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Old 19th April 2008, 08:57 AM   #1
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Default Does Gainclone need periodic tuneups?

Hello, forum

This is my first post, and my construction skills are minimal--TIA for patience!

My question is about whether gainclones need periodic maintenance and adjustment.

I have a 3886 chipamp.com gainclone that was built by Tim Rawson for the person I purchased it from. I'm a longtime tube fan, but I replaced an EL-84 amp in my system with the gainclone a year ago for sonic reasons after careful A/B comparison.

However, I realized lately that the amp's sound had changed; very subtle and gradual, but I noticed that it seemed to have lost its grip on my speakers (Quad 10Ls--small 8 ohm sealed boxes), and/or that it didn't have the same presence as before.

I did a new A/B comparison with my tube amp, and the gainclone definitely sounded worse, losing the competition it had won a year ago. Nothing else in the system has changed.

Does this problem sound familiar to anyone, and indicate a need for adjustments or maintenance? It sounds sort of the way an amp sounds when the large filter capacitors age and dry out--it's thinned out a bit, lost some solidity--but these are just a year or two old.

Thanks for any insight and technical advice. I can solder, desolder, and use a multimeter! I can also relate a schematic to the actual amp in terms of locating parts, but I don't really understand circuits--yet.
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Old 19th April 2008, 09:35 AM   #2
Nuuk is offline Nuuk  United Kingdom
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It depends a lot on the quality of the capacitors used. But yes, some could need replacing.

The good news is, there are so few parts in a chip amp, it's not expensive to replace them, so give it a try and let us know how you get on.

At the same time sweat all the solder joints just to be sure!
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Old 20th April 2008, 03:20 AM   #3
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Default Problem solved--thank you, Nuuk!

Thanks, Nuuk--because it's new and unfamiliar, I was looking for a complex solution to a simple problem. Your advice about checking the solder joints got me grounded--literally, because I went after all the grounding points and did the ordinary contact scrubbing, deoxit, and sweating some of the joints that I do with my tube amps.

And that seems to have done the trick--back in business, sounding like before.

Best of all, being in there and seeing how simple the circuit is helped me decide to get started on a 3875 kit--so thanks for that too! Looking forward to reporting on my first self-constructed gainclone. Cheers and thanks especially for the quick response.
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