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    Building, troubleshooting and testing of these amplifiers should only be
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    the safety precautions around high voltages.

Recommend first DIY project - phono preamp

servion

Member
2019-04-26 12:48 am
Can anyone please recommend a DIY kit for a tube phono preamp? I have a Project carbon DC with the stock Ortofon 2M red, and am looking to “test the waters” with the world of tube amp building. I am hoping to find kit that is decent for a relative-beginner, which will allow me to get into the world of building with a reasonably minimal investment (<$200-400 if possible) and build my confidence enough to be able to work up to assembling a VTA ST-120.

I have experience with a soldering iron, used to build wiring harnesses for car aftermarket engine ECUs, and took a class in college electronics basics ~20 years ago), but am not comfortable enough to be given a schematic and nothing else. I am hoping to go with something that has “instructions” which are enough to help me learn the basics of tube building without being totally off the deep end. I was considering one of the phono preamps on tubes4hifi (since that’s where I plan to get the ST-120 kit later) but have read some horror stories about the gentlemen who works with the folks the phono preamp side of the business regarding bad/issues with components and not being willing to work with people (not a good first kit for newbies).

There are an overwhelming amount of schematics, forum threads, etc. but I’m having trouble navigating it all to be honest. Any specific recommendation that is a good starting spot for a beginner in this realm, will hopefully sound good and be worth keeping/upgrading down the road later would be most appreciated :)

So far, I've been looking at perhaps the Glass Ware Tetra Sans (GlasssWare Phono Preamps

Also, perhaps an ebay setup - Something like this EAR 834 clone

I was also looking at the Bottlehead reduction
I think the Tetra sans once I add the PS-1, transformer, chassis, tubes, it'll all be about the same price as the bottlehead reduction (without the integration upgrade). Wondering how the reduction would compare, with and without the upgrade, to the Tetra Sans.... so mamy places to look, any direction/recommandatoins for a relative electronics-newbie would be great!
 
Hi,
I bought an E834 clone about a week ago, based on various postive reviews. Not quite the same board as yours. Should receive it by early feb if all goes well. I think there are threads on here about how to modify it to get better results but they are supposed to be ok. Some vendors sell the matching transformers too but beware, some use 14VAC for the heater psu and some 6.3VAC. I nearly bought the wrong one
If you are still searching when i get to building mine i'll try to think to tell you how it went
 

Francois G

Member
Paid Member
2004-06-16 8:36 pm
Illinois
I am hoping to find kit that is decent for a relative-beginner, which will allow me to get into the world of building with a reasonably minimal investment (<$200-400 if possible) and build my confidence enough to be able to work up to assembling a VTA ST-120.

I have experience with a soldering iron, used to build wiring harnesses for car aftermarket engine ECUs, and took a class in college electronics basics ~20 years ago), but am not comfortable enough to be given a schematic and nothing else.

Unless you really need a phono preamp first I would like to suggest that an amp with good building support like Mr. Latino provides for the VTA ST-120 is actually easier for a starter tube project than a phono preamp. With the very low level of phono input it takes quite a bit of skill, and/or luck to do a DIY phono preamp that is quiet and hum-free. With the VTA St-120 you have a fully tested kit with parts, hardware and all, as well as great text and photo resources and a builders forum to help you along the way if needed.

If you decide to do the phono be sure to study carefully how grounding is done to prevent earth-loops and other ills, as well as a highly refined power supply with minimal ripple, preferably well-regulated.

Good luck and have fun with whichever direction you choose with tubes.
 
If your budget will stretch.....

to $500 US, the Tetra is the way to go. But it's all-in at $500. Broskie Tetra board and all parts, including tubes, PS-1 power supply, transformers, jacks, wire, even the CHASSIS TOO, all for $500 US!

I've repaired an 834P and built one from scratch too. Also built Tetras, one for me and two for friends. The Tetra is the better unit if you can afford it. I also like that the Tetra uses passive RIAA EQ where the 834P uses loop feedback for RIAA.

See links for detailed Tetra build series. Even if you don't build the Tetra see part 5 for wiring tips and methods to help minimise EMI/RFI.

