Burning Amp Lights Up San Francisco on November 12

America's premiere DIY gathering, the almost-annual Burning Amp, promises to burn brighter in 2017. Scheduled for Sunday, November 12 at San Francisco's Fort Mason Center, the event has become so popular that hours have been extended and the show now runs from 8:30am to 8:00pm.

While the opportunity for DIYers to hear each other's creations, gain fresh insights, and form new friendships has always been one of Burning Amp's main attractions since it began in 2007, the event's speaker presentations and raffle items/giveways have also been major draws. To up the ante on the speaker front, as it were, Burning Amp has lined up a record four audiophile master designers who are experts in their fields—Nelson Pass (amplifier mastermind), Wayne Colburn (Pass Lass master preamp designer), Siegfried Linkwitz (speaker mastermind), and Demian Martin (of Spectral, Monster, Constellation, and all things digital fame). Each will give talks in Fort Mason's Firehouse, rather than in Building C where the rest of the event takes place. Given the Firehouse's 110-person capacity, and the fact that Burning Amp has been known to draw over 200 attendees, many talks are expected to be "arrive early, house full, listen from outside the door" events.

Pass, whose generosity and brilliance are legendary in DIY circles, will discuss his new amplifiers, which DIY Audio will sell as kits. Colburn, in turn, will focus on a new headphone amp design, and discuss the printed circuit boards he can supply for them. Attendees are encouraged to bring headphones to use for audition. Linkwitz will augment the customary demo of his LX series, open-baffle speakers, which are available in both kit and finished form, with a presentation on audio perception.

Martin will demonstrate the only existing sample in the US of a new precision measurement interface for computers which, according to Burning Amp, "has unheard of performance per dollar." Reached via email, Martin wrote, "I'll present on distortion and DIY distortion measurement techniques with Jonathan Novick of Avermetrics. [See John Atkinson's comments on Avermetrics in his 2017 LA Show report.] I'll be demonstrating the "autoranger" from Jan Didden and the RTX6001 from Jens Hansen, and Jonathan will show the Avermetrics products."

"I don't know if we've ever had four high-profile speakers before," reports Charlie Laub, who has taken over event coordination from Mark Cronander. "We even have people begging us to talk, but we don't have any more time to offer them."

Burning Amp's $20 admission fee, which is subsidized by Pass, is waived for anyone who displays their DIY projects. A $10 catered lunch buffet, featuring new chefs who specialize in Indian cuisine, will offer curry, tandoori, rice, vegetarian options, and what Laub describes as "all the food you could possibly eat." In addition, there are usually plenty of refreshments and snacks. Although the sonics in some of the demo rooms may leave a lot to be desired, the natural ambience of Fort Mason, which abuts San Francisco Bay, offers plenty of live references and beauteous distractions.

When asked if attendees could expect any special exhibits this year, Laub replied, "I don't know what you mean by 'special.' Everybody's project is special to them.

"In the audio world, at least from my experience in the DIY side of things, there are different camps. With Nelson Pass coming, there are people really into building amplifiers with certain characteristics, and they follow his work very closely. His lectures are riveting, and their focus is building amp circuits similar to his.

"I, on the other hand, am a loudspeaker builder who looks at amps as a means to an end—to supply the necessary bandwidth and power. Siegfried Linkwitz is a bit in this camp, too. What's interesting is how eagerly this community comes together to exchange ideas even though we're not focused on the same thing."

There really is nothing else like Burning Amp in the US. Even those who cannot follow the technical discussions will find some of DIY designs fascinating and thought-provoking, and others a curious cross between resourceful and mindboggling. If you can get there, it's an event not-to-be-missed.