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Old 09-06-17, 02:22 PM
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AlienALX AlienALX is offline
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B-Spoke valve pre amp project.

OK so I got my kit in today. First thing I looked for was the instructions, it doesn't have any. Thanks, I thought. None of the components were labelled just thrown in a baggy. So not only have I had to learn how to ID components I have also had to name them.



And the body.



OK, so as I said the first thing I had to do was basically separate the enormous mass of components and then ID them. To ID the resistors I used this -

http://www.dannyg.com/examples/res2/resistor.htm

If you are considering any electronics kit I suggest you bookmark that, it will save you crying later.

For the other components I simply ran what was on them into Google, or what was on the board. If the picture matched I had IDed a component.

So, here is what I got.



Note - I have not given them their overall tecnhical names. I have named them to correspond with the board. So I know exactly what goes where, instead of having to ID them all over again and then go "Ah, so 4.7k means 4700 resistance" and etc.

I also got a bit of a kick in the gones when I found out that it would not operate on a AC/DC power supply. IE - you can not run it in DC. It is because it multiplies the voltage somehow, so you must use AC. Big problem, not only are AC/AC power supplies really hard to find (as every one uses DC) but they are expensive. About four times more expensive than a DC unit (so around £30). Eventually some one pointed me to this thing.



For about £7.50. Basically it's a AC/AC 12v unit used for kitchen lighting and comes with its own connector plug.

So the idea is to combine a finished unit with this.



This.



Lots of laquer, and this.


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Old 09-06-17, 02:34 PM
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Kaapstad Kaapstad is offline
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You have not said why you are building a valve pre amp and what the advantages are.

I am old and have got a pretty good idea though.
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Old 09-06-17, 02:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaapstad View Post
You have not said why you are building a valve pre amp and what the advantages are.

I am old and have got a pretty good idea though.
If you are running a power amp you need a pre amp. Otherwise it pretty much runs at 100% volume all of the time. Car amps work like that. They have GAIN settings, but yeah, are usually power amps.

Why do I want one? I want to colour the sound. Yes yes, flat EQ you smell if you colour the sound with anything yada yada yada. I like the sound of valves better than transistors. It's as simple as that. People say that Beats headphones are crap and have too much bass etc but what if you are looking for bass?

Yeah, that's about as far as I want that argument to go. Each to his own etc..

Now the reason I want one more than anything is because I do not like the line output volume of most of my sound cards. As thus I want to boost the signal before it gets to the amp, and as I said colour it completely with the sound of valves.

So yeah, that's about it really. Total overall spend was less than £30 all in
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Old 09-06-17, 07:56 PM
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Very cool, can't wait to see what you do with this.
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Old 10-06-17, 01:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlienALX View Post
If you are running a power amp you need a pre amp. Otherwise it pretty much runs at 100% volume all of the time. Car amps work like that. They have GAIN settings, but yeah, are usually power amps.

Why do I want one? I want to colour the sound. Yes yes, flat EQ you smell if you colour the sound with anything yada yada yada. I like the sound of valves better than transistors. It's as simple as that. People say that Beats headphones are crap and have too much bass etc but what if you are looking for bass?

Yeah, that's about as far as I want that argument to go. Each to his own etc..

Now the reason I want one more than anything is because I do not like the line output volume of most of my sound cards. As thus I want to boost the signal before it gets to the amp, and as I said colour it completely with the sound of valves.

So yeah, that's about it really. Total overall spend was less than £30 all in
I thought you were going to say the above about valves colouring the sound.

Why not go the whole way and build a valve power amp too.

On another subject one of the funniest uses of valves I came across was when the USA first got their hands on a Mig 25 fighter jet, it was full of valves instead of transistors.

At first the Americans had a real good laugh at the Soviet Unions top fighter jet using such ancient technology, then they crapped themselves when they realised that valves are not effected by EMP.
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Old 10-06-17, 03:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaapstad View Post
I thought you were going to say the above about valves colouring the sound.

Why not go the whole way and build a valve power amp too.

On another subject one of the funniest uses of valves I came across was when the USA first got their hands on a Mig 25 fighter jet, it was full of valves instead of transistors.

At first the Americans had a real good laugh at the Soviet Unions top fighter jet using such ancient technology, then they crapped themselves when they realised that valves are not effected by EMP.
Put simply - money. Valve amps are not very expensive at the low end, but as soon as you start trying to make some guts you need lots of valves and big ones at that.

I originally bought a Little Dot MK1. This is basically valve pre and a transistor power amp. I loved it, best sounding amp I'd ever had because it was perfect for me. Buckets of power, too. Well after about six months the left channel failed. If you rocked the valve it worked again, and I hobbled on for a few months doing that from time to time. Obviously it was poor soldering. Eventually I sent it back and got a LD MK2, which is valve pre (the same as the LD1) but valve power too. These were quite large valves..

