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Tubelab Discussion and support of Tubelab products, prototypes and experiments

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Old 18th July 2012, 04:01 PM   #201
pbkrag is offline pbkrag  United States
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Location: Easton, PA
Default My SSE

Here are some photos of my Tubelab SSE. The chasis was a Kenwood tuner and it's struggling to support the weight of the transformers. My first experience with a tube amp. It has been fun to build, and sounds pretty good too. I'm looking to add a motor run cap and will probably upgrade the coupling caps too. I also want to change the cathode resistor to better match the 6550s. I think I prefer them to the EL34.

B+ 453
Cathode Resistor - 560 ohm
JJ El34
Pin 8 Bias - 30.5
Pin 3 Plate - 431
Tug Sol 6550
Pin 8 Bias - 40
Pin 3 Plate - 421
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Old 20th July 2012, 01:18 AM   #202
kkcinc is offline kkcinc  United States
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This is my sse. I started with 20 watt transcendar opts. I like them because they have all the features like 4,8,16 ohm and ul tap. They also sound very good. I have switched to the big edcors for the bass performance. They also sound good, but the jury is still out. I don't think they are quite as refined sounding as the transcendars, but I'm not sure yet. I will be sticking with the edcors however because I need the extra thump. The transcendars can be used in another project or might be for sale and they are like new.
Under the hood of the hammond box is a triad choke, and Russian pio caps. Also an 100uf hvac auxiliary cap. I have another hammond choke withless henries and resistance that I tried. I can't hear a difference. I have tried audiocap thetas as the couplers and they sound fantastic in this amp. I'll be experimenting with others. Best sounding resistors so far are the carbon comps. Little demons from digikey. Ul triode switch is in the back. Power comes from the allied transformer. I did bypass all electrolytics with .1 uF pios. Not sure if it helped the sound at all, but it is my habit to do so.
I love this amp.
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Old 21st August 2012, 03:03 AM   #203
onionskin is offline onionskin  United States
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Default Sounds way better than it has a right to...

This SSE is my first DIY project. I built it to hear for myself what all the fuss over class A single ended amps and their corresponding back-loaded horns is about. I am pretty well sold. The amp has zero noise and other than fairly weak bass and a little congestion in more complex pieces (I am a headphone guy so take this with a grain of salt - I am used to high degree of clarity), this amp sounds amazing... almost headphone like in its linear presentation, stable imaging and rich soundstage.
My only regret is not holding out for the larger output transformers, George is correct: don't skimp here it is the most difficult thing to upgrade. A bit more bass extension woud be nice but for most music I can live with what the amp offers.

A few vital stats:
Room : About 16' x 19' with ceiling varying from 8' to 9'
Source : #! Linux running MPD > Schiit Bifrost DAC > Tubelab SSE > Madisound BK-16 (back-loaded folded horns) with Fostex FE166En drivers
SSE Amp :
Power Supply : Sovtek 5AR4 Tube Rectifier with 10H-200mA Choke and a giant filter capacitor
Coupling caps : Robert Hovland Super Caps 0.22uF / 600V Film & Foil Poly
Volume Pot : Alps Blue Velvet
Driver Tube : Mullard 12AX7/ECC83 reissue
Power Tubes : Tung-Sol 6550 reissue
OPT's : Edcore GXSE15-8-8K (really should have pinched for the bigger OPT's)
Takman metal film resistors in the signal path

