Audio amplifiers are all around us. They are essential in the home, in portable form, and in the studio to raise up the volume of instruments, microphones, and speakers — retaining the original sound characteristics and keeping background noises to a minimum. Here at Tindie, we have an extensive range of unique amplifiers for various audio applications and we know the choice can be daunting, so let’s have a closer look at whats on offer, what they do, and what purpose they serve:
A pre-amplifier is designed to raise the volume early in the signal chain, to make it loud enough to play back comfortably or record later on. You’ll find them in microphones and guitar pickups, to bring usually quiet real-world sounds into the studio as faithfully as possible! A good quality preamp will add volume, while minimising noise and distortion from the incoming sound; which are crucial in the early stages of amplification.
A tube (or valve) amplifier amplifies an incoming signal like any modern amplifier, but enriches it with a warm vintage character we associate with classic recordings from the 1960s and 70s. Made using vacuum tubes, these amplifiers were commonplace in guitar amps, stereos and radios from the 1930s onwards, but come the 1970s it was the end for the tubes in commercial amplifiers. The invention of silicone transistors displaced vacuum tubes to make equipment portable and low cost. A resurgence for that sound has been re-kindled in recent years, with many audiophiles seeking the rich, natural tone which tubes offer, not made possible with digital amplifiers. Aside from the sound, they also look great!
You may have worked this out for yourself! This kind of amplifier is designed for use with headphones, to amplify the signal from a computer, portable music player or smartphone — especially useful as many modern devices have a low-level output. A headphone amplifier will enable you to listen at a higher volume, but will also provide you with a much more dynamic, full sounding output which is ideal for larger, high fidelity headphones.
Tiny Tindie Amplification
The winner of Tindie’s smallest amplifier has to be the eeZeeAmp, which is about the size of some pocket change, but still features everything you’d expect to control. A close second goes to Tymkrs Amplify Me, and the Amplify Me Clean both barely bigger than a 9V battery but capable of big things, as seen here:
The beauty of DIY electronics is out-of-the-box ideas which can lead to experiments beyond the familiar. A good example of this is the Experimenter’s audio amplifier kit which comes with an amplifier complete with audio inputs, speaker and built in breadboard to test out your projects. How about a hearing amplifier for people who are hard of hearing? The one designed by Heilingch was made for his father who suffered with hearing difficulties. Some include high-tech features, for example the CleanAmp 2 which eliminates the thump sound created when most amplifiers are powered on as well as delivering efficient sound replication, avoiding inaudible frequencies.
To Kit or Not to Kit?
Many of the amplifiers featured here come as DIY kits to solder yourself – doing so will bring you a greater understanding of the electronics and more than a smidgen of pride as you admire and show off your supremely loud music to friends, family.. and neighbors1! If you’re a guitar player – try the Guitar Mini Amplifier Kit from Nightfire electronics for example. If soldering isn’t for you, you’ll find a slick selection of pre-made devices to suit your needs — check each product page for details.
Avoid the Loudness War!
Look after your hearing and you’ll enjoy a lifetime of music, conversation and birdsong, so enjoy amplified sounds within reason! Give your ears a break from loud sounds, don’t crank the volume needlessly and protect the hearing of younger people whose hearing may still be developing. Stay enjoying music together forever!
There we have it, amplifiers for all applications — big, small, home or studio. Head over to Tindie’s amplifiers section to browse the full range.