Tripath TK2050 Amplifier
The born of unexpected Tripath TK2050 Amplifier! Someone might shout - not another class T amplifier or class D amplifier from Tripath! LOL. A close friend of mine asked to build her an amplifier for her TV set. She knew that I’m an audiophile and she jokingly (or seriously?) mentioned that she want an amplifier that costs peanuts but sounds like $10k amplifier!
Since it has to be low cost, I've to use the lowest cost parts to build the amplifier. Look doesn't matter to her since it will be hidden in a TV cabinet. One thing to mention is that she is already spoilt after listening to my 300B SET setup and FE167E in TQWT enclosure for an extensive period.
So, what are the choices I have? It has to be dirt cheap and that rules out tube amplifiers. It has to be cool running since it will be kept in a poorly ventilated TV cabinet. It has to sound warm and mellow due to her spoilt listening senses. So, with those in mind, I guess the winner is clear – Tripath amplifier!
This is one of the wonder amplifiers that emerged in the past few years as one of the best bang for the buck amplifier choice. There had been so many amplifiers built with the chips from Tripath since the start of Tripath fever. I had listened to many versions of them and I have to admit the superior sound quality. Tripath TK2050 datasheet2 channel evaluation board6 channel evaluation board
She has a pair of 88dB/w/m Mission clone speaker. So, the power level would have to be around 30W-50W. I initially wanted to build her the TA2024 or TA2020 Tripath amplifier but the power might be too low for her speaker and taste. So that gets me to the TK2050 chipset with 50W per channel output power.
Above are the 3 main components of the amplifier. :) Everything shall be below US$150 I presume.
- Plastic casing
- Tripath TK2050 amplifier module from SureElectronics
- Meanwell SMPS
Here are some specifications of the amplifier:
- 50W into 8 Ohm at <3% THD+N
- 0.007% THD+N into 8 Ohm at 30W
- Efficiency of 92% at 60W
- Dynamic range > 100 dB
It is not difficult to build and actual work only took < 1 day.
This is the fully finished Tripath TK2050 amplifier. I installed a fan on top of the chassis to remove the heat from the chassis. The fan is run at a lower speed to reduce fan noise. The volume pot is hidden at the case handle. It weights < 3 kg. It is the lightest 50W amplifier I’ve owned!
Here is a closer look of the internal structure. On the left is the 120W SMPS from Meanwell. It is bypassed with a polypropylene capacitor to reduce noise. Solid core wires are used on the signal segment and high quality multi-core are used for the power and speaker connections.
On the right is the SureElectronics module with the Tripath TK2050 amplifier. I’ve added a Nichicon 1000uf electrolytic capacitor and a high quality Panasonic FC 100uF electrolytic capacitor bypass at the board to beef up the supply instead of just relying solely on the on board capacitors.
The Meanwell SMPS is running at 25 kHz cycle and it should provide enough energy to the Tripath TK2050 amplifier module. I’ve used the 350W, 120W, 60W and 15W versions with no issues, either as amplifier power supply, filament supply or ancillary supplies.
Above is the image captured with lights switched off. It looks nice isn’t it? Due to the material of the chassis, the light is diffused and it creates a nice ambience especially with the blue LED used.
What about the sound quality? It exceeds my expectation! It is powerful yet has 50-60% of the warmth and mellowness from a tube amplifier. I can't complain with so less effort and money being put into this little project. I believe my friend should be very happy this DIY audio project.
For me, I would add a tube front-end to add more warmth and body to the vocals and instruments. Nothing beats adding a little tube flavor into the sound. For the extremists, they can improve the board further by tweaking the board – change the input coupling capacitor, change the on board bypass capacitors, change the output LC filter, and etc.
I have built the TA3020 (the big brother of TA2050) version for home theatre use, with two Meanwell 350W SMPS too. I’ll come into this in near future. Till then!
~~~~~~Here's where I got the components used in this page.~~~~~~
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