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New at this - need some advice/recommendations
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Old 8th March 2018, 02:10 AM   #1
gabemi is offline gabemi  United States
diyAudio Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2018
Default New at this - need some advice/recommendations

I am an engineer, ok with PCB design, low/high voltages, soldering,... you name it. Anyways, I only had a handful of solid state amplifiers over the last 20 years, blew them up, fixed them, built speakers, blew speakers, rebuilt speaker coils,... I always wanted a good sound system, and learned a few things from my experiences, but I did not have the occasion to test/listen a tube amplifier yet. Please take a look below, and don't feel offended, I am just asking some questions that come to my mind, in order to be able to figure out which way to go.

At this point, I would buy a new tube amplifier, or make one, but there are a few things that I am taking into consideration, as:
- price - is a good quality new price higher than building one from parts/kit?
- Amazon has some options for new - are they good? any decent options?
- what power do I need to drive nicely one Visaton BG20-8 per channel (40W nominal, 70W max), and maybe later a 12 inch Fane Sovereign per channel?
- is it worth going for tubes instead of solid state?
- tube pre-amp with solid state amp... would that return some nice results?
- what could I build (power/quality) for $200? $300? $400?... total component cost - can I get something decent?
- I looked on craiglist in my area, but I am not an expert and cannot judge if the available amps are good or not
- stay with a solid state for now, move to tubes later?

I know there are many options out there, what would you do?
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Old 8th March 2018, 02:37 AM   #2
rayma is offline rayma  United States
diyAudio Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Quote:
Originally Posted by gabemi View Post
what could I build (power/quality) for $200? $300? $400?... total component cost -
can I get something decent? - I looked on craiglist in my area, but I am not an expert
and cannot judge if the available amps are good or not.
I would start by buying inexpensive amps/preamps off Craigslist, and restore/modify them.
You can always resell them later on for little or no loss if you don't like them.
Tube amps may not work well with you choice of speakers, even if they are otherwise good.
Spend the time and real money when you have more defined preferences from your own
personal experience. Start with building a tube preamp, it has much lower parts cost and risk.
Check out Tubecad, for example. Printed Circuit Boards and Kits

Last edited by rayma; 8th March 2018 at 03:03 AM.
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Old 8th March 2018, 03:19 AM   #3
vinylkid58 is offline vinylkid58  Canada
diyAudio Member
 
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Join Date: May 2005
Location: Victoria, B.C.
Quote:
Originally Posted by gabemi View Post
At this point, I would buy a new tube amplifier, or make one, but there are a few things that I am taking into consideration, as:
- price - is a good quality new price higher than building one from parts/kit?
- Amazon has some options for new - are they good? any decent options?
- what power do I need to drive nicely one Visaton BG20-8 per channel (40W nominal, 70W max), and maybe later a 12 inch Fane Sovereign per channel?
- is it worth going for tubes instead of solid state?
- tube pre-amp with solid state amp... would that return some nice results?
- what could I build (power/quality) for $200? $300? $400?... total component cost - can I get something decent?
- I looked on craiglist in my area, but I am not an expert and cannot judge if the available amps are good or not
- stay with a solid state for now, move to tubes later?

I know there are many options out there, what would you do?
Pete Millett's Engineers Amp (the stereo red board, not the mono-blocks version) meets several of your needs. Around $400 to build (at least for you in the US), will drive 92db speakers with ease with it's 18w/ch., most of the parts you can source from mouser or digikey. There is a transformer bundle available from Edcor specifically for this amp.

DCPP Amp

EDCOR - PM-100

Plus there's a huge thread here on diyaudio, and lots of help available from members.

Posted new P-P power amp design

jeff

Last edited by vinylkid58; 8th March 2018 at 03:25 AM.
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Old 8th March 2018, 03:21 AM   #4
Eli Duttman is offline Eli Duttman  United States
diyAudio Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Monroe Township, NJ
Quote:
- tube pre-amp with solid state amp... would that return some nice results?
Quite a few excellent systems have been assembled exactly that way. To be frank, there are certain otherwise good speakers, big Thiels come to mind, that are VERY poor candidates for mating to tube power amps. It's a matter of damping factor. That sort is speaker should (IMO) be mated to 1st rate SS power amplification combined with tubed preamplification. BTW, those big Thiels and such will wreck mass market SS equipment, should it be wired up.

Are you looking for euphony or honesty? FWIW, I prefer honesty. The hybrid line stage design I've provided is highly linear (without loop NFB) and will drive just about anything remotely rational you care to connect up. Be advised there may be too much gain for a device that needs little in the way of a driving voltage. Of course, custom attenuation for each signal source deals with that issue.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Tube power amplification is more costly, simply because of the O/P transformers necessary. The "iron" makes the amp and good magnetics are expensive. Remember, tubes are high impedance, high voltage, low current devices. It's easy to squeeze 60 WPC out of PP KT88s, but please notice the comparatively small plate current
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Old 8th March 2018, 04:50 AM   #5
michaelsamra is offline michaelsamra  United States
diyAudio Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: michigan
Quote:
Originally Posted by gabemi View Post
I am an engineer, ok with PCB design, low/high voltages, soldering,... you name it. Anyways, I only had a handful of solid state amplifiers over the last 20 years, blew them up, fixed them, built speakers, blew speakers, rebuilt speaker coils,... I always wanted a good sound system, and learned a few things from my experiences, but I did not have the occasion to test/listen a tube amplifier yet. Please take a look below, and don't feel offended, I am just asking some questions that come to my mind, in order to be able to figure out which way to go.

At this point, I would buy a new tube amplifier, or make one, but there are a few things that I am taking into consideration, as:
- price - is a good quality new price higher than building one from parts/kit?
- Amazon has some options for new - are they good? any decent options?
- what power do I need to drive nicely one Visaton BG20-8 per channel (40W nominal, 70W max), and maybe later a 12 inch Fane Sovereign per channel?
- is it worth going for tubes instead of solid state?
- tube pre-amp with solid state amp... would that return some nice results?
- what could I build (power/quality) for $200? $300? $400?... total component cost - can I get something decent?
- I looked on craiglist in my area, but I am not an expert and cannot judge if the available amps are good or not
- stay with a solid state for now, move to tubes later?

I know there are many options out there, what would you do?
Like Eli said, the transformers would be the costly parts but Vinyl Kid came up with a set of trafos with the power trafos for 173.00 and that's a bargain.
To build and preamp, you will need more than a 400 dollar budget to do it right, however, starting with the preamp is smart because that will give you the real nature of vacuum tubes and the difference they make. The 6SN7 design he gave you is basic and it can drive a 10k to 50k load with no sweat which many SS amps are depending on when they were made.
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