DALAUDIO Frequently Asked Questions
If you are uncertain about the best equipment for your needs, Check our FAQ below, and easy to use GUIDE!
Still not sure? CONTACT US, Please tell us about your components, manufacturer, speaker model number, and describe your listening habits (e.g. jazz/orchestral at moderate levels, alt rock really loud, etc) and listening space.
What's a Gainclone? And why DALAUDIO amplifiers? DALAUDIO prototype analog IC chip amplifiers are a budget-friendly audiophile solution for exceptionally detailed sound, and musically uncolored/flat sound stage. Plus, our amps are quiet with no input. Such value is made possible by our compact PCB design with minimum of exceptional high quality parts. This minimal chip amp design makes it very fast, and requires less filters, buffers, and other circuitry that can muffle or otherwise color the sound reproduction.
Gainclones have a special sound that has captured many listeners around the world. These amplifiers were inspired by the GainCard with and entry price at US$3,300. Similar designs have been modified and updated by the many talented folks in the audiophile community, with ingenious ways to benefit from the chip amps to achieve affordable prices.
LM4780 Chip Specs - Per National Semiconductor Datasheet: Stereo 60W, Mono 120W Audio Power Amplifier, 0.1% -.03% THD+N from 20Hz to 20kHz 4-8 Ohm.
LM3886 Chip Specs - Per National Semiconductor Datasheet: 68W of average power to a 4 ohm load and 38W into 8 ohm load with less than 0.1% THD+N from 20Hz-20kHz.
LM3875 Chip Specs - Per National Semiconductor Datasheet: 56W of continuous average power to an 8 ohm load with 0.1% THD+N from 20Hz to 20kHz.
Which Amplifier Should I Choose - Is there a sonic difference? The short answer: In most general use cases, we lean toward recommending the LM3886 since audiophiles and listeners alike, may utilize several different speakers (4, 6 or 8 Ohms) during the useful life of this high quality audiophile amplifier.
DALAUDIO Retro Amplifiers - The Retro (tm) design is a throwback to the popular vintage equipment from the 60s and 70s. Great for rack or cabinet mounting, this ventilated chassis is the choice of professional nightclubs and other constant performance applications. Keep in mind that the AC power cord and switch is on one the side, and the signal inputs and outputs are on the opposite side. This flexibility of right or left configuration is also ideal for rack and cabinet applications.
DALAUDIO Studio Amplifiers - The Studio series form factor provides for a compact footprint which is ideal for professional desktop and studios cabinets. The studio is also popular with our home studio desktop users. This compact chassis design has the power switch and power indicator on the front with all other connections on the rear.
What are the differences in the power level of the LM3886 vs the LM3875? The LM3875 will produce slightly more power @ 8 Ohms but is not a good choice for speakers with impedance below 6 Ohms (yes that includes 4 Ohm Speakers) The LM3886 chip will do a better job with a 4 ohm speaker across the frequency range, and produce about a 10% higher sound pressure level across 20Hz-21.9Khz in a sensitve (90dB) efficient 4 or 8 ohm speaker. In most general use cases, we lean toward recommending the LM3886.
What about the performance? Short answer: as it pertains to our amps, most people won’t hear much difference. Extremely discretionary listeners may note: LM3875 is typically a little flatter than the enhanced low end of the LM3886 with a snubber inspired power supply (as is our design). Some interpret the LM3875 as slightly warmer, with better midrange and highs. The LM3886 has a beefed up output stage (bigger output transistor junctions), which translates to reduced total harmonic distortion, greater efficiency and more short term power dissipation capacity across a wider range from 4 to 8 ohms.
What is the difference between the Studio R2 and the Studio R2? The Studio LM3886 R2 utilizes an aluminum black painted face plate with a silkscreen blue and white DALAUDIO Logo. The R2 is built with a simple neon red rocker switch, and a R2 silver plate PCB, The R2 is a very good sounding amplifier with a snubber inspired supply. It has received rave reviews. The R2 amps are among the best in the price range. The Studio R3 has a thicker aluminum face plate with exposed edges and engraved DALAUDIO logo. We utilize the R3 PCB which has two very minor improvements, one for noise floor, which was already unusually low in the R2, and the other is a build improvement consisting of gold PCB plate material. Sound wise it’s about as good as these amps get.
Which Chip Works Best With My Speakers? Efficient speakers are best - 88db or higher but we operate down to the vintage ranges of 85dB adn less with good results. The LM3886 chip performs well at 4-8 ohms, while the LM3875 is best when utilized with 8 ohm speakers. If you require a bit more support in this area please contact us and provide us with your needs.
