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A Flexible project aimed at audio and cinema-philes, who require 2 to 8 channels of best in class D amp technology at sensible prices.
A Flexible project aimed at audio and cinema-philes, who require 2 to 8 channels of best in class D amp technology at sensible prices.
9 backers pledged £12,374 to help bring this project to life.

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MA-01 the affordable muliti-channel Hypex N-core Amplifier project video thumbnail
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MA-01 the affordable muliti-channel Hypex N-core Amplifier

£12,374

9

What is a prototype?

A prototype is a preliminary model of something. Projects that offer physical products need to show backers documentation of a working prototype. This gallery features photos, videos, and other visual documentation that will give backers a sense of what’s been accomplished so far and what’s left to do. Though the development process can vary for each project, these are the stages we typically see:

Proof of Concept

Explorations that test ideas and functionality.

Functional Prototype

Demonstrates the functionality of the final product, but looks different.

Appearance Prototype

Looks like the final product, but is not functional.

Design Prototype

Appearance and function match the final product, but is made with different manufacturing methods.

Production Prototype

Appearance, function, and manufacturing methods match the final product.

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Prototype Gallery

These photos and videos provide a detailed look at this project’s development.

KJF audio are small UK company who produce flat-pack speaker kits using full range speaker drivers, we are mostly known for our brilliant Frugel-Horn kits using the Markaudio full range drivers. Our products have been critically acclaimed in reviews by the UK audio press. Our customers are keen audio enthusiasts and music lovers. Our reason for being is to keep high end audio honest. There is so much ‘foo’ sold into the audio market at ridiculous prices. We make and sell stuff that works well at a wallet friendly price with no bull.    

The MA-01 is a fully customisable multi-channel amplifier. Designed for a world of changing needs, this amplifier can be reconfigured back at base so that as your audio setup changes so too can your amplifier. Need a 500/250/125 Watt stereo amplifier for your DIY active speaker build, no problem. Need 6 x 250 Watt channels for your home cinema set up, no problem. A standard stereo set-up, no problem. Return to base to reconfigure your stereo amp for active speakers, no problem. This amplifier was designed in a modular way to allow us to build a custom amplifier for each customer’s needs without every amplifier being a fully custom ground up build. The MA-01 uses the Hypex N-core modules that in the Hi-End hi-fi industry have become synonymous with very high performance.    

I’m a great believer getting the best functionality, great quality and maximum flexibility possible in an amplifier. But, I’m not a great fan of spending 10’s of thousands of pounds to do so. Looking around at today’s high end audio history I have found myself very disappointed with what is available. Sure there is some great engineering out there but that is often overlooked. The latest flagship amplifiers from well known amp manufacturers often contain the same circuit they have used for decades but now command astronomical prices. The difference? Often just a posh, CNCed from billet, box and some marketing fluff. 

I wanted to make something that was absolutely bleeding edge in its performance, up there with the best amps money could buy, but I also wanted to temper that with my enthusiasm for value for money. At the same time the amp needed to be as flexible as possible while providing a high level of good electrical engineering. These 4 design tenets set the design goals. And this is how we achieved them.   

Bleeding edge performance

This was a bit of a no brainer, I’ve followed the development of Hypex amplifier modules for a long time. I’ve used their various DIY modules in projects of my own, they are exemplary amplifiers and in the N-core version have reached a pinnacle of design excellence. The N-core modules are used in a huge array of high-end amplifiers where their performance capability is available at a high price. You can read reviews of very high end equipment all over the internet that contain these modules, active speakers and amplifiers from the likes of Kii, Bel Canto, Mola Mola, Jeff Rowland, Nad, Meridian, Theta Digital Drednought, Classe, Mark Levinson, Nord, to name but a few. The N-core circuit is designed by Bruno Putzeys, an audio engineer of almost legendary status. Bruno’s journey of research into non-linear control theory has been a 20 year long experiment. The technical results speak for themselves, low distortion, noise and output impedance create the holy grail of a straight wire with gain. Music is presented in a completely transparent manner so you can concentrate on the rest of the audio chain. 

Value for money

This is more difficult than the former, I didn’t want this amp to be out of the budget of the dedicated audio and cinema-phile but needed to maintain the commitment to the 4 tenets I mentioned above. What is it that makes other amplifiers so expensive? The biggest thing is the posh box. Most of the amplifiers named above are realised in beautiful CNCed from billet aluminium boxes. They do undoubtedly look every bit the audio jewellery they are meant to be. Placed with a sense of pride on your equally expensive rack they draw admiring glances from your jealous visitors. Sure, we all like nice things and if you are prepared to spend more money to get that, then that is the way to go. I decided to use off the shelf cases from a supplier used by many self-builders with a minimum of extra CNC work to suit my needs. Over many months going back and forth with them I not only came up with a design that looked good enough to grace most audio racks but also one that would allow the custom flexibility I wanted while keeping the build time to an absolute minimum. 

