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The Truth About HiFi Amplifier Power Supplies

Honu

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Allright, received a TB10D and a BT30D Pro, well .. i'm impressed .. they suck near no energy and still deliver .. !
I'm lacking a cable (jack=> RCA) to hook up my HTS10 subwoofer, but it's already pretty good with the Polk ES20.. !
Will certainly sell the Yamaha.
 

fpitas

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What do those do at audio frequencies? They're made to supply power to things like memory, where there is substantial conventional capacitance on the Vcc pin.
 

egellings

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What do those do at audio frequencies? They're made to supply power to things like memory, where there is substantial conventional capacitance on the Vcc pin.
Also, the cells are only 2 to 3 volts or so. Not all that useful for audio amplifier projects.
 

Svperstar

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Great post. Do you think this power supply is worth the money? There are pictures of the internals.

 
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The primary components in this supply are the Mean Well IRM-20-24 modules that are potted switch-mode supplies. Nothing wrong with these and Mean Well is a solid company that makes quality products. Each module can be had for about US$10-15


From the pictures, the PSU itself seems to be well made, not sure it's worth $300 but if it's the thing that powers the amp, then you've only got one option! :) Thanks for asking the question, I was previously unaware of these modules, could come in handy.
 

Svperstar

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The primary components in this supply are the Mean Well IRM-20-24 modules that are potted switch-mode supplies. Nothing wrong with these and Mean Well is a solid company that makes quality products. Each module can be had for about US$10-15


From the pictures, the PSU itself seems to be well made, not sure it's worth $300 but if it's the thing that powers the amp, then you've only got one option! :) Thanks for asking the question, I was previously unaware of these modules, could come in handy.

Thats not the only option. I have the "base" version of the Gilmore Lite mk2 sitting next to me at my work desk:

You can see it here with the top off:

The power supply the base model comes with is the APS Advanced Power solutions Model APS48-ER-125

Do you think its worth it to upgrade from the APS48-ER-125 to the "Golden Reference" power supply you just replied about? I'm on the fence about buying it.
 

Svperstar

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"Do you think its worth it to upgrade from the APS48-ER-125 to the "Golden Reference" power supply you just replied about? I'm on the fence about buying it."
Well, no not really, they both seem to use the same Mean Well modules so I would postulate that the DC produced by the supply will be equally good. The supply you have should be more than adequate to power a headphone amp.
 

solderdude

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Those act more like batteries without memory effect, have better longevity, don't cause fires that are difficult to put out. Really expensive though and would be quite expensive to power power amps (even when these are BTL). They have very low leakage so hold charge for years (with little current draw) but that is not needed for 3-5V supplies like DACs etc. Nor is the ability to provide huge currents needed. In fact it may even be able to kill gear behind it. Some gear makes use of limited current capabilities of regular (SMPS) where this fellow could provide huge peaks in ns that could kill parts.

They could be handy for certain applications but don't see any need for it in audio.
3Wh per cell is not much when wanting to use them as fast charge batteries to make portable 5V power supplies.
 

solderdude

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ONLY buy those if you want a nice and matching look for the Gilmore amp or when you believe it will do something for the sound. In that case the SQ will improve, just not for technical reasons but believers do not care. They just want the 'improvement'.
I am sure there will be users claiming even better sound using very expensive mains cables as well. Basically that works on the same principle.

It is just 2 wide input range encapsulated Meanwell SMPS power supplies followed by a low drop low noise regulators (NOT a linear power supply).
The used modules have a very low 'no load' current draw which could be handy when always connected to mains but not always 'active'.

Power supplies matter, its quality matters, properties can be optimal for certain circuits it feeds. That does not mean using a 'higher spec-ed' power supply will always bring measurable (nor audible) benefits. Manufactures will make that claim (they sell them) and reviewers and owners will gladly say they were right. Don't buy into it.

When a device needs a 'special' or 'upgraded' power supply to work optimally the design of that device is wrong or the manufacturer knowingly has provided a crappy/not really suited power supply just to make more money afterwards by selling you more stuff or keep the price 'seemingly' low. Avoid such manufacturers.

Note: It is a different thing when a power supply voltage or current capability is higher that would be needed to make a device generate more power. Think of wide DC range class-D power amps where the same amp module is used when that is a 'standard' module.
 
