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-   -   Thinking about getting into Tubes, any kit recommendations? (http://www.diyaudio.com/forums/tubes-valves/46774-thinking-about-getting-into-tubes-any-kit-recommendations.html)

azira 29th November 2004 08:49 PM

Thinking about getting into Tubes, any kit recommendations?
 
Tubes are just so cool to look at. Are there any decent affordable kits availible that I can cut my teeth on to get started? Where do you guys order your parts from? Thanks. I'm an SS guy and I would like to try and build a tube amp for fun.
--
Danny

jpchleapas 29th November 2004 09:06 PM

>Tubes are just so cool to look at. Are there any decent >affordable kits availible that I can cut my teeth on to get >started? Where do you guys order your parts from? Thanks. I'm >an SS guy and I would like to try and build a tube amp for fun.
--
>Danny
Hey Danny,

We need more infomaton to make sure you end up with a good experience with your first tube amplifier. The most important question is what are the speakers you are using and how efficient are they? For example my 2-way horns are biamplified with two sets of tube mono blocks. My high freq drivers are around 112dB efficient with 1 watt @ 1 meter. I am using a pair of 1.8 wpc Welborne SET 45 mono blocks. They are really being used to power both the HF and the 100dB efficient bass bins. The volume gets lound enough to drive me out of the room. I have a pair of Welborne 8 wpc SET 300b DRD amps for the bass bins, but I also have a pair of 35 wpc push pull Klimo amps using el34 tubes. I will be a/b'ing the 300b and el34 to see which sounds best on my 2-way horn speakers. My crossover is a active tube marchand xm-126. So give us the information on your speakers and many here can point you to a good matching tube kit. I am a big fan of Welborne kits. The iron is first rate in Electraprint output transformers. The amps to my ears are a bargain for their price level. Do quite a few searches on the web. Google will reward you with many hits on DIY tube amplifiers.
Best regards, John C.

adason 29th November 2004 09:26 PM

i built Steve Deckerts Zen amp and I like it
check out http://www.decware.com/newsite/mainmenu.htm
or check out bottlehead too http://www.bottlehead.com/
nice tube amps too

Quote:

The most important question is what are the speakers you are using and how efficient are they?
i absolutely agree with jpchleapas

i use single ended low power tube amp for highly efficient satelite speakers from 150 Hz up, never for bass section

or as tube amp for stax

Bas Horneman 29th November 2004 09:56 PM

If you are near Seattle...you might want to pay Doc. B. a visit to listen to some of his stuff.

http://www.bottlehead.com

And yes..the previous posters were right on with their remarks...you need to tell us more...like budget...size of listening room..maybe even types of music you listen and what you are looking for in YOUR soundsystem...and you are probably going to need to buy different speakers as well to make it work REALLY well.

azira 29th November 2004 11:10 PM

Thanks everyone, one of the friendliest responses I've seen on here in a while. So I knew about the efficiency thing with the speakers. My current mains aren't going to cut it, or I wouldn't be pleased, that much I know. But I've got either a line array or a T-line project next up that I was thinking about trying out with a tube amp. I've built a few zens so I know what I get from 8-watts and moderate damping factor.
--
Danny

azira 29th November 2004 11:20 PM

More info...

I'm not looking to spend a lot of money, just get my feet wet. Doc B's website sounds expensive. I'm a pretty skilled solderer and have built quite a few amps and my own PCBs. Since I have a speaker project in the queue, I can tailor it to match the amp. The likely listening room for this would be most likely be split between a 18x24 vaulted ceiling room and a 12x12 hobby room. I suppose even a simple starter schematic and links to where to find affordable parts would be enough. Thanks again.

--
Danny

Kofi Annan 30th November 2004 12:18 AM

If you want a cheap kit, the S5 Electronics Kit might suffice. I actually have one of these, but I have yet to assemble it. I may do so this weekend and if I do, I'll let you know what I think. Its an 8W push-pull job, so it may have enough power to push more inefficient speakers.

Voltsecond offers his opinion plus a couple of modifications (along with all appropriate disclaimers--- void warranty, potentially dangerous high voltages, etc.) with this kit here.

I am still a newbie to tubes (and all DIY audio, really) but its worth a mention that if you have been working only in solid state, remember that tube voltage can kill the snot out of you if you're not careful.

Here's a forum link to some tube safety stuff you should know as well. Please forgive me if you are already familiar with these safety precautions, but I thought I'd give it a mention.

That said, here's a link to Fred Nachbaur's site with couple of really cheap projects-- an SET (1W) and a push-pull (3.5W) that may be worth a look. I have slowly been gathering parts for the Miniblok II, but again, I have yet to put it together (I really gotta finish something soon). You can probably put together the SET for around $100 and the push-pull for around $150... although I was able to get the filament Txs for about $6 a piece from Allied Electronics, so that might reduce the overall price of the PP a bit.

And now, back to world peace...