This is key, either an amp can be identical and built on a production line which keeps build cost low, or it can be completely custom and each build requires the case customising, leading not only to a much more expensive build but also to a bit of a DIY feel to the end result. The case we have designed allows a custom design each time with no extra customising needed. Next in the list are distribution costs, employing a network of distributors in each territory and then adding a layer of actual dealers really ads up. Imagine an amp that cost £100 to build, if each level of the sales chain was to profit, even at only 30% mark-up the price would soon spiral. £100 becomes £130 for the manufacturer, then £169 for the distributor and finally £220 for the dealer. That is an example of an extremely simple chain. There is transport between territories, the vagaries of currency fluctuation, marketing and branding to add into that as well and maybe even further layers. The only way around this is a direct sales method where I sell you the amplifier direct.  

The specifications

Built around a single circuit board containing all of the connectors and electronics the microprocessor-controlled circuit provides all the back panel Inputs and house keeping duties required by the amplifier modules and provides a simple user interface. Each amplifier module provides feedback about it’s status to the housekeeping board, electrical status, temperature, DC detection, and clipping are all monitored, recorded and presented to the user. Error states are displayed on the RGB LED ring around the single push button on the front of the case and modules are shut down under extreme conditions. 

The controller also controls the on board dual near silent 120mm PWM fans. It’s a fact that 6 x 500 Watt amps or 8 x 250 Watt amps suck a lot of juice! Class-D amps are hugely more efficient than Class-A but still produce some heat which needs to be controlled. Due to keeping the costs affordable, huge case fins were out, instead 2 silent pulse width-controlled fans are employed. The internal temperature of the amplifiers is fed back to the microprocessor which keeps a close eye on the thermal limits. When the amplifiers start operating above their nominal range the microprocessor starts turning the fan slowly enough that they are inaudible, as you push the volume and hence the temperature even higher, the fans speed up to compensate, even at full pelt they are <20dbA. They are also electrically isolated from the rest of the system so none of your audiophile sensibilities should be offended here.  

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The amplifier modules are fully differential (balanced) and so it is possible to connect both fully balanced sources or single ended sources. I looked at the engineering of the competition and almost without exception they provide both an XLR for balanced connections and a phono for single ended connections, seems to make sense doesn’t it? Hang on though, you can only use one at a time so there is a switch provided to switch to one or the other. I definitely don’t want a switch in the signal path! I decided to use a much more modern combo connector from Neutrik which can provide either a balanced or single ended connection via gold plated pins directly to the gold traces on the PCB. For balanced connection you can use the tried and tested (AES 48 compliant) XLR connector and for single ended sources you can either make or purchase a phono to XLR cable which will provide a shielded cable or you can use any unbalanced cable with a ¼ inch TR (tip/ring) cable which will also insert directly into the combo connector. OK, your posh audiophile cable with solid silver phono plugs either end will be redundant, but you’ll be using high quality well designed industry standard connectors instead.  

Connecting your speakers using a high quality, solid and versatile connector that takes any wire you throw at it is important, especially when you can potentially serve your speakers 500W of power. The audiophile CMC branded gold plated connectors fulfil all of those needs. They take a standard 4mm banana/spring/z-plug if you've got cables terminated like the cable kits we supply. The outer barrel is threaded and opens up so that you can clamp down on large spade connectors or 10mm² cable. The robust thread will hold even the heaviest cables in place. 

It is important, in the global world we live, to ensure the amplifier can be used anywhere the prospective customer might live in the future. In the past with linear amplifiers it has been necessary to change transformers for the local power. You can plug 230V or 110V power into this amplifier and it will auto switch so you can move around the world and take your amp with you. 

  • 8 channel
  • Fully balanced and single ended operation
  • AES-48  compliant
  • 12V trigger
  • Single button function control and warning
  • MCU controlled
  • DC detection and protection
  • Clip indicator
  • Active temperature control and indication
  • Industry standard Multi function Neutrik connectors
  • Audiophile quality CMC speaker connectors
  • Gold PCB traces
  • Gold plated internal connectors
  • No silly marketing foo to confuse you
  • 230V and 110V operation via the IEC connector as standard
  •  

Installation friendly

The front panel can be swapped for and installation friendly 19 inch rack mount panel. This would be the same layout and look as the one shown here but with a wider face plate with standard holes for a your rack. If you run a mobile sound system or if you have your amps hidden away in an equipment room this is the option for you. In addition to your amp reward please also select the rack mount panel option.

If you prefer Neutrik Speakon connectors instead of the binding posts shown in the prototype images we will be offering an alternative back at no extra cost. We will ask you prefer when we are building your amp.

