the RS product link in Snade's OP above, look for the link at the right that reads:

" Other ways to get it
In store:
Available at most stores,
find it near you"

If you enter your zip code it will tell you the nearest RS that still has one.

Thanks for the heads up.
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Last edited by Robie; 09-17-2007 at 06:24 AM. Reason: Omission.
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Old 09-17-2007, 07:05 AM
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darth darth is offline
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I took some shiny metal knobs from a broken receiver and replaced those cheapish plastic ones. I also replaced the feet with bigger and better ones. This IS a super deal from RS. Grab one and find out for yourself.
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Old 09-17-2007, 07:15 AM
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mhardy6647 mhardy6647 is offline
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Typical RatShak, they get something right, & then quit making/selling it.. They had a SUPER AM antenna a few yrs ago-for 20 bux or so, that was good enuff to run an R-390a off of, of course, they killed it...
One could write a book about excellent-value R/S products that are no more.

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