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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book, but Only for People With a Strong Knowledge of Electronics
This book is an excellent resource for building high-quality transistor amplifiers. After reading this book the reader should be able to build (and possibly design) amplifiers that exceed the performance of even the best amplifiers available, but for a much lower cost. Pretty much every aspect of audio amplifiers is covered: the psychoacoustics of sound, myths in the...
Published on Oct. 9 2010 by Eric Boyer

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A large poor book written around a small fair one
As a DIY guide for building class-B solid state audio power amps, this book has some merit. However, the author takes a great deal of space to attack the high-end audio business, denigrate vacuum tubes, and denounce "audio subjectivism". There are those who will consider these worthy goals, but even they wil be disappointed in his eighth-grade forensics as he...
Published on May 5 2004 by Keith Carlsen


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A large poor book written around a small fair one, May 5 2004
This review is from: High-Power Audio Amplifier Construction Manual (Paperback)
As a DIY guide for building class-B solid state audio power amps, this book has some merit. However, the author takes a great deal of space to attack the high-end audio business, denigrate vacuum tubes, and denounce "audio subjectivism". There are those who will consider these worthy goals, but even they wil be disappointed in his eighth-grade forensics as he sets up strawmen with little facility.
His foreword clearly brings to mind William Burroughs' famous comment on which people, should one elect to do business with them, you should get any statements they make in writing!
If for some reason you want to etch circuit boards and fabricate heatsink assemblies to build a type of amp you can buy from Crown or Peavey for less than the parts would cost a hobbyist, Slone's book is somewhat useful. His presentation of the theory is less comprehensible than that of Douglas Self, and assumes a reasonable amount of solid-state theory and the basics of feedback and stability, which many project-oriented hobbyists will lack.
However, there are numerous better works on the theory and practice of solid-state amplification,should one wish to repair them or actually design one, and any discussion of the respective merits of solid-state versus tube amplifiers in audio service still starts with Russell O. Hamm's definitive JAES paper, "Tubes versus Transistors: Is There a Difference?". It's interesting that Slone does not cite or acknowledge this document anywhere in this book, or in any other.
It's worth noting that although there are many solid state amp designs hobby builders have constructed with excellent sonic reviews-published designs by Nelson Pass and Norman Thagard as well as clones of Quad and Krell commercial amps-probably twenty times as many tube amplifiers as solid-state are constructed by American hobby builders each year. I have built both and had success with both, and surprisingly, having started in hobby construction as a hard-core tube obsessive, I now think solid state has the edge. Slone's book, ultimately, does the case of solid state little good. Tube amplifiers are easier to build for most hobbyists, easier to fix, and their sonic flaws are invariably more euphonic than those of solid state amplifiers: solid state takes a lot more discipline to get right. By denying these obvious facts, Slone puts tube buffs in an even more confrontational position, which does no one any good.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book, but Only for People With a Strong Knowledge of Electronics, Oct. 9 2010
By 
Eric Boyer (Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: High-Power Audio Amplifier Construction Manual (Paperback)
This book is an excellent resource for building high-quality transistor amplifiers. After reading this book the reader should be able to build (and possibly design) amplifiers that exceed the performance of even the best amplifiers available, but for a much lower cost. Pretty much every aspect of audio amplifiers is covered: the psychoacoustics of sound, myths in the audiophile world, all portions of amplifiers, power supplies, distortion and other performance metrics, loudspeaker protection circuits, several complete amplifier schematics, construction techniques, and troubleshooting techniques. Only class A, AB, and B amplifiers are covered (both BJT and MOS), so those interested in more exotic amplifier designs, such as class D, should look elsewhere.

The audience for this book is people with a fairly strong understanding of electronics. At a minimum, the reader should know the basics of transistor operation, but a strong knowledge of transistors is recommended. Basically, 2nd-year university electronics engineering or equivalent is required, but 3rd-year would be recommended. This book does contain complete amplifier schematics, so of course pretty much anyone would be able to build an amplifier with the help of this book, but you'll need a good understanding of electronics to be able to troubleshoot or modify the amplifiers in this book.

