diyAudio (
-   Tubes / Valves (
-   -   Output transformers (

Fuling 25th March 2002 02:27 PM

Output transformers
Just a thought:

Would it be possible to use ordinary mains transformers as output trannies for lo-fi (guitar) tube amps? I believe a 230/9V transformer would be about 5,2k/8 Ohms, if my calculator serves me.
Should be pretty ok for a single ended EL84 / 6BQ5 amp, right?

What about DC core saturation, air gaps etc.?
EI core or toroid?
VA rating? Im thinking 3-4 watts output power.

Remember, this would not be for Hifi use!!

Is there anyone who has done this before and is willing to share some experiences? Im new to tubes, and I would like to fool around a bit with cheap stuff before I pay big bucks for Lundahl transformers and such.


lilolee 25th March 2002 04:32 PM

This link may be able to help you.

dice45 25th March 2002 09:39 PM


Toriods work great as far as turns ratio and impedances fit. I had to chance to audition that myself and would say they come close but do not reach famous trannies like Tamura and Tango .

And, correction, Lundahls are dirt-cheap if you consider quality. They do match Tango quality (yeah, i know :) , it depends on th model)

alaskanaudio 25th March 2002 10:40 PM

Audio or Power Trannies

It is possible to use a transformer designed for power supply use as an audio output transformer. But it is not recommended unless you desire to amplify fairly low frequency signals such as those used in servo amplifier to supply less than 400 HZ to drive motors or such things.

The problem you are going to run into is fairly limited frequency response due to core and winding losses and also poor matching of the output tubes to the load. As to whether or not the results are suitable for your application would be a personnel choice.

I personally would spend a extra few bucks and get a proper transformer. Your proposed application will have to have good frequency response well beyond the range of a typical power transformer in order to reproduce a correct harmonic structure of the individual and combined notes. The steel in power transformers is just not designed to do this.

John Fassotte
Alaskan Audio

dice45 26th March 2002 01:10 PM


have to object partially. With EI cores you are completely right, but with toroids you are not.

My friend Manfred measured toroid power transformers misused for OPT purposes and found them to have bandwidth of several hundred kHz. The toroid core itself does its job unexpectedly, extraordinarily well. Another friend of mine who winds his own transformers lately remarked "if i only could get my hands on cores as good as toroid ones but C-cores atleast come close". This friend is an objectivist, a measuring guy, BTW.

What Tango, Bartolucci, Lundahl and TMK also Tamura uses are those C-cores coming close to toroids.

Where the problems come in with a toroid is interleaved winding, shield foil windings, having the windings exactly matched DC-wise. But usually the turns ratio is exactly 1:1 if the winding has a center tap, and usually the turns ratio primary2secondary is kept well (what i would expect from an automatically manufactured device).

C-cores have basically the same properties. They add the option of having the airgap desired. They have the drawback of not reaching the same coverage a toroid trannie does have.

Where another problem enters with toroids is that proper turns ratio and impedances are not that easy to find as the intended purpose of the trannie is a different one. AFAIH and read in the linked asylum thread, it is more difficult with speaker output transformers, but not a big problem with line outputs, line inputs and interstage trannies.

As transformers have the unpleasant habit to have a preferred impedance situation different to the one you are intending to use, they got bad rep with many people.

But if a trannie has the load impedance at the secondary and the output Z i prefers to see at its primary, it is happy and makes you happy.

So it is advisable to design the trannie's environent accordingly.

Generally (as mentioned above) toroids have no airgap and saturate at low DC currents. So using them for SE is tricky. Using them for not-balanced-enough PP also can give inferior results. Using them for balanced-enough PP can give extraordinary good results, second best only to worldclass transformers desinged exactly for the purpose.

Having said this and having read the original question of Fuling, i would guess that a power toroid OPT PP (not SE !!! :( ) amp with a pair of triode-wired EL84 would be an amplifier vastly better than Fuling's non-HIFIexpectations are. If the amp is made fully differential including the output stage (common CCS for the power tubes), it could be an amp frightening all but the best retail products to death.

As far as my Ratheiser tube manual reports, EL84 work best with 10K of load plate2plate, both in pentode and in triode mode.

Trannies are ratio devices, they translate prim.impedance to sec.impedance. So i would try the toroid out with the tubes driving different secondary loads (2 to 16 Ohms) and check the amp's frequency response for responses in the higher frequency range and then decide whether the trannie is suited for the application.


stay away from EI power trannies for SE amps unless your expectations are really low.... :)

alaskanaudio 26th March 2002 04:02 PM

Different types of cores give different results

Yes I agree. I did not consider the toroid transformers. I don't know exactly why since I use them exclusively in all my equipment. Perhaps when tubes are mentioned I go back to the old days when toroids were not readily available and assumed the transformers in question contained staggered E/I cores.

I have never measured the actual performance of a toroid power transformer at frequencies other that 60 Hz. Thus I have no experience with these when these are used as a output transformer.

Thanks for opening my eyes.

John Fassotte
Alaskan Audio

Fuling 26th March 2002 09:23 PM

Ok, thanks for your input guys!

What about those cheap Hammond trannies (125-something)?
I guess the 15 watt version could be used down to 80Hz if I only use 1/5 of its power rating.
Or maybe not, what do I know:D
At least I can afford them...hehe

Lenin 26th March 2002 09:37 PM

Forget mains toroids- what about o/p toroids!
I've been looking at bulding a PP EL34 with custom wound (toroid) o/p trannies. Surely the question is how purpose designed o/p trannies (toroid Vs EI) compare.

Why is the discussion centered around using toroids not designed for the job?

Is there a shortage of toroid manufacturers able to wind o/p trannies?

alaskanaudio 26th March 2002 11:26 PM


I believe the original intent of the original post was likely to save money by using whatever transformer was available that may be able to perform the function of a output transformer.

If a person is willing to send enough money to have a custom transformer wound then it is very likely that using a transformer designed as power transformer would never be considered. However it is possible to use such a transformer in a limited number of applications with fair to good results. The quality of the results depending on the construction of the transformer and the type of core material used. I myself, and most likely most others would not recommend using a power transformer as a output transformer unless there was no other choice.

There are indeed plenty of manufactures that can supply standard output transformers or do some custom design work. Building a output transformers is quite a art and some manufactures who design mostly power transformers may not be able to do the best job due to lack of experience with specialized winding techniques required. This may tend to limit the number of manufactures who would undertake such a task since it would take them away from the mainstream of where they generate income. If output transformer quality specifications are very high then the number of manufactures willing to undertake the task will likely be very low.

John Fassotte
Alaskan Audio

Brett 27th March 2002 05:55 AM

Heres a place that makes PP and (cringe) SE o/p trannies at very reasonable prices. They're supposedly very good for the money too, but not as cheap as a junkbox trannie obviously. Might be easier than messing with something not optimum for the purpose.

Good luck and cheers

All times are GMT. The time now is 04:35 PM.

vBulletin Optimisation provided by vB Optimise (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
Copyright 1999-2017 diyAudio

Content Relevant URLs by vBSEO 3.3.2