Kits useable with a M500 300B Monoblock amp

bprager

Member
2009-04-12 10:53 pm
I recently got a pair of older (Early 2000's) Consonance M500 300B monoblock amps and after reading a lot of posts, many suggested that I could upgrade the amp significantly thru parts or upgrade kits from DIY.

I am interested in the Power supply and ABS modules, but am not sure what if any of your modules would be appropriate for the M500s.

The output transformers appear to be of suitably high quality that changing them doesn't appear to be neccesary. However, the power supply and bias system appear to be areas where I could significantly improve the overall sound and reliability of the amp if any of the modules are useable.

If anyone could point me in the proper direction of what might be useable, and possibly a preference order of what might be the order of upgrade, I could take it from there and would be extremely grateful.

Thank you in advance for anyones time and effort to help me out.

Bruce Prager
 

ThorstenL

Previously: Kuei Yang Wang
Hi,

I recently got a pair of older (Early 2000's) Consonance M500 300B monoblock amps and after reading a lot of posts, many suggested that I could upgrade the amp significantly thru parts or upgrade kits from DIY.

Yes, the M500 is a very nice basic "cooking" Amp, but it is limited by both circuit design and parts choices.

I have a copy of the Original Billy Kit in my archive which is basically absolutely identical with the M500. If Brian is agreeable, I can post the schematic, which would make discussing modifications easier.

I am interested in the Power supply and ABS modules, but am not sure what if any of your modules would be appropriate for the M500s.

If I remember the chassis right, the Film Capacitor Universal Power Supply will not fit, the chassis is not high enough.

The ABS would be an option, but then you would need to replace the mains transformer, as the PSU voltage is otherwise too high for a 300B in fixed bias.

I would not especially consider the power supply and output stage biasing the greatest weakness of the M500. The 300B Filament supply is a major achilles heel of the this design (it is a single capacitor plus a generic rectifier bridge). This puts around 900mV Peak-Peak of noise across the heater. It is cheap and works with less hum than AC heating, but the sound generally is not so great.

I would suggest you have a look if there is space to fit the filament supply Module. The space may not allow it. If you fit the Filament supply module you need to add around six turns of isolated wire on the torroid transformer to get enough voltage for the module to work.

DIYHFS Ultra Low Noise Filament Supply (Rev B2) 2-12V or 12-24v DC jumper selectable (Pair)

Installation instructions here:

http://www.diyhifisupply.com/files/diyhs-filaments-1.1.pdf

Otherwise at least change the bridge rectifier for individual schottky diodes and add a pair of 0.68 Ohm Resistor in the plus and minus lines (needs trimming to get 5V at the 300B heater) and a second high quality 10,000uF capacitor directly across the heater (at the 300B Socket), to reduce noise. With this setup you will get much lower noise (over ten times improvement) and significantly better sound, though not as good as the Filament Supply Module.

The second "easy win" in terms of sound quality is to apply the full "Western Electrics" connection to the 300B Output stage.

The following is taken from Troel's Gravensen's site, who surprisingly did not find it a significant upgrade, however others differ, hard to say why it did not give significant improvements in his case.

Schema300B_mod-1.gif


The parts are the 47R resistor and 22uF/500V Capacitor drawn in green. The 22uF Capacitor should be the best you can afford.

The actual value of this capacitor scales with the value of the cathode capacitor on the 300B (C4 in the schematic), I have seen variations in this capacitor value in opera gear over time. In the Billy I empirically established 12uF/47uF as the correct ratio, so if C4 is 68uF the capacitor is 17uF (15uF with a 2.2uF Capacitor in parallel), for 100uF C4 it is 25.5uF (22uF in parallel with 3.3uF). I personally would likely use an Obbligate oil cap for the larger value and a gold Obbligato capacitor to make up the rest.

Obbligato Film Oil Caps

Obbligato Gold Premium Caps

Connecting in this capacitor significantly reduced the influence of the powersupply on the sound quality and it also reduced the impact of C4 (Cathode capacitor).

As the powersupply has too much voltage anyway, modifying it as I did for my 91 Project would probably stress rectifiers less and would allow you to use some exotic NOS rectifiers without risking them to blow up (which can then take out the mains transformer).

[IMGDEAD]http://www.dms-audio.com/sites/default/files/images/ld91-psu.png[/IMGDEAD]

The above is taken from the DMS Audio site, which also has some details on Billy/M500 Upgrades:

Billie Ladyday 300B Kit

The SRPP Frontend in the M500 is okay. The biggest issue is the 100uF Cathode Capacitor. If this is not a Black Gate 100uF/16V try finding one or use at least 2 of the small size 22uF/35V Film Capacitors from the diyhifisupply store instead (I like these better than BG BTW).