Chapter 1 covers the basics of amplifiers, such as what exactly an amplifier is, how they are used, and what can be expected from a home-made amplifier.

Chapter 2 is an excellent rebuttal of many myths in the audio world. Slone uses objective, scientific evidence to back up his claims, which makes them almost indisputable. Examples include the superiority of transistor amplifiers to tube amplifiers, the fact that tone controls don't degrade audio quality, and that extremely expensive speaker wire is completely useless.

Chapters 3 through 6 give detailed descriptions of how amplifiers work and how to build them. Slone progresses through the topic slowly, starting with the basic design of amplifiers, then describing input stages, followed by voltage-gain stages, and finally the output stage. Slone often describes how changes in components will affect the amplifier performance, and reference is often given to the projects at the end of the book. Several different types of amplifiers are described, ranging from cheap, easy-to-build amplifiers, up to extremely high-performance ones.

Chapter 7 is about stability, distortion, and performance. This chapter describes how to obtain good performance in amplifiers, and how to ensure that stability is maintained and distortion is minimized. Several different types of distortion are discussed, as well as how to minimize them.

Chapter 8 is about protection methods for amplifiers and loudspeakers. Many different types of circuits for this purpose are described, ranging from cheap, basic circuits, up to expensive, high-performance ones.

Chapter 9 is about power supplies. Slone first gives a detailed discussion of the different types of power supplies, and then describes how to build many different types, ranging from cheap ones to expensive, high-performance ones.

Chapter 10 describes how to build the optimum amplifier for any purpose and is an excellent summary of the previous chapters. This chapter really helps to bring everything together.

Chapter 11 contains 12 pre-made ('cookbook') amplifier designs, with complete schematics and discussions of how to build and modify them. These designs range from really basic 50W amps with decent performance, up to 500W, ultra-high performance amps. Many of these amps will give better performance than commercially available amps, yet the parts will cost much less (and I say this with experience because I have built a few of the designs given in the book). I should probably note here that many of the parts used in these designs are very hard to find, but replacement parts that are exactly the same are very easy to obtain. You just need to find a list of equivalent parts, which are available from many online sources.

Chapter 12 is about construction techniques. It describes how to properly build PCBs, how to place components to minimize interference and distortion, and other general construction techniques.

Chapter 13 describes how to troubleshoot and test the performance of an amplifier.

