For the love of...kits?

My foray into audio began with speakers, then amps, and other components. Subs and room acoustics came next. And so on.

Early on, trying to find good sound meant doing a lot of research about brands and, to the degree possible, about the designs and parts used by better components.

Upgrading my stuff came next -- improving capacitors, volume pots, and other aspects of my gear. I’m lucky to have an amazing tech and builder in town. He’s been a godsend.

I have largely shifted away from the new market. If I do make changes, it’s nearly always buying and selling used. I sold some stuff, bought other stuff, compared and contrasted.

The tech mentioned above has sold me one amazing preamp and has loaned me a number of great pieces he’s built, either from kits or DIY. These have included an autoformer preamp, solid state preamp (based around a Burson buffer) and a really impressive Hypex-based Class D amp. All these units look nice enough, but not fancy. But, they’re dead quiet and have all the inputs and outputs you could want or need. Recently, he also loaned me quite a sweet little headphone amp. Also, quite amazing.

Yesterday, I purchased an Akitika GT-102 amplifier for a mere $450 on USAM. It’s hugely upgraded and I’m beginning to listen to it -- comparing it to my Pass XA-25 (as Herb Reichert did a while back) and my Quicksilver Mono 60’s.

I’m not sure, but I’m starting to get the distinct feeling that if one knows which DIY stuff to buy, which kits, the path to really amazing sound is not necessarily that expensive. In other words, a little knowledge can save a lot of money.

I’ll be looking at speaker kits, next.

This is not to say that DIY or kits replaces most of the finely made and researched gear out there. Rather, that for someone looking for the best sound for the money, they could do a lot worse than (a) really smart used shopping and (b) used kits or DIY kits of higher quality (such as Pass’s Amp Camp stuff, or the Akitika kit I just got, assembled).

Over and out.


@akgwhiz The  Troels Gravesen stuff has my eye, as does the Pi speakers.

Thanks to the further poster's for their ideas -- I am learning a lot!

@theflattire ... I just made sealed full range TangBand W8-1808 and has really made me rethink my need for multi- driver boxes. With full range it's mid-range and treble don't loose anything to separates. They are better. Backed up by dual subs and the sound is the best I've ever accomplished. Hands down.

There are still kits to build preamps, amps, speakers except you have to build the chassis, order the parts and maybe get some old textbook outs.  There are some great PCBs out on eBay and some do have the  schematics and some you have to request them. If you go there are some great speaker projects there and some at GR Research, Parts Express has speakers and cabinets. Bob Cordell books and has great mods for Hafler amps and at has great preamp. There stuff to do and kit out there.

Some of these kits with take many months to build and require skill you may not have and some of the speakers projects will require some woodworking skills. Projects are out there all you have to do is look .

sometimes kits have such high price that it makes no sense wasting time assembling. 

@jodeven I love this topic. I repair and restore vintage stereo equipment and guitar amps as a small venture side gig. I have been tossing around the idea of modifying my Thiel CS2 2 with an external crossover using upgraded crossover parts. But the big change would be to modify the design of the crossover for Bi-amping. Then design and build a tube amp for the mids and tweeters. Solid state amp for the woofers.

Do it if you can make it happen. Its fun. My prior project set I used for 5+ years and later re-sold low cost to a friend utilized same/similar drivers as the Thiel’s CS 2.2 had. Tried 2-way, 2.5 way setups, with various bi-amp combos with all SS amps, or Tube & SS amps, and then adding separate subwoofers later too. You’ll learn a lot. Buddy called me to today sharing how he is still enjoying those speakers with his tube amp and tube dac setup fwiw.