Obbligato Film Cap 22uF 35v

You can also convert the frontend to a hybrid Mu-Follower as discussed here:

DIY HiFi Forum: hybrid mu follower by bcherry

The CCS Kit you need is this:

diyhifisupply CCS Kit

Finally I would suggest to change the coupling capacitor and to place a gridchoke at the 300B instead of the grid resistor. The Gridchoke subjectively improves dynamics and power delivery, the amplifiers play cleaner and louder.

Grid Choke pair

The coupling capacitor are a matter of taste. The Teflon & Tinfoil Capacitors deliver neutrality and detail in spades, but some find them a little matter of fact, I like them though.

Teflon Tin Foil 0.22uF 1000V

An alternative are the Audio Note Copper capacitors which have a more warm and laid back sound, some might say slightly lacking in detail and not neutral, but very musical.

Audio Note Copper In Oil 0.22uF 630V

Audio Note Silvers are the dogs bollocks, musical, detailed and pretty neutral but they cost accordingly and then some. I find the Tinfoil/Teflons a valid alternative at lower cost.

Audio Note Silver Foil 0.22uF 630V

If you do all the above and use some nice quality resistors where called for, you will get your Amp's most of the way to a premium version of the current Lady Day 300B Amp's, which are rather nice Amp's by anyones count.

Ciao T
 

bprager

Member
2009-04-12 10:53 pm
Thanks for all the info. I have a couple of questions.

It would be very easy to increase the overall depth of the chassis as I have access to some commercial equipment to add a "spacer" to the chassis that would be effectively invisible, and could make the chassis pretty much any depth I want.

If I had the room, would it then be best to put in the Univ. PS and ABS?

I would think that would allow use of the filament heater circuit without issues? I could still change out the coupling caps and cathode cap.

What do you think of this? It does raise the question of if I could fit the UPS and ABS, what mods does it "replace" in your original list? or change?

Lastly, I'm hazy on the CCS? What does it do and where does it fit into the audio scheme of the M500? From looking over the instructions, it seems to deal primarily with the driver tube (6sl7). Is it basically a circuit to furnish cleaner regulated power to the 6sl7?

I very much appreciate the time and incredible information you have provided. I really like the M500's, and already, just changing the tubes to Sophia Princess Mesh and GZ34's have made a significant difference.

As the DMS site and your own comments have mentioned, this has got to be the quietest 300B amp I have ever owned so if I can mod it to bring out its full potential, it got to really be a killer of an amp.

Thanks again for your help!!

Bruce Prager

If some of the info (like schematics, etc) are too difficult or inappropriate for the forum, please feel free to email me directly. This is fun and fascinating information and I truly appreciate your time and effort to help me.



Hi,



Yes, the M500 is a very nice basic "cooking" Amp, but it is limited by both circuit design and parts choices.

I have a copy of the Original Billy Kit in my archive which is basically absolutely identical with the M500. If Brian is agreeable, I can post the schematic, which would make discussing modifications easier.



If I remember the chassis right, the Film Capacitor Universal Power Supply will not fit, the chassis is not high enough.

The ABS would be an option, but then you would need to replace the mains transformer, as the PSU voltage is otherwise too high for a 300B in fixed bias.

I would not especially consider the power supply and output stage biasing the greatest weakness of the M500. The 300B Filament supply is a major achilles heel of the this design (it is a single capacitor plus a generic rectifier bridge). This puts around 900mV Peak-Peak of noise across the heater. It is cheap and works with less hum than AC heating, but the sound generally is not so great.

I would suggest you have a look if there is space to fit the filament supply Module. The space may not allow it. If you fit the Filament supply module you need to add around six turns of isolated wire on the torroid transformer to get enough voltage for the module to work.

DIYHFS Ultra Low Noise Filament Supply (Rev B2) 2-12V or 12-24v DC jumper selectable (Pair)

Installation instructions here:

http://www.diyhifisupply.com/files/diyhs-filaments-1.1.pdf

Otherwise at least change the bridge rectifier for individual schottky diodes and add a pair of 0.68 Ohm Resistor in the plus and minus lines (needs trimming to get 5V at the 300B heater) and a second high quality 10,000uF capacitor directly across the heater (at the 300B Socket), to reduce noise. With this setup you will get much lower noise (over ten times improvement) and significantly better sound, though not as good as the Filament Supply Module.

The second "easy win" in terms of sound quality is to apply the full "Western Electrics" connection to the 300B Output stage.

