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[Gallium Nitride amplifier] Impressions of the Mini Gan 5 by Premium Audio, pictures / video inside

daniboun

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Hi amigos,

Got my Mini Gan amp. As usual, it is with pleasure that I share my enthusiasm and some first impressions ) Before starting, I recall what theoretically could bring GaN VS traditional silicon transistors (to take up what was mentioned by Orchard Audio) :

Less harshness
Cleaner highs
Better transparency
Higher detail

This is because GaN transistors have much better characteristics over their silicon counterparts:

Increased slew rate
Reduced ringing
Faster switching
Faster overload recovery

Amplifier performance is improved by the use of GaN technology:

Decreased noise
Less distortion
Better transient response
Higher bandwidth


So all this is in the form but in fact what does it looks like? To avoid price / performance ratio debates, I just want to remind you that Gan Amps are not widely used and it is clear that we are paying a high price at the start (And prices will go up with the shortage of electronic components). But to put it in perspective, the closest competitor to the Mini Gan 5 is probably the Peachtree G400, which shares very similar specs @ $3000. and count about 1000 euros for a Mini Gan 5 exported to Europe.

Another point to note: Premium audio is part of ClassDaudio, the Mini Gan is made in the USA (CA).
I ve been told that the team spent about 3 years in R&D for this amp. Keep in mind that this is a discrete amp with about 600 parts on it !

I received the last version, with a green PCB, against red PCB on the first revisions. There were only minor evolutions on the PCB and on they only update the inductors. For the rest, everything is the same. Premium Audio announces a 600W SMPS Bipolar LLC PSU it remains to be confirmed... =) PSU MOSFET : FDPF18N50T = 18 A 500 V with no heatsink, so probably less...

The amp is really well cut and very compact, comes in a gray aluminum case, with a powder paint. It's sober, it seems solid.

On the other hand, I deplore the minimalist packaging, poorly protected and no IEC power cable included. What a pity in terms of the customer window...
Not sure about the needs of heatsink see the pictures below and you will understand )

One thing that's really cool is the ability to adjust the gain - 26dB, 28dB, and 32dB It can be easily associated with any type of DAC / preamp )

Here the spec and global measures :


THD+N 5W , 1Khz : 0.004%
THD+N 10W 20-20Khz : 0.005%
THD+N 100W 20-20Khz : 0.008%
SNR: 108dB Unweighted 110dB A-weighted


Gallium Nitride Class D Amplifier
Fully balanced, dual Mono configuration
discrete amp with about 600 parts on it
Buffer : OPA LM4562
RMS Power Per Channel 8 Ohms 200 WRMS Continuous (400W Peak)
RMS Power Per Channel 4 Ohms 300 WRMS Continuous (500W Peak)
Power Supply 600W Bipolar LLC Resonant Converter
Input Sensitivity 2 VRMS
Frequency Response 20 Hz – 20 kHz, ±0.5 dB
Input Impedance RCA 100K
Input Impedance XLR 100K
Voltage Gain Adjustable - 26dB, 28dB, and 32dB
Power Requirements 190VAC or 264VAC
Dimensions (W x D x H) Inches 9.75" X 7.5" X 2"
Dimensions (W x D x H) Millimeters 248 X 178 X 51
Product Weight (lbs/kg) 5/2.3
Made in the USA


My Setup :

Gustard A18 AK4499 Dac > Fully balanced mode
Source : Audio HD files
Player : LG V30 via LDAC BT
Mini Gan amplifier @ Medium Gain > balanced inputs
Handemade Floor speakers @ 93DB / 2.5 way with Ribbon tweeters
SC-Orbit 240 MKII cables

Regarding listening, I took some reference titles with which I am used to juggling, in particular with my Hypex Ncore, Sabaj Dual Merus and my Purifi.
I listen to a lot of things, I love Jazz and I love electro pop, rock and latin music. I have been a musician for years and beyond acoustic measures, I appreciate "the tonal and musical" properties of an amp, which the Sabaj A20 has done very well!