The first one that came got sent back because I genuinely thought it was buggered. The sound output was very low, not even a third of the output of the LD1 and in the end I realised it was because it was all valves.

I have a Graham Slee Entheos Novo. Very expensive amp (this is the one built by GS himself, not the half price kit). It's a fantastic amp. No colouring whatsoever and rated among the best headphone amps in the UK. Just one problem, it's not valve.

Sooo, basically I ended up using the LD2 as a pre amp into the GS and all was good again. Then the LD2 fookin packed up as well, same bloody fault.

So this time I am going to solder/make it myself. That way I know it uses quality solder and the solders are good, instead of some poor btard out in the far east being given like 2 pence per amp they build so rushing and using little solder.

And with any luck I will be back to where I was
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Old 10-06-17, 08:20 PM
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That looks like a fun project and a good night's work putting it together. I like little projects like that and then tinkering with them when they are built. I will take a look at the schematic
It's good to see other hifi enthusiasts about. Hifi valve power amps are very expensive and repairs can cost a fortune. We have had the quad mono blocks in for repair 3 times in two years now. I was looking at the graham slee headphone amps for a turntable and night tme listening. I will be interested seeing how the project progresses
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Old 11-06-17, 06:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlienALX View Post
Put simply - money. Valve amps are not very expensive at the low end, but as soon as you start trying to make some guts you need lots of valves and big ones at that.

I originally bought a Little Dot MK1. This is basically valve pre and a transistor power amp. I loved it, best sounding amp I'd ever had because it was perfect for me. Buckets of power, too. Well after about six months the left channel failed. If you rocked the valve it worked again, and I hobbled on for a few months doing that from time to time. Obviously it was poor soldering. Eventually I sent it back and got a LD MK2, which is valve pre (the same as the LD1) but valve power too. These were quite large valves..

The first one that came got sent back because I genuinely thought it was buggered. The sound output was very low, not even a third of the output of the LD1 and in the end I realised it was because it was all valves.

I have a Graham Slee Entheos Novo. Very expensive amp (this is the one built by GS himself, not the half price kit). It's a fantastic amp. No colouring whatsoever and rated among the best headphone amps in the UK. Just one problem, it's not valve.

Sooo, basically I ended up using the LD2 as a pre amp into the GS and all was good again. Then the LD2 fookin packed up as well, same bloody fault.

So this time I am going to solder/make it myself. That way I know it uses quality solder and the solders are good, instead of some poor btard out in the far east being given like 2 pence per amp they build so rushing and using little solder.

And with any luck I will be back to where I was
I remember from my Hi Fi days valve amps being very very very expensive but very good.




Quote:
Originally Posted by evilcorp View Post
That looks like a fun project and a good night's work putting it together. I like little projects like that and then tinkering with them when they are built. I will take a look at the schematic
It's good to see other hifi enthusiasts about. Hifi valve power amps are very expensive and repairs can cost a fortune. We have had the quad mono blocks in for repair 3 times in two years now. I was looking at the graham slee headphone amps for a turntable and night tme listening. I will be interested seeing how the project progresses

I wish I still had my Linn Sondek setup from the early 80s, that setup could put anything digital to shame.
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Old 17-06-17, 02:53 PM
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AlienALX AlienALX is offline
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OK so I started out early this morning. I've kinda been knocked for six by my uncle having cancer, and yesterday he was given a couple of weeks if he's lucky and moved to a hospital 50 miles away. It would also seem that this had filtered down to me IDing components, because I had IDed two different types of resistor under the same label. And I had already soldered two onto the PCB before realising. DOH.

Any way, I tackled it resistors first. Then LEDs then the fixings (sockets etc)



Then soldered in all of the capacitors.



TBH most of the day got taken by making the power cable for the PSU. The PSU was not labelled for polarity so I had to basically take the plug apart to figure out which was positive and negative. Then I tried (and failed) at a few different types of braiding before settling for this.



Which will go with the theme beautifully. I ain't gonna lie, that ate up hours and hours there. Any way, with that done and sorted it was time to set it up.



Phone - pre - amp - headphones. It seems to work perfectly, so I will order some better valves soon and move onto the shell itself.

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Old 18-06-17, 01:22 PM
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OK so I hooked it up to my Graham Slee last night (Once I was sure it was all working as it should) and have been running it in and listening to it since then. It's fantastic. Set all of my EQs flat and the mid range has sprung to life. I've set it very low, but enough so that the sound slider in Windows is enough to blow your ears out. Which is really cool, because recording volumes is all over the place on CDs so you usually find one is quiet and you can't get it to decent volumes.

So yeah, it's basically done all that I wanted it to do. The box and frame is a bit of a monkey puzzle, so right now I am figuring out the best way to tackle it I might talk to a mate of mine who has a lazer cutter and get it cut in black acryl so I don't have to paint/cover it.

Will see. Need to order some contact adhesive for the veneer, will order that over the next couple of days.
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