Overall, I found this book to be of very good quality. The only thing I didn't like about it was that sometimes descriptions were too short, but I guess that making them longer would have made the book too long. I would recommend this book for anyone interested in building their own audio amplifiers, but make sure you have a sufficient background in electronics, as I described above.
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5.0 out of 5 stars No nonsense; highly recommended., Oct. 4 2002
This review is from: High-Power Audio Amplifier Construction Manual (Paperback)
... Randy Slone regurgitates no one; he states in his own words, clearly and in accessible language for the non-specialist, established principles of solid state amplifier design, and places these in the context of his suggested projects. One chapter is devoted to twelve "ready-to-construct" cookbook designs, and full-size PC board artwork for several of these are provided in an appendix. In short, if you want to build and/or design your own audio power amplifiers, this is an excellent resource.
Randy Slone begins with the basics of acoustics relating to audio power amplifiers and methodically walks the reader through a variety of designs, ranging from old to new, and simple to complex. As one would expect, much of this information is founded upon well established research. There is also a significant portion devoted to new techniques and principles of amplifier physics which help to de-mystify amplifier operation and provide pathways to improved performance. Unlike many similar textbooks that focus on only one topology or design philosophy, Randy Slone examines the broad range of amplifier configurations and power capabilities, including mirror-image input stages, fully-complementary VA stages, paralleled output stages, and lateral MOSFET designs.
Randy Slone may be somewhat opinionated, but his opinions appear to be logical reflections of measurable facts; and as any good scientist knows, that what cannot be measured does not exist for the world of science and engineering. He makes short shrift of tube cult; these are devices that produce measurable distortion and can never compete with the power capacity of modern solid state systems. The writing style and technical descriptions are easy to follow although a background in electronic fundamentals is helpful. No more than high school algebra is needed. Occasional humor increases the reading pleasure. Randy Slone has the somewhat eccentric habit of discussing current flow as if it traveled from negative to positive pole, while the convention is to describe it moving the other way. Once the reader becomes accustomed to this way of thinking - not too silly for electrons do indeed travel from negative to positive - it becomes easier to read. It is a complete resource for designing and constructing your own high-quality audio power amplifier systems.
I am currently building myself six of Randy Slone's OPTIMOS kits after reading the book. The fact that Randy Slone also sells the kits from his web site is a highly positive feature. Imagine trying to source all those components and make the PCBs yourself. Furthermore, Randy Slone is always available to help with specific questions and suggestion on a one to one basis. He really does answer his e-mail.
Highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Truly High-End Audio...finally!, Oct. 1 2002
By 
This review is from: High-Power Audio Amplifier Construction Manual (Paperback)
G. Randy Slone has written a truly wonderful book on the science behind audio. Most consumers know little about audio; and sales people know even less. Read this book and you will understand a great deal - and you'll be able to apply your knowledge in purchasing or making your own audio gear. Some have given unfavourable reviews, but I feel they are unjustified. The author does indeed cover complex issues of amplifier design, but one does not really need to understand these concepts in order to build a very high-end, high-performance amplifier. One does not even need to understand the schematics. All that would be required is to put the correct components in the correct positions on a printed circuit board (which I highly recommend you purchase from the author). Beyond all this is the real question: How does the finished amplifier sound? Well, whether you believe in the author's view on say tube amps or not makes very little difference. Again it all boils down to the performance of the amp. One doesn't merely stumble onto extreme audio performance! It takes hard work, and in-depth knowledge and experience of sound electronic principles. I have had the utter delight and priviledge to audition and compare a finished OPTI-MOS design with a very well known and respected high-end amp. The purity, clarity, and three-dimensionality of the sound-stage was staggering! The OPTI-MOS was one of the most perfect amps I have ever heard. Tremendous low-end power coupled with majestic and rivetting mids and highs puts this amp in a class of its own. You can't fake good audio. Actually, you can't fake outstanding audio either. In fact, I cannot think one negative comment whatsoever to criticize the OPTI-MOS. It is truly an amazing peice of audio equipment. I have listened to expensive tube amps, and I must say that the tube sound was very pleasant. However, the OPTI-MOS takes you far beyond tubes! The OPTI-MOS actually sounds closer to a perfect tube amp - without any of the tube's shortcomings. What more could one ask for? If Mr. Slone's concepts, theories, and final circuit topologies were even the slightest bit off the mark, this would show up a hundred-fold in the final sound reproduction. I for one hold Mr. Slone and his brilliant designs in even greater respect; for not only has he proven that he is a world-class audio designer, he has shared his secrets with the world. Now there is no excuse for anyone not to own a superior audio amplifier and enjoy audio that was once reserved for those select few that could afford to spend huge dollar amounts on audio gear. Thank-you Mr. Slone!
