Amp Camp Amp
August 4th 2020 Update
ACA chassis have sold out but are now available for pre-order, shipping September 7th.
June 29th 2020 Update
After a long wait, the new and improved version of the ACA, the ACA V1.8, is in stock.
- V1.8 wiring diagram
- V1.8 build guide (under construction, only minor changes to following the V1.6 build guide)
- V1.8 parts kit contains a new rear mode selector switch allowing you to use regular stereo single ended RCA, or switch between
- Balanced Mono
- Parallel Mono
- Bridged Mono
- V1.8 chassis has two new features
Please note that the build guide for the ACA V1.8 has not yet been released, and until it is you will need to ensure you wire it up according to the new V1.8 wiring diagram. There are some minor but critical wiring changes compared to V1.6. These changes will be detailed in a V1.8 build guide in the coming weeks.
A Beautiful "Class A" Amplifier Kit
Stereo chassis or monoblocks. Easy to Build. Everything included.
Parts Kit $129 - Power Supply $49 - Chassis $149
Watt's new in the Amp Camp Amp V1.6?
We're excited to announce the latest revision of our most popular and in demand kit of all time, the Amp Camp Amp. Use our ACA options wizard to help you pick the right options for you.
Improvements since V1.5:
- We have a new "ACA Information Directory" that gives you links to everything you need
- V1.6 features new and upgraded connectors and switches, including a Neutrik XLR input so you can build balanced monoblocks with twice the power!
- It's got a new high quality 24V 5A power supply, increasing power from the previous version's 5W up to 8W
- Comprehensive step-by-step ACA V1.6 build guide hosted at guides.diyaudio.com
- Just solder a few more wires to turn it into a single-ended or fully balanced monoblock with twice the power of the standard ACA!
- A front power switch
- Black or silver front panels, and both blue or red LEDs
What Exactly is an Amp Camp Amp Anyway?
The Amp Camp Amp was created by Nelson Pass for a special event called "Amp Camp" in which 20 people built their very first amplifier from start to finish in one afternoon. The event was held outdoors on a lovely sunny day in California and all attendees walked away with a fully functioning amplifier and a smile on their dials.
Naturally, other people wanted share that same amazing experience of successfully building their first amplifier so diyAudio has created the three essential ingredients you need for that same journey - the parts, the instructions, and the community.
Read more in the Amp Camp Amp article hosted on diyAudio.
How does it sound?
Once you build the Amp Camp Amp you'll never look at power and distortion figures the same way again.
Each channel is just 8 watts, but they're very good watts. In fact Nelson's DIY endeavors are called "First Watt" because in his own words "The first watt is the most important watt". The amp has enough power for medium to high efficiency speakers at normal listening levels. They sound even better bi-amped with an active crossover.
- "Insane amount of detail, deep bass and crystal highs" - Starbender
- "Great power, bass and massive detail" - Waam68
- "Highly detailed, yet smooth and sweet" - Mitchba
- "I am amazed at the sound quality" - Neoinc
It's not just a kit, it's an education - here's why everyone is falling in love with the Amp Camp Amp:
It can take days of searching and ordering from multiple suppliers to obtain all these parts. We've done that for you. Everything you need is included, other than basic tools.
Detailed Build Guide
We've put together an all new detailed build guide for the new ACA complete with step by step photos and instructions so you're never lost. Plus, our friends at TekThing recorded a beautiful 30 minute build-video of how to put together the previous version!
Quick and Easy to Build
Even a kid can build it and many have! All you need it one afternoon and you'll have finished and be listening to a beautiful class A stereo amplifier!
The Amp Camp Amp Kit makes a stereo amplifier that sounds great - here's why
Designed by an Audio Legend - Nelson Pass
Nelson's company Pass Labs makes some of the finest (and most expensive) amplifiers in the world. This amplifier has its roots in decades of award winning amplifier design experience.
Minimalist Amplifier Topology
Less is more. Nelson is famous for his "Zen" approach to design and this amp is no exception - it's a minimalist circuit that delivers purity through simplicity.