Fausto Mesolella > Van Gogh
it is a title which is really close to my heart, with a sublime orchestration and this "typical Italian voice" which has always made me vibrate. By the way; I used this title when I exhibited DrMordor's TPA3255 in the showroom of "la maison du hauteur", a well-known store in France.

Yellowjackets and WDR Big Band > Downtown
Complex title, it often puts the amps to the test. I like to listen to it at a sustained volume, it is a rhythmic piece full of life.

Drums&Percussion Hi Res > That's because I'm a drummer and I'm very sensitive to the transcription of percussions, cymbals and rides etc, anything that sings at the top of the spectrum) My ears are rather expert therefore even despite my 43 years =))))

On these few titles of references, here is what I can tell you hastily, knowing that I received the amplifier recently and that it turned around ten hours.
What I feel, I wouldn't go into the subjectivity debate !

Very first point: the amp is absolutely dead silent, just like the Sabaj A20 or my Purifi and Hypex.

Treble and highs notes :

It is very balanced and on all the titles. It naturally sounds good. Compared to the Sabaj A20, where I had to adjust the treble slightly, here the re-transcription of rides, cymbals and high notes is simply natural and very clean.

On the track "Downtown", the highest notes stand out well from the rest of the mix. I would say that compared to the Sabaj A20, it stands out more on the front of the stage. Both amps are excellent here; I prefer them to my Hypex Ncore.

Medium :

It's very good, Fausto Mesolella's voice is transcribed very naturally, it stands out well in the mix. All the same observation here: we are more on the front of the stage compared to the Sabaj A20. So I would tend to think that the Soundstage of the Mini Gan is more centered (so to speak) or we could just as well say that the opening of the soundstage is less wide. In any case the Mediums are very good and it does not blush in the face of the Purifi for example.

Bass :

This is where we feel the potential of this Mini Gan, it's very "punchy" and full of reserve. I think the advertised 200W / 8R is there ... but to be measured. I pushed it yesterday at high volume, without destroying my timpans; it's clean, very clean, the bass is present with a super nice balance. I think my speakers go really well with this Mini Gan here and in all sincerity I love what I hear! I would confirm this feeling after listening to electro pop). In any case, I am a step above my Hypex Ncore modules and the same observation for the Sabaj A20


Soundstage :

Regarding this point, I think the Sabaj A20 is really a little bomb; especially with regard to its price)
The Mini Gan is great too, but keep in mind that it "swings" more on the front of the stage. And I think the LM4562 op amps has a lot to do with it. It might be a little more natural with respect to a close listening for example


To conclude :

The Mini Gan: it is a very transparent amp and full of reserve (really powerful). In my opinion it can drive a good number of speakers. It's an amp that sounds straight with no harshness and a very wide bandwidth.
I was particularly amazed by its potential for listening at sustained volume, where it is excellent at the lower end of the spectrum with clean and well present bass.

As for its price, I'll let you judge ... )

Videos :

https://streamable.com/mt8ymp

https://streamable.com/kyus8z


Pictures :








 

JeffS7444

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GaN VS traditional silicon transistors (to take up what was mentioned by Orchard Audio) :
Less harshness
Cleaner highs
Better transparency
Higher detail

This is because GaN transistors have much better characteristics over their silicon counterparts:

Increased slew rate
Reduced ringing
Faster switching
Faster overload recovery

Amplifier performance is improved by the use of GaN technology:

Decreased noise
Less distortion
Better transient response
Higher bandwidth
*Sigh*
 

Somafunk

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C’mon guys…….Gold heatsinks………. Gold heatsinks for christ sake!, what more do you want?
 

tonycollinet

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Why do the heatsinks float above the transistors without making contact? What's the point of even having them there?