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2.0 out of 5 stars Good primer for class-B power amp design, BUT..., Sept. 27 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: High-Power Audio Amplifier Construction Manual (Paperback)
by an experienced audio hobbyist and Electrical Engineer...
This book covers most of the topics needed to sucessfully design and build a conventional transistor power amplifier. While the reading is technical in nature, it is kept to a level suitable for the majority of electronics amateurs. In this respect, it is a decent book.
However, if you are truly serious about power amplifier design, and technically inclined, this book falls short of these glowing reviews. Years ago, I read the work of Douglas Self, presented in a series of articles entitled "Distortion in Power Amplifiers", and published in Electronics World and Wireless World magazine 1993-1994. Sloan's book is just a poor regurgitation of the original articles by Doug Self, along with a collection of amp designs ready-to-go... basically an advertisement for the kits he sells through his website.
So if you have the technical inclination, and want to really understand the material well, do yourself a favour and skip this book. The original articles by D. Self are far more insightful. What's more, they are now available, along with a wealth of other good articles, in a single compilation entitled "Self on Audio" ISBN 0-7506-4765-5. Self also has another book, "Audio Power Amplifier Design Handbook", which I have not read.
WARNING: apart from the obvious commercial motivations, the content of this book is very opinionated! What's more, these opinions are often veiled behind a facade of "objectivity", lending them false authority. There is a dangerous allure in his idealistic opinions. Mr. Slone has a tendancy to make questionable, even misleading statements, worded and presented as FACT. Even D. Self suffers the same affliction, though to a lesser degree. Some people may like Mr. Slone's strong stance, but I find it closed-minded and counter productive. For the amateur who has not yet the experience to distinguish the opinions from genuine engineering objectivity, this book is bound to cause a certain degree of "tunnel vision". If you do buy this book, always remember to remain open minded, and don't take everything he says as Gospel!
Since the subject matter is just a rehash of other, better publications, and since this book has a heavily unbalanced view of high-end audio, I can only give it 2 stars despite some good construction advice, and some decent technical discussion.
If you want better technical explanations, with less opinion sharing, get the REAL goods - buy Douglas Self's book instead.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Good primer for class-B power amp design, BUT..., Sept. 27 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: High-Power Audio Amplifier Construction Manual (Paperback)
This book covers most of the topics needed to sucessfully design and build a conventional transistor power amplifier. While the reading is technical in nature, it is kept to a level suitable for the majority of electronics amateurs. In this respect, it is a decent book.
HOWEVER, if you are truly serious about power amplifier design, and technically inclined, this book falls short of these glowing reviews. Years ago, I read the work of Douglas Self, presented in a series of articles entitled "Distortion in Power Amplifiers", and published in Electronics World and Wireless World magazine 1993-1994. Sloan's book is just a poor regurgitation of the original articles by Doug Self.
So if you have the technical inclination, and want to really understand the material well, do yourself a favour and skip this book. The original articles by D. Self are far more insightful. What's more, they are now available, along with a wealth of other good articles, in a single compilation entitled "Self on Audio" ISBN 0-7506-4765-5. Self also has another book, "Audio Power Amplifier Design Handbook", which I have not read.
WARNING: the content of this book is extremely opinionated! What's more, these opinions are generally veiled behind a facade of "objectivity", lending them false authority. Some people may like Mr. Slone's strong stance, but I find it closed-minded and counter productive. It took me many years to learn that absolute objectivity does not exist in the world of Audio, admirable as the goal may be. Mr. Slone has a tendancy to make highly opinionated or misleading statements, cleverly worded and presented as FACT. Even D. Self suffers the same affliction, though to a lesser degree. For the amateur who has not yet the design experience to distinguish the opinions from genuine engineering objectivity, this is bound to lead to "tunnel vision", which I find highly objectionable. It closes a lot of doors and avenues for exploration which are an important component of the well rounded experience which is the hallmark of a true Master audio designer. Sloan is good, but clearly not a Master.