A Pure "Class A" Design
Most amplifier designs switch transistors on and off causing noise. Class A amplifiers are always operating in their sweet spot, which is why people say they sound "silky smooth".
Save Time and Money
You could spend days or weeks trying to find the right parts, then paying over and over for shipping from multiple suppliers. Or you could buy the Amp Camp Amp kit!
So Simple You'll (Actually) Finish ItWe've got you covered with easy to follow step-by-step visual Amp Camp Amp Build Guide. There's also an amazing build-video of an earlier ACA version from TekThing showing construction from start to finish!
Benefit From New SkillsDon't sit on the sidelines - get building today! You'll learn new skills you can apply to other projects, refine your ear and duly feel pride in your accomplishment.
Enjoy Quality SoundIf you want to hear the sound of one transistor clapping this is the ticket. Dead silent, pure and luxurious. Reviews speak for themselves: "Insane detail", "deep bass", "crystal highs", "great power", "fluid", "sharp", "smooth", "sweet".
Relax Knowing This Is a Great ChoiceThe Amp Camp Amp Kit sounds like a much more expensive amplifier, is quick and easy to build, simple to understand, includes all the parts, comes with instructions, and has a wealth of support if you need it. You can't go wrong with this tried and tested project.
Meet Other Audiophile MakersAs you breathe life into these amps, they'll literally breathe it back to you! Be a part of the super friendly Amp Camp Amp maker community on diyAudio and meet other makers that share your obsession with quality sound.
A step-by-step build guide and pit crew standing by
We've just launched "diyAudio Guides" (beta), a brand new place to find and share knowledge about audio DIY. The Amp Camp Amp Build Guide is now more accessible than ever. Follow step-by-step on your phone or tablet while you're actually building the amp or printed the guide as a PDF - it's never been easier to complete your Amp Camp Amp in one sitting!
If you need more help, there's hundreds of diyAudio members who consider it their mission to help any ACA builder get their first amplifier build completed. No question is a stupid question in the ACA thread, so join in the discussion and meet other first time and veteran builders in the Amp Camp Amp discussion thread.
Watch TekThing build the ACA
What's In The Complete Kit?
- High quality genuine parts purchased directly from "Tier 1" US distributors such as Mouser and Digikey
- Printed circuit boards (Revision 1.6)
- Transistors including Linear Systems LSK170 JFETs and IRC MOSFETs
- Switches, LEDs, capacitors, resistors, we include everything
- The same parts quality that Nelson Pass uses in his own amplifiers
- Components purchased either from "Tier 1" distributors or do-it-yourself audio favorites like Parts Express
- Keratherm® MOSFET insulators - very efficient and no grease required
- M3 board mounting standoffs, w/ stainless steel bolts and washers
- Stainless steel mounting bolts and washers for MOSFETs
- Gold plated speaker terminals and RCA Jacks
- Power connector jack
- Copper hookup wire in assorted colors
- Cover plate for XLR hole (for advanced users, the XLR hole gives the possibility to create monoblocks with 15 watts per channel)
- From Meanwell, the best known producer of high quality SMPS in the world
- The power supply is universal and operates from 86-264VAC and 47-63HZ
- It comes from a best-of-breed manufacturer, has less noise, more power and weighs more than twice as much as the previous power supply
- You can read more about it on the Meanwell 24V 5A power supply page
- This new power supply is also a suitable upgrade for all previous Amp Camp Amps, just plug and play (see notes here)
- This power supply is Nelson's lab tested recommendation, but to save money you can BYO 19V or 24V 5A laptop style power supply. YMMV!
- It has a generic 3 prong IEC 60320/C13 power cord inlet suitable for use with a "kettle cord"
- We ship it with a Linvox 3271V86 6 foot cord that has a US 3 prong plug. If that plug doesn't work for you, you can use a plug adapter, or "borrow" an IEC cord from your least favorite piece of equipment.
