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Old 3rd June 2006, 06:20 PM   #1
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Default WTB: smaller beginner level Tube Amp

This is for my son's 18th birthday...

For background, see my post

WTB: beginner level speaker kit with better-than novice sound

I hope to find an amp kit that would work well with his DIY speakers now and when he decides to make a better set of speakers in the future.
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Old 4th June 2006, 11:42 PM   #2
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Location: Wisconsin....what did you expect?
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My advice?
Buy him three plain Sonic Impact T-amps and a large gift certificate to Mouser so that he can mod 'em.
They're supposed to benearly tube-quality, and much cheaper; as an added bonus, they don't use high voltage, so you can't get fried working on one. (Mine should get here tomorrow; although I have yet to hear one personally, their near-cultish following is an indicator that these are a cut above most amplifiers.)
Best of all, they're only about 25$ each; modifications can be made cheaply enough, as well.

A trick with the PSU:
I reccomend a computer power supply. Use the 12-volt rails, and use a 12-volt regulator with some 12,000uf caps (2/1$ at apexjr) on both sides of it, with some smaller bypassing capacitors. (0.1uf WIMA polypropylenes work well, and are about fifteen cents each at Mouser.)

Also, if he's willing to do a bit of woodworking, you can build some ordinary straight transmission-line speakers using Fostex FE127s.
See information here: www.t-linespeakers.org

They're quite simple, and a pair of FE127's will run you 70$ at Madisound. Add some speaker binding jacks and a 4x8 piece of MDF, and you're set; a tweeter may be added for a few bucks if you really want one. These will work well with a SET amplifier if you choose to build one later.
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Old 5th June 2006, 12:11 AM   #3
dfdye is offline dfdye  United States
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I'll second the vote that your first project probably shouldn't be a tube amp with high voltages unless your son already has a lot of experience with dangerous electrical voltages. Chipamps or a Sonic Impact should be fairly inexpensive while providing great sound quality and would sound great with any future projects, all without requiring working with crazy voltages for either of these amps. If he is dead set on building a tube amp, the chipamp kits would provide a great place to start learning for a reasonable cost.

Can you give us a little more information about what experience level your son is at?
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Old 5th June 2006, 03:17 AM   #4
john65b is offline john65b  United States
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Try the BrianGT chipamps (chipamp.com - around $50 - $60) Sound is very good, and it was a real hoot to build.

I had taken a number of EE classes in college (I am a Mechanical Eng), but this kit really rekindled my interest in electronics for the first time in 15 years.

Also, it should be more safe working with 25VAC than 425VAC...

My 2 cents
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Old 5th June 2006, 03:42 AM   #5
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I'm currently trying to do a Gainclone from scratch, as at the time I was starting, he was'nt offering kits. I've yet to get the darned thing done, and it'll have to go on hold for a month while I'm dragged off to Israel.

One small advantage of the T-amp is that it outputs almost exactly as much power as a SET amplifier; anything built for the T-amp will work great with a SET.

On the other hand, if you need some more power, the Gainclone is a great option.
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Old 11th June 2006, 01:42 AM   #6
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Thank you guys. All good advice.

As for the high voltage, I had no idea we were dealing with such extreme levels and he is not experienced enough to do this. He has only been working on all kinds of hobby kits to have around the house and small robots and such. I am sure a chip amp would be good. They just seemed so plain and a tube amp kit looks more thought through and nicer...just my honest opinion.

As for the transmission line speakers, this is something I am very interested in doing myself. Do any of you have any good kits/recipies that I might follow besides the link above in this thread. I have read the information and I am thinking I would like make slightly bigger than the 127s...

Is there a Chip amp kit out there that has a nice chassis and knobs/buttons included so that he just doesn't have a simple eletronic cicuit sitting on his dresser. He might not "like" the sound of that, excuse the pun.

Thanks.
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Old 11th June 2006, 02:13 AM   #7
john65b is offline john65b  United States
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Try a Hammond Enclosure - they are decent and relatively cheap.

Google Hammond enclosue - you will find a few that you both may like...I like the 1455 series anodised Aluminum. I have a stereo Gainclone Chipamp in one 1455 and Mono UCD180's in two other enclosures. A bit tight, but work perfectly and look cool.
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