About Pass DIY

Nelson Pass has been an early contributor to the audio DIY scene; It has been said that Nelson has a knack of explaining engineering things very clearly in a few words, and that he obviously enjoys doing it. He is also a very active contributor at www.diyaudio.com. Being very generous with advice, tips, and complete amplifier designs that people can build.

What does Nelson Pass get out of this interaction?

“I like to speak to the teenager (me) who wanted to know this stuff—that's my audience. There are always people who appreciate a decent explanation that gets to the meat and potatoes. I see it all as light entertainment with a little education thrown in. The academic paper approach has its place, but it seems intended for people who mostly understand the stuff already. If you want to communicate with DIYers, you depend more on colorful analogies, a little hand waving, and very little  differential calculus. I get lots of personal satisfaction out of the whole enterprise. It gives me an outlet for some cool ideas and things that otherwise would stay bottled up, and I have an excuse to explore offbeat approaches purely for their entertainment value. Also, the process of communicating DIY stuff is a two way street—I would say I get about as much as I give. Nelson Pass”

Son of Zen — Nelson Pass / 1997

The Zen has proven to be a popular and enduring do-it-yourself amplifier. The design addresses the audiophile's enthusiasm for singleended amplification, but is even more interesting for its exploration of the performance available at the extremes of simplicity, having only a single gain device. Judging by the mail, more than a thousand of them have been constructed, not including a couple of commercial rip-offs. Incoming mail is an excellent barometer of interest and taste among the readers. Letters suggesting design improvements provide the direction and the excuse to proceed with the Son of Zen. It responds to the following common… More...

Zen Variations 4 — Nelson Pass / 2002

The Penultimate Zen is the sum of several incremental improvements to the original Zen amplifier of 1994. Eight years just flies by, doesn’t it? These improvements are contained in parts 2 through 4 of the Zen Variations, and is likely the last version of this amp, although by no means the end of the variations on the theme of single stage amplification. In part 2 we developed an improved active current source load for the single gain device which is at the heart of the amplifier. Originally designed for the Aleph amplifier series, this current source doubles the output current… More...

The Sweet Spot — Nelson Pass / 2009

Every audiophile understands the concept of the “sweet spot”, that happy balance of conditions that elicits the best possible sound. It can be a particular listening spot, the best positioning of loudspeakers, or the fortuitous combination of components which complement each other perfectly. It should be no surprise that the desire for the best performance takes the search for the sweet spot into the interiors of the components themselves. This article will concern itself with finding the sweet spot for each gain device in audio amplifiers. It is a commonly held belief in audio that the best amplifiers are composed… More...

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