Typical Input Sensitivity for DALAUDIO Amps - A standard DALAUDIO amplifier will compliment commercial audio components. Suggested standard amp input range is .050V to 2V, with 22K input impedance offering up to 33dB gain. Our design permits simple customized at time of build to suit the gain characteristics of your pre-amp or source devices. Please contact us in advance of purchase for a recommendation based on your system needs.
What Capacitors and Resistors Are Used? Can I Upgrade? Our Standard caps are all high quality Panasonic FC Radials, resistors are usually all Vishay. Zobel Caps are Vishay/BC. We believe these parts provide very high quality performance. For the die hard upgrade fans we offer “upgrade” alternatives; Nichicon Gold Caps or Takman High Performance resistors.
What about using a Passive Preamp? A standard DALAUDIO passive pre-amplifier, utilizes a 100K high quality Alps Blue Velvet Potentiometer. Our volume controls and selectors are similarly designed to work best with an input range of .050V to 2V (perhaps a bit higher +1.5V), and can be customized at time of build to match whatever output impedance you may require. We offer both single and multi-input passive pre-amps. We utilize a high quality printed circuit board that allows us to customize log and output impedance for "granular" volume control at your desired setting. See PASSIVE CONTROLS.
What Active Pre-Amps Can I Use With DALAUDIO Amps? First, make sure your source and/or pre-amp is high quality. A good chip amp will expose poor quality. If an active or powered pre-amp is needed (eg. using a DAC or other source control device) we can impedance-match the amp's input based on your preamp’s technical parameters and output characteristics.
Airport Express and other direct streaming devices, We do not recommend direct connection of streaming devices without a buffer or preamp. For example; the Airport Express will abruptly begin and end digital streams (and the associated analog output if you are not using a digital preamp) relatively quickly. Since DALAUDIO amps are very detailed and fast, you will hear a small pop in the amplified speaker as streams begin or end. This is unpleasant to the ear, and it has the potential to damage speakers. This is quickly resolved with a proper input buffer or preamp.
Apple Phones, Music Players, We do recommend caution, (our amp get loud quickly) but yes these can be directly connected via the proper cable (3.5mm to RCA) to our amps. We do recommend utilizing our passives if you have more than one source or desire to protect yourself from accidental volume increases common with on screen volume control. DALAUDIO amps are very detailed and fast, so be cautious when increasing the volume with the onscreen sliders. This is not only unpleasant to the ear, it has the potential to damage your speakers.
Bridged Mono or Mono Blocks? - We have several bridged and mono block designs that we can build as a Custom Project. Very few bridged designs have the necessary combining networks, and therefore suffer in sound quality. If you are interested in more power we ask us about our 4780 based amplifiers.
Do you offer a remote control option? - No, not at this time. We can make a reccomendation or perhaps supply a remote option to pair with DALAUDIO amps. Let us know if you’d like to include one in your amp package.
Euro or 220/230/240 VAC versions? Currently we only offer 110-120VAC chip amps only and our design is not readily convertible to 220-240VAC. We ship to USA only.
Do you offer DIY kits? We do not. The price wouldn’t be much less than our assembled amps. We do offer certain parts for DIY builders. If you would like us to make a reccomendation we would be happy to do so. Send us a quick note.
How does a DALAUDIO Analog Chip Amp compare to a Digital Amp? Presuming both are properly designed and built with proper supplies and to proper specifications, both offer listeners with high quality audio reproduction. We belive that the digital amp comparison with a DALAUDIO gainclone is somewhat one sided, one has the “digital” tight acccurate reproduced sound with digitally enhanced audio, and the other a more expansive realistic “analog” sound stage. The digital chip can be “package engineered” to be a very clear, analytical, digital amp. With a well adjusted output the digital is capable of reproducing most music fairly authentically. However some folks claim that digital amps do not have as much warmth as a valve (tube) amp, or an analog amplifier, and require a well designed power supply to render a decent overall frequency response. By contrast, a DALAUDIO LM3886 gainclone chip amp is still solid state (analog) but sits somewhere in the middle between the Tripath "digital amp" and a very decent (and expensive) valve amp in producing a very clear, crisp tonal image, typically has more power, provides better overall response. A DALAUDIO LM3875 chip amp, also in the middle of this spectrum, some say are slightly warmer than the LM3886.