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Frozmeister

Built at home amp sounds sweet with Cornwall iii

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Folks,

 

Note:  I am a newbie so if this post doesn't exactly fit the website, please excuse my lack of experience or maybe lack of judgement. 

 

So, I saw an article in Stereophile sometime back about a solid state amp by Akitika.com that could be built at home similar to a Dynaco or Hafler.  Stereophile gave it a really favorable review, so I decided to give it a try.  The kit cost me $340 all-in including shipping, plus about an additional $50 in soldering tools and materials.  You can buy it assembled for a little over $500, but I opted to watch a few Youtube videos on soldering and take the plunge.  It was surprisingly easy to build the kit and the assembly instructions are incredibly detailed.  I don't know how many hours I actually had in it, but I did it in my spare time and enjoyed it.  My soldering looks like crap, but it works! 

 

It's worth pointing out that the fellow who sells this kit (Dan Joffe) backs it with awesome support and he sources as much material from USA manufacturers as possible.  In addition to his well documented assembly manual, he answered about two dozen questions I emailed him.  Plus, he walked me through fixing a couple of mistakes I had made.  I should mention I had never soldered anything aside from plumbing fixtures before this.  

 

So you are probably asking, "How does it sound?"  The answer is surprisingly musical!  It doesn't sound quite like a tube amplifier, but it is pretty neutral and really pairs nicely with my Cornwalls.  It also sounds good on my KG 5.5s, but the Cornwalls really bloom with this amp.  I was surprised when the music came out sounding pretty close to my little First Watt J2 (Nelson Pass designed amp).  I am not saying it's the equal of the First Watt J2, BUT considering it cost me about 5x less, I find myself impressed.  It certainly sounds better than my mid 1980's Denon gear, which is still pretty nice stuff.

 

So, if you are looking for a fun project to do by yourself or with your kid, this just might be the trick.  Plus, if building this kit with a family member hooks them on 2-channel hi-fi and gets them to pair the amp up with some of PWK's fine products, then that in my mind is a project worth doing.   Gotta get the next generation interested in real hi-fi!

 

Here are a couple of links which will take you to the Akitika web page and the Stereophile review.

https://www.akitika.com/index.php

https://www.stereophile.com/content/akitika-gt-102-power-amplifier

 

Best,

 

Frozmeister

 

P.S.  Here's a picture of the finished product.

 

 

 

 

Akitika.jpg

Edited by Frozmeister
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Did any of the boards come with any parts on then or did you have to install everything onto them? And do you have any photos of it before you started the build?

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The kit comes complete with everything, but nothing is assembled.  The boards are provided naked, so you have to install the resistors, capacitors, relays, wiring, etc.  It was quite an education for me.  The company I work for has extensive PC board assembly capabilities for military and aerospace applications, but I had never once picked up a soldering iron.  I have a new found respect for the talented assemblers at my company!  As for pics, my phone died taking my pics with it, but I did find one that I had emailed to a friend during the build.  You will see that the amp is nearly complete in this picture.

 

 

amplifier interior.jpg

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@Frozmeister Glad I found your thread as I have the GT-102 as well and looking to purchase a pair of Cornwalls.

 

My local Klipsch dealer had agreed for me to bring the amp down to audition the speakers. Really excited to hear the synergy of this pairing! :)

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Sunnysideup,

 

Sorry for the delay in responding.   Did you get to try the GT-102 with the Cornwalls?  If so, what did you use for a pre-amp?  How did it sound?

 

Best,

 

Frozmeister

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Yes. My GT-102 is assembled with the volume knob option, so there wasn’t a need for pre-amp. 

 

The speakers were in the center of the shop with no walls or corners, so I’m unsure how that affected the sound.

 

Cornwalls with GT-102 had smoother vocals and generally more textured than the Sonos amp they were originally paired with. I struggle to find the amazing bass many raved about. It could be due to speaker placement or the amp-speaker pairing. 