What the hell is going on with that. I can believe (having been involved with evaluating Gan for 1.5kW+ (non audio) equipment), that heatsinks might not be required - but putting them there for decoration means the whole device can be thrown in the bin as far as I'm concerned.
 

ad_fletch

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Hmm 1000 Euros vs about 400-450 (depending on tax) for an Audiophonics nCore.

EDIT: the heatsink thing is intriguing. Went to mfr page but no help there. Perhaps there's one taller IC in the middle we can't see, and only that touches the sink?
 

tonycollinet

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There isn't. One view shows the gap between ALL the components and the heatsink. There is nothing touching the heat-sink except the support pillars.

In fact looking at the gorilla snot between the toroidal chokes and the heatsink - it looks as though the primary function of the heatsink is to provide mechanical support for the chokes to prevent them breaking off during the vibration test.
 

ModDIY

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Thank you Daniboun for this review.

Do you have a link to transistors of this type?

So can you tell us what the radiators are for?
 

tonycollinet

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Renato

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[QUOTE = "lovesegfault, post: 914179, member: 27949"] Por que os dissipadores de calor flutuam acima dos transistores sem fazer contato? Qual é o ponto de tê-los lá? [/ QUOTE]


I don't know how to express myself in English...

But there is glue on the 2 screws that support the heatsinks...

It can be a kind of protection related guarantee in case of change.

Not?
 
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daniboun

daniboun

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Hi amigos,

I will get back to you concerning the "flying heatsinks" but someone has supposed this :

"IMO, the heatsink intends to work like metal core PCB."

I think these heatsinks have a specific function but I am in contact with the manufacturer to find out more... Let s wait
 
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daniboun

daniboun

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Guys... they're just anodized yellow and they're just beauty covers for people like us who open boxes and fiddle with stuff. The average consumer isn't going to go under them even if they open the box. It's a discrete circuit underneath anyway, not a chip.

Right, this is a discret amp with about more than 600 tiny components. Even if it looks like simple at first sight, the PCB is very populated )
 
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daniboun

daniboun

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Hmm 1000 Euros vs about 400-450 (depending on tax) for an Audiophonics nCore.

EDIT: the heatsink thing is intriguing. Went to mfr page but no help there. Perhaps there's one taller IC in the middle we can't see, and only that touches the sink?

Hi, thanks for the feedback
I own the Purifi and Hypex Ncore NC500MP dual + NC502MP + 252MP and many other amps.
This Mini Gan of me, sounds globally better than the Hypex Ncore,
I would say that they have a rather particular sound signature for class D, a bit like for the Sabaj A20a which I reviewed here.

I will continue my listening this weekend on some other titles...
 

tonycollinet

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[QUOTE = "lovesegfault, post: 914179, member: 27949"] Por que os dissipadores de calor flutuam acima dos transistores sem fazer contato? Qual é o ponto de tê-los lá? [/ QUOTE]


I don't know how to express myself in English...

But there is glue on the 2 screws that support the heatsinks...

It can be a kind of protection related guarantee in case of change.

Not?
The "glue" is fixing the toroidal chokes to the heatsink. Most likely they had problems with vibration test, and the legs of the choke breaking. The glue provides mechanical stability for the chokes.
 

sq225917

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Isn't it normal practice on ASR to support manufacturers claims with measurements. Otherwise this is little more than an excuse to parrot off meaningless whitepaper and marketing spiel.

I'm not comfortable with this mixing up of personal opinion from sighted tests with marketing claims and manufacturers guff with zero new measurements to support the wild claims.
 

tonycollinet

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Hi, thanks for the feedback
I own the Purifi and Hypex Ncore NC500MP dual + NC502MP + 252MP and many other amps.
This Mini Gan of me, sounds globally better than the Hypex Ncore,
I would say that they have a rather particular sound signature for class D, a bit like for the Sabaj A20a which I reviewed here.

I will continue my listening this weekend on some other titles...

While I'm a noob here, it hasn't taken me long to realise that "sounds better" and "particular sound signature" type statements are meaningless here at ASR unless supported by blind ABX testing.
 
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