I powered up using some old bookshelf speakers, the results were not music, I didn't expect much but I was honestly a little surprised and worried at just how poor it sounded. The good news was it worked right away, the voltages all checked out and it didn't explode.
Next I hooked up the Fostex drivers to break both amp and drivers in while I built the horn cabinets. This was much more promising, even without drivers I was getting very clear, balanced but weak sound. But wait, where is the noise? This is a tube amp right? Shouldn't there be some noise? Nope, just a faint nothing at full volume with my head right at the driver.
Once I got everything put together (it took a while to get the BK-16's stuffed properly and correctly located in the room) and settled it really plays nice and fills the room quite well. I listen to it critically at nearly full volume, but that is too loud for conversation.
CFB helps anything but very simply instrumented acoustic pieces; the clarity with or without CFB is really astounding on folk, (some types of) jazz, chamber, african, whatever. Most of the time I leave CFB switched on, there is just a bit too much harmonic distortion for me otherwise, too much of that second-order goodness is still, well... too much. I also wired switches for the ultralinear tap, it is a little rough sounding - a lot more volume of course but not something I will use; my curiosity is satisfied though.
The only shortcomings are the bass (bigger OPT's would have been wise, but add considerably to the cost of the build) and a little difficulty resolving very complex music. It does get a little winded on very challenging dynamic pieces, a friend uses a tough piece of vocal jazz as his litmus to test the limitations of audio gear... it really did tax the amp; the imaging and sound stage were spot on but the amp didn't quite have enough speed to keep up with the big (and I do mean BIG) dynamic swings. The music was completely enjoyable but it did show pretty clearly this is not a cost-is-no-object system.
I've been running the system for about 8 months now and I have gotten nothing but surprise and very positive comments on the clarity of this setup from totally HiFi illiterate to very experienced ears. It was a lot of fun to build (thanks for the great design and PCB George) and even more fun to use. For what I have into the amp and speakers it really should not sound as good as it does. For that I consider it a rewarding and resounding success for a first time DIY project.
Next stop : Pass Labs Forum ;-)
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Old 23rd September 2012, 01:55 AM   #204
Discochicken is offline Discochicken  Australia
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Default Pics of my SSE

Hello, fellow Tubelab builders. I thought I'd share a few pics of my SSE as it looks different to most I've seen here. It has the 25w Edcor opt's, gold lion KT88's from Jim McShane, and 5ar4 rectifier. 200ma choke and 70uf motor run aux cap. B+ is 460 volts with switchable 560/710 ohm resistors for KT88/EL34 respectively. In a previous life the case was a "sound reproducer" in a large cinema projector. The idea behind this layout is to keep all the high voltage stuff out of reach of our 1 year old son who likes to "whack" things. The thought of him smashing a tube and getting fried meant I needed to make this amp safe or sell it. It sounds way too good to sell, so this is the result. All up, around Aus$1000 in parts, (shipping the trafo's was a killer!) It's easily the most satisfying thing I've built so far. There's a few loose ends to tidy up still, maybe next weekend..
A big thankyou to George for making this great board avaliable!
Best regards, Pete. ps I hope the photos work..
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Old 23rd September 2012, 02:31 AM   #205
Discochicken is offline Discochicken  Australia
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Default SSE pic

Whoops, photo didn't work. Here it is:
photo_zpseb3748b3.jpg picture by discochicken - Photobucket
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Old 23rd September 2012, 02:34 AM   #206
Discochicken is offline Discochicken  Australia
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Location: Central Australia
Default SSE pic

Another pic:
photo2_zpsb8649e4a.jpg picture by discochicken - Photobucket
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Old 23rd September 2012, 02:37 AM   #207
Discochicken is offline Discochicken  Australia
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Default Last pic

Sorry, I'm yet to work out how to attatch pics properly, so it's one-at-a-time
photo3_zps04dc3899.jpg picture by discochicken - Photobucket
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Old 23rd September 2012, 02:39 AM   #208
kevinkr is offline kevinkr  United States
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Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Pictures of your Tubelab amp
Why not upload the pictures to the forum here rather than using a remote host?

To post pictures click "Advanced" and then "Manage Attachments" next look at "Upload files from your computer" and finally click "Browse" - fellow members will thank you down the road a few months from now when those photobucket links are all broken.
"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead." - Thomas Paine
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Old 1st October 2012, 11:52 PM   #209
Alan Hope is offline Alan Hope  Scotland
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Still to have the top-plate finished, and the 45 tubes moved off-board so they don't touch each other, but working nicely!

FLAC, Ethernet over Mains, SB3, GD Audio DAC 19. Tubelab SE with TJ Meshplate 45s. Fostex FE208ez in Kirishima Horns with Fountek NeoCD 2.0 Ribbon supertweeters (0.68uF & LPads).
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Old 2nd October 2012, 05:25 AM   #210
cotdt is offline cotdt  United States
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those are big 45's. how do they sound?
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