Production

The MA-01 will be assembled as required in Warwickshire, United Kingdom, but it is a truly international piece of equipment. The cases are milled in Italy, the PCBs are printed in Hong Kong and the amp modules come from Hypex in the Netherlands. The initial production run will start as soon as the goal is reached and funding is guaranteed. The intention of the campaign is to be able to order enough components to keep the costs realistic. Getting 1 cabinet milled is substantially more expensive than 25. The same for PCB and component purchase. Purchasing this amplifier through this campaign will help kickstart production and will get you the amplifiers even cheaper than the proposed sales prices.

Kick-starting production of the MA-01, I'm offering the following rewards. 

1) Sincere Gratitude - If you want to help support the MA-01 project with a donation I will be very grateful. Your name will be listed on the project updates page so everyone can see how generous and kind you are :) 

2) Stereo 125 W per channel – One two channel module producing 125 W per channel into a 4 Ohm Load (75W into 8Ohm) this leaves 3 slots empty for populating at a later date should your needs expand. Our cheapest option and more than enough for most needs. 

3) 6 Channel Stereo 125 W per channel – Three two channel modules producing 125 W per channel into a 4 Ohm Load (75W into 8Ohm) this leaves 1 slot for empty for populating at a later date should your needs expand. Great for a either a multi-channel movie system or a 3 way active system. 

4) Stereo 250 W per channel – One two channel module producing 250 W per channel into a 4 Ohm Load (75W into 8Ohm) this leaves 3 slots empty for populating at a later date should your needs expand. Our mid-power stereo model for most of our audiophile customers 

5) Dual mono 250 W per channel – Two mono modules producing 250 W per each into a 4 Ohm Load (75W into 8Ohm) this leaves 2 slots empty for populating at a later date should your needs expand. Our mid-power ‘purist’ mono block system for the real enthusiast. 

6) 6 Channel Stereo 250 W per channel – Three two channel modules producing 250 W per channel into a 4 Ohm Load (75W into 8Ohm) this leaves 1 slots empty for populating at a later date should your needs expand. Our mid-power amplifier for active speakers or for a multi-channel movie system. 

7) Stereo 500 W per channel – One two channel module producing 500 W per channel into a 4 Ohm Load (75W into 8Ohm) this leaves 2 slots empty for populating at a later date should your needs expand. The Kick ass power for those who crave power! 

8) Dual mono 500 W per channel – Two mono modules producing 500 W per each into a 4 Ohm Load (75W into 8Ohm) this leaves 2 slots empty for populating at a later date should your needs expand. This is our most powerful ‘purist’ system for those audiophiles that need a serious amount of horsepower. 

9) 6 Channel Stereo 500 W per channel – Three two channel modules producing 500 W per channel into a 4 Ohm Load (75W into 8Ohm) this is fully populated, with 6 x 500 W channels in use there is not enough room for further tweeter modules. This is a serious system, using as much power as the grid can give, you’ll be powering seriously big active speakers or running a small line array at a gig. 

10) 5 channel 250 W cinema amp – If you love cinema you’ll want the best amplification you can get. Utilising 2 stereo modules for your left, right and surround channels with an extra mono module for the cleanest signal possible for your centre (voice) channel. This option should provide all the power you need. 

11) 6 channel active speaker amp – If like me you are a speaker designer or wish to upgrade your passive speakers to active you’ll need an amp man enough for the challenge. This amp uses a two channel 500 W module for your bass drivers, a 250 W two channel modules for your mid drivers and a 125 W two channel module for your tweeters. This is a serious amp for those who are really serious about listening to music.

Risks and challenges

What are the risks and challenges?

Having a fully working prototype the risks for this project are very few but include.

Manufacture of Components – I’ve fully priced all of the components and have integrated the choices into my prototype where they function as expected. I have no worries on the supply side. I’ve even designed and costed sturdy bespoke packaging.

Electrical Safety - There are many safety regulations with regards to electrical products. The MA-01 is safe for world-wide distribution. With some of the pledge money I will be able to get proper certification sorted out so you can be sure of safe operation.

Electrical Components - I have received PCBs from the fabricator for the prototypes and I am satisfied the quality is excellent. I have not used this company to assemble the PCB components before, but I'm confident of their ability as one of the largest fabricators in the business.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge £5 or more About US$ 6

    19 inch rack mount front plate

    Please select this if you need an amp with a rack mount front plate. It will be an identical layout to the front shown here. It will be made from 4mm brushed aluminium and have standard holes for mounting in your rack. Don't order this if you haven't already ordered an amp :)

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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge £20 or more About US$ 25

    Sincere Gratitude

    If you want to help support the MA-01 project with a donation I will be very grateful. Your name will be listed on the project updates page so everyone can see how generous and kind you are :)

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    0 backers
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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge £850 or more About US$ 1,078

    Stereo 125 W per channel

    One two channel module producing 125 W per channel into a 4 Ohm load (75W into 8Ohm) this leaves 3 slots empty for populating at a later date should your needs expand. Our cheapest option and more than enough for most needs. If you need to add modules to complete your configuration this can be done at production time.