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Svperstar

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ONLY buy those if you want a nice and matching look for the Gilmore amp or when you believe it will do something for the sound. In that case the SQ will improve, just not for technical reasons but believers do not care. They just want the 'improvement'.
I am sure there will be users claiming even better sound using very expensive mains cables as well. Basically that works on the same principle.

When a device needs a 'special' or 'upgraded' power supply to work optimally the design of that device is wrong or the manufacturer knowingly has provided a crappy/not really suited power supply just to make more money afterwards by selling you more stuff or keep the price 'seemingly' low. Avoid such manufacturers.

I understand HeadAmp is just Justin a long time member of the headphone community, I bought a Gilmore Lite waaay back in 2005 as my first "real" headphone amplifier. I don't mind spending $300 if there is any kind of tangible benefit but I don't know enough about EE to know if that "Golden Reference" Power Supply did anything.

There is a thread on SBAF where they discuss power supplies and the mk2. I have the mk2 and its "basic" power supply right next to me here at work that this person on SBAF has:
index.php


Interesting my serial number is only a couple off from that one. I believe that is a "linear" power supply? Anyway I would be paying $300 to upgrade from that.
 

Svperstar

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It is just 2 wide input range encapsulated Meanwell SMPS power supplies followed by a low drop low noise regulators (NOT a linear power supply).
The used modules have a very low 'no load' current draw which could be handy when always connected to mains but not always 'active'.

Bold is mine. Its interesting to me as a non-EE who has never soldered anything that at some point over the 20 years I have been in this headphone hobby linear power supplies became viewed as the standard and its very common for people to go onto eBay and buy an aftermarket linear power supply to replace their switching power supply because "everyone knows" that linear power supplies are always better. Yet this $300 upgraded power supply is NOT linear.

When and how did linear power supplies become viewed as the absolute best in all situations in the audiophile popular conscious?
 

fpitas

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Bold is mine. Its interesting to me as a non-EE who has never soldered anything that at some point over the 20 years I have been in this headphone hobby linear power supplies became viewed as the standard and its very common for people to go onto eBay and buy an aftermarket linear power supply to replace their switching power supply because "everyone knows" that linear power supplies are always better. Yet this $300 upgraded power supply is NOT linear.

When and how did linear power supplies become viewed as the absolute best in all situations in the audiophile popular conscious?
When someone could charge too much for them.
 

solderdude

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I understand HeadAmp is just Justin a long time member of the headphone community, I bought a Gilmore Lite waaay back in 2005 as my first "real" headphone amplifier. I don't mind spending $300 if there is any kind of tangible benefit but I don't know enough about EE to know if that "Golden Reference" Power Supply did anything.

There is a thread on SBAF where they discuss power supplies and the mk2. I have the mk2 and its "basic" power supply right next to me here at work that this person on SBAF has:
index.php


Interesting my serial number is only a couple off from that one. I believe that is a "linear" power supply? Anyway I would be paying $300 to upgrade from that.

Yes this is a linear power supply. It has small capacitors very close to heatsinks (bad idea when longevity is concerned). It seems there is a standard regulator inside.
Very basic power supply.

The 'upgrade' seems higher quality, lower noise, lower idle power consumption, bigger and nicer looking enclosure. That's what you have to pay for.


Yet this $300 upgraded power supply is NOT linear.

When and how did linear power supplies become viewed as the absolute best in all situations in the audiophile popular conscious?

This PS is actually the best of both worlds. SMPS with low idle power consumption and wide range followed by low noise linear regulators that can have a low voltage drop so less heat.

Not everyone agrees that transformer and linear is 'better' than SMPS. In fact it could well be the opposite in a lot of cases for several reasons.
In audiophile circuits everything that is 'old' and 'analog' (so easier to understand) is viewed as 'better/more musical/smoother/warmer' etc.
 

fpitas

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Hi @solderdude. Why is this type of power supply called a linear supply? We've been using the term for awhile and I never understand why it is referred to as linear.
As distinguished from a switching supply, that chops the input to a high frequency and transforms it to the desired voltage(s).

Ironically the final stage of both, a rectifier and a capacitor, is really non-linear.
 

solderdude

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Switching and linear both have transformers that do the voltage conversion. (buck/boost is a different story :))

Switching just creates a higher frequency which is more efficient and transformers can be smaller, lighter in weight and with less losses and cheaper with less materials used.

A non-regulateded power supply output voltage is linear (proportional) to the input voltage. Hence linear power supply.
 
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