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Elektor 100W Darlington amplifier

This design was intended for hi-fi use, or as a slave,

bridging a gap between lower and higher power
offerings, 'the need arose for an inexpensive, good
quality, medium rated power amplifier design'. Design
criteria were: must deliver 100W into 4 ohms, distortion
must not exceed 0.1% at 100W (even at 20kHz),
extensive power bandwidth, 'short-circuit proof',
symmetrical supply negating use of output coupling
capacitors, easy-to-obtain components, straightforward
construction and calibration, should be economically
viable and reliable.

Relatively unsophisticated, with a low component count,

the input was bootstrapped to increase the input
impedance and current-limiting was included to
supplement the fuses in the supply lines. Notable is the
zener stabilised input 'tail', the class A driver being fed
by the input transistor directly, the relatively low
impedances of feedback network (and high value of DC
blocking cap), 'tight' output transistor Vce of 100V, but
conservatively rated mains transformer (mains filtering
The bridge rectifier, smoothers, fuses and indicator LEDs
were mounted on a separate PCB that sat below the
amplifier PCB of the same size making a compact
structure. Each output device had it's own SK84
1.2C/W or SK03 100mm 1.8C/W heat-sink. Adding a
transformer then offered a complete and compact power
amplifier solution.
Although no problems were encountered by the author
and other constructors, compared to the later
(December) Crescendo FET design which many thought
unstable (two later versions of the Crescendo were
published in May '84 - the 'Mini' and April '01 - the ME),
the following mods were suggested by one builder to
overcome the HF problems that he experienced;
"Reduce C6 to 27pf, and C7 and C8 to 10pF.
Remove C1 and the current-limiting (T5, T6,
D2, D3, R13, R15, R17 and R19). Parallel
01F with D1 and 1F (non-polarised)
across bias transistor (T2, C to E). Replace
C2 with 22F (non-polarised) and fit a
screen between the stackable PSU and PA
No thermal feedback for the bias was possible in the
original, the bias transistor being mounted on the upper
PCB, close to the input pair.
A variety of complementary Darlington pairs have been
used in this design (the originals offering 150W, 100V,
3MHz, hFE 1,000). Lower power versions using
MJ2501/3001 (150W, 80V, 1MHz, hFE 1,000 @ 5A)
output devices have been seen, as have others with
higher power stages using faster MJ11015/16s (200W,

120V, 2MHz, hFE 2,000 @ 20A). Versions with Rs 16-19

halved in value have appeared.
Additional components, intended to improve
performance have been added to some builds.

A popular and easily upgraded design, sometimes

described as 'winning' especially when compared in
'blind' tests with more complex circuits, that bears
resemblances to older RCA designs. After more than 25
years versions are still being built, Velleman's (2008)
K8060 amplifier (below), K8081 amplifier and K8077
sub-woofer kits all use designs which are a close match,
less one resistor. Recommended heat-sink (for both
output devices) 1.2C/W.

Looking at the respective RC networks, the original

version offers a gain of 28.5 somewhere between
1.33Hz - 321kHz, whilst the much later Velleman gives
a gain of 34 between 3.39Hz - 1.026MHz with half the
quiescent current using higher gain (125W, 100V, hFE
3,000 @ 5A) output devices. Personal preference would
retain the lower HF roll-over and increase the higher LF
roll-off, ie; 10Hz - 300kHz. Additional bi-polar caps
across the electrolytics, zener and bias transistor could
improve, as can attention to the bias, as seen in the
Velleman where the bias transistor is fitted to the heatsink. Loading the base-emitters of the protection pair
with capacitance will prevent triggering on permissible
transients. No version seen has a thermally mated input
Has anyone run any of these with FETs?
Another 'good' Elektor design (300W/4R, Nov '95) by A.
Riedl, based on an earlier 600W design with five output

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