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1st Build - Kit or No Kit
1st Build - Kit or No Kit
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Old 26th March 2008, 10:12 PM   #1
jobsworth` is offline jobsworth`  United Kingdom
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Default 1st Build - Kit or No Kit

I am intent on building my first tube amp , I am exceedingly green to the whole concept. I am aware there are exceptionally high voltages involved in whichever route I go down (kit or following someone else's cct diagram). I am intent on building the amp and testing it as I go and prior to first power up taking it to a decent audio/electrical shop and get them to sign off on it.
My question to you is which route is the best to take first time round, do I buy a kit (if so which would you recommend) or do I follow one of the circuit diagrams on this site, of which there are many.
This amp is going to be used solely for my Ipod so it only requires the one input, if this has any bearing on the kit/cct diagrams recommended.
Looking forward to reading the help offered.
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Old 26th March 2008, 11:22 PM   #2
gmilitano is offline gmilitano  Canada
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A kit is a good way to start. There are many available that range in price from $150 and up.

Were you looking for an amp or a preamp?

What sort of power output were you looking for, how efficient are your speakers and what is you budget?
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Old 26th March 2008, 11:42 PM   #3
sorenj07 is offline sorenj07  Germany
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build it yourself, no question. nothing feels as good. what's your budget? efficiency of your speakers?
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Old 27th March 2008, 01:32 AM   #4
Rob11966 is offline Rob11966  Australia
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Hi Jobsworth,

I was in the same boat last year. I could not really find a kit that gave me exactly what I wanted. In the end I built my own from scratch. It was a surprisingly staisfying project and quite achievable.

If you search under my name you can see how it went from start to finish (including a follow up second amp). I have included all of my suppliers and resources as well so that you can see where to get things.


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Old 27th March 2008, 01:48 AM   #5
jobsworth` is offline jobsworth`  United Kingdom
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Amp/Pre-amp, truth be told I don't know the difference. As I said I am looking to make something to plug my ipod into before connecting to speakers (I would have thought this was an amp).
Budget I am looking at about 250 or $400, as for speakers I haven't chosen those yet, they would probably be of the bookshelf variety. As for power output, the room it is going to be used in is about 12' square.
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Old 27th March 2008, 02:17 AM   #6
chrish is offline chrish  Australia
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G'Day jobsworth'

I have built 4 valve amps now. One was a failure (from a performance point of view, not from a learning point of view) and the other three are working and playing.

I would suggest as a first project that you start with something simple. This way it is much easier to understand what you are doing and easy for the forum members to help if something goes wrong. Building something from scratch is very satisfying, but obviously more difficult than building from a kit. If a scratch build is a bit daunting, an intermediate route is to purchase a printed circuit board and build the rest of the amp from scratch. This approach eliminate much of the wiring problems for novice builders but still offers a level of "built it myself" satisfaction. I can recommend the SimpleSE from TubeLab http://www.tubelab.com/SimpleSE.htm TubeLab is a frequent and helpful contributor to this forum and his amp design is first rate.

Another approach might be to build a SIMPLE point to point project. This was my third project (the second was the not-so-successful one) http://www.diyaudio.com/forums/showt...hreadid=113917 This amp is inspired from the Decware Zen amp. I gave this amp to my girlfriend for Christmas. When I go to her place and listen to it, I love it. It sounds a little different from the SimpleSE design, but it only puts out a couple of watts (about two watts in triode mode, about 4 in ultralinear I am guessing) where the SimpleSE is about 7 watts in triode and about 14 watts in ultralinear. Your choice of power output will be dependent on the efficiency of your speakers and the volume level you require. Oh, another option might be to try the Zen kit http://www.decware.com/newsite/mainm...E84C.htm&intro

There are some other projects, this KT88 build is popular http://diyaudioprojects.com/Schemati...-Amplifier.htm

Sure you will get some other worthwhile suggestions here.

Cheers and good luck!

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Old 27th March 2008, 02:20 AM   #7
sorenj07 is offline sorenj07  Germany
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If that's the extent of your knowledge of what amps do, you might want to take some time and learn the basics (google, Pete Millett, etc.) before attempting either a kit or scratch build.
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Old 27th March 2008, 07:53 AM   #8
JJGross is offline JJGross  United States
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I got my start building by repairing amps first. It's a lot easier to figure out how to work on amps when someone else has done all the hard stuff and you just have to be safe and look for problems. Staring at a blank piece of Garolite is a whole different thing.

I heartily recommend Dave Hunter's book on tube amp design. Google it or hit Amazon. It takes you through the absolute beginings of what things do part by part, then progresses right up to building a complete guitar amp from scratch. really a great way to get not only a fine amp built for very little money, but really understand what does what and more inportantly why it does it without getting too technical and requiring you to learn advanced math or physics to understand it all.

- JJ
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Old 27th March 2008, 12:29 PM   #9
kstagger is offline kstagger  United States
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Kits are the way to go for a first time builder -

having said that, I built my first amp (PP2A3) w/o using a kit, but I had plenty of experience rebuilding and modding various amplifiers.
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Old 27th March 2008, 01:06 PM   #10
flyinglemur is offline flyinglemur  Canada
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I'm building my first amp completely my own way, granted it's through college, but still, it's daunting designing your own PCB and hitting the 'go' switch for the first time (rectifier tests)...


There's a taster of what I've done. you can go easier or harder from there
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