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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge £920 or more About US$ 1,167

    Stereo 250 W per channel

    One two channel module producing 250 W per channel into a 4 Ohm Load (130W into 8Ohm) this leaves 3 slots empty for populating at a later date should your needs expand. Our mid-power stereo model for most of our audiophile customers. If you need to add modules to complete your configuration this can be done at production time.

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    Limited 0 backers
    £
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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge £945 or more About US$ 1,199

    Dual mono 250 W per channel

    Two mono modules producing 250 W per each into a 4 Ohm Load (130W into 8Ohm) this leaves 2 slots empty for populating at a later date should your needs expand. Our mid-power ‘purist’ mono block system for the real enthusiast. If you need to add modules to complete your configuration this can be done at production time.

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 1 backer
    £
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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge £1,015 or more About US$ 1,287

    Stereo 500 W per channel

    – One two channel module producing 500 W per channel into a 4 Ohm Load (270W into 8Ohm) this leaves 2 slots empty for populating at a later date should your needs expand. The Kick ass power for those who crave power! If you need to add modules to complete your configuration this can be done at production time.

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 0 backers
    £
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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge £1,060 or more About US$ 1,344

    Dual mono 500 W per channel

    Two mono modules producing 500 W per each into a 4 Ohm Load (270W into 8Ohm) this leaves 2 slots empty for populating at a later date should your needs expand. This is our most powerful ‘purist’ system for those audiophiles that need a serious amount of horsepower. If you need to add modules to complete your configuration this can be done at production time.

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    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 1 backer
    £
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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge £1,245 or more About US$ 1,579

    6 Channel 125 W per channel

    Three two channel modules producing 125 W per channel into a 4 Ohm Load (75W into 8Ohm) this leaves 1 slot for empty for populating at a later date should your needs expand. Great for a either a multi-channel movie system or a 3 way active system. If you need to add modules to complete your configuration this can be done at production time.

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    Limited 0 backers
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  9. Select this reward

    Pledge £1,290 or more About US$ 1,636

    5 channel 250 W cinema amp

    If you love cinema you’ll want the best amplification you can get. Utilising 2 stereo modules for your left, right and surround channels with an extra mono module for the cleanest signal possible for your centre (voice) channel. This option should provide all the power you need. If you need to add modules to complete your configuration this can be done at production time.

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 0 backers
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  10. Select this reward

    Pledge £1,410 or more About US$ 1,788

    6 Channel 250 W per channel

    Three two channel modules producing 250 W per channel into a 4 Ohm Load (130W into 8Ohm) this leaves 1 slots empty for populating at a later date should your needs expand. Our mid-power amplifier for active speakers or for a multi-channel movie system. If you need to add modules to complete your configuration this can be done at production time.

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    Limited 2 backers
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  11. Select this reward

    Pledge £1,495 or more About US$ 1,896

    6 channel tiered active speaker amp

    If like me you are a speaker designer or wish to upgrade your passive speakers to active you’ll need an amp man enough for the challenge. This amp uses a two channel 500 W module for your bass drivers, a 250 W two channel modules for your mid drivers and a 125 W two channel module for your tweeters. This is a serious amp for those who are really serious about listening to music. If you need to add modules to complete your configuration this can be done at production time.

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 1 backer
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  12. Select this reward

    Pledge £1,675 or more About US$ 2,125

    8 Channel 250 W per channel

    Four two channel modules producing 250 W per channel into a 4 Ohm Load (130W into 8Ohm) This is a fully loaded amplidier using every slot we've got available. Great for those build 4 way active speakers.

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    2 backers
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  13. Select this reward

    Pledge £1,710 or more About US$ 2,169

    6 Channel 500 W per channel

    Three two channel modules producing 500 W per channel into a 4 Ohm Load (270W into 8Ohm) this is fully populated, with 6 x 500 W channels in use there is not enough room for further tweeter modules. This is a serious system, using as much power as the grid can give, you’ll be powering seriously big active speakers or running a small line array at a gig. If you need to add modules to complete your configuration this can be done at production time.

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    Limited 0 backers
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  14. Select this reward

    Pledge £2,600 or more About US$ 3,298

    Custom Reward no.1

    A pair of boxes containing 2x 500 mono and 2 x 250 mono modules in each box

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Funding period

- (30 days)