Kofi

gmilitano 30th November 2004 01:23 AM

Quote:

Originally posted by Kofi Annan
If you want a cheap kit, the S5 Electronics Kit might suffice. I actually have one of these, but I have yet to assemble it. I may do so this weekend and if I do, I'll let you know what I think. Its an 8W push-pull job, so it may have enough power to push more inefficient speakers.

<snip>

Kofi

I have also purchased the S5 kit and have yet to build it. S5 was very friendly. It took a while for the kit to arrive as a result of border/customs delays in Canada.

I will also try have it together by this weekend and will post my initial listening results.

Cheers,
GM.

jpchleapas 30th November 2004 02:16 AM

>More info...

>I'm not looking to spend a lot of money, just get my feet wet. >Doc B's website sounds expensive. I'm a pretty skilled solderer >and have built quite a few amps and my own PCBs. Since I have >a speaker project in the queue, I can tailor it to match the amp. >The likely listening room for this would be most likely be split >between a 18x24 vaulted ceiling room and a 12x12 hobby room. >I suppose even a simple starter schematic and links to where to >find affordable parts would be enough. Thanks again.

--
>Danny

Danny sorry to say there is no free lunch. Actually Doc B's amps are rather inexpensive by comparrison to the Welborne amps I own. If you break down on paper the cost to build an amp from scractch it is not really that inexpensive at all to DIY one. Derek Walton has a great site where he has the best plans and step by step instructions to build his version the the JE Labs version of the Fi primer in a 8 wpc 300b tube amplifier. I now have most parts to build one for my apartment. It is not cheap to build a good sounding amplifier. I am using Tango XE 20S 3.5's output iron, Tamura 10 H chokes, Welborne wooden enclosures, Kimber binding posts and the Angela universal power transformers. That does not even count the small stuff like EML 300b tubes, hook up wire, Wonder solder, tube sockets, and having the chassis drilled by a metal shop for me. Perhaps you should pick up a distressed Dynaco ST-70 and rebuild that to get a taste for tubes. You should be able to find one for under 300 that needs work. Just make certain the iron is good. I had one of mine rebuilt by Kevin Kennedy who has one of the best upgrades for these amps. Also if you go that route Ned at Triode can hook you up with a SDS cap board that will improve the flabby bass and make the power supply near bullet proof. Replace the 5AR4 with a better sounding GZ33 rectifier and scrounge for a quad of real Mullard el34 tubes. They are the best soundiing EL34 tubes, period. If you do this on the real cheap and end up buying a piece of you know what Chinese amps for cheap you will have a less than positive experience with tubes. Maybe the DIY route like Derek's amp where you can buy parts slowly over time is the best route for you. You would be better off not trying tubes if you try to do it too cheaply. The first thing on your list before the tube amp should be a tube friendly pair of speakers. Vintage offers the best bang for the buck. A used pair of Altec Valencia, or Klipsch Cornwall type speakers can be had for under 1000. To me the speakers are the most important part of the audio food chain. Then remember you will need a tube preamplifier, or you will want to diy an integrated tube amplifier. A good inexpensive preamplifier kit can be had in the Grounded Grid. Take your time and use a program like Excel (or a pencil and paper) to figure out the real cost to go tubular. Who knows when you crunch the numbers and see what good parts cost the Welborne and Bottlehead amps are really very fairly priced. There is a used 300b DRD Welborne amp for 1100 at AudioGon as of yesterday. Just be careful and do LOTS of reading on the subject over a month or so to see what you are really in for. Remember you will want a good soldering station, and maybe a wood table to work on. I can tell you that there is no going back once you get a listen to a quality tube amplifier through a very good pair of speakers. I was lucky to find my pair of JBL L300 Summit speakers for only $500 about 3 years ago. I called the seller and we had a week of snow storms and he held them for me. People were trying to lowball him when his asking price was only 500. These speakers sell for 2500 on ebay and Far East collectors pay 5K to buy them. I am told I would have to spend 10K to better their sound and I believe it. I rented a truck and I went to buy them sight unseen across MA. With their midrange horns the vocals are top notch to be sure. They are 93dB efficient and can sing with 8 to 10 watts a channel. They sounded VERY good with my ST-70 with Mullard tubes in it and Kevin K's mods in the circuit that basically gives it a triode front end. Wired in triode we emasured 19 wpc before clipping. Good luck and start reading a LOT on the subject. Always remember that all audio is subjective. None more so than tube amplifiers and horn speakers. Always rely on your own ears to determine what sounds the best in your home stereo. John C.

gjo 30th November 2004 05:08 AM

Hi Danny

John C offers sage advice.

I suggest that you initially research all available options and then decide what works best for you. This may take some time, but could be quite a rewarding process and may take you away fromt he direction thaty you initially planned ..

You may want to get onto some the discussion groups like those hosted by Magnequest and Lundahl(kandkaudio), ask amp related questions which will be answered by knowledgeable and experienced people, as well as some speaker building forums if you havent yet decided on your speakers. Finally, observe all necessary precautions while building tube gear!

Remember any chain is only as strong as its weakest link-so you need to have all your components right!

George


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