The following is taken from Troel's Gravensen's site, who surprisingly did not find it a significant upgrade, however others differ, hard to say why it did not give significant improvements in his case.

Schema300B_mod-1.gif


The parts are the 47R resistor and 22uF/500V Capacitor drawn in green. The 22uF Capacitor should be the best you can afford.

The actual value of this capacitor scales with the value of the cathode capacitor on the 300B (C4 in the schematic), I have seen variations in this capacitor value in opera gear over time. In the Billy I empirically established 12uF/47uF as the correct ratio, so if C4 is 68uF the capacitor is 17uF (15uF with a 2.2uF Capacitor in parallel), for 100uF C4 it is 25.5uF (22uF in parallel with 3.3uF). I personally would likely use an Obbligate oil cap for the larger value and a gold Obbligato capacitor to make up the rest.

Obbligato Film Oil Caps

Obbligato Gold Premium Caps

Connecting in this capacitor significantly reduced the influence of the powersupply on the sound quality and it also reduced the impact of C4 (Cathode capacitor).

As the powersupply has too much voltage anyway, modifying it as I did for my 91 Project would probably stress rectifiers less and would allow you to use some exotic NOS rectifiers without risking them to blow up (which can then take out the mains transformer).

[IMGDEAD]http://www.dms-audio.com/sites/default/files/images/ld91-psu.png[/IMGDEAD]

The above is taken from the DMS Audio site, which also has some details on Billy/M500 Upgrades:

Billie Ladyday 300B Kit

The SRPP Frontend in the M500 is okay. The biggest issue is the 100uF Cathode Capacitor. If this is not a Black Gate 100uF/16V try finding one or use at least 2 of the small size 22uF/35V Film Capacitors from the diyhifisupply store instead (I like these better than BG BTW).

Obbligato Film Cap 22uF 35v

You can also convert the frontend to a hybrid Mu-Follower as discussed here:

DIY HiFi Forum: hybrid mu follower by bcherry

The CCS Kit you need is this:

diyhifisupply CCS Kit

Finally I would suggest to change the coupling capacitor and to place a gridchoke at the 300B instead of the grid resistor. The Gridchoke subjectively improves dynamics and power delivery, the amplifiers play cleaner and louder.

Grid Choke pair

The coupling capacitor are a matter of taste. The Teflon & Tinfoil Capacitors deliver neutrality and detail in spades, but some find them a little matter of fact, I like them though.

Teflon Tin Foil 0.22uF 1000V

An alternative are the Audio Note Copper capacitors which have a more warm and laid back sound, some might say slightly lacking in detail and not neutral, but very musical.

Audio Note Copper In Oil 0.22uF 630V

Audio Note Silvers are the dogs bollocks, musical, detailed and pretty neutral but they cost accordingly and then some. I find the Tinfoil/Teflons a valid alternative at lower cost.

Audio Note Silver Foil 0.22uF 630V

If you do all the above and use some nice quality resistors where called for, you will get your Amp's most of the way to a premium version of the current Lady Day 300B Amp's, which are rather nice Amp's by anyones count.

Ciao T
 

bprager

Member
2009-04-12 10:53 pm
Thorsten, another question came up as I was following your suggestions.

You mention converting to a hybrid Mu-follower using the CCS board.

Does that replace the 100uf coupling cap you mentioned replacing earlier or would I replace that and do the conversion? If it replaces it, better to convert or replace?

And I assume that you would want to replace the 100uf with 4-5 22uf to reach the same value and is it better to go higher (110) or lower (88)?

Sorry for the questions, just trying to follow the upgrade path.

Best regards, Bruce
 

ThorstenL

Previously: Kuei Yang Wang
Hi,

If I had the room, would it then be best to put in the Univ. PS and ABS?

It is not straight forward. The HT in the M500 is already on the high side (around 470V) for a 300B Amp. If you where to use the ABS this whole voltage would appear across the 300B and exceed it's safe limit ratings, never mind substantially shortening the tube's life. I guess you could change the Output Transformer and operating point and use rectifiers that drop more voltage to get back into safe territory, but it would require major changes.

Alternatively in order to use this you would need a new mains transformer, one with the right voltages and that fits the chassis.

So to use the FCUPS would need a lot of mechanical modifications and may still not fit mechanically.

To use the ABS would need a new mains transformer and of course the FCUPS to work first.

At the same time these two changes alone will not transform the Amplifier. In fact, I would consider them "icing on the cake" compared to the other modifications covered. Nice to have sure and it will be better, but first you need the cake to put the icing on.

