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Old 30th November 2005, 06:57 PM   #1
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Default Whatís the best tube amplifier you can build?

Iím looking for a nice amplifier project with tubes. Whatís the best tube amplifier in you opinion you can build? 8-10W is ok with me, but of course more is better. Without any exotic parts is a must.
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Old 30th November 2005, 07:02 PM   #2
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Try the RH807 (do a search).
A more controversial idea would be a CCS loaded "parafeed" amp. Should be the best amp by far (ha ha Ha)

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Old 30th November 2005, 07:40 PM   #3
jsn is offline jsn  United States
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Good question. "The Best" is something that we are all searching for. But note that ALL designs have compromises. Engineering is the art of compromise, and so "best" is not really a compatible ideal.

That said, here are my thoughts:

There are 2 things that can be done well - the circuit and the parts. Having one that is great without the other will be dissappointing.

I would recommend searching for a simple design, spend some money on output transformers, and overbuild the power supply since the power supply components are relatively cheap.

Many relatively new developments like constant current sources can sound very good and can replace more expensive components like chokes. But I personally think they sacrifice a certain amount of aesthetic appeal. There is something neat about an amp that sounds fantastic and could have been built in the 30s.

Look at Gary Pimm and Lynn Olson's designs for liberal use of current sources and glowtube voltage regulators. They are into the differential push-pull thing, but these techniques can be used in single ended amps as well. Those guys are doing really neat stuff that I would consider as close to "best" as anyhting out there.

If you want 8-10 Watts you are probably looking at single ended with big output tubes like the 300B, 211, or 845, or push-pull designs. It will be very much more expensive to build the "best" 10 watt amp than it will be to build the "best" 2 or 3 watt amp. (but some would argue that you can use better speakers if you have 10 watts. It's an inescapable trap!)

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Old 30th November 2005, 08:27 PM   #4
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Default Re: Whatís the best tube amplifier you can build?

Hi,

Quote:
Originally posted by anders.a
Iím looking for a nice amplifier project with tubes. Whatís the best tube amplifier in you opinion you can build?
Of course this is a question of personal preferences ...

Quote:
8-10W is ok with me, but of course more is better. Without any exotic parts is a must.
I would opt for a clean and lean mostly class A push-pull triode design with little (not more than 6dB) gNFB. Not in fashion those days, but surely one of the easiest ways to get truly excellent results without exotic parts in tube DIY.

If you feel 2A3 to be exotic, just use triode strapped EL34. Using the suggested trioded EL34 PP op point straight from the TFK spec sheet, you will get about 10W of class A. Given decent iron, you wonīt be disappointed, for sure.

Tom
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Old 30th November 2005, 09:32 PM   #5
mr mojo is offline mr mojo  United States
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anders,

Not trying to be a smarmy smart-@ss, but I think the best tube amp is the one you build with your own two hands that sounds good and you didn't manage to electrocute yourself with in the process.

I just finished my first scratch DIY. No doubt at all there are others that sound better, look cooler, cost more-but in my eyes it's the greatest amp on earth 'cause it's the one I built.

Enjoy the hobby for what it represents: A chance to expand your knowledge and enjoyment of tubes in a way that simply buying off the shelf or restoring can never do and a chance to have something sitting in your living room that no one else in the world has. That's pretty damned cool.

"Best" as a yardstick is a poor measuring tool. Building something you're proud of and enjoy using is a far better way to measure your success.

Find a circuit that suits your needs, meets your budget and skill level and go for it! I bet when you're done and listening to it for the first time it will be the "best" amplifier you've ever heard!

Good luck,
mr mojo
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Old 30th November 2005, 09:42 PM   #6
jsn is offline jsn  United States
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word. Mr Mojo has nailed it. An amp you build will always sound better than any other.

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Old 30th November 2005, 09:53 PM   #7
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Well, Iíll soon be finished with my Aleph-X. Hopefully that one is going to be my best amp so far. All Iím missing is a variac.
What Iím intrigued with tube amps is the liquid and relaxed sound. Something solid state amplifiers is said to be missing.
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Old 30th November 2005, 09:57 PM   #8
Rocky is offline Rocky  Norway
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It is not my favourite tube, but if you really need that many watts using a DHT, I'd say 300B is the most feasible least extreme way to go. But what is equally important to the output tube is what you drive it with.. You can go DHT (directly heated) or indirectly heated triodes, the latter being the cheapest and easiest way to go but would probably fall short to DHT drivers (done right) in a listening test. If you should choose 300B with an indirectly heated driver, you should be looking into high-mu driver tubes such as *6s45p-e*, ec8010, we437a, e810f pseudotriode, etc., there are several others of the same kind. This kind of tubes can drive a 300B all alone with no additional stages.. Many people drive the 300B in the most humorous ways, actually I have yet to hear a 300B amp using a single stage driver,wich may very well be the reason why my thoughts on the 300B is not that high. It might be possible to make a direct coupled amp with this setup too: high mu IDHT->300B.. difficult but worthwhile to try perhaps..

and ofcourse jsn is incredible right in his sayings, to spend the bucks on OPTs and overdimensioning your PSU. If you overspend on tubes to begin with, you might regret, but I hardly think you will regret overspending on output transformers.
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Old 30th November 2005, 10:24 PM   #9
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Quote:
I'm looking for a nice amplifier project with tubes. What's the best tube amplifier in you opinion you can build? 8-10W is ok with me, but of course more is better. Without any exotic parts is a must.
That's like asking: "How high is the sky?" Ask a dozen different Audio-nutz, and you'll get twelve different answers. There is also the question of your own experience. Do you have any experience in this at all? If you've been doing solid state up till now, the first thing to keep in mind is that the voltages in VT equipment run a good deal higher, and that means more potentially dangerous. If that's the case, you'd best stay away from those big SETs, even if they are not particularly complicated. 10W out from one of those will be looking at some fairly high voltages.

If you don't have much experience, your best bet might be something like the "Simple El" (Use forum search for this).

You'll just have to rely on your own judgement in the end.
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Old 30th November 2005, 10:30 PM   #10
Fuling is offline Fuling  Sweden
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A direct coupled SE amp with nice triodes and really good iron would be a big step in the right direction IMHO.
I have a direct coupled SE amp with cheap IDH triodes and extremly cheap iron and it sounds just super...

Search for amps named "Free lunch" and "Monkey", these are very clever circuits.

Edit: For 10W, forget direct coupled SE unless you have the skills and nerves required to work with a ~1000V PSU.
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