Cheers, Steve

DIY All-Tube Phono Preamp Project: It’s on! | Wall of Sound | Audio and Music Reviews

DIY Phono Project Part 2, Chassis Prep & Ordering of Remaining Parts | Wall of Sound | Audio and Music Reviews

DIY All-Tube Phono Stage Project, Part 3: Metal Working For Dummies | Wall of Sound | Audio and Music Reviews

DIY All-Tube Phono Stage Project: Part 4, Assembling The Circuit Boards | Wall of Sound | Audio and Music Reviews

DIY Tube Phono Project Part 5: Circuit Board – Chassis Integration | Wall of Sound | Audio and Music Reviews
 

kerux

Member
2008-07-04 7:49 pm
I recently finished the Bottlehead Reduction with the Integration upgrade and I really like it. It provides very detailed instructions so for a newbie like me, it was very helpful. I have built a Tubelab SSE and a Muchedumbre simple Preamp and these were both easier to build than the Reduction which has you soldering several components in tight spots and took me a few times to get it right.
 

servion

Member
2019-04-26 12:48 am
to $500 US, the Tetra is the way to go. But it's all-in at $500. Broskie Tetra board and all parts, including tubes, PS-1 power supply, transformers, jacks, wire, even the CHASSIS TOO, all for $500 US!

I've repaired an 834P and built one from scratch too. Also built Tetras, one for me and two for friends. The Tetra is the better unit if you can afford it. I also like that the Tetra uses passive RIAA EQ where the 834P uses loop feedback for RIAA.

See links for detailed Tetra build series. Even if you don't build the Tetra see part 5 for wiring tips and methods to help minimise EMI/RFI.

Cheers, Steve

DIY All-Tube Phono Preamp Project: It’s on! | Wall of Sound | Audio and Music Reviews

DIY Phono Project Part 2, Chassis Prep & Ordering of Remaining Parts | Wall of Sound | Audio and Music Reviews

DIY All-Tube Phono Stage Project, Part 3: Metal Working For Dummies | Wall of Sound | Audio and Music Reviews

DIY All-Tube Phono Stage Project: Part 4, Assembling The Circuit Boards | Wall of Sound | Audio and Music Reviews

DIY Tube Phono Project Part 5: Circuit Board – Chassis Integration | Wall of Sound | Audio and Music Reviews

Thanks everyone for your responses! Steve this looks like an excellent documentation of your project and makes the Tetra Sans look very attractive for me at my experience level. Thanks for doing that!

A few follow-up questions if you don't mind:
1) Do you have any idea about the Tetra's expected input specs? Here are the specs I could find for the Ortofon red:

Output Voltage 5.0 – 5.5 mV
Load Resistance 47 kOhm
Load Capacitance 150 – 300pF

I'm trying to determine if it would be a good match for the cartridge/TT I have now.

2) What's the deal with the PH-2 versus the tetra? The PCBs are comparable in price, but the Aikido seems to take 8 tubes... Any thoughts as to why we'd go for PH-2 versus tetra sans?

2) Do you have any idea about how this kit/its components/sound compares to that of the cheaper bottlehead? At that price we're definitely in the same ballpark... the bottlehead at this point would be more of a "complete kit", but I'm willing to take on the larger project of the tetra sans (especially with your helpful documents!)

In fact, has anyone been able to compare this with the bottlehead, or with the VTA PH-14?
 

Duke58

Member
2009-01-03 8:00 pm
I would go with the Bottlehead. Meets all your prerequisites- price, support. Skip the power cord and badge. (I'm not paying someone to include their badge. That's like me paying them to advertise). I built one and am very happy with it. It doesn't have the Bottlehead badge or power cord sprinkled with fairy dust.
 
servion,

Your Ortofon "Red" produces what would be expected from a MM level cartridge. Any reasonable design based on 12AX7s or 6922s should be OK. You have been given an excellent "menu" to select from.

IF you had a MC cart. whose O/P level is approx. 400 μV., you'd have the issue of obtaining an extra 20 dB. of gain. While it can be done with 100% tubed circuitry, it's (IMO, at best) a VERY "dicey" proposition. The safe options for LOMC carts. are either step up transformers or the incorporation of SS, like Allen Wright's hybrid cascode.
 

servion

Member
2019-04-26 12:48 am
I would go with the Bottlehead. Meets all your prerequisites- price, support. Skip the power cord and badge. (I'm not paying someone to include their badge. That's like me paying them to advertise). I built one and am very happy with it. It doesn't have the Bottlehead badge or power cord sprinkled with fairy dust.