I would think that would allow use of the filament heater circuit without issues?

No, this is a wholly separate issue. The heater circuit is one thing, the High Tension Supply another, the Biasing a third. There is no interrelation.

And with the heater circuit remaining stock the (negative) impact of that on the sound will remain.

Lastly, I'm hazy on the CCS? What does it do and where does it fit into the audio scheme of the M500? From looking over the instructions, it seems to deal primarily with the driver tube (6sl7). Is it basically a circuit to furnish cleaner regulated power to the 6sl7?

It changes the 6SL7 circuit into a "hybrid Mu-Follower". This allows better linearity (less distortion) from the Driver and provides a much lower output impedance. Together with a Gridchoke this improves the transient (short peak) power delivery of the Amplifier a good deal.

You mention converting to a hybrid Mu-follower using the CCS board.

Does that replace the 100uf coupling cap you mentioned replacing earlier or would I replace that and do the conversion? If it replaces it, better to convert or replace?

The 100uF Capacitor is on the cathode of the driver valve (6SL7). This capacitor has a dramatic impact on sound quality, as it is exposed to the signal current of the tube while any imperfections (deviations from a perfect capacitor, which are biggest in electrolytic capacitors) appear in series with the input signal.

If using the hybrid Mu-Follower circuit you still need cathode bypass capacitors (actually, not strictly NEED, but they still help).

And I assume that you would want to replace the 100uf with 4-5 22uf to reach the same value and is it better to go higher (110) or lower (88)?

The value of 100uF is just a commonly used one. It is not necessary to have so large a value. As is this gives a -3dB point of 2Hz. This way lower than needed.

If you use 2pcs 22uF capacitors instead the -3dB point for the first stage becomes 5Hz, which is still very low, but the quality of the capacitors will much higher. So in this case less is more.

In my books the biggest gains will be the WE connection and improved heater supply for the 300B, the driver cathode capacitor and the coupling Cap, all of which will significantly improve tonality, transparency and musicality.

Mu-Follower and Gridchoke help, but mainly in terms of drive and large scale dynamics, which to me is actually rather important.

The suggested modifications to the Powersupply (not FCUPS and ABS) have more to do with helping the rectifiers live longer and bringing down the excess HT voltage to improve life expectancy for the 300B (with Mu-Follower and Gridchoke you get more apparent power back than you loose).

After all that the ABS and FCUPS would help further on the side of dynamics and transparency, but much less than any of the above.

In the FCUPS Manual there is a Circuit for what I call "Simple 300B Amplifier".

This in essence has all the mods suggested above included and then the FCUPS and the ABS implemented. But the mains transformer has very different ratings to that from the M500.

Ciao T
 
Last edited:

bprager

Member
2009-04-12 10:53 pm
Thorsten, you are an angel. Thanks so much. Its a lot clearer now. I didn't know essentially who was on first, whats on second etc in terms of the mods.
So I will follow you advice and build my "cake" and then see what I have.

I suspect that the sound quality will be so much better that implementing the FCUPS and ABS will not be worth the extreme mods required to use them.

Thanks and I'll let you know how it sounds!!

Best regards,
Bruce Prager
 

bprager

Member
2009-04-12 10:53 pm
Help with 300B cathode coupling cap

Thorsten, I'm lost on the 100uf Cathode coupling cap. You mentioned its c4 in the schematic. But I can't find anything like that in the amp.
There is a 10000uf Rubycon across the + and - of the rectifier, .47 Mcap supreme from the driver tube to where the negative lead attaches to the 300B, and a 200uf cap that goes across the large resistor that is in the gold heatsink. I've attached some pics to help.

If you can help point out where the cap I'm missing is, I'd appreciate it. Everything else I think I have figured out.

Best, Bruce
 

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Jogi

Member
2008-01-14 12:30 am
Hi Bruce,

its not Thorsten, but as I have heavily modified Ladydays, I feel somehow responsible...

The cathode cap should be the small one right under the .47 Mundorf, which is soldered across the small red resistor. Possibly someone changed it already to a better one, together with the mundorf.
In case you don't have a film cap with that big size, you could try a 100 or 47µF Oscon Sepc or if not available a Oscon SA, which is an older version. Film caps are better, as Thorsten pointed out, but these Oscons are close.
It should also be rewarding to change that resistor for a very good one with the same value, a Takman 0,5 watt is a good choice, where the metal film is a bit more on the clear side, the carbon film on the warm.
But the heater supply is clearly most critical, and the CCS is a nice upgrade too.