3. The Chassis
- From the Italian chassis artisans at Hi-Fi 2000
- Custom design for the ACA / ACA parts kit
- Ships direct to you from Italy with FedEx International
- All the work done is for you - just screw it together!
- 10mm aluminum front panels drilled (dual LED holes), anodized and silkscreened with hole for a front power switch
- 3mm aluminum rear panels drilled (power jack, RCA input, speaker output, power switch and XLR expansion module hole) and anodized
- 40mm aluminum heatsinks pre-drilled and pre-tapped with M3 threads for easy mounting of circuit boards
This project requires some tools.
- A good Soldering Iron and good Solder
- Digital Multi-Meter (DMM)
- Philips Screwdriver
- Needle-Nosed Pliers
- Diagonal Cutters
Nice to have
If you bought each part yourself
- Bolt Depot (Bolts) - $7.71
- Digikey (Small electronic components) - $42.43
- diyAudio Store (Keratherm, Transistors, PCBs) - $71.89
- Mouser (Power Supply and power cable) - $62.33
- Parts Express (Mounting hardware, wire, etc) - $57.18
- Customized chassis - over $200, more likely $300 including heatsink tapping
- Total: $441.54, plus a day hunting for parts and a day drilling your chassis and tapping your heatsinks
Save money, and time
To assemble this same kit yourself would cost over $440 including parts, hardware, sales tax and shipping. And you wouldn't get the tapped holes or front and rear panels drilled. And then there's your time in buying all the parts and working the chassis...
* All prices were calculated live on 11 June 2016 using real products and a shipping address of San Francisco, some prices updated May 4th 2018
|Frequency response||10 - 20 kHz +/- 0.1 dB|
|Power (stereo)||8W into 8 Ohms per channel|
|Power (monoblock)||15W into 8 Ohms per channel. See ACA operation modes for details on monoblock operation.|
|Power Measurement||Measured at clipping with 3% distortion|
|Distortion||0.7% at 1 Watt (primarily second order harmonic which being even-order is described as "sweet, tubey" and being low-order as "benign/inaudible")|
|Input impedance||10 Kohm|
|Output noise||100 uV|
|Power supply input||Universal 86-264VAC 47-63HZ|
|Power supply output||24V 5A|
|Heat dissipation||20 Watts per Channel|
The ACA is a minimalist, low power amp that's easy to build and the perfect choice for your first amp building project. It's the "fixie bike" of Class A amplifiers; no gears, no brakes; zen and the art of amplifier maintenance.
It likes efficient speakers that present an easy load to the amplifier. The right pairing will give you great sound full of audiophile buzz-words, and more than adequate volume for everyday listening or to annoy your neighbours (8W with 91db speakers gives 93db at the couch). Double the power per channel with monoblocks.
If you have a particular pair of speakers in mind, ask about them in the ACA discussion thread.
You're In Good Company
The Amp Camp Amp Kit has received coverage in these publications
The reviews speak for themselves
This is the Best "First" Amplifier Kit You Can Buy
A beautiful class A amplifier design from the master of the art with all the parts, instructions and help you need.
I'm EU based, so only ordered the parts kit from DIY Audio, the chassis is from the EU in any case. I've been building Eurorack modules for several years now, which means I have familiarity with getting a bag of parts, a circuit board, and some kind of a build guide-- that's part of what I'll be comparing to.
PCBs and components. All top quality. Very nice sturdy boards, Bournes trimmer pots, .... the baseline standard is "very good to excellent". You'll have to work hard find better components.
Board spacing is quite generous. My biggest learning issue was bending the resistors 1/4 inch out from their ends; my habit from Eurorack is to bend right where the wire leaves the ceramic. Soldering was simple and fast. I did have to raise the temperature for one or two joins where the contract traces were larger; this is expected as the larger traces pipe away the heat faster. I mentioned that I have experience, I want to add that yes, I still use the printed circuit diagram and check off each part as I add it to the board. I find this really satisfying, like crossing items off your to=do list, and a key to any successful build is parts management.
