What's Up With All This DIY, Anyway?

General discussion about Hi-Fi, vacuum tubes and DIY Kits.

What's Up With All This DIY, Anyway?

Postby brian » Mon Mar 16, 2009 5:09 am

Preamps
here's where I'm coming from:
there's different kinds of ice cream (bulk vs premium etc) and there are different flavours (strawberry, vanilla etc); quality an issue of the former, preference of the latter.
All our preamps are premium performers and will run with the best. The last mediocre preamp we made was the original Basie 7yrs ago and it wasn't bad, at least as good or better than other products at the price. But since then every one has excelled. If there's a problem it that they are too good for the money.
Passives: The Silk equipped AVC and TVC are state-of-the-art wide bandwidth linestages -- in fact dropping these into customer's systems in place of some of the mega $ commercial preamps has on occasion, been embarrassing for the competition.
AVC vs TVC? This is a flavour choice; the AVC is a little more direct; the TVC will benefit some systems that need a little decoupling from source to amp. At our shop here I give the nod to AVC because of the 28 steps of attenuation. But...see the UTS comments below.
For passive one needs to pay attention to impedance because they will very quickly thin out and roll off if the impedance is not favourable. If all is right though, nothing beats a coil of wire for transparency and openess.
The Do-It-Box AVC gives very good sound but with a little limited bandwidth. 95% of speaker systems don't have enough bandwidth to make it a noticeable issue.
However sometimes only an active will do it. My favourite among the recent has been the Gomes Basie. It's not currently listed, as waiting for some chassis parts but it has a lush (not loose) sound with big dynamic swings. It will be back soon.
Our newest arrival is the UTS EZ linestage and still getting the full measure on it as need to do some careful A/b listening against TVC, Gomes etc. But my impression is it has a very '45ish' sound - taut, muscular, it just does the business. And deadly quiet - transients come out of no where. And no worries about impedance matching as it is very low with tractor-like push.

My bias: The first premium level preamp i owned was an Audio Research product tweeked by an associate of Arthur Salvatore when he owned HiEnd Audio. others were Conrad Johnson (a little loose for me), Beard, Counterpoint (ate tubes), and then more Audio Research.

Modules: think of them as 'tehnology bites'. A DIY'r soon finds out that certain functions are important to realizing the potential of tube circuits - but these functions are difficult to do. Or if do-able, they only fit in a suitcacse and need to be hidden under the sofa (true life experience)
So the intent of the modules is to supply some of these missing 'bites' in a package that fits IN the chassis.
Filament supply: In the end it's only as good as it is good-quiet. A bridge rectifier and cap sounds nasty. The engineering on this pcb is compact and good, and difficult for the average DIY'r to do on his own.
ABS: only a little DC through the core of an OPT and the sound goes flat. This is an absolute necessity to hear a push pull amp at its best 24/7. The technology used is pretty high level.
FCUPS: Electrolytics are poisonous, ponderous and prolific in amplifiers. PS either needs Big C or Big L, both of which call for a suitcase if we want to use film caps. Or get the FCUPS with huge L AND on board bias supply AND selectable Hi/Lo Z impedance. And fits on the palm of your (big) hand. Oh, AND interfaces with ABS feature to shut down the B+ rail in case a tube shorts.
UTS: so simple, so easy, anyone can put it in a box and get a very good sound but applications unlimited. Also fits on the palm of your hand. The is proving to be our one-tube-wonder

The business side of modules:
they are light to ship and don't need so much warehouse space. Last year shipping rates increased to punishing levels.

Modules are more of an addition than a replacement to our kit line. Actually two things are happening: the modules have appeared and at the same time we are rolling all of our kits into shared chassis. So all high end amplifiers will be on one Ergo chassis (as shown), all of our high end linestages also on a 2nd Ergo chassis (these are the bamboo wood frames posted previously). In addition we brought out the 3 Projekt chassis which will house various kit projects, from preamp to amplifier.

I need to learn to capitalize the 'i'.
OK do i get my bragging wings now?

regards
Brian
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