But, honestly, the biggest upgrade is surely changing the driver valve to something more suitable for the 300B. I tried 6sl7 both systems paralleled, then with CCS, but ended up with C3o in pentode mode, a 6.3 Volt Version of the C3m. And this is how it will remain for sure, its miles ahead of all the other drivers I tried.
Also very good was the E81L as pentode, which also has a 6,3 Volt heater and could be used with your power transformer, but with a different tube socket.
I tried quite some drivers during the last years, its fun and you can learn a lot.

cheers,

Jogi
 

bprager

Member
2009-04-12 10:53 pm
Unfortunately, I don't know the history of the amp so don't know if what is there is standard from Opera or was changed.

That the small cap is the one in quesion makes sense. The printing on the cap was cut off right where the outer wrapper goes to the edge, so the value was half cut off. So I could read a 1 and that was about it making me unsure I had the right one.

I may play around with driver tubes, but thought I would start with these mods first, see how it sounds and if OK, call it a day.

Basically I'm just trying to optimize what I have as much as practical as I listen to it for many hours a day (housebound) and even unmodded, its pretty decent making me think that some basic mods should do it.

I appreciate all your help and suggestions. Its all great and I'm learning a lot.

Bruce
 

ThorstenL

Previously: Kuei Yang Wang
Hi,

That the small cap is the one in quesion makes sense.

I have Brian's okay to post up the schematic of the old Billy Kit. I will do this later or tomorrow (sorry, pushed for time) and I will also try to mark on your Photo's which part is which.

From your Photo's the Amp's look completely stock, I wprked on quite a few, they all pretty much look like this.

Ciao T
 

ThorstenL

Previously: Kuei Yang Wang
Hi,

I have Brian's okay to post up the schematic of the old Billy Kit. I will do this later or tomorrow (sorry, pushed for time) and I will also try to mark on your Photo's which part is which.

Okay, here part 1 - the schematic for the M500 Kit sold by diyhifisupply a long time ago, which is 99% identical to the assembled M500 from Opera. The marked up photos tomorrow.

Ciao T
 

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bprager

Member
2009-04-12 10:53 pm
One difference, though not large, is that the high voltage tap on mine is 415V, not 450V.
All the other voltages are identical.
I rechecked the high voltage to be sure and it was 415, so I guess they fiddled a bit with that voltage. I remember you saying that it was on the high side, so maybe they lowered it a bit.
 

bprager

Member
2009-04-12 10:53 pm
Since I needed a 47R and one of the other mods has me move the locations of some resistors, I decided to fill out the order with replacements for the chinese resistors in the tube section (its only a couple on each amp).
I picked the premium japanese carbons in the 1W range. Does that seem appropriate?
They didn't look like 2 watt resistors and the only other choice was the Tantalums, unless you feel the Tantalums would be a better choice.
I chose the Prem. Carbons based on some of the suggestions that have been made, what was on a few of your links and of course, the information on the DIY site.
If you feel the Tantalums would be more appropriate, please let me know, I'm sure at this point that another couple resistors won't break the bank.:)
 

ThorstenL

Previously: Kuei Yang Wang
Hi,

Since I needed a 47R and one of the other mods has me move the locations of some resistors, I decided to fill out the order with replacements for the chinese resistors in the tube section (its only a couple on each amp).

I suggest you belay the order a little more. Let's be clear which modifications you are comfortable with and which not etc...

Ciao T
 

bprager

Member
2009-04-12 10:53 pm
I actually don't have a problem with any of the mods, I have built Scott amps from the chassis up.
My questions here are because I am not an amp designer so I don't have a clue as to what mods might be best while your knowledge is far, far larger.
However, once I know what mods are needed, making the mods, whether electronic or physical is quite comfortable, I have a full machine shop and electronics shop and a wife who can use the equipment I can no longer use.
If I could have your knowledge and experience, I could probably spend all my days quite happily designing and tweaking electronics, but I'll more than settle for the incredible kindness you have shown in sharing your knowledge so that I can get these amps to really sing.
That also applies to all of you who have so kindly shared your knowledge and experience. It is greatly appreciated by someone to whom music has become far more than just a hobby. Thanks to all, and especially to Thorsten!!
 

bprager

Member
2009-04-12 10:53 pm
One thing I do need to ask, I have studied the WE91 mod schematic and gone to the link you provided. I have read that info and downloaded the other appropriate mods.

However, the basic mod appears to be the introduction of a 10uf cap in front of the choke, with the movement of the 220uf caps to after. While this is clear, I have read comments about the "full" We91 mod.

Is the change above the full mod, or do I need to add and/or move additional components in order to accomplish the full mod?

Thanks, Bruce P