If you want better technical explanations, with less opinion sharing, get the REAL goods, and buy Douglas Self's book instead.
And if you do buy this book, or any other for that matter, always remember to remain open minded!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive and practical, July 28 2002
This review is from: High-Power Audio Amplifier Construction Manual (Paperback)
My review of this book should be seen in the context of my background.
This book is not "right for everyone." I like dabbling with electronics
kits and a soldering iron. I have never read any book on power amplifiers
before. The only test equipment I own is a digital multimeter. I _loved_
this book.
NOTE: This book is devoted purely to power amplifiers, and that too,
solid state power amps. If the reader does not know the difference
between an integrated amplifier and a power amplifier, he should start
elsewhere.
This book is not for the absolute beginner to electronics. The author
simply assumes you know what a FET, BJT or an opamp is, for instance.
It _is_ possible to extract great value from this book without knowing
about degenerative feedback, for instance, but knowing all this would
help.
The author has strong opinions, something I really enjoyed. I have
always learnt the most from people with strong opinions, provided they
show me how they have arrived at those opinions. Randy Slone's opinions
about valve amps and the "valve sound", for instance, are a must-read.
The author's standards of good performance are superlative. The "good"
designs here are probably comparable to the best amps commercially
available, provided you agree with the author's yardsticks on quality
in a power amp.
This book is well thought through for the amateur constructor. The
author gives you a list of transistors on page 13 which he then
uses in all his designs. His PCB designs are all single-sided,
allowing easy home fabrication, and are a bit sparse, allowing easy
soldering. This sparseness also allows photocopying the PCB layouts
directly to transparent acetate sheets to make the "positive artwork" for
PCB fabrication, without running the risk of errors. There are sections
on the pragmatics of looking for the "low-tech" components like heatsinks,
how to put things together mechanically, eliminating hum and ground loops,
soldering, PCB making, etc.
Chapter 10 is probably the most insightful and interesting chapter of
all, holding the entire book together. It takes the reader through the
actual design of a new amplifier, starting with a set of objectives.
The author goes about plugging pieces into a design, one by one, to
build a no-compromise top-end design, showing the reader at each step
why he chooses each piece.
Chapter 11 is a collection of ready-to-build designs. Most of the 12
designs in it are no-compromise designs. Design 11 is an ultra-high-end
Class A amp rated at 40W into 8 ohms. Design 3 is a bipolar-OPS design
giving second harmonic distortion less than 0.0001%. Design 12 is for
a MOSFET OPS amp with MOSFET-based reliability and a THD of 0.0038%.
The author's writing style is conversational, laced with humour, and easy
to read. Also, this book cannot be read --- it has to be studied. Each
sentence in this book potentially carries a new idea or insight, which may
not be re-visited subsequently. The first time I encountered Kernighan
and Ritchie's "The C Programming Language," I remember feeling that _all_
essential concepts about C (a tough programming language for the beginner)
were stated explicitly in that slim book, if only the reader would read,
think, and absorb _each_ sentence. This book almost
reaches the same levels of richness of content.
Where the book ends, the author's personal interaction begins. Over the
last few months, I've asked dozens of questions to the author on email,
and have been rewarded with insightful and friendly replies each
time. This enormously helps in giving the reader confidence to try his
hand at the designs.
Is this the "perfect" book on audio power amplifiers? Are there flaws?
I'll be nit-picking, but here goes:
1. There are typographical errors in circuit diagrams. They do detract
from the smooth study of the (fairly involved) material. Two Q4's
occur in Figure 4.8a, on page 85, in the very first chapter attempting
any circuit analysis.
2. I would have liked sections which would start with transistor
characteristics and device selection, and then synthesize an input
stage, a VA stage and an OPS from the ground up. In other words,
this book alone is not enough for me to start with an assortment
of transistors and passive components and synthesize my own current
mirror or fully complementary input stage or emitter-follower OPS, for
instance. To be fair, many places do discuss the rationale behind the
value of passive components, but not always, and for a novice like me,
not enough. I'd have liked a Chapter 10 twice its current length.
3. I would have liked a list of substitutes for the transistors the
author uses in his designs. Not all of them are easy to find,
specially where I live.
All in all, I find this a five-star book, and a must for any amateur or
professional amplifier designer or constructor's bookshelf.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, an author that KNOWS and SHOWS you truth in audio., Jan. 21 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: High-Power Audio Amplifier Construction Manual (Paperback)