 

Last weekend, I placed my order for a pair of Cornwalls. Will thoroughly test the pairing at my place and report back - 2 to 3 months later. ;) 

Edited by Sunnysideup
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On 3/16/2019 at 8:37 AM, Frozmeister said:

The kit comes complete with everything, but nothing is assembled.  The boards are provided naked, so you have to install the resistors, capacitors, relays, wiring, etc.  It was quite an education for me.  The company I work for has extensive PC board assembly capabilities for military and aerospace applications, but I had never once picked up a soldering iron.  I have a new found respect for the talented assemblers at my company!  As for pics, my phone died taking my pics with it, but I did find one that I had emailed to a friend during the build.  You will see that the amp is nearly complete in this picture.

 

 

amplifier interior.jpg

Soldering is an art!!

I soldered eight 14GA speaker wires to an OSD Audio OVC-305R Outdoor Volume Control in the HOT Summer Sun yesterday! 90 degrees, and IN THE SUN! Back to it!

Ugh!

John Kuthe...

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Sunnysideup,

 

Please let us know how the Cornwalls sound when you get them.  What finish did you go with?  Matte black, cherry, walnut, or black ash?

 

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Frozmeister,

 

I went with a custom stain to match my lighter wood furniture. Natural Cherry (like the Forte III) with lambswool grill. Counting down to the delivery date. :) 

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These are my Cornwall III, pictured with Elekit TU-8600R.  :)

B90A417A-6EF5-409B-9350-0B38C8ABFC29.jpeg.2c58d13966dbff64a0e85c40ca55ab77.jpeg

 

The Akitika GT-102 is a pleasant sounding amp. Clean and detailed is the first description that comes to mind. In comparison to the Elekit, it sounds slightly warmer and has a little more bass but not as tight. 
 

I prefer the GT-102 with a slightly brighter sounding speaker. Currently they are driving a pair of JBL Studio 530s. 
5F3C76C8-488B-4CFD-9237-735880381F57.jpeg.adaab9ecb8d6841a5a4f1e9d988b2675.jpeg

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Sunnysideup,

 

Your Cornwalls look AMAZING!  The stain combined with the Lambswool type cloth is gorgeous! 

 

Can you tell me about Elekit TU-8600R?   I almost ordered one of them from Victor Kung.  Having seen yours makes me wonder if I should go ahead and do so.  I don't really need it, but after reading the review in Stereophile, I want to build one.  Was the kit easy to assemble?  How is the overall sound?  Would you recommend it to anyone obsessed with good sound and looking for tubes in his listening room?

 

Best,

 

Frozmeister

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I had mine assembled by Victor, but the insides did not look much more complex than the GT-102. 
 

Based on a full set of Gold Lion tubes, bass is tighter and highs had more sparkle than GT-102. Switching to a set of Psvane T-II gives you the same warm bass and treble as GT-102, but more pronounced mids.

 

[edit] I just switched in the Psvane T-II and the mid range is significantly more satisfying than the Gold Lions. 
 

If you are also into headphones, I’m happy to report that the Elekit sounds good on headphones too. Compared to Schiit Mjolnir II with Gold Lion 6922, the Elekit give you a wider soundstage and more bass. This is the perfect amp for bass light headphones in my opinion (e.g. Grado SR225e, Beyer DT880, etc). 


Sound quality between the GT-102 and TU-8600R isn’t day and night, but the Elekit is more refined by a hair. Throw in the headphone output and tone control via tube rolling, this is one versatile amp.
 

GT-102 is a great amp too. Good sounding, cool running and virtually no warm up required. Instant gratification for weary nights. ;) 

Edited by Sunnysideup

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I have built the GT 101, predecessor kit to the GT 102. Really fun build and powered up first time without problems. Have been using it ever since but mostly with KG4 and KG 2.5. A link to my review is below. Highly recommended kit, Im thinking of doing the Akitika preamp.

https://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=144923.0

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