Great, thank you Duke58. Did you build the Eros or Reduction? If the reduction, did you include the integration upgrade? After reading it, I'm still not clear what the integration upgrade actually provides - if it's just additional gain, or if it also manipulates the frequency response, etc.
 

dreamth

Member
2010-11-18 9:12 am
I am hoping to find kit that is decent for a relative-beginner, which will allow me to get into the world of building with a reasonably minimal investment (<$200-400 if possible) and build my confidence enough to be able to work up to assembling a VTA ST-120.
This isn't the best approach.Building confidence is done by making great things too!
Start with the Queen of phono world kits:

LUXMAN CL34 SCH Service Manual download, schematics, eeprom, repair info for electronics experts
I know that you don't have the knowledge to build such a monster, but you can get all the help online.It was once sold as a Phono KIT too...

LUXKIT/LUXMAN A3034の仕様 ラックスキット/ラックスマン
Luxman CL-34 on thevintageknob.org
It will probably take you about a year to build it but you will have something outstanding.My first phono project took me half a year to complete, but it was complete garbage with the best audiophyle components.The second one took me a year to complete, but it was all worth it.

Unfortunately there's no available schematic for the King of phono preamps :) EMT JPA-66...
 

Duke58

Member
2009-01-03 8:00 pm
Hi Servion- i built the Eros. Call or email Bottlehead with your questions. That's a good question to ask about the Reduction. You want a full time company to respond to you if you have questions, this is a good way to see how they respond.

I chose the Eros because I like the sound of the tubes combined with my turntable/cartridge combination.
 

adason

Member
Paid Member
2004-11-10 8:31 pm
Maryland
Can anyone please recommend a DIY kit for a tube phono preamp? I have a Project carbon DC with the stock Ortofon 2M red, and am looking to “test the waters” with the world of tube amp building. I am hoping to find kit that is decent for a relative-beginner, which will allow me to get into the world of building with a reasonably minimal investment (<$200-400 if possible) and build my confidence enough to be able to work up to assembling a VTA ST-120.

I have experience with a soldering iron, used to build wiring harnesses for car aftermarket engine ECUs, and took a class in college electronics basics ~20 years ago), but am not comfortable enough to be given a schematic and nothing else. I am hoping to go with something that has “instructions” which are enough to help me learn the basics of tube building without being totally off the deep end. I was considering one of the phono preamps on tubes4hifi (since that’s where I plan to get the ST-120 kit later) but have read some horror stories about the gentlemen who works with the folks the phono preamp side of the business regarding bad/issues with components and not being willing to work with people (not a good first kit for newbies).

There are an overwhelming amount of schematics, forum threads, etc. but I’m having trouble navigating it all to be honest. Any specific recommendation that is a good starting spot for a beginner in this realm, will hopefully sound good and be worth keeping/upgrading down the road later would be most appreciated :)

So far, I've been looking at perhaps the Glass Ware Tetra Sans (GlasssWare Phono Preamps

Also, perhaps an ebay setup - Something like this EAR 834 clone

I was also looking at the Bottlehead reduction
I think the Tetra sans once I add the PS-1, transformer, chassis, tubes, it'll all be about the same price as the bottlehead reduction (without the integration upgrade). Wondering how the reduction would compare, with and without the upgrade, to the Tetra Sans.... so mamy places to look, any direction/recommandatoins for a relative electronics-newbie would be great!

I have about a dozen of solid state phono preamps, and two tube phono preamps, I like ear834 best.
 

rhafley

Member
2020-01-16 4:10 pm
I just built the Tavish Design Vintage Phono Preamp.


This is one lovely sounding preamp. The staff at Tavish very supportive too.

Vintage 6SL7 Phono Stage (MM / MC) – Tavish Design


Cheers

Mr. Jones I am in the process of building my Tavish Design Vintage phono pre and I can't wait to see how it sounds in my system. My current phono preamp is a Schiit Mani and I'm looking forward to a little tube smoothness. What tubes are you using?
 
I just built the Tavish Design Vintage Phono Preamp.


This is one lovely sounding preamp. The staff at Tavish very supportive too.


It's not a complete kit so you have to do due diligence in getting all the parts,but other
than that no issues for me.


Vintage 6SL7 Phono Stage (MM / MC) – Tavish Design


Cheers

I second the Tavish recommendation. I've built two of them and love the sound and the variety of settings it allows for.
 

Grumpish

Member
2018-03-30 1:12 pm
The EAR clone on eBay that you linked is pretty good, and there is a lot of information around on how to tweak it.

It also seems to be a fairly tolerant design, the layout, transformer and tubes I used on mine ought to make it hum worse than my socks, but it is actually very quiet. Not quite a kit though, you have to source a lot of the components yourself.