Eurorack usually doesn't require a wiring harness (it is usually etched into the top PCB, and you solder the jacks/pots/switches/LEDS directly into the PCB), so making the harness was more mental energy than expected. However, the amount of supplied wire is very generous and forgiving, and the instructions clear and straightforward. I enjoyed learning how the author(s) structured and present the information.
The instruction manual is very good. It is clearly designed for a motivated novice, i.e. small steps with lots of detail. It is also evident that the authors have walked many people through this, and iterated the build guide as they did so.
I work slowly, because this is a hobby not a job, and spend way too much time on each design decision. I'm about 5 hours in and just finishing the wire harness. I think I could build it in half the time next time.
Very happy with my amp camp.
I bought the aca 1.6 kit as my first project, it was straight forward to put together.
It sounds fantastic, very smooth. I use it with 8ohm 88db 3 way speakers, the sound good but miss tight bass, nevertheless the midrange and highs are fantastic and non-fatiguing.
I am going to build the M2X to have some more power.
The aca is definitely a keeper, also it dissipates 40watt vs the 160watt of the m2x, so useful for the hot summers.
Coming from the Heathkit, Dynaco and Hafler kits generation, building this kit was an easy and fun project. The build instructions and step by step layout was easy to follow. For the diy person there's no better enjoyment than to build your own great sounding audio gear. This Amp Camp Amp is a very clean sounding amp, you will not be disappointed
I've more than 30 years experience listening to Hi-End equipment, but I hardly found a solid state amplifier that's cheap enough and sound that good, the greatest part of this amplifier is simple, though the output just 5W (24V power supply, stereo), but it can drive my Totem Rainmaker (4 Ohm) with quality sound, and less than 10 hours after I finished the construction! I'm no good in circuit reading and complex wiring, but I'd manage to make this within one day and the bias adjust is easy! Highly recommend for anyone love quality sound!
At long last, and after 3 iterations, I’m reviewing my ACA 1.6.
I bought one complete kit plus an additional kit not including the chassis and power supply. Being new to DIY audio, I built the first kit exactly per 6L6’s excellent instructions. It went without a hitch and was a ton of fun to build. Any downsides? I wasn’t happy with my (really) old speakers with the ACA and I went shopping for something that would work better.
I ended up with (to my own surprise) a set of B&W CM5 S2’s and wow! What an amazing little amp! Such a lively, fun, clean sound! After years with music as a sideline affair, I’ve finally re-discovered my passion!
It had been my plan to use the second ACA kit (and much more heatsink) to create a bridged (approx) 15 watt amp. After living with the “Stock” amp for a couple of months and reading some of Nelson Pass’s writing on the subject, I decided to to use the second kit to bi-amp my speakers instead.
So, another power supply, much more heatsink, and 2 iterations later, I’m thrilled to say that my 4 individual amplifiers, in a cabinet of my own making, are powering a pair of bookshelf speakers in a way that I never dreamed possible from such low power and such small speakers.
It really is the first watt that matters most!
And the support here at DIYAudio is amazing! So much knowledge…
I can’t thank you all enough for helping me experience music again this way!
I bought this amp to test Paul Klipsch statement that all he needed was a great 5 watt amplifier to drive his Klipschorns. I will attest that this amplifier does to job extremely well. Great kit. This is my second build of a Nelson Pass amp. I built a First Watt F5 several years ago to compare it to my Harmon Kardon Citation II. All three amps are sound fantastic.
What a fantastic amp! Easy to build (the trickiest part was prepping the chassis - I didn't purchase the diyaudiostore chassis, see NZ import duty legislation, but that's another story). The sound with a B1 buffer preamp and a pair of full range Markaudio Alpair 7s is magical. A perfect balance between detail and ease of listening - a very well mannered amp. With said speakers the amp runs out of steam a bit; I'll purchase another kit and convert to a pair of mono blocks.
I have listened to very expensive systems that don't afford any more listening pleasure than this.
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