G. Randy Slone has written a truly wonderful book on the science behind audio. Most consumers know little about audio; and sales people know even less. Read this book and you will understand a great deal - and you'll be able to apply your knowledge in purchasing or making your own audio gear. Some have given unfavourable reviews, but I feel they are unjustified. The author does indeed cover complex issues of amplifier design, but one does not really need to understand these concepts in order to build a very high-end, high-performance amplifier. One does not even need to understand the schematics. All that would be required is to put the correct components in the correct positions on a printed circuit board (which I highly recommend you purchase from the author). Beyond all this is the real question: How does the finished amplifier sound? Well, whether you believe in the author's view on say tube amps or not makes very little difference. Again it all boils down to the performance of the amp. One doesn't merely stumble onto extreme audio performance! It takes hard work, and in-depth knowledge and experience of sound electronic principles. I have had the utter delight and priviledge to audition and compare a finished OPTI-MOS design with a very well known and respected high-end amp. The purity, clarity, and three-dimensionality of the sound-stage was staggering! The OPTI-MOS was one of the most perfect amps I have ever heard. Tremendous low-end power coupled with majestic and rivetting mids and highs puts this amp in a class of its own. You can't fake good audio. Actually, you can't fake outstanding audio either. In fact, I cannot think one negative comment whatsoever to criticize the OPTI-MOS. It is truly an amazing peice of audio equipment. I have listened to expensive tube amps, and I must say that the tube sound was very pleasant. However, the OPTI-MOS takes you far beyond tubes! The OPTI-MOS actually sounds closer to a perfect tube amp - without any of the tube's shortcomings. What more could one ask for? If Mr. Slone's concepts, theories, and final circuit topologies were even the slightest bit off the mark, this would show up a hundred-fold in the final sound reproduction. I for one hold Mr. Slone and his brilliant designs in even greater respect; for not only has he proven that he is a world-class audio designer, he has shared his secrets with the world. Now there is no excuse for anyone not to own a superior audio amplifier and enjoy audio that was once reserved for those select few that could afford to spend huge dollar amounts on audio gear. Thank-you Mr. Slone!
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5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book on building your own audio amp., July 11 2001
By 
This review is from: High-Power Audio Amplifier Construction Manual (Paperback)
The author explains what is really good audio power amplifier in scientific point of view in first three chapters. The information and experiences you can learn from this book are very helpful to know what is truth and what is myth when reading so many articles in audio forums and magazines. This knowledge is very useful not only for people who want to build and upgrade your own amps but also for people who want to buy audio amps. The other chapters go into the circuit design, operation and construction of audio amps. Following the projects in this book, you can build your own power amps with good to excellent performance in low cost. The author sells many electronic components you may need when constructing your amps and I bought some devices from him. He also answered me many questions in detail about the amp circuit and construction by e-mail when I built my own amp by myself. Anyway, for now, I have my own audio power amp with excellent performance. With the excellent speakers I bought I feel almost all of my CDs become much more wonderful than before.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amps cut down to size!, May 15 2001
By 
This review is from: High-Power Audio Amplifier Construction Manual (Paperback)
I began reading this book simply with the desire to "see how it works". I had little knowledge about electronics and less about amplifiers. I had tested all of mine (for power output only) with a scope and signal generator. The book lays out absolutely every component of a power amp in explicit detail, without "losing the plot" or stating the obvious. Every section is thorough and witty, leaving no stone unturned and no opportunity for humor missed. I read it end to end twice for the simple purpose of trying to absorb more detail. Each time i pick it up i learn something new, infact i picked up my flatmates copy so much that i thought i'd better buy him a new one. Excellent not only as a good specific read but also as a fine piece of reference material. I look forward to any further offerings from Randy Slone. Mr Slone has been more than helpful answering email on questions that i possibly could have answered myself, and hasn't for a moment lost patience with me. A remarkable book, good for everyone interested in audio, from driving one sub to filling an entire concert hall.
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High-Power Audio Amplifier Construction Manual
High-Power Audio Amplifier Construction Manual by G. Randy Slone (Paperback - May 1 1999)
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